By Judith Salkin
The only real drawback to living in the desert, according to “Bulldog” Bill Feingold, until recently, it was hard to get a good bagel.
In fact, Feingold mentioned that to Larry King, who was headed to the McCallum Theatre for a show in March 2012. As it turned out, King had just opened a bagel shop in L.A.
“He asked if I was coming to the show,” Feingold recalled from his Palm Springs home. “He told me he’d bring me a dozen bagels.”
After the show, Feingold spent time with King. “No one else, just him and me. I never would have thought I’d go to the McCallum Theatre let alone talk to Larry King.”
Feingold and his partner, Kevin Holmes, greet the desert each morning from 6 to 9 a.m. on K-NEWS 93.7 FM, 970 AM, with a one-hour recap from 6 to 7 p.m. nightly.
You can practically see the Brooklyn, N.Y., native scrunching up his face with a great big grin as he talks about the changes that have happened to him since settling in Palm Springs. For the 63-year-old Feingold, coming to the desert 13 years ago was their right move. “At the right time, too,” he adds.
If he hadn’t, “I wouldn’t be on radio,” he said. “This is my, let’s see … my third career!”
Feingold started his first career as a stockbroker in NYC. He made the decision to move to L.A. in the 1980s for health reasons. Not his own. “I had a lot of friends who were sick,” he recalled. “AIDS, you know, and I came out to help take care of them.”
It’s Feingold’s big heart that you hear when he talks about giving his time and love to friends who needed him. He just wasn’t an L.A. kind of guy.
He quit working as a broker when the market crashed in the ‘90s, “and then we had the (1994) Northridge earthquake,” he recalled. “My mother called and said, ‘maybe it’s an omen and you should come home!’”
Feingold was intent on returning to the Big Apple and picking up his life there, but the owners of his apartment building asked him to stay on as the manager. “I said, ‘I’m Jewish, I don’t fix things’,” he recalled. “They told me everyone loved me! So I stayed.”
The building was filled “with little old Jewish ladies,” he said. “They called ‘Billy,’ that shows you how old they were if I was in my 50s and they were calling me Billy like I’m a kid! They’d say, ‘Billy, why should I pay a cab $8 to take me to the doctor, can you do it and I’ll pay you?’ And then we’d go to the doctor, grocery shopping, everywhere but I never took their money.”
Unlike most apartment managers, Feingold was well paid for his work. “They gave me a gorgeous two bedroom and we had a waiting list,” he said. Between tenants, Feingold would refurbish each apartment and the rents went up. “The owners were very pleased,” he said.
Feingold decided Palm Springs would be a nice place to own a weekend place. After a couple of months, “I wondered why I was driving out every weekend and just decided to move,” he said.
He got involved in his new hometown by going to city council meetings and becoming active in the community. That eventually led to his being appointed to the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission by Mayor Will Kleindienst and eventually serving as its chair.
“I came to Palm Springs because I knew that it gay-friendly,” he said. “And that was important to me. Serving on the Human Rights Commission was wonderful and I think we did some good work.”
Because of his commission work, he started getting invites to sit in on local talk shows like the Marshall and Stone show. Feingold, who claims that he used to be a shy-violet before he came out of his shell, was asked by Morris Media if he wanted to be on radio.
It took a while, but he finally said yes to a once-a-week midday show on Saturdays. “That first show I was just awful!” he recalled with chuckle. “Oh, I was the world’s biggest wreck. I’d done enough research for three months of shows. I thought I was going to be the Walter Cronkite of the desert and I could barely talk that first day.”
Then he met and hooked up with his partner, Kevin Holmes and got into a groove. “We’re just ourselves,” Feingold said. “We talk about everything that’s in the news. We make fun, mostly about ourselves, but never at anybody’s expense.”
All-in-all, the move to the desert has been a good one for Feingold. “I’m doing things and talking to people I never thought in a million years I’d talk to.”
The show’s moved around a bit from weekends only to nightly and now to its morning drive-time position, a move that Feingold pitched, even if it means getting up at 2 a.m. to prep for the show.
Aside from a lack sleep, Feingold’s now worried about his figure. “When you have a bagel at 2 a.m., and you get to the studio and guests bring goodies, by the time it’s 2 p.m., you’ve already eaten five times! What the heck! I’m having fun.”