LDReynolds's Blog

Keep It Down! I'm Trying To Write A Book Here…

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It’s been a while since I last added to my story. I keep thinking of things I should write down as I’m doing other things and away from the computer… Like driving to or from work. Often times, like right now, I start writing when I know full well I’m close to time to go to work. So I’ll just spew out a few things here, then add/subtract and/or fix grammar etc etc etc… One thing sprang into my brain was that I should acknowledge (without mentioning any names) some of the more notable female influences in my life. Then I thought- “This is going to be hard discussing these influences without giving away their identities. You’ll recall earlier I mentioned my dear mothers directive to me as I was boarding the airplane: She said: “Stay away from those native girls!” So, starting from my first day on the island I proceeded to do just the exact opposite. I didn’t say it out loud but I was thinking that is one piece of advice that I should totally ignore. Oddly enough, the one girl I had the most bad luck with was a mainland “haole” girl I had known back in Michigan and I will step on the brakes right here as to mentioning anything regarding that nightmare of a relationship… that could be a totally different book which will never get written. I’ve spent the greater part of the last 25 years trying to forget that dark part of my past..

This first young lady I happened to meet worked at the lunch counter inside a drug store that was directly across the street from the Motel where I was staying temporarily while seeking more permanent digs. The only thing I can say about this enchantingly beautiful young local girl was that she appeared in and out of my life sporadically up until a just a few years ago. Then she seemed to disappear completely. Now, I love a good mystery but this young lady looked, acted and spoke as mysteriously like she just walked out of a Harold Ramis movie. She totally had me in her clutches. This lady continues to haunt me right up to today after she mysteriously disappeared from my life, suddenly, with no reason given. Then out of the blue many months, sometime years later, she would call and we would immediately pick up our “unique” friendship and carry on like nothing happened- until she, just as suddenly as she appeared, she was gone. Again. No returned calls, no answered letters. (This was way before e-mail came along.) I thought was it maybe something I did or said? But I never did get a satisfactory answer to that question. When she decided to come back into my life I was so happy that it never dawned on me to ask her why she disappeared in the first place… like I said… mysterious. Where she is now I have no idea… Lots of speculation, but no substantial reasons have presented themselves to me. Now. Back to the subject at hand…

After my first relationship ended I managed to find other friends of the female persuasion. But I have to say this to clear the air so-to-speak: Contrary to what the general public may believe, even as a local celebrity I found it to be EXTREMELY difficult to hook up with any young women. Even figuring in my popularity at the time. You must understand, in those days, the late 1960’s radio was held with a great deal more respect and esteem. AM radio was it. FM had not yet taken root in this market of 26 thousand people. The announcers were live. There were no computers. Us Deejays had to be entertaining and able to think on our feet in order to meet a deadline of just about every three and a half minutes during a four hour shift. That was exactly the amount of time a 45 rpm vinyl record played before fading to an end. We had to have something either informative and/or clever to say between the tunes and the commercial announcements. I came to the conclusion that largely due to my own terribly strong shyness, combined with the fact that I was very “picky” as to whom I would “hang out” with, I just couldn’t find a girl who was adventurous and accepting enough to date me. Even on an island that boasted such a massive amount of beautiful young prospects from which one could chose. That said, I can honestly estimate I may have hooked up with maybe four different girls during that 25 year period and in retrospect, I should have married any one of them. Yes people it’s true. Believe it or not, I was mostly a sexually frustrated, lonely young man back in the late 60’s early 70’s despite enjoying the benefits of a “captive” audience. I should even mention neither of the two ladies I actually did end up marrying, never worked out. The first marriage however,ended peacefully and in friendship to this day. And I am happy to say produced a daughter any father would be proud to have to raised. The second marriage ended in a unmitigated disaster. The end result was so damaging it basically rendered me incapable of continuing my career. I struggled for another six years on a new upstart radio station owned by Ivan Dixon, who played the radio man in the classic TV series “Hogan’s Heroes”. For six glorious years I was successful doing morning drive at KONI FM but by then I began to see the writing on the wall and eventually decided to end my career on a high note. Since then I have tried to regain my former glory, but to no avail. FM took over the airwaves and computers took all the live announcers away. It was a much more efficient way to boost the bottom line when you didn’t have such a large payroll to meet. You don’t have to pay a computer. For me, the 1990’s was the decade when radio died. My career died with it.

I think I also mentioned before, that the reason for my “popularity” on the island from the very beginning, was in large part due to the fact that Maui had just two radio stations from which to chose. Both of which had no real programming to speak of that would appeal to Maui’s teenagers. The advertising money was mostly garnered by boasting the largest numbers of listeners in the “adults 25 to 54 years of age” segment of the population. The younger generation on Maui before I arrived, had to get their kind of music by listening through the static and the fading in and out of the Honolulu AM stations, some 90 miles to the northwest of the three island county of Maui. Back then the top three stations catering to the younger generation were on the AM band: KPOI, KKUA and KORL. All in the Honolulu area. In 1967, the year I hit the airwaves on KMVI, a local and very powerful radio station combined with the kind of music I played, (A mixture of Top 40 and rock) the kids now had a local source of music that appealed to their taste, so you might say I became popular by default. Not because I had any talent to speak of, but because they could pick up KMVI loud and clear practically everywhere in Maui County. No static. No fading. So naturally, they began to listen to my six hour nightly show static free. Please believe me as I try to write this with genuine modesty, I think at the time, the only people who thought I had any talent at all was myself. So naturally I took advantage of my perceived “monopoly” on Top 40 music heard on the radio in Maui County as best I knew how, and managed to last at the same station for a tenure that lasted 25 wonderful years. Then as years passed, as more stations came on the air with disc jockeys like myself, largely due to the increased competition for audience my popularity started to wane. I battled (and marginally won) the ratings war between the now 10 plus competing stations all the way through the year 2,000. At that time I realized I was no longer the biggest fish in the pond and decided after so long, that maybe it was time to hang it up on a high note and try something else. I will spotlight those days later on. Hint: I discovered the internet and a whole differnt but just as devoted audience.

The fondest memories of my glory days in radio on Maui were the various promotions, contests and special programming I created on my show, which I eventually dubbed as “Nitetime Radio” which aired from six pm right after the evening news block until midnight. I gave away records as prizes for my listeners, which I was forced to purchase with my own money. Eventually when the Honolulu record distributors suddenly noticed this whole new market in the “outer islands”, I started receiving plenty of promotional records, the ones I decided to play on the air I kept, the rest I gave away on the air. I featured different genres of rock during the week mixed in with the regular format. There was “Blue Monday” featuring soul and rhythm and blues hits. “Two-fer Tuesdays” featuring two songs in a row by the current offerings of the more popular recording acts, “Weird Wednesdays” featured some of the”funnier” offerings of music, including some comedy cuts and novelty recordings sprinkled among the regular top 40 stuff. Thursday was named “Friday Eve” and I added more “party” music including the hottest, more “danceable” hits. Then Friday was Moody Blues night where beginning at around 10:30PM I would track through an entire Moody Blues album, both sides totally uninterrupted. They had eight different “concept” albums by that time and I just rotated through all eight then simply start again at the beginning. Eventually that morphed into the “Feature Album of the Week”. Which was based on the latest new releases from the more popular recording artists. Nitetime Radio was where Maui heard the Beatle White Album for the first time. Totally tracked all the way through with no interruption. I claimed “firsties” on introducing the Beatles “Abbey Road” LP, plus other new releases from groups like Aerosmith, Steve Miller, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendriks, The Doors, Credence Clearwater Revival and Cream. I set myself apart from regular top 40 stations by playing only unedited tracks from popular recording artists that also released their more popular tracks as “edited for time” 45 rpm records known as “promotional” recordings especially for Top 40 radio These edited tracks allowed less time for the tunes and more time available each hour for commercials. The only exception I can think of for me was when “Inna-gadda-da-vida” by Iron Butterfly came out and the unedited version was timed at over 17 minutes long. I played it on “bathroom breaks” but other than that I pretty much stayed with the shorter 4 minute edit. This approach seemed to work as callers would let me know the six minute version of “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells was much cooler than the shorter version played on competing stations. I let them think they were getting cheated by not getting the whole song. It was like that with all the other acts as well. I recall that Rare Earth had an unedited version of “Celebrate” which included an incredible drum solo that you could only hear on my show. A few minutes of keyboard music on the Doors track “Light My Fire was also an exclusive on Nitetime Radio. There were lots of other album tracks released as edited 45 rpm “hits” like that as well. I offered a playlist made up of unedited versions of top 40 hits too numerous to mention. It really helped set my show apart from any competition that happened along.

I also got involved with the local high schools and offered the journalism classes of each of the five high schools on the island 5 minutes of airtime each Monday and Wednesday every week for airing the news from their schools. Totally written and presented by the students under the supervision of their teachers. I got invited to dee jay more and more high school dances and private parties which helped me keep the rent paid and food on the table. I engineered hours of programming during the annual 4-H Radio Day. Where the 4-H youngsters would sell ads and dee jay their own shows. The youngster read their ads and announced the tunes from studio B and I did all the “grunt work” in the control room. Which included cueing up the recordings and pushing any buttons that need pushing.

