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Farewell to a Very Human Bean: KROQ DJ Kat Corbett on the Kindness of the Departing ‘Kevin & Bean’ Cohost

Kat Corbett and Gene "Bean" Baxter
Courtesy Kat Corbett

“I’m so happy you’re here.” Those five words saved my life when I was a new DJ at KROQ. Working behind the mic at a legendary radio station can be an intimidating mindf—, and I had a bad case of Imposter Syndrome. I began talking myself out of doing the gig, paying too much attention to that negative voice in my head, and I was drowning. I knew of Bean, sure, but I didn’t know Bean. Had never met him. On his day off, Bean came into the studio and said those five words to me: “I’m so happy you’re here.” He had no idea how much I needed to hear that and it changed everything.

Bean will hate that I’m writing this piece, calling attention to the impact he’s made on so many who grew up listening to “The Kevin & Bean Show.” It’s a new beginning after all, not an ending. The man did what he came to do and then some. It’s time for a new radio challenge. Tomorrow (Nov. 8), “The Kevin & Bean Show” will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, and rightly so. I could go on about Bean’s broadcasting achievements, his masterful interviews, comedic timing and die-hard love of music. I could poke fun at his obsession with the post office and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot, or the time I visited him in Seattle and he proudly pointed to the exterior of his house and said, “It’s Tiffany Blue!” He’s a complicated man. One that needs to be celebrated. Here are some things you might not know about Bean:

This past year he bravely and publicly shared his struggles with mental health issues. He’s helped rescue animals. including four pigs, one he affectionately nicknamed Ham Sandwich. When a coworker’s life was on the line, Bean donated a kidney. He’s obsessed with my mother’s bad Boston accent, and he’s the type of guy who sees a tweet you post about being a David Lynch fan and, two days later, Lynch’s new book is on your doorstep.

Radio is a glorious dysfunctional family — an island of misfit toys who bond together in a high-stakes, unpredictable world — and if you’re lucky, you get to experience the magic and drama from the inside. You get to work with people who help you navigate the highs and lows of radio. People who are willing to show you how to be great even when things are falling apart. That’s Kevin & Bean. I don’t know how I got so lucky. And who knew I’d feel so much affection for two guys who wear shorts every day?

Having worked with Kevin & Bean in various situations, I’ve come to appreciate radio on a whole new level. At all times there are four or five people with microphones somehow not talking over each other, plus two people with the power to drop in sound bytes at will, including one guy who’s not even in studio! It’s truly something to behold.

Tomorrow I’ll turn on KROQ and channel my best Ben Affleck in “Good Will Hunting” — specifically, the scene at the end where Ben pulls up to Matt Damon’s apartment and he’s gone. “No goodbye, no see you later, no nothing.” And I’m going to smile knowing my friend Bean is moving on to his next radio adventure. As for my friends Kevin Ryder, Allie Mac Kay, Jensen Karp and the whole morning show staff, you’re the goods and I can’t wait hear how the show evolves. To you, I say: “I’m so happy you’re here.”

 

Gene “Bean” Baxter is moving to England after his Nov. 7 final broadcast on KROQ. Corbett is a long-time midday personality on the station who also hosts the “Locals Only” show. She now is additionally heard on SiriusXM’s Lithium channel, as well as serving as a voiceover artist and screenwriter. The black-and-white photo above is from Corbett’s visit to Bean in Seattle in 2009, with Bean’s beloved dog in between. “RIP Tater Tot,” says Corbett.