SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL
Onion Horton and the Rev. Larry Rice make a strange pairing on WINU
By D.J. Wilson
Waking up to Richard "Onion" Horton is an acquired taste. Horton interprets reality through the filter of race, and though sometimes he's over-interpreting, in a depressing number of cases he's on the mark, 'specially in this funky old town. For most of the last 25 years, with significant gaps, Onion has been venting his views on some frequency or another, including WGNU, KATZ, KWK and the old KKSS, and even doing sports on KMOX. Now he's back. Starting Monday, Aug. 9, he'll be heard on the 1,800 red-hot watts of WINU (880-AM), the Highland, Ill., station that broadcasts the games of Chicago's Bulls and Cubs. In the niche-market world that is radio, the odd bit here is that the station is owned by the Rev. Larry Rice. The media mogul/minister, who owns Channel 24 and several radio stations, will follow Horton, coming on at 9 a.m. Talk about mood whiplash: Onion gives 'em hell, and the Rev. Rice tries to offer the alternative. Of course, religion aside, Horton and Rice agree on a lot of social issues, particularly the imperatives of class and the casualties of capitalism the homeless and the working poor. "I voted for Larry Rice when he ran for office," recalls Horton. "That's the kiss of death. I also voted for George McGovern." Doing the drive-time thing will be Mark Kasen, who will be taking calls at the station's remote studio on Big Bend Boulevard. For the first few weeks, Horton will take the microphone at 8 a.m.; then he'll hold down the 6-8 a.m. slot.
One thing Onion missed riffing on during his time off the air was Senate Bill 781, devised for the St. Louis school-desegregation settlement. "781 was one of the greatest sellouts in the history of black people in St. Louis," he says. "Any Negro who was for 781 was a sellout and a traitor." See, the time away hasn't mellowed him.