Longtime “KQ92 Morning Show” host Tom Barnard feels even more at home recording his podcast. That’s because Barnard does podcasts with the people he obviously loves: son Andy, his engineer and producer; daughter Alex, talent and producer; wife Kathryn Brandt, guest booker and sidekick; and family friend Tony Lee, who writes bits and does the music.
Last week, to the astonishment of KQ listeners, I was invited onto www.tombarnardpodcast.com for a wide-ranging discussion of pop culture matters, interspersed with a bit of roasting. Brandt has a prodigious mental catalog of everything she DIDN’T LIKE that I’ve written about Tom. I sincerely appreciate what a thorough, devoted reader she has been. Really, I do — although I’d forgotten 90 percent of it. She loves her husband and he admits to adoring her.
Barnard does not, however, adore Howard Stern. He’s got something special he wants to give Stern, should they ever meet. Barnard also doesn’t appreciate the shambles in which his relationship with the Pohlad family was left as a result of the 1997 antics of former KQ prankster Crazy Cabe. Cabe, you may remember, was fired after hoaxing both KQRS and its listeners. Cabe — his real name is Lee Mroszak — staged a radio bit that involved a hotel room door encounter with Brett Favre, then the Packers QB, and a woman who was not Mrs. Favre.
Q When it comes to the various racial shticks on your radio show, which have left you with a reputation of being racially insensitive, are the gags one thing and who you are another?
A Well, the show is really not who I am. This is really more who I am, doing the podcast. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do the podcast with my family and my friend, Tony. Because I have 100 percent control of this show and this is me; it’s just who I am.
Q If you could take back one on-air gag, what would it be?
A Have I ever done on-air gags? Well, this could be rather deep, but you know which one it would be? You already know the answer, because it was not intended the way it came across. That comment I made about Paul Wellstone, certainly, was not meant to be hurtful. It was just like anybody walking down the street [would say], “Oh, drop dead, for God’s sake.” It was like that. Unfortunately, 37 days later he did. I would love for that moment not to have happened. That would be great. You busted me on that one. It was your fault.
Q Are you doing your KQ92 broadcast from Minneapolis or Florida most of the time?
A Minneapolis almost all the time. I do the show once in a while from Florida or Los Angeles or Chicago or wherever I am. ... That way I take four weeks of vacation a year, and in lieu of vacation time, they allow me to do the show from wherever I want to.
Q Will FM radio someday bring an end to the AM side?
A No, I don’t think so, because conversation is very, very important. AM radio is very good for conversation.
Q What songs being released now will be the oldies of tomorrow?
A That’s a great question, because I couldn’t think of one. The problem I have — and I was complaining about this the other day, actually, was called a racist for this — I said I hate rap music because it has nearly killed R&B. I grew up with R&B music. Elvis was R&B. Race music, I believe, is what they called it back then; he took race music to a white audience. Growing up in north Minneapolis I heard a lot of Temptations, a lot of music like that. There are a couple of people still doing it, but not many. The one rap song I have liked is “California Love,” and that’s because it’s a positive song. Doesn’t call anybody names. It’s about how wonderful this place is. I like that.
Q Would you ever like to perform on “A Prairie Home Companion?”
A No. I would not.
Q Tell me one thing about you that the public would be surprised to learn?
A I’ve never told anybody this before. I cannot read cards that people give to me. I’m very uncomfortable receiving gifts and I never knew why for a long time. I finally realized the reason for that is that when I got gifts as a little boy from my mother, I really liked them a whole lot. But as I grew older, I got very uncomfortable. And I realize now the reason they make me uncomfortable is I know now she couldn’t afford them. I’m getting over it now. The one thing about me that probably no one knows is that if my son or my daughter or my wife gives me a card for my birthday, I can’t read it. I cannot. I’m a very sentimental person.
Q These Minnesota musicians: overrated, underrated, about right … ready? Prince:
A Certainly not overrated. He’s a tremendous talent. I’ll go with about right.
Q Bob Dylan:
A God, I hate to say it, because I adore Bob Dylan, but he’s a bit overrated.
Q The Replacements:
A I’d say they are about right, because they have huge fans and some people just don’t get it.
Q Approximately how many commercials have you voiced over?
A In my career? Tens of thousands for sure. Maybe even 100,000.
Q Which has made you richer, the voice-over work or your radio job?
A Richer? [Laughter] I like that. The radio show, for sure, because it’s been 28 years.
Q Is Howard Stern one of your friends?
A No. I never heard any of it, but when he was in this market, he used to attack my wife and children. I was on at the same time, so I never heard what he said about them. But then I was told by some people what he’d said. I do think if I ever meet Howard Stern, I would probably punch him right in the face. That’s how you have to win? Really? That’s how you win [ratings]?
Q You are devoted to your wife. You’ve been married for 28 years, but you don’t look like you’d be the easy one in the marriage?
A [Laughter] No, you’re right. [Cough] I almost choked on that one. I’ve made the comment many, many times, I don’t know why I got so lucky. I’m not an easy person to deal with. I’m a very private person. I’m even kind of a recluse, actually. So we don’t go to a lot of functions that I think a lot of people would like to attend. But my wife knows that I adore her. She knows that. And I think that’s enough for her. Which is great, because I don’t have a whole lot more to offer. [Laugh.]
I’ll tell you a quick story. I meet a friend for the first time in a long time; we played in a golf tournament together. He’s a very tall, handsome guy, and his wife is just beautiful. He said let’s have dinner after the tournament. I said OK. They had never met my wife, and she was a little bit late arriving. She walked into the room and this man I had just met looks up at her and says, “I didn’t see that coming.” I said, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
Q You out-punting your coverage?
A By a long shot. No doubt about that. She’s also one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.
Q Do you do any cooking or cleaning around the house?
A I don’t cook because my wife won’t let me. I do my own laundry. Matter of fact, I wouldn’t want anybody else to do my laundry. Kathryn will not allow the house to get all messy. She’s not anal about it, but she’s not big on messes. Although my studio’s a mess, I’ve got to admit that.
Q Did you hear that Brett Favre was being a less than faithful husband before the Cabe incident?
A Yes. We did hear that from many people. That’s the one thing about this job that’s interesting. There are members of the Pohlad family that will not talk to me about something Cabe did. He did something to Eloise [the late wife of the now-late Twins owner Carl Pohlad] that was not very nice. I had nothing to do with that at all. I didn’t know he was going to do it at all. And members of the Pohlad family blame me to this day because, well, it’s your show. Yeah, but I didn’t know he was going to do it. I understand that if it’s a ship and I’m the captain of the ship, I have to take some of the blame. But I had no knowledge it was going to happen and that was upsetting.
C.J.’s Q&As are edited for space and clarity. Reach her at email@example.com and see her on Fox 9.