Avid listeners of KSRO will notice an unfamiliar sound coming through the drive-time airwaves this week.
As was announced last week and echoed in sundry local media outlets, the long-running radio show, The Drive with Steve Jaxon, has been unexpectedly discontinued by the station’s management. As of this writing, it’s unclear what will replace the show, but whatever it is, it won’t sound like Jaxon.
Jaxon and his longtime business partner, Cathy Ratto, have produced the show for the past 15 years. Last Friday’s 3 to 6pm slot was its final airing on KSRO. The team is currently in talks with another local broadcaster to continue delivering the show to its intensely loyal audience.
With many a misty eye among the dozen or more guests who dropped by during the farewell broadcast (some bearing bottles of chardonnay—Jaxon’s favorite wine varietal), the mood was emotional, especially as tributes to Jaxon and his on-air cohorts (including co-host Harry Duke, the theater critic for the Bohemian and Pacific Sun) began to pour in.
Among them was a heartfelt pre-recorded message from Jaxon’s former producer, Mike DeWald.
“I have to say, if you told me Steve Jaxon was being canceled in 2023, I would’ve thought something very different,” observed DeWald, who is now a reporter at KCBS. “The Drive is a Sonoma County institution, a one of a kind place for the community to gather on the radio. It’s something that never should have worked. It’s an insane idea. A late night show on the radio, news makers, comedians, live music, pop culture, a slice of life of what it means to live in Sonoma County, and yet it did. It worked because of the listeners. It worked because of the crew. It worked because of the guests. It worked because of Steve’s ability to be the glue that holds the whole thing together.”
Indeed, The Drive wasn’t just a local institution but an on-ramp to a slew of adventures across the nation. In his statement, DeWald cited time in the “kitchen with Jon Stewart,” visiting Chris Rock at the Comedy Cellar, the corner office of Lanny Davis and the Democratic National Convention among other highlights.
This is not the first attempt to take Jaxon and The Drive off air. In June 2010, when then station owner Maverick Media unceremoniously laid off Jaxon for three weeks, popular uproar led to his reinstatement and the rebirth of the show in the incarnation that endured until last Friday.
As former Bohemian editor Gabe Meline remarked at the time, “Jaxon just has a certain magnetism, a cool detachment which inspires guests to loosen up and talk freely.”
Among these guests, hailing from Jaxon’s extensive network of contacts who he referred to as “The Drive Hall-of-Famers,” is yours truly, who, with various Bohemian contributors, appeared in a weekly segment called “Boho Buzz.”
The Bohemian has had a fruitful relationship with The Drive and even once recognized Jaxon with a cheeky accolade: Best Damn Media Personality.
“And so it is, as both fan and friend, that I declare Steve Jaxon, the host of The Drive… the Best Damn Media Personality of the North Bay,” I wrote in March of 2021. “With both the personality and pipes—the best in the biz—Jaxon fills not just the ears of the North Bay, but also its hearts.”