The Ellison intrigue: who is Mesa Kincaid?

This week's "he said, she said" interlude in the Keith Ellison for Congress campaign featured a cameo appearance by one name that might have sounded familiar to some tired ears.

In the flap over a restraining order sought against Ellison by a local woman named Amy Alexander, the candidate called out a woman named Mesa Kincaid, according to the Star Tribune, and accused her of working with Alexander to extort $10,000 from his campaign. Kincaid, for the record, denied asking for money, according to the Strib.

Even so, Kincaid's involvement was baffling.

For local radio geeks of a certain vintage, hearing "Mesa Kincaid" is like unearthing a forgotten oldie. Back in the mid-1970s, Kincaid, whose real name is Cheryl Hoeft, came to prominence on the short-lived, much-loved U100, a free-form radio station that eventually became KDWB-FM.

There, Hoeft engaged listenders as "Cheetah." As Rob Sherwood, the program director of U100, recounts on his web site:

"The woman had a typical Scandinavian name that I will not reveal to protect her privacy," Sherwood writes. "On the air she called herself Cheetah. I listened to the air check and it was the typical low talking sexy voice stereotypical female Top 40 jockess. After listening to a few breaks, I told her that I wanted MY female Jock to sound just like a male jock except that she was a girl. ... Could she drop the sex-kitten and just be a jock with a woman's voice? The answer was, 'yes.'"

Soon Cheetah was jettisoned for a tamer handle, Mesa Kincaid (One option, "Beaver Kleaver," was wisely bypassed, according to Sherwood). Soon after, Kincaid became known as "The Fox that Rocks."

After U100 folded, Kincaid went to work for Hubbard Broadcasting, when 1500-AM was a top-40 station. Eventually she went to work for KQRS-FM. For a time in those days, Kincaid was part of a duo known as "The Cat and Kincaid." The Cat was Tom Barnard, the radio behemoth who has long anchored the KQ morning show. After parting with Barnard, Kincaid became a jock on WCCO-FM, which is now WLTE.

Aside from radio, Kincaid has been active on the fringes of local politics of late. In September 2003, she attended a Minneapolis City Council public hearing on the police chief search that eventually yielded Bill McManus. There, Kincaid intimated that she had just moved back to North Minneapolis and that she admired the work the Minneapolis Police did there.

Strib reports have been billing Kincaid in part as a "freelance journalist," and to a certain extent that's true. In January 1991, she conducted an interview with Stanley S. Hubbard for Corporate Report magazine (the introduction to the piece noted that Kincaid worked for Hubbard in the "late 1970s and early 1980s").

More recently, in August 2006, Kincaid could be found posting on a USA Today blog criticizing Al Gore for not being sincere in his environmental crusade, saying she was "an experienced and forthright environmentalist." At the same time, she conducted a Q&A with former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton for Minnesota Law & Politics. And on October 5, she offered a lenghty post to the blog Minnesota Democrats Exposed that deconstructed a Patty Wetterling campaign ad.

Aside from that, Kincaid is, apparently, a committed environmentalist. Perhaps not ironically, the supposed source of contention between Ellison and Amy Alexander is that she was bypassed for a job working with him on something called Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, a group that Ellison co-founded. On her post at the USA Today blog, Kincaid directed readers to her web site, By late Thursday, that web site had gone dark.