Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Radio Station in Paradise!

Brushy Creek Journal
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,
The ParadiseFM Gang!
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.
    I’ll insert the link to John’s enterprise 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  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 , and is linked to Facebook, and  Twitter and Google Plus!)
© By Mike Botula 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016

“ZAP MIKEY! You’ve Been Texi-Fied!”

Brushy Creek Journal
Thursday March 3, 2016
Partly Cloudy 84°F/29°C in Cedar Park, Texas 78613
Rainy  54°F/12°C in Roma, Lazio, Italia 00128

Texification: A process similar to naturalization, whereby an individual is transformed through the process of assuming or being granted citizenship of the sovereign state of Texas, usually a country other than that of the person’s origin. A process also known as Tex-Assification. Becoming a Texan!

  I think my muse must have fallen off the moving van somewhere back around El Paso, because, except for one new blog and a couple of posts on Facebook, I haven’t been writing very much since I pulled up stakes and left Rancho Santa Margarita. I had returned to Southern California following my latest excursion to the Land of the Caesars! I mean…after tripping the lights fantastic in Rome, Venice and Amsterdam, there is a bit of a sudden de-compression that hits you when you return to  the “55-plus Senior Living” apartment complex where you dwell.
  There’s just no comparing your neighbors’ wheezing and cackling and the clunks, clatters and whines of their walkers and scooter chairs to the hustle and bustle of a big city like Rome. And to make matters worse, my four young  grandchildren had been spirited away to far off TEXAS by their parents. I was once again a stranger in a strange land, a sailor adrift in a sea of senior citizen discounts and inundated by deluge of mailers and emails from the AARP!
 You don’t know what PTSD is until you wake up trembling in a cold sweat following a nightmare in which an angry mob of evangelical, conservative Tea Baggers with torches and pitchforks and full-on assault rifles trample through your flower beds and stampede across your yard hell-bent on taking away your Social Security pension benefits and your Medicare card and leaving you swinging from the old oak tree in their rampage to Take Their Country Back!
  TEXAS! A state of mind that needs no introduction! Texas can be seen and heard from anywhere in the world! To anyone from outside of the USA, America is made up of TEXAS and a few minor provinces. Just ask any member of the human race from Novossibirsk to Hackensack. As sure as there is a  Capital T in the UniTed STaTes, it stands for TEXAS! 
   WARNING: Exposure to anything Texan, may be a life-changing experience!  
   Apart from my son and daughter and a very few close friends, my decision to move from California, where I had lived since 1966 and raised my family, came up suddenly, and was a complete surprise. But, that was really not the case. I had moved back to southern California from the Sacramento area to be close to my daughter and four of my grandchildren, and be in a position to make occasional journeys to Rome to spend time with my son and his family. Then, last year Dana and Jason, faced with the challenge of raising a growing brood in the increasingly expensive California economy made a decision to leave and look for new opportunities to the east. They moved - lock, stock and barrel from Orange County to the Austin, Texas area.
   In mid-September, when I got back from Rome, they were gone. But it wasn’t long before Dana and I were talking about a Christmas visit from Grandpa! So, I drew down some of my frequent flyer miles and booked a round-tripper from Long Beach to Austin, with the thought in the back of my head that while I was there, I’d check things out for a possible move of my own. But by the time my flight left, I had decided to make it a one-way flight to Austin. Dana scouted out apartments for me close by and I followed up on line. When I found the right two bedroom apartment  I signed the lease on line, and wired the deposits and rent to the company.  I stayed with Dana’s family until the moving van arrived with the rest of my stuff. We all celebrated my 75th birthday together, as a family once
Jessica, MikeBo, Jaydan, Jordan
again. Then, my Texi-Fication really began. Right around the moment I started sharing the news of my adventure on social media, I was greeted by a lot of skepticism. The overall opinion was that me, “the California Flash,” was in for a huge amount of culture shock. I was advised to buy a gun rack for my pickup truck, and shop for western boots, jeans and a Texas ten-gallon hat on my way to the airport. Oh, I would, of course be derided for having a Toy Poodle as a pet instead of an “ole huntin’ dawg.” As a registered Democrat some of my friends warned that I would not survive my first week in the biggest Red State of all unless I stocked up on a generous collection of shootin’ arns! Actually the whole brouhaha reminded me of the time years ago when I left the Big Apple – New York for Arizona. There are places on both the east and west coasts that consider the central part of our country as “Never-Never Land” with the biggest part of this cultural vacuum being the Lone Star State!
Check yer guns at the door!
   The biggest element of my own culture shock was the realization that Austin, Texas looks a lot like southern California. The area is criss-crossed by freeways and toll roads. Shopping centers carry the same signage as any mall in the Silicon Valley. I didn’t see as many western boots being worn as I did Nike and Adidas running shoes. Instead of jeans and western shirts and hats, there are warmup suits and baseball caps worn with the visor pointing straight ahead. All of the Texans I met during the first few weeks acted and talked like they were from somewhere else. After a while, it dawned on me….they were. From the very first day in Cedar Park, my new neighbors all seemed to be from Irvine, San Diego or the San Fernando Valley or the Bay Area with a few additional transplants from Brooklyn and Queens. Most of the Texans I was running into are not native Texans. They are, by Texas standards, alien species. Oh, and the news accounts of gun-totin’ survivalists shopping at WalMart in large numbers or parading in public didn’t seem to bear out either. Private universities in the area have banned the open carrying of weapons on campus and a lot of businesses are posting signs like the one at the front gate of my apartment complex advising that openly carried weapons are not welcome.
   My own Texi-fication  process has followed the normal rules for interstate moves: I had to get my truck safety-inspected and insured in Texas before I could apply for a title change and vehicle registration. Then, once I got my Texas license plates, I could finally get my California drivers license transferred to the Lone Star State. And finally, with my status  as an American citizen and fully fledged resident of Texas officially validated, I was clear to register to vote. Yee Haw!
PS: MikeBo’s Blog, and his postings on Facebook or @MikeBotula on Twitter  are wholly owned subsidiaries of
© By Mike Botula 2016