Talk radio icon Alan Berg, the self-described “man you love to hate,” is gunned down and killed instantly in the driveway of his home in Denver, Colorado, on this day in 1984. The 50-year-old host, whose show on the station KOA gained a strong following in the early 1980s, stirred up controvesy with his outspoken personality, abrasive approach and liberal views. He had already been the target of a steady stream of death threats.
One of the suspects in Berg’s murder, Bruce Pierce—leader of a neo-Nazi organization called the Order—was arrested nearly a year later in Georgia, driving a van that contained machine guns, grenades, dynamite, and a crossbow. His right-wing extremist group had been linked to many armored-car robberies in the West.
David Lane and Richard Scutari, Pierce’s alleged accomplices, were caught a short time later. Authorities believed that Robert Matthews, the founder of the Order, was also involved, but he had died in a fire caused by a shootout with FBI agentsnear Seattle, Washington, in December 1984.
After Pierce, Lane, and Scutari were charged with violating Berg’s civil rights, a jury concluded that Pierce had been responsible for shooting Berg, while Lane had driven the getaway car. Scutari was acquitted.
Alan Berg’s story provided the loose inspiration for Oliver Stone and Eric Bogosian’s 1988 film “Talk Radio.” In the years since his murder, radio talk hosts have been known to be even more abrasive and controversial than Berg.