After I graduated to afternoon drive at the station, I began doing more and more “remotes” from the store fronts of various businesses. I loved meeting the listeners who would pop in for a visit during the broadcast to say hi. I recall these live shows direct from say, a local grocery store or the grand opening of a new retail shop were getting more and more popular lending towards the station to invest heavily into a “Mobile Studio” which was a medium size house trailer coverted into a complete air conditioned radio studio with a glassed in front, where the people could see the Dee jay working in real time. And what a novelty that was. Not only for the listeners who happened by, but for us the disc jockeys and news readers. It was an unforgettable experience to be able to broadcast live from the Maui County Fair. Not only did we get a chance to perform in the mobile studio for those who attended the fair but we got free admittance and all the food we could eat. Well, time passed and all good things come to an end and for some reason totally unbeknownst to me, the remote broadcasts became fewer and farther between and eventually stopped happening altogether. Another era of live community involved radio comes to an end. All this was happening, of course, after I ended “Nitetime Radio” in 1975 and the mainstream broadcaster part of my career began. The Maui Publishing Company made a terribled mistake, in my opinion when they decided to sell the station to a mainland radio group out of Eugene, Oregon. I graduated to the afternoon drive slot, 3 until 7pm Monday through Friday until 1993, doing what deejays do. Being the most congenial personality we could be, playing the music they wanted to hear and battling the other similarly formatted radio stations for the lion’s share of the audience and advertising revenue. During my 25 year tenure, I broadcast from three different studio locations including the old quonset huts we broadcast from, from 1947 until the sale in 1985. From 1967 to 1985 I broadcast from the old quonset hut buildings under that majestic 455 foot radio tower. The station shared the place with The Maui Publishing Company which put out the daily Maui Newspaper. Now those building are long gone. Many great memories and good friends were made there, but eventually we had to vacate the building because after KMVI was taken over by Obie Broadcasting of Maui. Which owned an AM/FM combo in Eugene, Oregon and the new owners needed to find new digs. We had to be temporarily located on Dairy road where Savers used to be before we finally moved into what we thought would be our new permanent location on Waiehu Beach Road. It was at this location where I discovered how smiling faces sometimes don’t tell the truth. And, that salt and metal don’t mix.

The story goes that the station was at it’s peak in popularity having led the market in billing and audience numbers since the old girl went on the air in 1947. In fact I’ll never forget the party our general manager threw for the staff when the sales team broke the six figure billing month. That’s over 100,000 dollars in advertising. No local station had ever broken that number in all the years I can remember. Even with the advent of FM in the market that started with KAOI-FM in 1974 and by this year 1985, we had four other FM stations to contend with. One of which was really giving us a run for our money. Eventually Maui ended up with four AM stations which by the time KMVI FM went on the air, all had their own FM outlets. This plus counting all the new stand alone FM stations that went on the air during this time, the competition for audience was more intense than ever in Maui’s broadcasting History. Absolutely cut throat competition was the rule of the day. I eventually ended up doing morning drive on our FM station which was at the time offering a satellite fed Adult Rock format and my show was live from a brand new studio. I was instrumental in helping to build. After hours on my back under the mixer console and crawling through the false ceiling running 12 pair cable and hooking up various other items like two reel to reel tape decks, two turntables, two CD players and of course, the microphone… Plus the one thing that would be the eventual end of my career, the computer. The machine that handled the satellite fed entertainment and the infamous cassette deck automation system which the commercials were stored on for playback when called for. Truth be told, this system was the worst automation system one could possibly imagine. Of all the different automation systems they could chose from, why this one? It was constantly breaking down every other day, creating a living nightmare for the engineering staff.

Speaking of engineering nightmares, our new location had it’s own special drawbacks we were about to discover the hard way… The building was almost right on the water near Kahului Harbor and the salt air seemed to quickly melt away all the metal utilized in building the satellite dish and it’s supporting steel bracing that brought in the programming from the mainland. Along with the studio-to-transmitter antenna that carried the AM programming from our new studios on Waiehu Beach Road to our original transmitter site up by that same aforementioned majestic 455 foot tower at the old quonset hut buildings. Now used exclusively by the Maui News, our former owners… but still housing our new Nautel solid state 5 kilowatt AM transmitter. The other nightmare was keeping the studio-to -transmitter link from the studio to the FM transmitter site. Which consisted of a 3 kilowatt transmitter housed in a thrown together wood framed aluminum corrugate shack which was up in Kula near an old Union 76 gas station. It was my first responsibility as a staff engineer, my duties were maintaining the transmitter and keeping it on the air, along with maintaining the AM and FM studios, as well as the newsroom and production studio equipment. alster on the FM station was later upgraded to 50,000 watts and the location was moved to Ulupalakua. Wearing many hats, I was also the Program director for the FM station. It was a very productive couple of years.

It was during one of my live morning shows when the sales manager and the general manager both flew into the studio, all smiles, congratulating me for a great ratings book in the demographic we were shooting for. Men and women 25 to 54 years of age. I was kind of proud for hitting those demographics and being mostly responsible for the stations early success. But me thinks I did too good of a job as my fortunes were about to make an abrupt 90 degree turn- not for the better… A few weeks after the big party I mention earlier, I had just finished my show when “Mr. Ego”, our high strung, insecure program director of the AM and AM morning show super star asked me if I would allow him to take me to lunch. Hmmmmm. Not good… Not good at all. Now, any long-time disc jockey out there knows exactly what it means when the boss wants to treat you to a “free lunch”. I guess he was expecting me to make a scene, which is why he wanted me out of the building when he told me I was fired. Declining as gracefully as I could, I just smiled and said “Save your lunch money, Not to worry, I’ll go peacefully.” And that’s exactly what I did. For the first time ever in my long career I found myself without a job. A job I loved so much. Now, you must be asking yourself the same question I was asking myself right after he lowered the axe. Why after doing such a great job doing morning drive on the new FM station, did he suddenly want me gone? The reason, I found out many months later, The scuttle-butt was, I was killing him in the ratings. It never crossed my mind at the time, but it added up quite quite nicely thank-you-very-much. KMVI AM was THE number one station on Maui in all dayparts: morning, midday and afternoons… Now the company’s own new FM outlet was starting to give the AM side some grief. Well, the “radio gods” were with me as I had the last laugh. Very soon after I left, the station owners sold the stations to another local radio group. The new owners let go the entire KMVI staff, got rid of the equipment and plugged the transmitter into a satellite fed ESPN sports network. It was the utter destruction of a once proud and committed station and it’s employees. The station went from a six figure billing powerhouse to become a pain in the new owner’s ass just sucking up electricity and not generating a dime of revenue. Idiots. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what exactly what they wanted. To rid the island of a company who’s billing was taking that money out of the market. Out of the competition’s pocket. Advertising money they wanted for themselves. Well friends, that’s show biz. And I needed a vacation.

When I walked out the door I never looked back. In fact I was living out on the wind swept north shore country side of Maui. totally off the grid in a house that over looked Kealii Point, less than a mile from the world famous surfing area known as “Jaws”. For roughly eleven years I enjoyed generating my own electricity with photovoltaic panels and a wind generator, and of a gas generator back u for those cloudy windless days. I ran my kitchen on propane gas, took long hot showers using an “on demand” gas fired water heater. Cooking my meals on a gas stove and the self generated electrical system powered my lights, TV, Stereo system and my Ham shack. Unemployment allowed me to take my time looking for work and it was, I believe, almost four months of the most relaxing vacation-like existence. Time I utilized efficiently towards getting by shit together for another crack at radio stardom. My hobby happened to be radio as well as my profession. So as a licensed Amatuer Radio Operator I spent most of my time talking with and making friends with fellow hams all over the planet Earth in my sun and wind powered “ham shack”. And as a harbinger of thing to come, I built a recording studio where I began career of broadcasting on an all new medium. This is when I started producing several one hour Hawaiian Music programs called “Hawaiian Jamz” formatted the way American Top 40 was presented to the world by Casey Casem. My One hour shows were written and produced by myself and hosted by the Maui Gateway BBS system that was broadcast to the world through the magic of a newly as yet undiscovered medium known only to a few computer geeks as the internet.. Hawaiian Jamz featured the latest Hawaiian Music “Hits” along with a mix of the older more established entertainers and featured all forms of the genre… Traditional and contemporary alike… From Hui Ohana to The Peter Moon Band. And it was presented by myself in a top 40 deejay can of way which drew not only a considerable audience of Hawaiian Music lovers, but eventually became the “go to” place for Hawaiian Halau’s around the world… wherever Hawaiians migrated to the show became a home away from home to them. A link to where they came from and I couldn’t discovered a more loyal audience. Later, when I stared choking the bandwidth of the Maui Gateway system, I enlisted the aid of a company called “Live 365” where they offered me a “live” streaming service. The first of it’s kind back in 1995. I took out 501C3 papers and became a non-profit company called “The Pacific Internet Broadcasting Service”. I wired up my studio, now located in downtown Kihei and with two new servers and 1600 hundred dollars worth of broadcast automation software, i began broadcasting a live stream of continuous Hawaiian Music, News and special events from Maui to the world via high speed DSL. I called it “Hawaiian Hits Live!”basically a live version of the old “Hawaiian Jamz” programs with an audience mostly made up of Hawaiian Music lovers, former “Hawaiian Jamz” listeners and teachers of Hawaiian Culture stateside. Long story short, “Hawaiian Hits Live!” lasted for ten glorious years garnering a large world wide audience and quite a few loyal contributors and under-writers which helped pay for the bandwidth and studio maintenance. SWadly, I eventually had to discontinue the broadcast due to the greedy royalty service folks who ran the RIAA, as well as ASCAP, SESAC and BMI. The fees got so high that I couldn’t even break even and was forced to pull the plug. I have to admit, it was the saddest day of my life. It was almost unbearable to read the sorrowful and also the angry e-mails we got for having to give up such a fine service to expatriated Hawaiians all over the world. I still have those e-mails and a few CD’s of what the broadcasts were like along with copies of the old one hour “Hawaiian Jamz” shows. A happy a productive part of my long broadcasting career.

It was a wonderful, relaxing four months in Peahi of unemployed laid back bliss, then… the phone rang. Dude, It very rarely ever rang. I thought at first it had to be a crank call or some salesman, but it was a guy named Bernard Clark who it turns out was helping this TV star by the name of Ivan Dixon who just happened to be starting up a new FM radio station in Kihei and he wanted to know if I would help out. Dixon was the guy who you may recall played Sergent Kinchlo, the radio guy on “Hogans Heroes” and he wanted me to be operations manager and morning show host at the new boss of the beach KONI 104.7 FM. I was still considering his offer when he told me what my salary would be and I immediately said “YES!”. The next six years were to be the highlight of my career, which at this point didn’t seem to be over after all… In fact it was just starting all over again. Unbelievable!

