All great stories start in the beginning, which for me, would be September 17, 1971. I was born on the same date as Arnie, about 1,500 miles away and 4 hours earlier. The differences in maturity are obvious, so that 4 hours made a big difference. I had two older sisters, 10 and 11, and my parents were actually married. Though they eventually divorced, I was blessed with an actual working family unit most of my childhood years. And, I was damn cute.
My parents raised me in an East bay suburb of San Francisco known as Pleasanton, California. It wasn't then what it is now. When I grew up, Pleasanton was a nice, small suburban city with 30,000 people. My friends and I would ride our bikes miles away from home and no one would worry.
We would stay out until way past dark and never have to be fearful. Everyone was friendly and helpful and courteous, it seemed. Now, Pleasanton is an upper-middle class suburb overrun with yuppies, rich young punks and people that are too busy to be friendly. In other words, it's a typical American city of 50,000+ people. My Father still lives in the house I grew up in, although it is now worth $400,000. Compare that to the $30,000 it cost in 1971 when we bought it.
My childhood was as normal and fantastic as you could imagine. I played baseball from sun-up to sun-down in the summertime. My family sat down and ate dinner together every night…we even talked during dinner. No TV, no phone calls allowed. We spent holidays together with other families and friends. We weren't rich, but we didn't miss any meals, either.
Each person in my family affected me differently. My sisters were my baby sitters, but unlike most older siblings, they didn't torture me. In fact, they spoiled me. I think they somehow used me to pick up guys, but I'm not sure how. They even helped make my infamous 1977 "Spiderman" Halloween costume.
My Mother (whom I am now financially supporting by the way.... "RENNNNTTT!!!") is a real piece of work. She is one of my closest friends, yet she is certifiably insane. In other words, she's a lot like Dawn, except that my Mom likes her men a little younger than Dawn does. My Mom taught me the importance of honesty. This lesson usually came in the form of a wooden spoon to my ass when she caught me lying, but it worked.
I despise dishonesty and try to never practice it. Mom also gave me my competitive nature and fashion sense. She always told me that if you dress like a dirtbag, you'll be treated like one.
Mom spent a lot of years in education, and is now in real-estate. She has fatally bad taste in men, but loves to have fun. I always said that my parents, who somehow stayed married for 18 years, were incredible parents, but a terrible couple. The are both great people, but they aren't alike in many ways. I'm thrilled they stayed together that long, but I don't know how they did it. Must have been the alcohol.
My Mother, ironically, is most responsible for my love of sports. She was a sports fan and wanted a son who would be athletic. It worked.
I played baseball beginning at age 8. I was bowling in leagues when I was 5. I played pool, basketball, football, anything to keep me running. I even spent a misguided year playing soccer, but I still turned out heterosexual, beating the odds.
My Father is one of the greatest men I have ever met. He let me make my own mistakes, but was always there to pick me up each time and help me learn my lesson. He is an obsessive thinker, and I get my need for knowledge and facts directly from him. He was always sending me to reference books when I had questions. He taught me that intelligence was not having all the answers, but knowing where to find them.
Dad was a music teacher, professional musician and nuclear scientist in the time I was growing up. He is one of the few people I ever met who was both logical and artistic. Most people seem to lean more towards one or the other, but not him. Dad is now retired with his third wife (and LAST!) loving life, traveling the globe, and playing music together as much as 6 days per week.
My father taught me how to be a man. Even when my Mother and he were fighting, he always treated her like a lady when I was around. He could be pissed as hell inside, but he always held the doors open for her, took her coat, etc. He was also always very calm. I know this drives some people crazy, but I have this quality as well. My Dad I can be ecstatic or melancholy, and our outward expressions won't change. People love this in times of crisis, but tend to get annoyed at it in times of jubilation. Too damn bad.
Most importantly, my Father was loving. Too many sons don't get to experience closeness with their dads, and that's never been an issue with us. He also taught me this - "A good man is one who does the right thing even when no one is looking." Oh, and one more thing he gave me - his damn hair line.
I knew when I was 14 that I wanted to be radio. I had started junior high and finally had to rely on an alarm clock to get my ass out of bed in the morning. I found a morning show in San Francisco on 106.1 KMEL that made me laugh. It was called the morning zoo, headed by a hilarious guy named John London. I would listen to them every morning and laugh, feel good, and feel better about my day. After a few months of that, I realized that I wanted to make people feel that way. I couldn't think of anything better than making people feel good about going to their jobs day after day.
My dad always joked with me while I was growing up that I was expected to be out of the house at the age of 18. I knew he wasn't serious, but I took it as a challenge. When I graduated from high school in 1989, I went right into summer classes at Ohlone College in Fremont, California because of their great Radio Program. This program taught me to do things like broadcast in local parks for no reason at all (that's me on the right).
After 2 years, I landed my first full-time radio job. I was hired as the morning show host of KRLT in Lake Tahoe. I moved out of the house 1 week before I turned 19. My dad was proud of me, and so was I.
Less than a year later, I was running the radio station at age 19.
I nearly tripled my salary from $900 to $2400 monthly and was living quite large. Lake Tahoe is a fun place for a 19 year old with money and a rented house on the lake.
During my tenure in Tahoe I hired Dawn, in 1991, and haven't been able to shake her since. Truth is, Dawn is one of the greatest people I know. She would do anything for me, and she knows the same is true of me. She looks at me as a mentor and big brother, and I take that very seriously. After 12 years together, I'm not sure if I've really done her any good, but God knows we love teasing each other.
In 1992, we left Tahoe and went to work at A Reno Country Music station. Once again, within a year I was running that place, too, and I stumbled across Arnie in a bar one night. We were both tanked, but he told me he wanted to be in Radio, so I told him to show up the following Monday morning. He did, and he's never left. The guy actually worked as my intern 7 days a week for free for months!! Eventually, I had to start paying him or the state of Nevada was going to file charges.
Arnie and I instantly connected as friends. We both loved sports and alcohol, which is the foundation of any great friendship. As different as Arnie and I are, we are alike in numerous ways. No one can make me laugh like my pal Arnie. We've worked hard at not making our relationship a competetion. We don't compete at joke telling, girl getting, golf, money making, or anything else. I believe that we all need a friend that we can be with whom we know we can talk to about anything, and always get their true, heartfelt, no bullshit opinion on. That friend should be able to make you laugh, and be able to tell you when you're completely wrong. Arnie's that guy for me.
After years of various shows and stations in Reno, the three of us moved as a team to Sacramento in May of 1999. Our success has been even greater than the station expected. We work with great people in an excellent facility, with amazingly loyal listeners. We've all grown since we got here, and I was fortunate to meet the love of my life and best friend, Janell. I won't bore you with how wonderful and amazing she is here, mainly because if I start writing about that, I will never be able to stop.
Let's just say I cashed in all my luck chips with her. If nothing else comes my way for the rest of my life, I won't notice.