"When I look at old movies or read about the Vietnam era and everybody's all up in arms about things that are going on..." John Fiske paused, shaking his head as he tried to come up with the right words to express his frustration. "We just are dead. We're like a sleeping giant that has yet to be tapped into."
Fiske, a 22-year-old, second-year student at California Western School of Law, says he's sick of the political apathy that has permeated his generation. Three months ago, he decided to do something about it. He returned his alma mater, San Diego State University, and found a way to broadcast his message using KCR, the university's student-run AM radio station.
Fiske's brainchild, Death and Taxes, is the first of its kind at KCR. The show introduces what he calls a "third rail of talk radio," made by and for Generation Y-which, by the way, is a term Fiske hates and has set out to change via an on-air contest in search of new names for his cohorts and him.
The meat and potatoes of the show is the sociopolitical banter between Fiske and his two childhood friends and co-hosts, 22-year-old Mesa College student Kris White and 22-year-old SDSU senior Brent Williams. Essentially, the guys rip content from mass media's headlines, giving the topics of the week a fresh twist by adding their own sometimes convoluted but always entertaining commentary.
"I think we reflect the people in our generation because we don't really know what we think fully yet," explained Fiske. "We haven't gone through all the life experiences to come down on one issue hard and fast."
The three hosts agree that their lack of conviction isn't necessarily a bad thing. They say it speaks to a generation that is fed up with partisan politics. Death and Taxes takes an issue-by-issue approach. Sometimes the show takes a liberal tack-one recent segment saw the boys arguing over the legalization of marijuana and prostitution-and sometimes the show leans more to the right.
"I'll jump on both sides of the fence all the time," said Fiske, who thinks one reason his generation is so disinterested in politics is the absence of a viable third party.
"We're always going to be at a dead end if it's always just left, right, liberal, conservative, name-calling, Pelosi-versus-DeLay bullshitting," Fiske vented. "If you sit down and say, "Wait a second-on this issue who really is right and why?' The left is going to have to concede that the right is correct on some issues and the right is going to have to concede that the left is correct on some issues."
That philosophy, says Chris Carmichael, founder of sdradio.net and self-described "media hack," is what sets the show apart. "San Diego needs new talk talent, and Death and Taxes is more than a "me too' show-"me too' meaning it is not a Lush Rimbaugh or Haun Sannity clone," quipped Carmichael in an e-mail, adding that "the show does sound seasoned."
Seasoned, save for perhaps the hosts' favorite on-air game, "What is Kris Hitting with a Wooden Block?"-a game that, oddly enough, does get listeners to call in. For Fiske, that's what it's all about anyway-getting young adults to perk up and pay attention.
"You can tell we're not very highbrow," he said, "but at least we're here."
You can listen to Death and Taxes on Wednesdays from 8 to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 6 to 8 p.m. on 1620 AM (only good for the SDSU campus and surrounding areas), Channel 956 Cox Digital Cable, 957 on Time Warner Music Choice or online at www.deathandtaxeskcr.com. There will be a benefit concert and CD-release party supporting operation costs at KCR at The Whistle Stop Bar, 2236 Fern St. in South Park, from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday, Feb. 17. 619-594-7014.
Top five winners of Death and Taxes "Name Your Generation" contest:
5. Generation www
4. Generation Shmeneration-Who Cares, I Just Need Some Beer Generation.
3. The Super Sized Generation
2. The Wired Generation (inspired by Starbucks and the Internet)
1. The Idol Generation (a reference to American Idol and this generation's obsession with celebrity)