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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

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