2425 words (9 minute read)

3                          South of the Border to Hawaii

It was virtually unheard of in radio. In some states, it was thought to be illegal. But at The Dawg, a deejay actually had a friend in the sales department. The Dawg’s top dog salesman was the never enervated Bobby G, who had annointed himself not only the best in the market but, "heck, probably on all the friggin’ west Coast.” Bumper’s pal was, of course, the hotshot responsible for Phil and Johnny Pistola’s reincarnation from the forsaken desert to their new digs teetering high above the bay. The Giants were wrapping up spring training in Arizona in 2000 when a tipsy Bobby stumbled across the seats, literally, while he was checking out vintage pinball machines stored in the creepy basement of a bar in South Phoenix.

It was a Head joint, a franchise sports bar named “Cheaters,” a veritable cavern, by far, the largest in the chain that had been founded in San Francisco. A celebrated, but adamantly silent partner had ponied up vital capital to his high school buddy to launch what had grown into a cash cow chain of sixty-two franchises in two dozen cities throughout the west. This particular partner was as notorious as Pete Rose or Ty Cobb.

Bobby had once crafted a "Knockout Knockers" promotion for the bar’s originator, who now called himself Head Cheat. That day in 2000, Bobby had called Head from Phoenix, collect, to sell his idea that Cheaters could parlay abandoned old-time seats into a classic right field section of old Pac Bell Park in exchange for stadium signage, PA announcements, ad space in the game-day programs, and a gargantuan sky box suite. That’s when Phil Sage and Johnny Pistola were resurrected. The miss-matched duo (along with forty-six deaf-mute partners) was shipped back to San Francisco to huddle beneath Sammy and Izzy in the Cheaters Throwback Seats section.

Alas, the Throwback Seats fell short ten-fold from their high-flouting cousins in the VIP sky club level. Sky club boxes ringed the mid-section of AT&T Park like a Liberace rhinestone belt. Inside, deep-pocketed fans could fall into fluffy, leather stitched cushions that felt like a 64-count cloud of pure Four Seasons luxury. It was in those seats on the club level, in line of site of first base and the pitcher, where Bobby G and his cronies so often rested their silk and cashmere-clad rumps. That is, when they weren’t mingling at the open bar cajoling the bartenders and waiters into double-duty.

“Kuni,” Bumper Morgan leaned to his right. “That kid in front of you has better equipment than I use at The Dawg, and he actually sounds as tight and crisp as some of the guys I work with. Rather, the tapes of voices of the youngsters that are produced to sound as though we comprise one lovey-dovey, live on-air staff. Tape! Did I say tape? No, make that the computerized recorded voices. No, I mean the digitally enhanced ... aaaaah, sometimes these days, I don’t know what I mean."

KDWG, The Dawg, had been the top-rated classic rock station in the San Francisco Bay Area market seemingly forever. Bumper’s morning show consistently ranked second or third among music stations. His show was one of a dying breed where the talent actually broadcast to an audience that lived and worked anywhere near the same zip code where the show originated.

His boss, Fast Eddie Mason, earnestly tried to justify to Bumper the cost benefits The Dawg had reaped when it canned the other deejays in order to can the music. Some research insinuated that outside of morning drive, listeners cared little about who presented the music. In fact, many considered deejay raps to be a music intrusion. Fast Eddie had been earnest alright. And pragmatic. Heck, he had been a nationally respected, top-rated deejay himself (just ask him), a bonafide overachiever as he laddered his way up to major markets. He joked that way back when he fought the high octane Top-40 wars, jocks worked for only one station and actually knew the name of the guy who owned it.

"Yeah," Bumper had grinned. "Those were the days. Remember when religious radio stations were locally owned, run by an old Protestant minister and his wife, never had more than twenty listeners at any given time, and still made money?"

Now, Bumper Morgan allowed a smile. He was happy to concede that young Vinny Hodges already sported more talent than most of the multitude of youngsters throughout the industry who would work for minimum wage just to be on-air. He wondered what future remained for earnest, creative and diligent young talent he clearly saw in the kid in the row before him.

