Two commentators on the radio industry in the Bay Area have entirely different takes on Michael Krasny’s new book “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life.”

While Ben Fong-Torres (writing for the Chronicle) complained that the KQED-FM host wrote about himself too much, Brad Kava (writing in the Merc) says that’s OK because Krasny, 62, “doles out some of his toughest shots at himself, as he grew from a Cleveland hoodlum to the holder of a doctorate in English teaching at San Francisco State University.”

Kava (whose blog can be found at noted these points in his review:

    • When Krasny worked in commercial radio, he was told to limit his vocabulary and to keep his show dumbed down so listeners would not feel stupid.

    • When Krasny was at Marin’s KTIM-FM, he hosted a show called “Beyond the Hot Tub.”

    • Krasney said he was fired by one station because he had “too many old broads on” following interviews with Jessica Mitford and Doris Lessing.

    • “Krasny never feels that he has achieved his own dream of writing great literature, although, like James Lipton, he’s become identified with the oeuvre of doing serious, unfailingly well-prepared interviews, a respected art of its own.”

Kava’s biggest problem with the book is that Krasny doesn’t always name names, though sometimes it’s obvious who he is talking about — like when Krasny was heckled at a high school graduation speech by Michael Savage. Kava says Krasny must have been writing about Savage when he said:

    “I would later on feel involuntary twinges of envy for this despicable man, a toxic, incendiary gasbag with a growing, undeniable appeal — who would go on to build a major national career out of a frappe of jumbled extremist views and the sort of kook and shock-jock excess that I had come to speak publicly about as giving talk radio a bad name.”

Krasny’s book is available from (Photo credit: San Francisco State University Dept. of Publications)

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