Steve Garner, Host of Garden Talk and The Good Food Hour, Saturdays from 9am - Noon
When Steve Garner isn't cooking or gardening, he's talking. In a business where radio DJ's and hosts are more often "flavors of the month", Garner has been a radio personality for more than 45 years, 33 at the same station. Garner is a third generation Kentuckian. Growing up in Louisville in a family of wonderful cooks, Steve experienced from an early age how authentic farm raised food tasted. His uncle owned a butcher shop and his grandparents were avid gardeners. He will gladly put his fried chicken up against any challengers. Perhaps he was inspired by the weekly Tuesday luncheons that he and his father shared at Louisville's Brown Hotel, with Colonel Harlan Sanders at the next table.
Steve attended Indiana University in the mid 1960's. His award as "Outstanding Freshman Broadcaster" hinted at the career ahead. After moving to San Francisco, Garner joined KJAZ , America's oldest jazz radio station. Over the years he met and interviewed many of the greats in the field. During this fertile period, Steve lived on a commune (yes, Steve was a flower child). He was the head cook and gardener for a radical group of organic farmers and vegetarians.
In the early 1970's, Steve was a pioneer of progressive rock / freeform radio. His show was the first to feature this style in Kentucky and southern Indiana. After a full page article ran in the Louisville Courier Journal featuring a healthy dose of his counter culture rhetoric, Garners car was vandalized and threats were made during his show. He beat a hasty retreat back to California.
He helped introduce the first progressive rock radio format north of San Francisco. By 1974, it was time for another change. Steve moved to Boston and earned a degree in musical education, with an emphasis on jazz piano. His first band, "The Statics" were true to their name. During his four years in Boston, Steve worked at a North Shore seafood restaurant; during the summers, he was music director at a performing arts camp.
In 1978, Garner returned to California and was hired by the Santa Rosa Junior College to help create a program for adults with mental illness. Calling on his background in both cooking and education, Steve developed an innovative program that included menu planning, shopping, and daily cooking classes for adults attempting to live independently. He has been invited to other colleges throughout California to share his curriculum; he has hosted workshops on the subject and written a menu guide for care-home operators to help them serve more nutritious meals at lower costs.
In 1987, KSRO asked Steve to develop Saturday morning programming that would appeal to a diverse listener base. He created three shows: Grapevine, which featured winemakers, wine growers, sommeliers, and wine writers; Garden Talk, co- hosted with Fred King, Dave Fazzio, and Gwen Kilchherr; and The Good Food Hour, co-hosted by John Ash, restauranteur, chef, and winner of both IACP and James Beard cookbook awards. John was also awarded Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2009 by the IACP. The programs are fast-paced mixes of tips, techniques, interviews, reviews, and plenty of listener calls. There are yearly "Listener Recipe Contests" and frequent road trips, broadcasts from wineries, farms, fairs, and restaurants. Garden Talk and The Good Food Hour are the longest running garden and food shows in California.
Bill Mann, television and radio critic for the Oakland Tribune and The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa) wrote, "I doubt there is a more pleasing radio food talk host than KSRO's Steve Garner. Clearly, Garner has one of the best radio voices around. I've heard all the "kitchen shows" from San Francisco -KCBS, KNBR, and KGO- and Garner's is easily the best."