Lead Dog Bumper had once been the Top Dawg among six live deejays to bark into the Dawg microphones. As morning driver, he was as snide as Rickles and as mock-humble as Dangerfield. Alas, he was the last deejay calling live shots when along came what The Federal Communications Commission called deregulation. Public interest, the Commission claimed, would be better served by deregulating the cap on how many stations a group could own. In a Washington, D. C.- second, cavalries of media marauders proceeded to cram a score or more stations beneath one roof where a lean staff; perhaps a production director to produce ads for a dozen different stations; a solo general manager; a sole news director; just one sales staff to market all stations and perhaps, one weather woman and one sports guy who regularly confused centigrade with Gatorade.

Sadly, those same few voices now could be heard nationwide from KUFO in Portland to WAPE- The Big Ape, in Jacksonville. Similarly, the recorded voice of the afternoon guy at KIST in Santa Barbara might be recorded days before at KOKE in Austin, Texas, then could be heard Sunday nights on KIKI in Honolulu.

“… for your chance to win a free trip to Maui, exclusively from San Francisco’s FM 104.5 KFOG.”

Hawaii, man, thought Bumper Morgan no fewer than sixty times a day, if I could only work my way back to Hawaii. Mile high coconut pie. Shave ice. Good grinds, locals call good grub, and Bumper had woofed ’dem grinds like a newly released P.O.W. every one of the six days that he had pulled afternoons for KMAI in Maui, until "corporate" had suddenly, no doubt in the public interest, consolidated its five station operation, then terminated eighty-percent of its staff.

Dawg Radio was one of what the industry now called “free standing,” or “stand alone.” It shared facilities with no one and actually broadcast one live show each day. Consolation for Bumper Morgan, but boy how he yearned to get a real chance in the islands, lucky radio market number thirteen.

Another tantalizing lure danced in those tropical waters. He longed to reunite with his vagabond radio pal of almost as many stations as years, who had found a genuine, Hawaiian sunset home there. His pal was named Rocky Ocean and he had found nirvana working for a fellow named Dana Boudin the Money Machine. Actually, nowadays, Rocky queued up real vinyl LPs for Dana’s son, Boomer Boudin. Boomer now commanded the tiller to new-age formatted The Wave, and FM Heavyweight 98, Honolulu’s premier rocker.

It was hot even by west Honolulu standards. Boomer Boudin and his pal had stopped beside the beer wagon at the turn. His dad Dana had played the front nine with them at Pearl Country Club but Pops had to ready his gear to head over to a weekend wing-ding presented by Oracle, at Koele Lodge and Links on the renegade island of Lanai. Larry Ellison was entertaining some high muckety-mucks on the Pineapple Isle. Oddly, a couple radio people were invited, too.

The festivities were to kick off with a cocktail reception around his miniature golf course that rises like a Michael Jackson amusement park from the sea of manicured lawn that spreads rich as molten lava from the colonial-style clubhouse on the teeny private island. Like all things Ellison, it was off the Richter scale. A Polynesian-themed miniature course, from belching volcanoes to sparkling, rolling surf breaks, from the Sheraton Pink Palace to the golden sunsets shimmering beyond the Kona Surf breakers, from Rabbit Island to Makapu’u and from Hanauma Bay to Haleiwa beach bars. Just about everything Hawaiian short of Don Ho and Jack Lord. Par for the eighteen-hole layout was 62. Oh yeah, Ellison had recently bought the entire island of Lanai for $500 million.

Dana Boudin The Money Machine, had skillfully handed the stardust of his media magic to his son. Each had reaped a galaxy of station ad dollars while investing as little as a couple hours of some days each week, in the office.

"Larry Ellison owns Lanai now?" Bryce Stangl was casing the bar cart gal with feigned indifference while she popped open their second round of Lava Lager. Like Boomer, he was the son of a renowned Hawaii broadcaster. His dad had retired and moved to Antigua to try his hand at writing. Bryce had flown in with his dad to catch up with Boomer and to catch a few rounds at familiar courses. Dad had just scooted away with Dana Boudin The Money Machine.

"My kind of guy," answered Boomer. "Ellison closed the deal last month. Bought the ninety-eight percent of the island that Dave Murdock owned."

"Murdock still own Dole Foods?"


