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Bill Wattenburg: Wikis


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Willard Harvey Wattenburg (born February 9, 1936), better known as Dr. Bill Wattenburg, is an inventor, scientist, author, and radio talk show host residing in the Sierra Nevada of California. Advertisements for his show often satirically refer to him as "the smartest man on the Earth."


Early life

Born in Chico, California and raised in the forests of Plumas County, Wattenburg grew up helping his father in the logging business. His scientific talent was discovered by a teacher, who encouraged him to apply to several schools, including the University of California, Berkeley, where he completed his first year with honors. After his freshman year, he moved back to assist his father in his business, and graduated from California State University, Chico, summa cum laude in physics and electrical engineering. He then returned to Berkeley for his doctorate in electrical engineering, completing it in three years, and worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and as a professor at Berkeley until 1970.[1] After that, he was a consultant to various engineering and defense-oriented businesses. He remains a consultant to the Livermore lab.[1]

Life as scientist

As an inventor, Wattenburg has eight patents to his credit. He invented the first home alarm system using electrical wiring as the communications medium. Many of his ideas, such as using flatbed rail cars as temporary bridges, unplugged(?) tank water heaters for storage of emergency potable water, and converting plow blades into minesweepers, are deceptively simple, variantsof prior art, and/or Folk technology.

As a scientist, Wattenburg discovered many of the original problems with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, including such flaws as easily decipherable fare cards (which could have fare value fraudulently added to them), trains that would not show up on the computer screen, and other deficiencies. He has published numerous articles in scientific journals, and continues to do research as an adjunct professor at Chico State.

Radio talk show host

Since 1972, Wattenburg has been the host of The Open Line to the West Coast, a talk show heard late Saturday and Sunday evenings 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on KGO AM 810.[2] On the program, Wattenburg takes calls from throughout the Western United States. Wattenburg claims the program is the most listened to radio program in the Western United States in that time slot. On the show, Wattenburg answers questions about science, talks about politics, current events, and discusses some of his ideas. Some of his current recurring topics are whether premium gasoline is worthwhile, strong support for nuclear power, his disdain for the Sierra Club and the environmental movement, supporters of which he calls ecofreaks or ecofrauds. He is well-known for his distinctive, low voice. He especially enjoys taking calls from children who ask him basic scientific questions of the Why is the sky blue? variety. He was a strong supporter of Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Political Views

He is known to have little patience for ideas he believes contradict scientific fact. For example, he has long railed against the use of MTBE, an oxygenate added to gasoline that allegedly minimizes pollutants from automobiles and thereby reducing pollution. Additionally, he frequently discusses his support of American-made automobiles arguing that the performance of such cars rivals those of foreign equivalents. Wattenburg is known for having very little patience with callers who insist on arguing a point without sufficient facts. Wattenburg is generally considered a conservative; however he also adheres to some traditionally liberal positions on a handful of social issues, such as abortion.

Wattenberg has openly suggested the use of standing armies on American Streets and within American homes for law enforcement purposes. "Our troops are going house-to-house removing weapons in Bosnia. Why not use them to do that in West Oakland or South Central Los Angeles?" [3]


As an author, Wattenburg wrote two books for the general public. One book, Best Jokes From Talk Radio, is a compilation of risque jokes heard on talk radio. The second book, How to Find and Fascinate a Mistress, is a fictionalized version of Wattenburg's exploits with young women in the 1970s. The book, which set him up as a male antidote to the feminism of Gloria Steinem, earned Wattenburg millions of dollars in print, under his pseudonym of Will Harvey. The book is long since out of print.

Marriage and family

Wattenburg is married to Carol. They have a daughter. He also has three children from a previous marriage.

Appearance on films

He has also made brief appearances in three Clint Eastwood films: The Dead Pool (Nolan Kennard), Pink Cadillac (pit boss), and True Crime (radio reporter).

See also


External links



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