The station hadn’t as of yet got on the air as myself and the chief engineer were busy wiring the studio, production studio and the newsroom. Plus the transmitter had to be installed as well. So you might say I had a small part in building the station from the ground up. Truth be told, as a stand-alone station once we got on the air is was an uphill battle to get back into the kind of ratings I was used to. Our transmitter site was at a Christmas tree farm up in Poli poli at roughly 6,000 feet so the the ten KW transmitter and the four bay antenna put an amazingly strong 50,000 watt signal into just about everywhere on Maui. And with a format of Hot Adult Contemporary music and a booming, great sounding FM Stereo signal, we began kicking ass and taking names. I have never had so much fun in all my life. I was able to get across to my new bosses that we needed to get heavily involved with the community right away, so each of us were designated to join one of the various community organizations, such as big brother big sisters, The food bank, and other community service organizations. We began promoting ourselves by giving away a ton of cash. There were minor daily cash giveaways all leading up to a lucky winner receiving a check for ten thousand dollars, which in 1995 was a lot of money. I started the broadcast day every morning starting at 6AM until ten. We had satellite automation the rest of the day except for afternoon drive similar to what was was used to at KMVI FM. The process was genius in that when KONI wasn’t live, we sent out a stereo satellite feed featuring the same format only the disc jockeys were all in Denver Colorado. They were live, but just not here…

What made it work was a computer in our studio that had a recording of all the Denver Jocks voices saying our call letters and frequency. All we had to do was program our computer to know which announcer was on the air at any given time. The announcer would hit a button in the Denver studio that would fire our computer with his (or hers) voice on it again, saying our call letters and frequency. The announcer on the air in Denver would hit that button then wait three and a half seconds before speaking while our computer ran the scheduled announcers voice saying “KONI one oh four point seven FM”. So when the announcer started talking live, everyone listening to the station here on Maui would hear first, our computer playing back the same announcer saying our call sign, then they would hear his voice live coming from Denver- seamlessly. It really sounded like the disc jockey was saying the whole sentence including our station call sign. Anyone listening to KONI would then be led tom believe that the announcer was right here on Maui, in our studio. Let me repeat that just in case you are shaking your head in confusion… The announcer or disc jocky in Denver would say (from our computer) “KONI 104 point 7 FM” which time wise took roughly 3 and a half seconds. The Disc Jockey would wait 3 and a half second and then carry on his rap live from Denver and it came across seamless and real. Pure genius! So we were live all the time, just locally full time from 6AM to 10AM with my totally live show and 3PM to 7PM with our afternoon drive host Tess McManus, also completely live. Then live from the satellite the rest of the broadcast day. This was a precedent setting way of broadcast automation that was both automated and live at the same time. By the way that same computer that dropped in the Denver announcers voices at our end, also was responsible for playing the commercials and other local programming we had at the time. I know this all must sound incredibly confusing, but this style of live automation kept our little stand alone station first in the ratings in Maui county for six long years, the best years of my life… Then the religious right stepped in and ruined my high for the last time.

Coming soon: Even the best things in life have to end sometime… Many thanks to a few of my friends who have become my self appointed editors, who spot most of the bad sentence structure, bad grammar and typos! Couldn’t do it without you… Editing happens at any time. Constantly. So those who visit the blog will notice changes every time they visit. Eventually I’ll get it right and we’ll publish. Aloha!

Written by ldreynolds

December 31, 2021 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

It wasn’t ALL fun and games…

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Being even a low grade local celebrity has it’s gloomy parts. My work ethic was handed down from my father and grandfather. The motto was: “If you can walk and talk, you can work.” I was the guy the boss could rely on to make it to work under other than pleasant conditions of health. I was the employee they called when somebody called in sick. Indeed at broadcasting school there was a whole chapter on how to sound happy and energetic when behind the microphone even when you’re feeling like crap. I call it my “Fake being Fine” method of acting and with radio not having any camera pointing at you like in television, it made it much easier to pull off. This reminds me of another story out of my past. (Please bare with me) I was on the air doing the afternoon drive shift (at KMVI) when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my abdomen, then intense nausea. I had to wait an hour and a half before a replacement could be found willing to take over my duties on very short notice. In those days we didn’t have computers to fall back on when emergencies popped up. While trying to maintain my cool, I called my doctor to explain to him what I was experiencing. Without hesitation he said “Get yourself to the hospital- Now!”Yeah, right. Like THAT was going to happen. So as soon as my replacement took over the microphone that’s exactly what I did… all the while I am practically doubled over in excruciating pain. 15 minutes after stumbling into the emergency room I was under the knife getting my appendix removed. According to the surgeon, had I waited a few minutes longer, it would have burst inside me and that would have been that. Lights out. Anyway…While I waited for another DJ show up and take over, I tried my best to sound “normal” (All but impossible, even under “normal” conditions!) live on the air and conducted myself as if nothing was wrong… no one knew what was actually happening. For anyone listening, one minute I was there happily giving the time, the temperature outside and introducing tunes… and then I wasn’t. That was exactly why I acted like nothing was wrong. In live radio, you just do not walk out of the studio leaving only silence or “dead air” to use broadcasting terminology. That’s just NOT the way things are done in this business. At that time, we didn’t have a pre-recorded bit of music programming to use when things like a possible malfunction in the mixing board or the microphone might occur. Everything was live. It was a real effort to sound happy and excited to be there, considering how I really felt. I guess not knowing I was minutes away from dying helped me keep my head screwed on straight and nobody noticed something had gone terribly wrong. Obviously I am still here to tell the story.

Actually not only when the unexpected happens while on duty, things can go wrong while simply trying to get to work on time. But that’s another story. More to come.

Written by ldreynolds

September 20, 2021 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Acknowledgements

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I want to thank as many of my many friends that I have made through the years before I forget. The list is long and I no doubt will manage to forget a few. Let me apologize for that in advance. The whole staff at the radio station should be included as it seemed to me quite clearly that everyone employed at KMVI was indeed a member of the family, so let me start with them. First Bob Frost (no longer with us) was the first person I met as Mrs. Cooper gave me the fifty cent tour of the facility. We first saw each other as I walked into the main air studio. We hit it off immediately as he shook my hand and welcomed me with a huge smile. I don’t think I ever saw him with a scowl on his face and he never had a bad thing to say about anyone. At this point my recollection of one of the first laws of on-air staff psychology was: beware of that smile and that pat on the back- it just might hold you back. As the song goes: “Smiling faces sometimes don’t speak the truth.” And in this business it really means something. My tenure at WJIM and then later at WILS in Lansing prior to my trip to Hawaii taught me to use caution when dealing with certain staff members. However I never had my first impression of Bob Frost altered in any way in the years I knew him right up until the time of his death. He will always be remembered as “Uncle Frosty”. The first friend I ever made at the station. If he had a job description it must have been as a true mentor to newbies arriving at the station. He was always there with words of advice and encouragement. If I ever needed help, he was always ready to aid me in my day to day duties. From then on he never let me down.

Moving on the very next person I recall having big time first impression feelings with was Thom McGarvey. He was also part of the KMVI on air staff. AT first impression, he seemed somewhat “stodgy” to say the least. His background was quite impressive as an accomplished pianist and thespian. However we got along regardless and in fact I learned an awful lot about the music industry from him. It was him I owe my current ability to figure out where anyone I meet is coming from. The old “friend or foe” detector was well established by listening to his experiences. The next staff member I was to meet that first day at work was Richard Graham. He had that perfect radio announcer voice. You know, that very baritonish, deep, resonant, articulate sounding voice. It was him who really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Indeed for a day of two he would drive me around the island and had me pronounce all of the road signs I saw as we passed them. It was then when I learned how badly I could destroy the Hawaiian Language. In fact my very first day on the air I mispronounced the very commonly used word “Kaahumanu” during a newscast I was delivering. I mean after all, it was the main drag between Wailuku and Kahului. Everybody knew that name and here was this tall skinny “Haole” newcomer stumbling all over it on the radio! The every next day there was an editorial written by a popular columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser who proceeded to rake me over the coals. Railing on about how could a radio station hire such an asinine, unprofessional buffoon. I should have cut the op-ed out of the newspaper and framed it. But I was way too embarrassed. I later learned how to pronounce Hawaiian names by breaking the word down into two letter syllables and in most cases putting the accent on the next to the last syllable. I signed up later that week for language lessons at Maui Community College. Still, it was a rough road to travel but I seemed to have manged it as no further artillery was aimed my way from then on. However, it was a lesson I will NEVER forget I can guarantee you. More to come.

Written by ldreynolds

September 13, 2021 at 3:47 pm

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Saturday Night Love Letters…

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Memories Are Made Of This…

There are many fond- and not so fond memories I feel compelled to jot down for the book… One that stands out was about a show I cooked up for Nitetime Radio with L.D. Reynolds. Which aired from 1967 to around 1975 on KMVI. It was four hours on a Saturday night where I would read a dedication then follow it with the song requested in the letter. In fact, it was called “Saturday Night Love Letters”. I would come in early for my shift to sort through the mail and make individual piles of letters that were for the same song. I had to do this because there was always more than one dedication with a particular song requested. I would read the letters on the air, then play the song. Well, the program got so popular that the incoming mail resembled an alpine avalanche. Big cardboard boxes full all for the upcoming Saturday evening show. Well, it got so popular I eventually had to cancel the program because there was no way I could get hundreds of dedications all within the allotted four hours. As I look back on this, I realize that I really didn’t think the idea for the show all the way through. Still, I think it would have been great if I could have had help with the show prep and then maybe at the end of the show say something in an apologetic tone like: “If you didn’t hear your dedication tonight, I’m sorry but we just ran out of time By all means please try again for next Saturday’s show!” Great. Another intense “What If” moment. I truly loved those kids. Today they’re probably all grown up adults, married with children or maybe even grandkids of their own Now, in my retirement I always get a kick out of those few precious moments when a person would recognize me on the street and come up to me and say what fun they had hearing their dedications live on the radio. Indeed once in awhile they would say they actually ended up marrying the person they dedicated those songs to. It warms the old ticker quite nicely.

