Edit ModuleShow Tags

Front Pages


Published:

(page 1 of 7)

The Other Van Dam Story

—Thomas K. Arnold

Talk show host Rick Roberts made headlines with his KFMB-AM radio show about Damon and Brenda van Dam’s allegedly swinging lifestyle. But he wasn’t the only radio personality—or media outlet—to cast a critical eye on the backstory of the Danielle van Dam kidnapping case.

John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, whose John and Ken Show airs weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on Los Angeles station KFI-AM, devoted three shows to the case, even traveling to San Diego to broadcast from the van Dams’ Sabre Springs neighborhood. The week before that, they were the first to cast aspersions on the van Dams, a full day before the Roberts broadcast.

The Millennium Children’s Fund had just announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Danielle. Fund administrator Douglas Pierce had visited with the van Dams, and the next day he called a press conference in Los Angeles at which he voiced suspicions about the couple’s behavior. For an hour, Pierce blasted the van Dams for their apparent lack of emotion and general rudeness to him.

“I don’t know how much was true and how much was hysterical, but that’s what made it fascinating. We tried to unravel it on the air,” Kobylt says. “In retrospect, I think he did peg their personalities very well—the lack of emotion, the detachment, the obsession with the media message—and perhaps he got the vibe that they live a different life than most people.”

As soon as Pierce finished on-air, John and Ken introduced their next guests: an angry Damon and Brenda van Dam, who lambasted Pierce as a nut case. “We had scheduled them in advance, but when they heard Doug was on the show, they canceled, only to change their minds right before show time,” Kobylt says.

After the interview, John and Ken picked apart the conversation and spoke critically about the van Dams’ lack of emotion and their defensiveness about questions pertaining to their own behavior and actions the last night Danielle was seen. The next day, the swinger story broke in The San Diego Union-Tribune—furthered that evening on San Diego radio by Rick Roberts.

“It’s a very dramatic story,” says Kobylt. “Everybody got obsessed with it pretty quickly... We have a pretty fair audience in San Diego—we’ve even made it into the top 10 on occasion—and we started getting calls from people who live in the neighborhood and know the van Dams. As a result, it might as well have been in L.A. I tend to look at the whole [Southern California] area as the same, anyway.”

(By press deadline, the van Dams could not be reached for comment by San Diego Magazine.)

While the van Dam case has been duly covered by most of the mainstream media, the Star tabloid stoked the flames of controversy with a front-page banner that screamed, “The new JonBenet—what Danielle’s mom and dad are hiding.” Inside was a two-page story headlined, “Tragedy of little Danielle—and the dark sex secrets her parents are trying to keep hidden.”

Quoting the proverbial unnamed sources “close to the probe,” the Star reported that later-arrested suspect David Westerfield “was aware of the van Dams’ sexual activities and had approached Brenda about hosting a sex-swap party in his house.” The Star said Brenda had admitted to police “that the couple belonged to a swingers’ club called Club CB” and that sources say she “flirted outrageously and danced with Westerfield” the Friday night Danielle disappeared. “He [Westerfield] knew that Brenda and her friends were sexually involved, and he wanted to be part of the action, but for whatever reason, he was not invited by Brenda to accompany her and her four friends back to her home that night for more partying and sex,” the Star says it was told by a source.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

North Park Local Stars in Discovery Channel Reality Show

A new survival show challenges contestants to master the wild

Garden Giveaway!

Armstrong Garden Centers is handing out five $50 gift cards and offering fun, free workshops

4 San Diego Group Bike Rides to Check Out

Take your cycling to the next level by riding in a pack
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2016
    From barbecue to vegan options, there’s a bit of manna for everyone in this year’s list of the city’s best
  2. What's It Like to Be the CEO of the Smartest Company in the World?
    We went to Illumina’s headquarters to find out
  3. The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now
    See what they’re up to and working on in San Diego
  4. 54 Summer Travel Ideas
    Get out of town!
  5. Making a MasterChef
    MasterChef winner Claudia Sandoval on the life-changing ups and downs
  6. Win 1,000 Cash Back on Your Solar Install and 500 Cash
    Brought to you by Sullivan Solar Power
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Win 1,000 Cash Back on Your Solar Install and 500 Cash

Brought to you by Sullivan Solar Power

Win 2 tickets to Kenny Chesney at Sleep Train Ampitheatre!

Brought to you by Corona Light and Kenny Chesney

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags