When Richard Beene stepped down as president and CEO of TBC Media six months ago, he made it clear he had no tolerance for rocking chairs.
Today he doubles down on that, embarking on a new career: Radio talk show host.
Beene, who joined The Bakersfield Californian as executive editor in 1994 and became CEO in 1998, has taken a new day job with KERN (96.1 FM/1180 AM), where he will host “The Richard Beene Show” weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m.
“This is not going to be a monologue; it’s not going to be an angry talk show,” said Beene, 65. “I want to create a place for civil discourse. ... This is not going to be about sound bites. I’m going to have people in to talk about important issues and get beyond the headlines.
“I’m going to bring a journalist’s approach to this. I want to have a real conversation, and I want to make it a safe place where people can come on and have opinions knowing they won’t get attacked.”
Rogers Brandon, president of American General Media, which owns KERN, said Beene’s show further refines the station’s focus on local hosts and local issues.
“We think he’s going to be a terrific addition to our lineup.” Brandon said.
Beene’s addition, and that of a new, nationally syndicated host, means some of KERN’s programming will move around.
“The Chris Plante Show,” broadcast out of WMAL in Washington, D.C., joins the lineup, moving into the 10 a.m.-noon slot previously occupied by the Moneywise Guys, local favorites who will move back to the noon to 1 p.m. slot. “That’s a mutual decision that gets the show closer to the market’s closing,” Brandon said of the Moneywise Guys.
Plante, a regular on Fox News, is the son of Bill Plante, the longtime former CBS News reporter.
Ralph Bailey remains in his 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. slot, following Beene. Michael Savage, who had aired from noon to 3, moves back to the 6 to 9 p.m. slot, and Dave Ramsey, who had been airing from 6 to 9, moves to 9 to midnight.
Anyone who listens to local weekday talk radio is familiar enough with Beene. He has been a regular on KERN’s “First Look with Scott Cox” once a week since the show moved to The Californian’s Eye Street studio four years ago. For the past three years he has been a regular Thursday guest on Bailey’s show. But this will be Beene’s first opportunity to host his own program.
“I want people to leave (the studio) thinking, ‘Now, I just learned something,’ because I want to learn something myself,” he said.
“I’m really honored to be given this opportunity, at this stage of life, to get to bring a show like this to the radio.”
Beene;s presidential inauguration week lineup of special guests will include Monsignor Craig Harrison, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, Reuters’ Washington, D.C., correspondent Bill Trott, CSUB political science professor Jeanine Kraybill, water expert Harry Starkey and CSUB basketball Coach Rod Barnes, as well as The Californian’s Lois Henry and Robert Price.
Beene will continue to write his Bakersfield Observed blog, published Wednesdays and Fridays in The Californian.
Beene, reared in Atlanta, has spent his entire career in newspapers on both the editorial and business side. He joined The Californian after seven years with The Los Angeles Times in a variety of editing and management positions. He was part of the reporting teams awarded the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
Prior to that, Beene worked as a journalist overseas, serving as Latin American bureau chief in Mexico City for The Dallas Times Herald, an editor at the Spanish News Agency EFE in Madrid and as Cairo bureau chief for United Press International.
Beene has also served on the Foundation Board of CSU Bakersfield and on the advisory committee to the CSUB School of Business. He is a past president of the Bakersfield Museum of Art Board of Trustees, past president of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield and past board member of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.