Written by ldreynolds

October 23, 2020 at 3:54 pm

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The Great Storm of 1980

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It was the closest thing to a hurricane I have ever experienced. It wasn’t as violent as it was lengthy in duration. The worst had passed after 72 hours, but the system proceeded to stall over the islands and refused to leave. I recall it was more than a week of steady rain pouring from a dark thick cloud cover consisting of millions of shades of gray.  It was most depressing after the initial excitement of the  storm had passed,  followed by several days of constant rain, (varying between drizzle and downpour) wind and for Maui it was damned cold… I really began to appreciate the sun and one of the main reasons I moved to Maui in the first place.

However it was during the evening hours of the second day of the storm when something happened that would change my life forever…

Today’s radio is no way like it was back in 1980. I knew what a computer was, but at that time computers were what ran NASA or our accounting system at the station. The live announcer had much more to do with the day to day operations of the station. During the telling of this story, you will learn just how true that statement is…  On the morning of January 8, 1980 I woke up to a most unusual sound. It was the sound of rain, but not quite the same familiar sound that rain usually makes. It was different enough to peak my curiosity, so I got out of bed and shuffled over to the bedroom window and peered outside. Instead of the usual green grass and foliage,  I found myself gazing upon a large pond where my backyard used to be. So it wasn’t the sound of rain hitting the ground that woke me up and caused me to investigate, it was the sound of rain hitting a rather large body of water. The weather report had warned of a large tropical depression heading up towards Maui from south of the Big Island. It was a “typical” forecast more or less expected on rare occasions during our winter season so it didn’t seem like that big a deal at the time. Yet the rain was really coming down hard and  and on top of that it was steadily increasing in intensity as I stood there.

During this period in my life I had obtained my Amateur Radio “Ham” license, passing the FCC exam roughly ten years ago and by this time was heavily involved in the local Ham Club and in emergency communications for the local civil defense agency. By the looks of things outside, I thought maybe I’d better head into my “Ham Shack” and see if there was anything going on I should know about.  I dialed my receiver to a local shortwave frequency where I always used to spend the first two hours of my typical daily schedule shooting the breeze with a few of my fellow Ham buddies. There was already excited talk on the channel mostly about the tropical depression, which during the night had suddenly turned itself into a full blown tropical storm.

It must have been the weekend, because I wasn’t scheduled to go into work that day. The roof over the ham shack was an “after thought” addition to the house and the aluminum roof sloped downwards away from the main house rather unconventionally and when standing up, the top of my head was only inches from the ceiling. This was significant for an entirely different reason this day in particular because by then the sound of the rain hitting the aluminum roof made it difficult to hear my extremely concerned wife speaking to me over my shoulder as I sat at my desk, let alone try to hear what was going on on the radio.

The usual “ham” gang was on the air that morning. Jerry, out in the boonies of Peahi.  Dave, upcountry in Pukalani.  Mike, way out in Kaupo in East Maui. Wesley, an old timer up in Olinda and myself in Kahului just a block or two away from the AM radio station where I was employed. The National Weather Service had nothing but bad news for us that fateful morning. We were expecting 45 to 50 mile per hour winds with gusts of up to 75 miles per hour and there was several more inches of rain on the agenda as well. Already I could sense the wind picking up in the  bushes outside the ham shack window and in the mango trees in the back yard. An hour later the house was beginning to show signs of distress and I had a wife and young daughter looking at me with eyes that were saying “oh crap, what are we gonna do?”

The mood was suddenly disrupted by the telephone. In those days it was an actual telephone hanging on the wall in the kitchen that actually rang. It was the radio station wanting to know what frequency the guys and I were yakking on. It wasn’t my boss who wanted to know,  it was in fact the United States Coast Guard. Evidently there was a crisis in progress due to the storm and they were aware that we were a regular feature on the 40 meter “ham” band every morning and sure enough not 30 seconds after I hung up, the Coast Guard cutter radio operator was calling me on frequency giving some weird U.S. Coast Guard radio call sign. By this time the weather outside had built up to a loud raucous roar and I had to resort to headphones to hear what the radio operator was saying… With my young family of three all huddled around me and my radio gear, we were all starting to get more concerned with all the storm related goings-on outside and curious to boot as to what the coast guard wanted with my rag tag ham radio morning crew.

Sam, the radio operator on board the cutter, filled us in on the situation. A small 45 foot sail boat had been caught in the storm, ripped from it’s mooring and blown way off course and completely lost in 25 foot waves and ungodly strong rain and wind… and worse, we learned there was a family of four on board. There was a certain amount of luck involved here as it so happened the father was an amateur radio operator. Another stroke of luck was that the coast guard was able to pick up his distress call.  Before long the frantic father of two, trying to speak as calmly as he could, began feeding us information while myself, the the other members of our “rag tag 40 meter ham morning crew” and the coast guard radio operator tried to triangulate the exact position of the tiny craft using our radios. All the while I couldn’t stop thinking about what this guy must be going through out in this storm on a small wooden sail boat surrounded by waves bigger than a six story office building, that awful howling wind and pouring rain. Even at our location,  I doubt I could have stepped outside without scuba gear (I jest)  it was coming down so hard. In fact, while all this was happening my neighbor’s roof across the street found its way onto my front yard.

We stayed on the air for the rest of the morning giving badly needed moral support to the poor skipper on that boat, who through out the whole ordeal kept his cool… even when the children in the background started to sound a bit panicked. We could hear their inquiries “off mic” about what was happening and he kept it all together.  I have to hand it to him. I don’t think I could have pulled off what he did had I been in his shoes. It took about 10 minutes to get an actual “fix” on the boat’s location and the cutter finally zeroed in.  As the storm built up in intensity it was touch and go as to whether the that brave Coast Guard cutter crew would be able to see that tiny craft in all that violent weather.

When the cutter finally found them we all let out a hardy whoop and I nearly spilled my sixth cup of hot coffee in the process. In all the excitement, roughly fifteen minutes after the cutter had retrieved the wet and frightened family, their tiny craft with everything the that family owned, sank straight to the bottom. It was determined later that as the boat was being towed back into Kahului Harbor, the waves were just too high for the small craft to handle. The only home this family had ever known could no longer stay afloat. In seconds it was gone. But they were safe and we were some of the most jubilant and full-of-ourselves bunch of hams you’d ever see in your entire life.

The next day I was pulling an afternoon shift on the air and I got a surprise call from the Mom, whom I bet was just as instrumental in keeping spirits up that fateful morning as anyone else involved. She was calling from a phone booth in the parking lot of the Kahului Shopping Center. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind doing an interview about the ordeal and she agreed. It was probably the most interesting and gripping interview I have ever conducted. She explained how they had lost everything when their boat went down, which was indeed their home for several years. That boat contained everything they owned. Food, clothing, memorabilia, everything. They lost a lot but she made sure we all knew that they were alive and thankful for it. She thanked the crew of the cutter and all of us who were on the ham radio airwaves that day, everyone  who was involved in the process of getting the boat located, minutes before possibly an even larger disaster could happen.

But the story doesn’t end there… While she was talking to me, a lady (to this day I don’t know who she was) pulled up in front of the phone booth and after our conversation, picked her up and took her shopping. Later when I was talking to the father, I found out that the mysterious lady was a well to do woman who was listening to the interview on her car radio and and decided to help them out. The generous lady spent more than a thousand dollars buying food, clothing and providing a place for the now homeless family to stay while they got back on their feet. While listening to the interview she happened to spot the young mother of two in the phone booth, pulled into the parking lot and offered to help. It was an extremely heart warming end to a very exciting story. It’s all there in the January 8, 1980 edition of the Maui News. Read all about it. The Great Storm of 1980.

Written by ldreynolds

September 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

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Misadventures In Paradise

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I thought it essential that I include some of the weird stuff that went on during my early years at KMVI-AM before I get too old to remember them. There are some misadventures, I am sure, that I’ve already forgotten. I’ll just start with the ones freshest in my mind…

As I recall it must have been 1971 or 2 when this story begins. I was sharing an apartment at Puuone Gardens with my old friend Tim. The radio station had recently hired a tall dark and mysterious looking gentleman who called himself  Tom Brady. It must have been a stage name because he was very proud of his German Heritage and to me, Brady didn’t sound very German at all. When he first came to us, he was pretty much broke and very much new in town, so myself and Tim having big hearts decided to let him use our couch while he looked for a place of his own.

One day while Tom was at work, Tim and I were at the apartment together and we couldn’t help but notice Tom’s huge old beat up trunk that he kept his worldly possessions in, just setting there in the living room daring us to open it.  Tim looked at me and I looked at him and then we both without speaking, immediately made a unanimous decision to have a look-see inside. To rationalize our misdeed, we tried to think of ourselves as not being busy-body snoops, but actually investigating a somewhat shady character with whom we were sharing personal space. With that accomplished, we set about opening the unlocked chest. We both drew in a startled breath of air in response to what had just presented itself to us… It was a neatly folded Nazi flag that looked kind of lumpy- as though it was being used to protect something precious.  It looked as though an object had been meticulously wrapped up inside it.  With curiosity continuing to get the best of us, we excitedly and very carefully unwrapped the object, paying particular attention as to how it was folded, to make certain the flag could be re-folded in a such a way as to not give away the fact it had been tampered with. We received another high energy shock at what we found… an authentic and fully loaded German made pistol.  A pre-World War II Lugar P08 pistol in fact.

We took note of a very well deserved look of horror on each others face as we very calmly, very carefully re-packaged the gun in the flag and placed it back exactly as we found it. Some time after we closed the lid, and after the shock wore off we began to formulate a plan to force Tom’s eviction from our apartment.  What made matters worse was the fact that I was still immersed at the time in a recent “conversion” to Judaism and I had a custom painted Star of David in blue on both sides of my white motorcycle helmet which I always kept in plain sight next to the TV. Not good. Not good at all.

