Ros Davidson reports how San Francisco has a strident new voice with a

radio station which wages war against everything 'liberal'

THE revenge of America's ''angry white men'' has been escalating for

months. But the trend has reached a disturbing new pitch in San

Francisco, where a radio station is making national news with America's

most right-wing chat shows.

Do people with Aids need to be quarantined? Should citizens be paid a

bounty to shoot illegal aliens? Should the power of the judiciary be

dismantled? Is President Clinton in the pockets of a coven of lesbian

communists at the Trilateral Commission? These are topics aired on Hot

Talk KSFO-AM since changing its format on January 1 to extremism to

attract listeners. The audience is reportedly increasing, although no

formal figures are yet available.

In San Francisco, traditionally the most liberal US city, appalled

politicians and activists are rallying opposition. Local syndicated

columnist Herb Caen, considered the city's voice, even suggested that

KSFO now means Keep Shoveling Fascist Ordure.

County officials are investigating the station for possibly breaking

civil rights laws. In America, talk is largely protected by

constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech. Even so, on Wednesday

the most incendiary host, J Paul Emerson, was fired for an undisclosed

reason two days after appearing on national TV's Phil Donahue Show.

Still, shows like The Savage Nation during afternoon rush hour are

still heard through open windows on the streets of San Francisco. Host

Michael Savage, who calls himself the Compassionate Conservative,

recently blasted: ''These gay and lesbian Nazis, I don't know what else

to call them, they're stealing our freedom!''

The sound of guns and tanks accompanies his return from commercial

breaks. ''We have such a weak, stupid people,'' he shrieked. Moments

later, he suggested lynching Colin Ferguson, the Jamaican accused of

shooting 17 people dead on the New York subway and who is representing

himself in court. ''In a sane country, people would break down the doors

of the jail and shoot this man!''

After Savage loudly asserted that America's greatest threat is the

quashing of free thinking, a man with an indistinguishable foreign

accent called: ''We succeeded where Hitler failed! We got rid of the

Jews!'' Savage's response seemed sympathetic: ''Oh woah! You're

confused. You're trying to make a point, but you're not doing it well.''

KSFO's format takes right-wing radio to a new extreme, but across the

country talk radio is increasingly drawing listeners who vent anger

against the government, women, minorities, gays, intellectuals and the

media, which they see as a liberal elite.

Arch-conservative Rush Limbaugh, syndicated nationally, claims 20

million listeners daily.

But nowhere more than San Francisco does the right-wing feel more

excluded. The area is also home of the two conservatives behind

America's first major attempt to dismantle affirmative action, job

hiring that favours minorities and women. They want the issue put to

popular vote next year.

''You're listening to the new voice of the city,'' announced KSFO's

Savage recently, ''the clear spring of reality of the city, not the

river of pollution that's run through here for 40 years.''

He has quoted excerpts from Plato's Republic and a book entitled Big

Sister is Watching, which claims conspiracies between the Trilateral

Commission and ''Hillary's hellcats''.

One recent guest was lawyer Laura Ingraham, formerly a clerk for

Justice Clarence Thomas and identified by the New York Times as part of

the new, young, conservative-opinion elite in Washington DC. Her only

hesitation over the idea of US troops protecting the Mexican border was

that it might seem Soviet.

Responded Savage: ''That's beautiful! Why don't you come out here and

run for governor?'' Minutes later a listener called on a car phone: ''I

make a nice income, a couple of hundred thousand a year, and I see that

what's happening is my money takes care of every Mexican or Chinese that

comes in. What the hell's going on here?''

''Talk radio is a venting mechanism for people who are angry and

anti-institution,'' says Cliff Zukin of Rutgers University.

Conservatives listen to talk radio more, are more likely to call in,

and more likely to get on the air. Exit polls after the last

presidential election showed that frequent listeners voted Republican 3

to 1.

''KSFO is breaking new ground in offensive programming,'' says Peter

Laufer, author of the forthcoming book Inside Talk Radio: America's

Voice or Just Hot Air? ''It's not just in poor taste, it's an

inappropriate use of the medium. These are rabble-rousers who are

preying on the public's fears for the sake of their wallet.''

On St Valentine's Day, most callers to Savage's show on the subject of

office romance were angry men. One said problems would be solved ''if

you only date mature girls''. Another stated: ''You can't have sexual

harassment laws and office romance!'' A few days earlier, Emerson had

shouted: ''Political correctness is over!''

He suggested to one caller named Lloyd: ''Everyone who's a taxpayer

and an American can be a bounty hunter, can go out there and shoot

illegal immigrants who come across the border, and can shoot killers,

robbers and rapers and drag them down to the police station and collect

a reward. No, wait, maybe that's too bad . . .''

The caller interrupted: ''Let's shoot them before they come across the

border! We don't want funeral expenses!'' Emerson laughed: ''You are

bad, Lloyd, you are stinking bad.''