At the time of Alan Berg’s murder, the antisemitic hate of the killers was considered far out of the mainstream of political thought and was shocking to most of us. Forty years later, Alan is gone but the antisemitism he despised and fought is all around us.

Forty years ago this week, my phone rang waking me up. Denver’s rock promoter, Barry Fey, was on the other line: “Wake up! Turn on Channel 4 – Alan’s dead!”

It was the night of June 18, 1984, and Alan Berg, an outspoken Jewish radio talk show host, had been gunned down in Congress Park by members of a white-supremacist, neo-Nazi group who named themselves “The Order,” or in German “Bruders Schweigen,” the Silent Brothers.

At the time of Alan’s murder, the antisemitic hate of the killers was considered far out of the mainstream of political thought and was shocking to most of us. Forty years later, Alan is gone but the antisemitism he despised and fought is all around us.

Alan was Denver, Colorado’s first victim of a legitimate hate crime, and yet the city has not recognized him with a street name, a sign, or a plaque to mark the murder of this remarkable man. Only last year was Alan admitted to the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame.

How did Alan’s murder happen? What were the events leading up to that horrible night on Adams Street in Denver?

Alan and I were both working at KOA radio. I was on-air 9 a.m. to noon and Alan worked from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The hour between our shows was a news talk hour. I hosted it with Evan Slack, farm reporter, Kent Gershong on sports, and Kris Olinger reading the news. I would have guests on, and Alan would join us every day at about 12:45, in what we call “a pass.” Alan would billboard what he would talk about that day on his show.

We were best friends for nine years in a business where our colleagues were our family, or as Alan used to say “inlaws and outlaws” who gathered every Friday night for dinner.

As the “King of Agriculture,” KOA received many small-town newspapers and farm and ranch reports from all over Colorado. I loved to read them. One day after the show, I came across the Primrose and Cattleman’s Gazette. The paper was published in Fort Lupton by a man named Rick Elliott.

In this June 24, 1984 file photo, Peter Boyles alternated between tears and the happy memories of Alan Berg as he gave his eulogy. (Photo By Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post)

Elliott had printed in the Gazette The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which alleges a global Jewish plot to run the world. The article was “written” by Colonel Frances Farrell.

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Anyone who has read European history knows The Protocols were a fabrication forged, if you will, and created by the secret police in Czarist Russia, a little before the turn of the century. At first, I thought, what is this trash? Digging a little deeper, I read Elliott’s other edition of his paper. Antisemitism was an ongoing theme for Rick Elliott. So, I asked our producer, Larry Crandall, to invite Elliott to come on the air during the news hour, and he agreed.

The on-air segment got rough quickly. I asked him if he paid Colonel Farrell for the article, and Elliott said yes. I recalled telling him, “if he could read, he’d find what a fraud The Protocols were and could have had it all for free.” Elliott was so steamed at me. At that moment Alan walked into the studio, tapped me on the shoulder, pointed at the phone and said, “I want him next.” I asked Elliott if he wanted to continue with Alan Berg in the next hour and he said yes.

I believe that was the first of the events leading to the assassination of Alan Berg. Elliott continued with Alan on-air. Berg ripped into him as only Alan could.

What we didn’t know was that a man named David Lane had been sitting in the other room with Elliott listening to Berg and me go after Elliott’s antisemitism. David Lane was a part-time printer, part-time bodyguard for Rick Elliott. Ultimately, Lane would be the driver for the hit team on the night of June 18, 1984.

I went on to read more editions of Elliot’s newspaper, noting the ongoing – Jews are the problem theme – and was also struck by the number of recruitment ads for all branches of the military appearing in The Gazette.

I contacted Congresswoman Pat Schroeder. At that time, Rep. Schroeder was sitting on the House Armed Services Committee and had all the military ads canceled at The Gazette. Having lost a lot of his revenue, Elliott sued Alan, KOA radio and me. The judge threw the lawsuit out of court.

The radio station’s management moved Alan to nights. Remember, KOA with 50,000 watts of power can be heard all over the western section of our country. We used to quip, “At night you can get KOA in your teeth.”

