The term “radio personality” is a bit of a misnomer with Beth McDonald. Beguiling her loyal listeners with everything from recliner recommendations to reports on people who can’t stop taking photos of themselves (“Selfies Anonymous”) to her stance on gay rights, the Indiana export and morning drive-time fixture has a personality that transcends the medium. Celebrating 30 years on Valley airwaves this month, the Beth & Friends host sat down with PHOENIX magazine at Paul Martin’s American Grill in Scottsdale to reflect on her storied career – including 20 years doing the Beth & Bill show with the late Bill Austin on 99.9 KEZ-FM – and discuss yet another of her passions: wine.
What are some of your favorite wines?
I do like California cabs, but I’ve started to really be fond of Italian reds. And I started reading Italian Wine for Dummies, and then I felt really stupid because Italy’s very complicated when it comes to wine. There are a lot of different regions, a lot of different grapes. But one thing I really like about European wines is that they’re lower in alcohol – believe it or not, I like ones lower in alcohol [laughs].
You can drink more that way.
Yes, and you can taste your food better. And really, they’re meant to be enjoyed with food. So I’ve really started to like the Barolos and things like that, and I’m trying to learn how a Chianti is different from a Barolo or a Brunello and the Sangiovese grape and all these kinds of things. So I’m learning, little by little. I’ve got a lot to learn. I just know what I enjoy drinking, and that’s what I do. And I do enjoy white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc, and I love Prosecco – an Italian sparkling [wine] in the summer is very refreshing. I’ll pretty much drink what they put in front of me.
Do you have a favorite food that you like to have with your wine?
I’m always afraid to point out one certain restaurant, because there are several I go to. We’re sitting at Paul Martin’s, and I come here. They have a skirt steak that’s really delicious with a red wine. You don’t find skirt steak often. There’s also a little Italian place I go to at Scottsdale and Thunderbird Road called [Ristorante] Giuseppe, and it’s a guy I know named Pasquale who runs it. My husband and I go in there at least once a week, and he eats dinner with us. You take your own wine in – for free – and I love to pair Italian wines with red sauces. They stand up well because the Italian wines are kind of acidic.
What is your favorite soundtrack to a nice glass of wine?
Depends on my mood, I guess. I’m kind of a classic rock and roller, when it comes down to it. I love to listen to Led Zeppelin. One of my favorite songs is “Going to California,” and for Led Zeppelin, it’s got a really soft feel to it. Because one of my favorite journeys is when I go to San Diego and I drive over the bridge to Coronado Island. That song really means a lot to me. But then I also listen to Big Band and ‘40s music – Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James. So I kind of have this really eclectic thing when it comes to music. I also like really soft, smooth jazz... a guy like Rick Braun or Marc Antoine.
That’s a pretty broad spectrum. But it fits a broad palate.
Yes, I’m all over the place [laughs]. Sometimes I’m drinking tequila, and I have to put on something a little harder.
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