KCSB-FM alumnus Harvey Levin, the creator of the controversial celebrity-news website TMZ, took questions last night (Saturday, April 25), at UC Santa Barbara’s Pollock Theater. Levin was one of the weekend’s featured guests at the UCSB Alumni Association All Gaucho Reunion 2015.
Here’s how the UCSB Carsey-Wolf Center billed the main event, A Conversation with Harvey Levin: The New Journalistic Environment: “Mr. TMZ himself, Harvey Levin, UCSB class of ’72, will be sharing insights on his amazing career that has included working as an attorney, TV news reporter, Host of The People’s Court and most recently, creating and starring in TMZ!”
KCSB Development Coordinator Ted Coe represented Mr. Levin’s radio alma mater during the pre-event reception and was able to ask the following question at the Pollock Theater Q&A:
“Hi Harvey. I heard you have at least one anecdote about your time at KCSB-FM here at UC Santa Barbara.”
Oh, yeah… It was the only place I’ve ever been fired. [Audience laughs] It was a disaster.
You all know that, there was a period here over a year… 1969… where UCSB was the center of unrest. And we had [Professor Emeritus] Roger Davidson, Nancy, they know very well what I’m talking about. There were 3 riots. Very serious riots where the National Guard was called in. It was an amazing time. It was troubling, scary, but also amazing.
And, the seminal moment, was the burning of the Bank of America, right?
So, I had a radio show on KCSB. And I was interviewing this environmental professor from Berkeley or some place about a new way of processing disposable waste. And so I’m doing this. And then all of a sudden the news director says, ‘Oh my God, the Bank of America is burning down. The riots erupted and we got somebody in the telephone booth.’
And it turned out to be a friend of mine, who is a friend of mine to this day. His name is Cy Godfrey. And Cy Godfrey is in this phone booth, and he says, ‘The National Guard is coming, the Bank of American is burning!… The National Guard is coming closer! Aaarrrghh!’ [Audience laughs.]
And he got pepper sprayed. And it was this dramatic amazing thing. And then so Cy’s talking about the Bank of America burning. It was the hugest event that has ever happened at this school. So Cy got pepper sprayed and the phone went dead. And I look at the microphone and I say…’So professor, let’s talk about disposable waste.’ [Audience laughs.]
I didn’t know what to do. I just did not know what to do. I never had done it before. I was not prepared for it. And I just talked about disposable waste for the next 20 minutes. And they yanked me off the air and they fired me. Which they should have done. Which they absolutely should have done.”
A student of KCSB’s history, Ted Coe says “There was definitely something stirring about Harvey’s account of the events of 1970,” but he adds, “I nonetheless find myself doubting the exact veracity of Mr. Levin’s so-called firing.”
He promises “to sic KCSB’s team of young journalists on the whole story.”
Coe was also happy to share KCSB swag with this colorful alumnus. He says: “I hope that Harvey keeps our studios under Storke Tower in mind the next time he visits UCSB.”