I cannot quite recall all of the details, but we eventually got him out of the apartment, surprisingly without much difficulty at all. I got the impression that he was just as anxious to leave as we were to have him leave. Sadly, later that month poor Tom Brady was summarily fired for locking himself in the studio at the radio station and playing non-stop German marches on the air until we were able to get the door open and have the police usher him out of the building. As the story goes, he later landed a job at a radio station  in Honolulu, but tragically after just a few weeks I read in the Honolulu Advertiser that poor Tom had been found dead in his YMCA hotel room. He had taken his own life with a single bullet to the head from that very same pistol we discovered that fateful day months earlier. We never really did find out out where he came from or anything about his background. He never talked about it and somehow always managed to dodge any inquiries… but that is a mystery I’ll be happy to let be. Still…

I mentioned earlier that back in the early years of my tenure at KMVI I was “self-immersed” in Judaism. The reason why is a kind of a weird story in itself. During High School I dated all kinds of girls with all kinds of religious backgrounds. Back then my testosterone level was way higher than it is now and back then I would have become anything just to win a young lady’s love. One of the last memories relating to my teenage love life was that of the day I met this beautiful, very proper young Jewish girl who’s name I cannot reveal out of common courtesy. We were in love and were serious enough for me to try to complete my conversion to Judaism before marriage, which was a “requirement” of her parents if they were going to give us their blessing.  Cut scene…

It was right up until I was to be officially confirmed as Jewish that I got cold feet and wound up in Hawaii immediately upon graduating from a broadcast trade school in Milwaukee Wisconsin known as the John Cameron Swayze School of Famous Broadcasters. The course lasted roughly four months, plus the school offered a great placement service upon graduation- which was the main reason I had decided to take the course. On the application for enrollment I was required to give a first and second choice of where I wanted to work. With my immediate family rapidly disintegrating back home, I was bound and determined to get as far away from there as I could and still remain in the good ol’ USA…. so for my first choice I put down Hawaii. My teenage years were tumultuous to say the least with my parents gradually building up animosity between the two of them. The actual divorce itself was the catalyst for my entire family exploding outwards in all directions like a series of Saturn 5 rocket boosters. Only the oldest of  my two sisters stayed in Michigan with our dad. The other sister moved to Miami and my younger brother ended up in Washington State. Obviously, I ended up on Maui. On a less domestic note, while our family was disintegrating, nearby Detroit was going up in flames during the well publicized race riots of 1967, the year I graduated from high school. Growing up in southeast Michigan I learned to vehemently hate the racial bigotry and violence prominent in the area and I found myself desperately needing to get away. Far away. The further the better. I didn’t want to leave the country so obviously the Hawaiian Islands were as far away as I could get from ground zero and still be in the United States. So the first leg of my migration to the South Pacific was to leave my former home near Lansing Michigan and go to Milwaukee where the trade school I mentioned had set up shop and where I first met my teenage bride that was not to be. My first real experience of true love.

My only real memories of that period of time learning the broadcast trade were of trying to read a piece of live commercial copy with a soda cracker in my mouth. It was an exercise where you kept reading the same commercial copy over and over while adding an extra soda cracker to the mouth with each read through. The trick was to remain as intelligible as possible no matter how many crackers you had in your craw.  It sounds silly I know, but it really helped me improve my diction- my enunciation. There were several other exercises as well that were designed to effectively improve the speech process as I learned how to become a “proper” live announcer on the radio. Even though I had some radio experience before attending this trade school, I learned an awful lot in addition to what I already knew, that helped me in furthering my career. So after graduation, the school made good on it’s claim that it could place me in an area where I wanted to live and much to my surprise, I ended up on Maui. When I first appeared in the office of Nora I Cooper (General Manager of KMVI radio at the time) to have the job interview and make things “official” by filling out the employment application, I still considered myself Jewish if for no other reason than to be able to fill in the blank where it asked what religion I professed. In those days it was perfectly legal for the prospective employer to ask and I had no qualms about answering. However, for the purpose of “full disclosure” I must admit I have since, become a jaded non-believer, due in a large part to the bigotry and vitriol I was exposed to as a kid towards people of color in the community where I grew up. I stood up (all 6 foot 2 inches of me) and handed her the application. She glanced at it,  then after a few seconds of silence she looked up at me with eye brows raised far above the rims of her reddish-brown thick framed glasses and said: “Golly! You sure are tall for a Jewish kid!” Hmmmm. Okay… Well, come to find out, the announcers at the station during that period of time all had nicknames they went by on the air. KMVI’s broadcast schedule included names like J. “Akuhead Pupule” (Hawaiian for crazy fish head) who did the morning show. Followed by “Ernesto Che Clack” and/or “El Gecko” and/or “Uncle Cliffy” in the mid-day slot, “Poor Richard” Graham did the afternoon drive time shift and thus, I was “knighted” by Mrs. Nora I. Cooper, my beloved lady boss onto the KMVI announcer line up as “Little David”, taking over the evening slot. Since those early days I discarded the nickname, but because I had ended up gaining a deep appreciation for my lady boss, I kept the initials L.D. simply out of fondness, out of respect for the lady that continually, for the next 25 years of my life, bailed me out of all kinds of trouble I found easy enough to get into.  I intend to write a chapter later on dedicated to Mrs. Cooper, a person who never once had spoken a harsh word to me… Unless it was to admonish me for some stupid act I might have pulled either on the air or off. (Her unspoken nickname among the staff was “Mother”) I seemed very talented at creating situations that required her to swoop in and save my ass from some sort of quagmire or another that I may have found myself immersed in. One fine example of this happened during my radio show where I questioned the intellect of a certain Maui County Council member who came up with the idea of building a tramway though the scenic Iao Valley located in the nature preserved West Maui Mountains. Unfortunately it was during an election year whereby said councilman threatened to sue me and the station, blaming me for his unsuccessful bid for re-election. The lawsuit never happened. Thanks Mom.

As I recall, one of my other “troubles” resulted from a serious accident involving me on my motorcycle and a ’58 Buick. The driver never saw me coming even with my headlight on and never heard the loud noise my racing bike made. The driver made a left turn in front of me and I hit her car head on doing 35 miles an hour. I flew 30 feet over the top of her vehicle and landed flat on my back in the on-coming lane of traffic. I specifically remember two notable things about that accident. One was, I must have been at  least semi-conscious, I don’t remember much really, but the ambulance driver told me later that I asked to him to call Mrs. Cooper at the station to tell her I’d be a bit late for work. Then I passed out. I woke up in Maui Memorial Hospital where I stayed for almost two weeks. Black and blue from my knees to my navel resulting from Internal injuries which nearly did me in. The second major thing I remember about that accident was that Mrs. Cooper, my bad-ass lady boss and stand-in mother was the first person to come and visit me while I was on the mend.

Let me regress a bit as I feel I must include some needed background before I proceed to the next story. Please allow me to skip back temporarily to my broadcast trade school days. As I have already stated, I attended the Milwaukee based broadcast school because I had heard that they had a terrific placement service which was included in the price of the tuition.  And to reiterate, this is also the time where I fell in love with a young and beautiful Jewish Princess and HER name I will never forget but won’t mention it here to protect the innocent. I treated her as poorly as I did most all of the other girls I dated during that period of my life. There was much behind the scenes drama of which I was mostly unaware of. Especially as I was waiting for her to come to Hawaii after she graduated from High School. At least that was the plan. I remember one very cryptic long distance phone conversation where she suddenly and very coldly called our relationship off. That relationship ended badly like most of the other “relationships” I’ve experienced as a young boy. I mention this because it was a very dark period in my life for which I am very lucky to have survived  Long story short: my parents found out that she was Jewish and her parents found out I lied to them about being Jewish.  Let’s just say it was a combination of deceit on my part and hypocrisy on the part of my parents that put a tragic end to this budding romance. I carried a torch for her for many years after and I still think of her from time to time in a fond, wishful “what if only” fashion today. What a shallow lying fool  I was to her. But in my defense, I would have done anything, said anything to hold on to her love for me. I told her what I thought she wanted to hear. I am able to admit it now as now as I am much older and wiser and it really doesn’t matter anymore. It’s water long passed under the bridge. It was hard for me to admit even to myself that during my youth I was probably the most pretentious, condescending, impetuous, full-of-myself jerk there could possibly be- especially when it came to women. All I can say now is, after all these years and after so many busted relationships, I am certainly the most sorry for this one particular relationship. It seemed so long ago and so far away. Gone but not forgotten. Okay the record has been set straight. I admit it. I was a lying fool and was unscrupulous when it came to winning a young girls heart. Since then I have learned my lesson and have tried to be a much better person with regards to my relationships towards the opposite sex. At least that is my sincerest hope.  On to the next story…

I remember it was when I was still doing my show I like to call “Nitetime Radio” on KMVI, the much maligned 6 to midnight evening shift. All the newbies had to pull that shift for a while, building tenure. At most stations the newbie shift was over night, midnight to 6am. But KMVI in those days signed off the air at midnight. It was also during my first (and most successful) marriage. I was actually the only entertainment on the radio during those years during that time slot,  as the stores all closed up at 5pm, most of the TV stations signed off after the 10:30 news and the only night life was on the west side of Maui in the in Lahaina-Kaanapali area. Plus to my advantage, the more popular Honolulu Top 40 stations didn’t come in very well on Maui during the evening hours. So one might say I was popular by default. (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone I said that!) I must also honestly admit that for a short time there was an alternative to my show, that was the DJ on opposite to myself on KNUI, “the other guys” then operating on 1310 khz. They were the  only other radio station on the island back then, another plus for me as with little or no competition it was easier to garner a large “listenership”. (According to my spell-checker that is not a word.) There were no “Arbitron-like” ratings services available during those days so it was difficult to tell who was number one. I’ll devote another chapter later  on devoted to those highly charged days where the only two stations on the island at the time really had much dislike for the other while competing for limited advertising dollars. But this particular story comes from somewhere within the year 1974.  I was doing my usual “play the hits” shtick on a Friday evening, it was  about 10PM. I had left the back door to the station unlocked (you could do that on Maui in those days and be perfectly safe) because I was expecting my young wife and newborn daughter to come to the station after she got off work. I was in the middle of a live commercial when this very strange looking bearded, long haired, gentleman in a white, nearly floor length cotton bath robe with a rope for a waist high belt came strolling through the propped open studio door. I was used to getting visited by “fans” and close friends during the evening so I didn’t really think much of it until I noticed he was carrying a Bible and a well worn walking stick. Something told me this was no run-of-the-mill hippie type and lord knows in those days we had plenty of those. (And I use the word “hippie” as a term of endearment) Anyway. I gave him an acknowledged glance and quickly finished up my ad-libbed commercial about the big sale on Pampers at Ooka’s Supermarket and started a tune playing on turntable one. Then, he introduced himself  (I kid you not) as “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum was quietly playing on the studio monitors. I discovered I had in my presence a visitor from Heaven by the name of Jesus Christ.

