By Danny Wicentowski
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By RFT Staff
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But less than two months after being reinstated, Slaten revisited his feud with Savard during a Rams press conference. The screaming match nearly turned physical before Maurice Drummond of Channel 2 jumped in to separate the pair.
"It is very fair to say that Steve told Kevin: 'Hey, you keep saying all this stuff on the radio, why don't you discuss it with me?'" recounts John Hadley of KTRS. "Because Slaten had been making personal attacks on Steve, to the point where he insinuated that Steve was taking steroids."
Hadley says he and fellow broadcasters were on the edge of their seats watching the confrontation. "I would say that there's a good chance the good Lord was sitting on Kevin's shoulders that day. Because if Steve decided he was going to take action, it would have been a very painful experience for another individual."
Savard declined to comment for this article, explaining, "I don't want to waste my time."
Most recently Slaten got into an altercation at the Dubliner after a Rams postgame broadcast in December 2006. According to the Post-Dispatch, a man claimed Slaten hit him in the face with a bottle, but surveillance video proved it was a purse. Slaten was arrested, but no charges were filed.
"He's volatile," says Mike Claiborne. "Anybody who tells you he's not doesn't know him. We had one moment [at KFNS] where we were headed to 'DEFCON 2.' But we're both smart enough to realize nobody wins a nuclear war."
Some of these incidents provide regular fodder for a lot of Slaten's antagonistic listening audience, "the Slaten haters," as fellow broadcaster Tim McKernan calls them. "You should start a post on my [Internet] forum or Bernie [Miklasz]'s forum and watch all the threads that come in mentioning the arena fight or the Dubliner fight," suggests McKernan, who feels Slaten's bad rep is unjustified.
"I believe when he's out in public he's got a bull's-eye on his back, more so than, say, me or Rene Knott or Steve Savard or Joe Buck, or whomever. People think because [Slaten] screams on the radio that he's going to scream in person, and this is their opportunity to try to get him going and to say, 'Oooh, I got Kevin Slaten.'"
Likening Slaten's broadcasting shtick to "grade-A comedy," McKernan says of his colleague: "When it really gets down to it, he's got a bad rap from other media guys who might be envious of his success. It's like, 'Why are you hating on this guy?' 'Well, because he makes a lot of money.'"
Adds Miklasz: "I'll have people question me: 'Why do you stick up for that guy?' And it's really difficult to explain, but I've told him this: 'You know, in some ways we're kindred spirits.'
"We're kindred spirits because St. Louis is a real company town, very conservative in terms of anybody in the media questioning anything or criticizing anyone," Miklasz goes on. "It's very, very difficult to be the person who is always hollering about something. You really incur the wrath of a lot of people. And every time it happens, it's almost a bewildering experience because people just overreact and go crazy, and you feel like you're some kind of war criminal. Slaten is the only other guy in this town, in my opinion, who has been fearless about getting after people. So in that vein I respect him and feel a connection with him. I think he means to do well and just gets too fired up about things. I would say that as a friend, he makes me wince because I think he goes too far — but he would probably say about me that I don't go far enough."
Says McKernan: "I know by me vouching for Kevin Slaten, I'm going to get plenty of the Slaten haters hating me."
During a lengthy sit-down interview in mid-July at one of his favorite hangouts, the FOX & Hound Pub & Grille in Chesterfield Valley (or "the Valley," as Slaten refers to it — Chesterfield was his stomping ground until "it got too snobby for me," he says by way of explaining his move to St. Charles), a clean-shaven, sparkly eyed and golf-course-tanned Slaten covers a lot of résumé territory.
There's the Duncan/KFNS debacle, of course, and his general distrust of radio and television executives. The evenings he spends flier-ing cars outside bars like this one, aiming to drum up business for his law practice, which mostly consists of tickets and DWIs, with the occasional domestic issue and drug possession sprinkled in.
Slaten speaks lovingly of his son, who's now 24 and still lives with him. He talks about being a sucker for children in general: "They're the last arena in this world that hasn't become spoiled or jaded."
And he speaks of his conversion from Catholicism to evangelical Protestantism. "I've always believed, but never really believed until about five years ago," he says. "I believe every answer we need is in that Bible."
What brought about the spiritual reawakening? "A personal setback," he says, but declines to elaborate. "My favorite scripture comes from Jeremiah," Slaten offers. "He says: God has a plan for you. And you have to be patient. It's not for the bad, not for evil, but for good. The friend who baptized me pointed it out to me some years ago."