"I know Steve Case purchased miles of cane field land to develop over on Kauai. What’s Ellison going to develop? A yacht club to host America’s Cup?" As they ambled toward the tenth tee, the prim bar cart gal exhaled in relief. Her bare copper shoulders fell four inches.

"Aaaaaaah, Kauai. Case grew up there, you know. As for me, let you in on something. I expect off the dial news from Kauai any day now. Actually, news is overdue. ’Before the week is out,’ we were told. Well, last I looked, today is Friday afternoon. That’s somewhere near the end of the week, dontcha think?" Boomer withdrew a 6-iron. "Back nine. Let’s hit ’em. You owe me a skin and a stroke. Damn. It’s hotter than a popcorn machine out here."

“Another hottie breathing down your neck tonight, huh Phil?”

“Two hotties, Fanny. After all, it’s you who whispers sultry hot nothings to me each weeknight. And get this, Miss Hottie behind me who has Sammy in such a titter? She’s a star in the TV biz too, just like you.”

“Not a star, Phil. A weekender. A pinch hitter. A wanna-be star.”

"In the bottom of the first, the Giants will send up Pagan, Sandoval then Bonds"

Izzy was back, back, back once more. "International symmetry, I call it."

"International cemetery!" cried The Pistol. "Don’t do it, Izzy. Don’t do it. Not yet. Pray, not yet." Johnny Pistola in fine form. "You have so much more to live for, Izzy. Well, hold on. Go ahead. You’re probably right."

Sammy wondered if Izzy had even heard Johnny.

"In ’62," Izzy continued, "National League expansion added the Montreal Expos, baseball’s first team from Canada, and the Houston Colt .45s. Thus, for the first time, all twenty major league teams played 162-game schedules.”

"Thus?" teased Johnny Pistola.

“’Houston Colt .45’s.’ Brilliant. When the gun maker sued them they were forced to change names. Then, some nuclear scientist came up the gosh-awful name, Astros.” No moss grows on Sammy the Seat.

Izzy segued from symmetry to outer space. “That same year, John Glenn was first to orbit the earth… aaaaaaah, good ole one-nine-six-two, some kind of year.”

“Sure, he was first,” cracked The Pistol, “if you don’t count the Russian cosmosnuts uh, Tolstoy, Stravinsky… something like that.”

“Something like that,” murmured Phil Sage.

“Nineteen sixty-two,” uh oh, Izzy was on a roll, “was the year that Jackie Robinson was inducted into Cooperstown.”

"Yeah, like we’ve never heard that one before," frowned The Pistol.

Sammy surprised all present when he informed his mates that Robinson had once been court-martialed.

Phil said he’d have to think on that.

“That solo home run by Ethier with two outs in the top of the inning was his nineteenth, so L. A. takes a 1-0 lead. Now, in the home half of the first inning, Sandoval steps in, batting second for the Giants. He’s punching the ball at a .400 clip since the all-star break.” Vinny Hodges at his Senheiser, sounding smooth.

He couldn’t stop himself: “I’d kill for equipment that hot.” Kuni thought the Morning Dawg sounded rather resigned. Truth be told, Bumper continued to admire more than just the kid’s equipment.

“Buenos dias! Buenas tardes! Buenas noches!" Young Vinny strikes south of the border. "One, two, three. Messersmith blazes three in a row right past Sandoval so down he goes. Now, heeeeeeeere comes the man of the hour, Barrrreeeeeeeey Bondzzz.”

For no reason, Phil suddenly recalled that Jose Uribe used to room with Bonds until Bonds had decided to go solo. Solo with the world. Phil wondered if any of the guys knew the quirky historical side bar to Uribe’s otherwise modest career.

Oftentimes in baseball when teams trade players, the clubs will agree to what’s called, "a player to be named later." One team’s or one player’s performance from the time of the transaction till whatever date agreed upon, can provide the determining factor in the caliber of ballplayer that becomes the player named in the end, to finalize the trade. The player to be named later. From a script Kevin Costner could not have written, a former Giant became literally, the player to be named later. Jose Uribe, before he was identified as the player the teams had agreed upon, had changed his surname from ’Gonzalez.’ Thus, Jose Gonzalez had truly become the player to be named later.

Next Chapter: 4                          Free Agents