Okay. Back then live announcers were noted for their ability to think on their feet (no need for that ability these days) so I decided that what the hell, I’d interview him while I waited for the men-in-white to come from the near by hospital to pick him up. What could possibly go wrong? He seemed like a really nice guy. Besides, It would make a great bit for the late night listening audience. (I had stealthily notified the police while he went to use the rest room. Thank the maker even crazy people have to pee.)  Then what happened during the proceeding 10 minutes was probably the most unusual thing that ever happened to me in all my 50 plus years of broadcasting.  He agreed to the interview and as soon as the Norman Greenbuam tune had ended I opened the guest microphone and started asking him questions as though he were any other regular run-of-the-mill honored guest on my show.  Sure enough when I asked him who he was, he identified himself as, his words: “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God and of Mother Mary.” The interview was mind blowing. What could have been a very bad experience for me and my soon to be arriving wife, turned out to be one of the most interesting and entertaining interviews I ever did.  His knowledge of the Bible was astounding and he answered every question I threw at him with calm, confident and I must say, mostly accurate answers- Biblically  correct in every way.  I was then and still am today an outspoken atheist, after becoming very familiar with the Bible but I swear, by the time the interview was over I thought, hey man, this really could be him! The phones were ringing off the hook from people who wanted to know what the hell was going on. It was almost like Orson Well’s “War of The Worlds” all over again. Only THIS time it was the “Second Coming”. Totally nuts! But, like all good things, this interview had to be concluded. The guys in the white jackets had finally arrived and Jesus  left as calmly and quietly as he came. Later, the hospital, located a stone’s throw away from the station apologized for the incident and mentioned in passing that they did occasionally have patients wander out of the low security low risk wing and did I wish to file a compliant with the police. What? Are you kidding? That whole 15 or 20 minutes of my career were probably the most exciting I had ever experienced- if there had been ratings they would have been through the roof and by the time my wife and child arrived this incident was history.

Coming up! The Great Storm of 1980!

Written by ldreynolds

February 3, 2012 at 12:56 am

Posted in General

Paradise Found…

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I thought carefully about using a particular opening statement for this book I’m writing. I know its been used ad nauseum, but I’m sorry, there’s just no other way to set the scene…

It was a dark and stormy night. It was 2am Hawaiian Standard Time. I had just disembarked at Honolulu International Airport after a 12 hour, non-stop flight from Chicago. It was 8 degrees above zero and snowing when I got on the United Airlines Flight and when I got off,  it was a muggy 80 degrees and pouring down rain. Only it was unlike any downpour I’d ever seen.  So very alien and yet familiar. The smell of the air was different. The air felt different. The ambient sounds around me were different… This is how I began the rest of my life in Paradise. A tall, lanky 18 year old, far from home, setting on my luggage in the rain,  in the open air causeway of the Aloha Airlines lobby at  the inter island terminal. Wondering what to do next.

Come to find out my journey wasn’t quite finished. I had another 90 miles of ocean to cross. And here I was, a soggy haole teenager with 100 dollars worth of personal checks in my pocket and no way to finish the final leg. Being a naive smart-ass teenager finally on my own in a strange and distant land I was under the impression that I was where I was supposed to be. But according to a passing Taxi driver who I could barely understand,  lo and behold Maui was not a town on the island I was on, but a whole island in and unto its self.

So with pride swallowed, I proceeded to call my new boss at 3 o’clock in the morning to ask a favor, one of what would the first of many. To my surprise, she didn’t send me packing back to Michigan, but with groggy voice gave me her credit card number so I could finish my flight to Maui. I couldn’t believe how trusting and kind she was over the phone other than to think that I must have given her quite a story to tell at the place where I was to begin my career in broadcasting. The Aloha Flight wouldn’t be taking off until 6:30am so I got about to waiting, three hours to go sitting on my luggage in the pouring down rain. It was December 1st, 1967.

Now that I think of it 42 years later, I believe she thought the story was so worth the telling she even put me up at a hotel until I could find a place to live on a more permanent basis. I hadn’t really given much thought to where I would be staying when I got there and I felt stupid when she asked me where I would be spending the next few days. I wound up in a musty smelling room with a bed and a bathroom at The Maui Beach Hotel for 8 dollars and 65 cents a night.  It took me a week to find an a decent place to call home. One of the stafffers by the name of  Richard Graham was charitable enough to rent one of the bedrooms in a place he was staying at.  It was an older plantation style house located on Halama Street, a shady narrow lane 50 feet from the beach in a sleepy, dusty little town called Kihei.  My rent was 50 dollars a month.

So it came to pass.  I began a 20 year stint at KMVI AM starting at a whopping $2.95 an hour.

I was an impetuous, full of myself teen, recently sprung from a highly dysfunctional family and I barely remembered to thank her the next morning when I wandered into her office, having not slept since I left my dad standing on the tarmac at the Lansing Metro Airport just 28 hours hence.  I never looked back.

Chapter Two…

My first days, weeks, months on the island are very much a blur. My official reason for this is age. I believe I waited too long to write all this stuff down. However, I fear the real reason for the “fuzziness” was that my brain at the time was being subjected to all the rebellious things teenagers did back in that summer of love. Not all of them legal.

The population of the entire island in the late sixties was nearing 30,000 souls.  It was still a community, albeit a large one, where everyone knew everyone else in some way shape or form. It was very much like a microcosm of the mainland, except our east coast was Hana, not New York, our west coast was Lahaina/Kaanapali and not L.A.  My new home had everything my old home had and so much more. I loved the fact that you could either freeze to death at 10,000 feet at the summit of Mount Haleakala or cook in the sweltering heat of Makena . You could enjoy the fall-like temporate climate of upcountry Kula or explore the rain forests of Wainapanapa, and all of this within a few hours drive of wherever you decided to hang your hat. This was the age of  enlightenment for me: 1967 to 1972. An era during which I discovered sex, drugs and rock and roll.

The friends I made during this time were some of the best I’ve ever had. Unselfish, caring friends who all grew up in this sleepy island community and who accepted me sight unseen. Certainly  most of the population remianed suspious of me like they did every newcomer. Here, you had to prove your worth by being subjected to a certain “reverse discrimination”. You were accepted into the community only after you endured a few years of this without turning tail and running back to where you came from. I believe now, that this process was used to determine whether you would  become a contributor to the community or just another “pain-in-the-ass” malahini. I passed this test of fire although it was by the skin of my teeth and to this day, I am so very grateful.

My very first friend, Richard Graham made sure I saw all of the high points of the island. He wanted to aclimatize me so I’d “be more believable on the air”. I admit, this new land was entirely alien to me. Not even close to what my preconceptions were before I arrived. He drove me everywhere, pointing out the sights and giving me a general education about the culture. He made me practice the language by reading road signs as we drove along. He made sure I had a decent place to live during my first few years on Maui. He worked as KMVI’s afternoon drive guy and who I followed on the air every weekday at 6PM back in 1967.

Did I say he was my first friend? Well, now that I think about it, he was  maybe a close second. I might list Nora I. Cooper as my first friend. That’s the lady I mentioned in chapter one. The one who didn’t bat an eye lash at my geographical folly at the airport. In fact, the clearest memory I have of this time period was the day I walked into her office on my first official day of duty. I was 6 feet 3 inches tall and a skinny 168 pounds, bursting with ego and impetuous as all holy hell. There were no chairs in her small office so I stood there smiling my best mischiveous teenager smile. Back then, you were required to indicate your religion on the application for employment and I, having just run away from a wedding to a Jewish high school sweetheart, wrote down Judaism, even though I had never finished the conversion process. You see, according to my parents, I was an upstanding  Christian boy. I hated labels even then.

In those days all the DJ’s on KMVI had nicknames. There was J. Akuhead Pupule, (Hal Lewis) in the morning drive, The Riddle King (McAvoy Lane), Crusty ol’ (Bob Frost), Da Carrabao (Rick Medina), El Gecko/Uncle Cliffy (Cliff Arquette) and Poor Richard (Dick Graham). She looked down at my application, then looked up at me and said: “You’re a little tall for a Jewish kid aren’t you? I think we’ll call you “Little David”. Ha Ha. It stuck. I was part of the team.

To this day I have kept the initials “LD” as part of my radio stage name in deference to the person who really became more of a second mother to me than a boss. from that day on and  for many years after, Little David  became king of night time radio on Maui. ( In all fairness however, there wasn’t much else in the line of entertainment for Maui’s Youth after 9PM anyway. So I guess you could say I was king by default.)

Of course in those days, radio was a much different thing than it is today. Due to the size of the market and its geography, KMVI took on an additional role as well as being the presenter of news, sports, and music.  On Maui, radio was more than just entertainment and news. It actually formed the function of bringing the island community together. Radio was the community’s hub, where folks got their town gossip, news from the outside world, ocean conditions for the fishermen, agricultural news for the farmers and language programs for the different ethnic groups who made up the community itself.

I remember having to read paid segments from both of the islands funeral homes… a five minute obituary report of who died, when the services were to be held, who they were survived by and which cemetary the burial would take place. Bulgo’s Mortuary and Norman’s  Mortuary I believe they were called.  I also prided myself in finding many a lost pet. It was an amazingly satisfying feeling to get that tearful thank you call from a listener recently reunited with their little furry friend as a direct result of the announcement of the missing animal over the air.

