While he has a million or so listeners at any one time, he pulls in this huge audience without syndication. How does he do this, without going national? Well, there are a handful of clear-channel radio stations which are allowed to transmit using 50,000 watts, day and night, and are also given a large geographic region without any other stations on nearby frequencies. The nearest frequency used by another station is WBAP 820, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which also happens to be a clear channel station.
Bill’s claims to fame are many, aside from this feat. Although he steers a wide path away from partisan politics, he can best be described as a sensible, learned voice that listens to and responds to the facts without regard to partisanship—unlike many talk-show hosts. He’s been there for more than 25 years, and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. Not with a listening audience like that, anyway. There isn’t another host that could take over his time slot and hold on to that audience.
His show airs almost every weekend, on Saturday and Sunday nights, from 10pm to 1am, West Coast time, on KGO-AM 810. Except when he gets on a rant and rave, his show is mostly an open-line listener-driven call-in show, where he answers questions ranging from fixing cars to physics, and everything in between. And I mean everything.
Although he grew up as the son of a logger in the Sierras, he attended U. C. Berkeley, and even studied physics under Edward Teller. He eventually became a professor at Berkeley, and since then has been involved in a great deal of government scientific research (some of which he can’t talk about), including being involved in designing the guidance computers for NASA’s Apollo moon missions.
Bill’s combinations of experiences and scientific background give him a great wealth of knowledge that he applies to entertain and inform his audience. It also lands him in the national news every now and then. You might recall an engineer who developed an effective, extremely inexpensive land-mine clearing device around the time of the Iraqi war, called a chain-matrix. Or designing a way to use surplus railroad flatcars to build emergency freeway bridges in times of earthquakes or floods.
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Dr. Bill Wattenburg
—Dr. Bill Wattenburg, November 2003
—Dr. Bill Wattenburg, Nov. 23 2002
—Dr. Bill Wattenburg, Dec. 08 2002
Bill has written two books—one is a collection of jokes from callers, the other was a best-seller back in the early ’70s. Either one might make a great holiday gift for anyone you know that is also a fan of Bill’s.