Thursday March 17, 2016
Cloudy 68°F/°C in Cedar Park, Texas 78613
Rain 65°F/ °C in Tauranga Harbor, New Zealand
My phone rang shortly after midnight. My old buddy, John Stephens was calling from Tauranga,
New Zealand with some hot news about his retirement that’s going to enable me
to scoop the AARP Magazine, hands down. He has discovered the ecstasies and the
agonies of running a local radio station. And in so doing, he gives hope and
inspiration to every pensioner who slogged for a lifetime in the workplace just
to be able to retire and collect a pension that would enable the retiree to
enjoy his or her Golden Years to sit
in a rocking chair on the front porch of the old folks home wrapped in a
blanket and sucking on a lemon.
|The ParadiseFM Gang!|
I’ll insert the link to John’s enterprise ParadiseFM.co.nz right here, so you can check it out while I tell you the rest of the story. (You can also check it out on IHeartRadio).
I met John in 1989 when I signed on for what I thought would be a short stint as News Secretary to then-Los Angeles County District Attorney Ira Reiner. John was an Investigator/Photographer assigned to the DA’s Bureau of Investigation. He was the real version of the guy with the camera that you see in every detective movie, moving around the crime scene taking flash photos that the detectives need for their cases. He also shot most of the publicity photos released by the department, including celebrity mug shots. A lot of his handiwork was included in the press releases that Sandi Gibbons and I produced for the department during those tumultuous years in the early 1990s. Among the notable cases were the McMartin child molestation trials, Charles Keating-Lincoln Savings scandals, the Rodney King case, the Menendez Brothers case, and, of course – O.J. Simpson.
John was not only a cracker-jack still photog, but he became a fine video guy as well. He not only shot videos to bolster our prosecutors court cases, but he worked with me on the video material that we included as part of our news releases and the television program that the department produced for the public access and government access cable TV channels throughout Los Angeles County. During his career with the district attorney’s office, John was the go-to guy for images, photos and video for half a dozen District Attorneys. No mean feat in a highly volatile workplace with lots of strong political swirls of every variety. (John is in the accompanying photo, helping to hold the banner in the back row).
In 2001, I headed up to Sacramento to a new job with the State of California and John stayed on to finish his enlistment with Los Angeles County. We stayed in touch over the years, with occasional visits and lots of phone calls as he took on the task of maintaining the original www.mikebotula.com even after I retired. Then his own retirement date approached and he told me, I’m going to New Zealand! Wow! I thought. New Zealand? Geez! Talk about a surprise. Straight out of left field. And, off he went with his new wife to a new life Down Under. I found a new webmaster – ME – and John and I stayed in touch via Skype as far-flung friends do in this internet age.
As John got rooted-in in his new surroundings, he connected with a local radio station and embarked on a new path, radio disc jockey. That’s a species that is nearly extinct in the United States, but local radio is still going strong Down Under. Not content to just be doing a program on a local radio station, my friend the former crime-scene photo decided he wanted his own radio station. That’s what his midnight phone call was all about. Wednesday midnight in Texas, but 6 a.m. Thursday in Tauranga, New Zealand, on the other side of the International Date Line and below the Equator. Valentine’s Day 2016 was a warm summer day down under as Paradise first went on the air.
To quote a line from the local Weekend Sun newspaper, It's unlike any paradise you've ever seen – four walls of concrete, the rooms blackened out with curtains and foam padding, and in mid-February, little to be seen of the actual summer vista that lies outside.
What ParadiseFM’s listeners hear is, a whole mix of genres, starting with Americana and under that banner comes alternative country, folk, reggae, blues, plus we also feature a lot of NZ music and contemporary tracks from rock albums, with an additional emphasis on Irish and Scottish music, to further quote The Sun.
What really tickles me is not just the good news from an old friend that he’s embarked on a new career in a whole new world, but the fact that one of my old loves is alive and well – local radio. I literally spent my formative years having the time of my teenaged life spinning 78 r.p.m. discs at my hometown radio station, rattling off the lost pet notices, and other local news and picking up the constantly ringing phone to hear requests and advice from our listeners. At that time and at that level we didn’t need to rely on ratings and focus groups to tell us how we were doing. People picked up their phones or stopped you on the street to tell you personally.
ParadiseFM is a low power operation by contemporary broadcast standards, but through internet streaming, including IHeartRadio, it has a global reach. And I wish my old buddy, John Stephens, Buon Viaggio! on his new career.
(MikeBo’s Blog is a wholly owned subsidiary of www.mikebotula.com , and is linked to Facebook, and Twitter and Google Plus!)
© By Mike Botula 2016