Back then it wasn’t unusual to have to ‘ad lib’ a 60 second supermarket ad right out of the Maui news, complete with the sound of the paper rattling in the background. And I wonder who will remember “Dialing For Dollars”… a call-in contest where the listener got an opportunity to answer three decreasingly difficult questions, with a dollar “disappearing” with every wrong answer. The contestant started out with three dollars and while not too many listeners were able to answer the first question, most were able to get the last one correct and were thrilled to receive the one dollar bill. However the biggest thrill for the listener obviously, was talking to the D.J. on the air. That, I believe, was the biggest prize of all. The money was never the reason for the interest in the contest, it was an early version of American Idol on a super small basis. The listener was a radio star for three minutes. They loved it!

KMVI at 550khz on the dial, was one of only two stations serving Maui County during this era. The other station, KNUI was operating on 1310khz at the time and needless to say the competition was intense. The rivalry between the two stations was a beautiful thing to someone like me, who loved to compete, who craved to be compared favorably to the other guy who was on the air opposite me in my time slot. No matter who he was or what kind of person he was, he was the enemy and I went after him with a vengence.  Those days in the ‘backwater’ as I called it, we had no ratings services. There was no Arbitron or Neilson to tell us who was number one. But even then good ratings was everything. It made selling ads on the station easier if we could prove somehow that we had the highest number of listeners. So we made due with our own research methods which admittedly were very quaint, but just as accurate.

I remember getting out of my 1967 volkswagen in the parking lot of the Kahului Shopping Center (the only other shopping center at the time was the Lahaina Shopping Center) with my clip board and walking down the rows of cars, peaking into the windows and jotting down which side of the dial the radio was set on. KMVI operated on a frequency of 550khz and was on the left side of the analog tuning dial, KNUI at 1310khz was on the right.  As long as there were more check marks in the KMVI column we were happy. And I am very proud to say back then, the KMVI column was indeed the longest one on any given day in any given parking lot.

Chapter Three

These earliest days of my new life on Maui happened during a time of much confusion for me. I had, for all practical purposes, run away from home. I was trying to get as far away from all of the hypocrisy and bigotry I had discovered going on around me as I could, while under the impression that the world was being guided by God’s hands. My folks were beginning a long and nasty divorce and I was being exposed to things I wanted no part of.  So, when I chose the market I wanted to be placed in when I graduated from Broadcasting School, I chose the furthest place on the planet I could go and still remain in the United States- Hawaii.

I wanted to get as far away from Michigan as I could and I had always fantasized as a kid about  having adventures in exotic, faraway places. In fact, the theme of one of my favorite TV shows as a teenagerwas called “Adventures In Paradise”. All those National Geographic Magazines in the Dentist and Doctor’s wating rooms had a heavy influence my decision as well. I was looking for a place where race wasn’t an issue, where everyone lived together in harmony. Where all those things I learned in Sunday School were practiced and not just preached.

I figured since Hawaii was supposed to be the “melting pot” of America, there I might find my dreams come true. There, people of many cultures lived next to each other, you never heard of any race riots or hate crimes and families stayed together. I decided I wanted to be a part of this community. There,  I would find palm trees blowing in the trade winds, white sandy beaches and perhaps the love of my life. Well, I did find most all of that. The rest is a mixture of bliss and disappointment.

(I will be constantly adding to and upgrading this post for quite some time. Please feel free to check in often and add your comments and maybe some of your own memories of this time. Mahalo!)

I am adding this at the request of a friend of mine. It was a comment to a news post he posted on Facebook about how tourism is killing Maui. It is also as possible ending paragraph to this book I am trying to write about my life’s experience on Maui as a popular radio personality during the late 60’s to the present day. This was my comment (slightly re-written):

With the way things are going in the Western hemisphere these days with all of the political turmoil and the added pressure of impending doom from what scientists have named climate change, I’m afraid too many people are (frantically?) searching for “Shangrala”.(sp?) When I got off the plane here in the islands back in 1967 there was a gentle rain, the air smelled “different”… alien-like. I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. (More accurately Michigan- but I needed Kansas for effect.) It was so overwhelmingly strange and wonderful, I was hooked. I was sensing something dramatically different, that I could more than see, I could smell it, taste it, feel it all around me,   I knew right then and there that I was finally home. I knew that I would never be able to leave… Now? 50 some years later? I can’t tell the difference between here and San Diego. The people are looking for what I was looking for: paradise… but they won’t find it here anymore. It’s gone. But what I remember will stay with me until the very end. That will have to do.

Written by ldreynolds

October 26, 2009 at 6:01 am

Posted in General

Those Amazing Epiphanies

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I had formed my own theories about the things learned to be true about the Human condition back when I was too young to know what they were called. Things like the inherited desire for human companionship. How the human brain is wired in such a way that compels  us to function as  social animals.  How our brains are pre-programmed to be pattern seeking, to attempt at all cost to try to make order out of chaos. (That one can both be a blessing and a curse to us humans.)  I have learned through my studies that there are three things human beings are most fearful of: Death,  being alone and pain and suffering. Combine all of what I have said so far and you get very fertile ground for the beginnings of religion.

I don’t care how much of a hermit a particular human claims to be. If you took that human and put them say, on Mars and left them there with no way- no hope of ever rejoining society, they would slowly but surely fade away. They would die long before a natural death knowing they will never be able to touch another human, hear another human voice, smell the pheromones of someone other than themselves.  Certainly there have been successful clinical tests involving human beings in isolation, but these test subjects knew they would be rejoining humanity after the trails were concluded. There are folks who actually prefer to live their lives apart from society, but they are still aware of society all around them.  If they wanted to, they could rejoin the teaming masses at any time.  But put them in an impossibly distant place with not a chance of eventual repatriation and it’s a different story altogether. True isolation is not survivable.

Since the dawn of human history we have always gone out of our way to make sense of the unknown. It’s a process which has given us the constellations in the night sky. It is what allows us see a cloud in the shape of a volkswagen or a bust of President Lincoln as we lie in a grassy field looking up at the sky.   Rubik’s cube?  No problem.  Crossword puzzles? Good fun! Ask us what is different between several seemingly similar pictures? The longer we stare at them the more differences we can pick out. This brain function is what gave us math, chemistry, and physics… and religion.

And then there’s death. I’m sorry, there’s not much good anyone can say about death. We fear it most of all. We love life too much and we cannot stand the thought of having to give it up.  Today, science  still struggles with combating the aging process.  Whether they find the answers they  seek remains to be seen. In the meantime we will all have to face it eventually. All of us. And it scares us silly.

Thousands of years ago, as hunter-gatherers, we kept our families  together in a tight group as we roamed the savanna and when darkness fell we always kept a fire burning through the night. We carefully watched over each other as we had every good reason to. The world was out to eat us and we found strength and security in numbers. This eventually led to the formation villages, then cities, then city-states, provinces, kingdoms and finally whole countries.

I wonder who received the first epiphany. Who figured out what the big three human fears were and then devised a formula that took advantage of those fears to control mens minds. No one really knows the exact time in history when religion appeared, but slowly over time it became one of the most effective forms of crowd control known to man.  The shamans, the medicine men and the priests horded the science, they kept the knowledge to themselves. They turned our fears back on us and gave us a thing called religion. The plan was to indoctrinate the huddled masses by telling them that if they joined up, they would become part of a loving, extended family.  Safe,  protected from harm. They promised them  life  beyond the grave and reunification with loved ones who passed on before us.

Then, almost in the same breath we were told that if we refused allegiance we would burn in hell forever, to be consumed by fire and suffer unimaginable pain. Who wouldn’t buy that kind of sales pitch? If I were an ignorant cave man, I’d buy that line easy.

During the earliest days of our reign on Earth, whenever we witnessed a lightning strike or other stupefying natural phenomena, we would run frightened into our caves and wonder what it was we did to deserve such a display of unearthly violence. Whenever the fields turned dry and lifeless we had no idea that it was just a simple change in the normal weather patterns of the region. We thought it might be some invisible power we pissed off somehow and we did crazy things in order to appease it.  Well, how convenient that all we had to do was just join the cult, promise ten percent of our annual income and we would receive protection from these evil spirits from the skies and our fields would become fruitful once again. The shaman, medicine men and the priests knew very well the cycle would continue and the rains would eventually return. And when they did, well, it was all we needed. We were suckered  in for the long term. From then on we did what we were told.  Gods one, rational thought zero.

It is all a classic example of our brains struggling to make order out of chaos. The lightning strike was a natural event caused by the imbalance of positive and negative electrons in the atmosphere. It wasn’t the sky gods at all. Every time science advanced by explaining the unexplainable, the church would take one step backwards and re-draw the line in the sand. And still, the con continued. We discovered that the earth had weather patterns that caused dust bowls in one region and floods in another. As time marched on, we discovered the earth was round, not flat. The earth circled the sun, not the other way around. We discovered germs and bacteria caused illness not angry gods.  Still the con continued. The biggest blow to religion came on the day the theory of evolution became solid indisputable fact.  Still the con somehow managed to maintain it’s horrible stranglehold on humanity.

As we have begun to find out, biology comes into play here as well. The new theory is that after several thousand years of this clever ruse, our “religiousness” became ingrained into our DNA. We evolved pre-wired to accept this clever con, making us easy marks for future shamans,  medicine men and priests.  This explains why even when these seemingly  supernatural events were explained logically by the more rational of our human population, the con was able to survive. In fact, the rational thinkers of the day were usually imprisoned or put to death for speaking out. Today they are still subjected to isolation, ridicule and discrimination.

With man’s apparent laziness in his way of thinking, it is a good thing we have science. It is so much easier to blame things on a god rather than do the foot work and try to figure out why a certain event happens. It’s a good thing we have scientists who actually thrive on trying to figure things out or we’d still be believing  an angry god causes lightning strikes.  Could it be man’s inherent laziness is what continues to give religion it’s stranglehold on humanity? Why is it that after so many years,  science is still lagging behind religion on the scoreboard? Stay tuned.

Written by ldreynolds

October 15, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Posted in General

An Introduction

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AN INTRODUCTION…

I have been threatening for a long time to pick up my life story where I left off back in 1988, after those dark days of my divorce from my second wife. Those were the days when I needed God the most, but he just never showed up. What venue to tell the story? Well, I weighed all the options: write a book, continue a personal journal or start a blog.  Obviously the decision has been made and off I go into new uncharted territory.