In this March 14, 1978 file photo, radio host Alan Berg is shown during a broadcast. (Photo By Kenn Bisio/The Denver Post)

In January of 1984, Alan had as his “guest” by phone, Pastor Pete Peters, from the Identity Church in LaPorte, along with white supremacist Gordon “Jack” Mohr, and the return of Rick Elliott. Berg went full blast on them, mad radio, knock-down-drag-out talk radio, as only he could do. What we also didn’t know at the time, was up in Haden Lake, Idaho, in Richard Butler’s white supremacist crazy Christian compound was Robert J. Mathews, the founder of The Order, listening to KOA. I believe that was the moment they began the real planning to assassinate Alan Berg.

Sometimes I wish that Alan was alive to do a show today so he could tackle the rise of antisemitism in America and of all places, in Europe. Have there been no lessons learned?

The rise of Nazism was brought about in German universities in the 1920s, breeding grounds for the antisemitism of modern times. Columbia University has become the Heidelberg University of today. Many students aren’t just protesting the existence of the state of Israel, they are attacking Judaism. The Protocols are still widely published and read across the Middle East and Hamas has endorsed them as a legitimate historical document, despite profound evidence to the contrary.

Both Alan and I knew that people who believed in the Protocols, the David Dukes of the world, or the Holocaust deniers, or the Klansman who was a paramedic in Lakewood, were ratings-getters. The Klansman in Lakewood would call in and Alan would light him up. A show with one of those jokers would give you crazy shows for the rest of the week. We never in a million years thought that any of this would do what it did, even after the Klansman threatened Alan in person at the station, live on the air.

Flowers in a glass jar vase sit outside the garage door in 1985 where Alan Berg was killed almost one year earlier. (Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post)

Someone once said history doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes. Can you hear the echoes across America and around the world coming from the period of Alan’s murder?

I hear the echoes at squatters camps on college campuses, on talk radio, in online chat rooms, and on social media platforms, coming from both the left and the right. If Alan were alive and on the air today, he would live off of it.

Richard Butler and his flock in an Idaho compound believed in the Z.O.G., the Zionist Occupation Government. They believed in the Protocols plot and Butler’s bizarre version of Christianity that makes Jesus a non-Jew. How much of that nonsense are you watching, listening to, or reading about today? Universities, demonstrations, camps and sadly a lot of politicians on both the left and the right share those same beliefs. The Order kept a list of Jews, blacks, feds, judges, and whites dubbed “race traitors.”

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On Adams Street where Alan lived, on that night in June 1984, those men knew the address because Jean Craig, the den mother of The Order, had stalked and followed Alan home. As Alan was getting out of his car, he was shot 13 times by triggerman Bruce Pierce. Alan suffered 34 wounds from an Ingram Mac10 machine pistol. David Lane was behind the wheel, Robert J. Mathews and Richard Scutari were in the getaway car about to be hunted by law enforcement across the country.

How did it all end? Robert Mathews died after a 36-hour siege in his house on an island off the coast of Washington state. David Lane died in prison. Bruce Pierce died in Allenwood Federal Prison, Jean Craig also died in prison in 2001. Gary Lee Yarbrough, the killer’s most devoted advocate, died in Florence, Colorado, in 2018.

Finally, Rick Elliott went to prison for perjury, bad checks, and the authorities said, “he was nothing but a con man.”

Nothing could tie the killers to the crime scene. When Mathews died on the island, he was the only link to the murder of Alan Berg. There is no direct evidence, no eyewitnesses, and the Brothers were silent. The killers were tried in Denver and found guilty of violating Alan’s civil rights.

So just what is Alan Berg’s legacy? Talk radio is far worse today. Ratings and revenue have diminished and the talent behind the mic sounds identical – angry white man followed by angry white man.

However, none of the men who were on Adams Street that night nearly 40 years ago, no members of The Order, or on the hit team, were ever tried or convicted of Alan Berg’s murder.

Peter Boyles has been on talk radio for so long that he was the board operator for Guglielmo Marconi. He is infamous for his work on the Ramsey murder, building DIA, “Players and Sugar,”  and disgraced pastor Ted Haggard. Despite almost 50 years on air, he still has a show on Saturdays and a podcast on 710 KNUS.

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