In my posts I want to explain who I am now as opposed to who I was back then and why…  how I became the person I am today… a very happy card carrying atheist,  stripped of all the baggage of a brainwashed kid.  It’s a story full of lies and disillusionment, bigotry and racism. But it is a story that does have a happy ending. It is my hope that my story will help others who may have lived a similar childhood and right now may be sitting on the fence as far as their own religious views are concerned. Maybe what I have to say will help them climb down off the fence on the rational side,  joining the millions of free thinking humanists like myself with no more guilt, no more betrayal, no more living a lie.

My folks were not particularly deeply religious. They used the church the way a lot of  “grown-ups” use it,  as a social club of sorts. Human beings are a social animal after all, and I believe religion was born out of this inherited drive. It’s right there in our DNA.  But I digress. Deeply religious or not, my siblings and I were dragged to church kicking and screaming by our parents every Sunday all through our “formative years”.

Eventually I came to accept certain parts of the dogma: Love thine enemy as thyself, turn the other cheek, help those in need, do unto others, all of that good stuff. I was taught to accept my fellow man no matter what the color of his skin, his place of worship or his social status. As my young and formative brain sopped up all of this “information”, I slowly became the dangerously altruistic softy I am today. I was never exposed to the old testament ‘dark side’ as a child and for that I shall always despise the church- and it’s congregation.

My adolescent troubles  began when I started noticing the adults around me acting under a slightly different set of values than the ones I was being taught in Sunday School.  I must have been all of 11 years old. I remember my favorite Sunday school teacher having to leave town suddenly. Evidently she had a tryst with the preacher’s son and became very pregnant. I remember that it seemed like every time a preacher came along that I liked, he only lasted about three months and then the church board of directors would can him. I remember the sermons they gave about how great society would be if we could all just get along regardless of what color our skin was. A bouquet would be a boring thing indeed if all it’s flowers were the same color. (an analogy for the world and it’s many races.) I particularly liked the one based on another popular analogy, how science and religion were like the wings of a bird- which obviously could not fly without both wings working in perfect harmony and how Jesus got pissed at the church hierarchy and drove out the money changers. I bought it all hook, line and sinker.

However It wasn’t long before I learned that in the real world, all was not as the preacher had led me to believe.  At a very young age I became aware of the “Great Double Standard”. I discovered the definition of  hypocrisy long before I ever became familiar with the word.  I remember thinking: “What is up with this?”  Evidently all the values I learned in Sunday school were to be  discarded or at the very least altered somewhat as  a child grew into adulthood. Or maybe those lofty values were to be used selectively, when  convenient, when it suited me?  My problem was, I couldn’t just discard those values. I was stuck with them. I liked them and I stubbornly held on to them even when they worked against me- and that was usually more often than not.  Thanks a lot lord. You turned out to be the the worst role model a gullible child like me could have ever had.

Now please, don’t get me wrong. This is not to say that those values were not right, they were- they are.  It’s just that everyone has to go along with that game plan if it is ever going to work. They have to be switched on all the time, not just when it seems appropriate. Could it be that just like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, good old fashioned honest values are a fantasy as well? The answer I came up with was “yes”- as near as I could figure being limited by the brain of an 11 year old boy. I wrestled with these revelations along with all of the other lessons in life that happen to young adolescent humans. I held on to those values through Puberty, discovering the opposite sex, going through the usual phases that we chalk up to “growing pains”…  Then came the terrible teens.

I started hating my father for his attitude towards people of color.  I  didn’t understand why Dad never thought Jerry Lewis was funny. I remember sinking down out of sight in the back seat of the family car in embarrassment as we drove through the Black section of Flint, Michigan on the way to our Grandparents house in North Branch. He would yell at the top of his lungs “We’re going through nigger town!”.  All I could do was hope that none of the residents of that neighborhood were within ear shot.  Much later on in my life I discovered that my folks had quashed a teenage love affair between myself and a girl I met and fell in love with while attending a trade school in Milwaukee- because she was Jewish. Evidently my mother had had a few alcohol inspired antisemitic words with her mother over dinner one  evening and that was that.

I wondered for years after she broke off our relationship why it had happened. I would call her on the phone and ask but she just would not speak to me.  She truly despised me and at that time I was clueless as to her reasons. Then, many years later, just prior to my fathers death he admitted to me what had happened on that fateful night.  Then it all made sense.  I remember vividly one of the last things my mother said to me as I was preparing to leave for Hawaii.  She said: “Now don’t you  go getting hooked up with one of those Asian girls, David!”  But of course, that was one of the first things I did when I got there.

For me, leaving for Hawaii was not only the result of an overwhelming sense of adventure, but more so I believe now, it was just me trying to get as far away from the place of my childhood as I possibly could and still stay in the United States.  The year was 1967. My parents were divorcing and the four of us siblings were taking our shock and dismay out on each other. The family exploded into all parts of the country. One went south to Miami, one ended up in Seattle, one stayed in Jackson, Michigan and I, as I’ve already let on, made it all the way to Maui and only now, 40 plus years later, are we beginning to make an effort to patch things up and bring the family back together. It may happen eventually if my atheism doesn’t become a barrier.

I don’t know if I’ll ever finally grieve over the loss of my parents. I did love them and I am grateful to them for giving me my chance to shine in this life, on this planet. I know they put up with a lot of crap from me, my two younger sisters and one younger brother. Yet, I had to learn all of the “hard” stuff on my own- how the world really operated. If I only knew then what I know now. (What a beautifully honest truth that statement is!) If it hadn’t been for my books, my acute altruism would have killed me. I read all I could get my hands on about rational thought. How human beings think, believe and behave. I needed desperately to know what had happened to me and my family and why. Eventually I found the answers and I will discuss them all right here in the days and weeks ahead.

As I add to this blog, I will take you along on one of the most revealing journeys I’ve ever undertaken, where along the way I learned why most folks never really find what they are looking for, or even realize that they are missing vital information. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. I found the answers I needed before my confidence in humanity was completely destroyed, before I reached a point where it may have even destroyed myself.  It is my hope that these stories will help those of you who are as confused as I was and perhaps help you  find clarity and resolution along your own personal journey. You really do have to let go of a lot of baggage you picked up as a child. One of those lead weights you are going to have to drop is a fictitious old legend called Yahweh.

Believers would have you think that I am possessed by the devil. That I am a confused and godless heretic without a clue as to the true nature of life. But I know I am the enlightened one and they the ones who are blind. I chose to undertake a search that would take some  40 years of my life hunting for the answers I needed.  I’ve read the Bible several times cover to cover. Indeed it was the first time I ever read the Bible all the way through that I decided that yes, I really was an atheist.  I’ve studied the great philosophers like Aristophanes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russel, David Hume and so many others. I’ve read the biographies of our founding fathers and the writings of more contemporary thinkers like Micheal Shermer, Daniel C.  Dennett,  Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  I’ve become quite the History buff while in the process of digging for any factual evidence of the existence of Jesus in some of the best known books on world history ever written… and I found very little. In fact I found no direct historical eveidence at all that a man called Jesus Christ ever existed. You’d think with all those miracles he supposedly performed, there would be better documentation. Some sort of historical documentation.  I’ve read the offerings from our greatest scientific minds like Darwin, Einstein, Sagan and Dawkins and the more I learned the facts, the less I saw for a need for a supreme being.

Unlike my hard core christian friends I now know there are always facts that underlie any truth. Without facts the word “truth” becomes a relative term. It can mean anything we want it to mean. A big break through for me was finally coming to the realization that I will never be able to convince the evangelical  believer to see my way of looking at the world. All the answers they require are found in one old book, written centuries ago in an era where there was no science, no knowledge of the world outside the two or three hundred mile radius of where most of what happened in the Bible took place. The the world was flat and dragons waited at earth’s edge for those who were foolish enough to venture beyond the unknown.  The difference between us is that I rolled up my sleeves and did the research myself.  I studied hard and long and the learning continues to this day.  And not just one book but several.  I really worked at it. I found that the truth is out there and easily found if one would simply look. Maybe That’s why there are so many believers out there. Humans are just naturally lazy. It’s easier to rely on others for the truth than it is to go out and discover it for ourselves. To make matters worse there is a truth that is being spoken that is both easy to believe, ultimately damaging and hardly the truth at all…

It was difficult fro the longest time to sort it all out. There is so much MIS information out there that stood in my way, but I eventually found out why so many people believe the most ridiculous things. These many undereducated over zealous people live their lives believing that there is a better world waiting for those who will simply believe without question, believe in completely unprovable things, imaginary things. Myths, fables and fabrications.  Some just can’t wait for this life to end so they may enjoy the wonders of heaven. The difference between me and them is that they decided to take the easy way out and just join the club. They took that “leap of faith” as opposed to getting their hands dirty and finding the answers for themselves like I finally ended up doing.  The lazy bastards…

In this blog I intend to extend a helping hand to  anyone who might have had a similar childhood, to those who feel they were duped by the very people they counted on for guidance as I was.  I have a gut feeling that there are many more people like myself out there who are suffering for the truth.  I intend to give as much aid and comfort as I can to those whose lives, like my own, just happened to turn out to be nothing more than one giant snipe hunt…  I want more people to become curious enough to begin to explore what is real and wonderful in the natural world and then hopefully the same thing will happen to them that happened to me. Perhaps a day will come for them as it did for me when all the lights got switched on enabling my eyes to open wide and begin gazing out upon the world for the very first time.

A reading list for those who wish to pursue this further with me:

The Believing Brain – Michael Shermer

Why People Believe Weird Things – Michael Shermer

How We Believe – Michael Shermer

The End of Faith – Sam Harris

Breaking The Spell – Daniel C. Dennett

The Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan

Atheist Universe – David Mills

Godless – Dan Barker

Losing My Religion – William Lbdell

God- The Failed Hypothesis – Victor J. Stenger

Quantum Gods – Victor J. Stenger

Farewell To God – Charles Templeton

Irreligion – John Allen Paulos

God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens

Arguably – Christopher Hitchens

Written by ldreynolds

October 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Posted in General