"From the Desert to the Sea, to All of Southern California." - Jerry Dunphy

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Debra Winger at Hazeltine Ave. School

Former Hazeltine Ave. School student Bob Walance wrote me concerning my post of February 11, 2008 in which I posted a picture of my classmates. Bob identified a few names for me and pointed out that he knew one of my classmates named Debby. Well Debby grew up and became the actress Debra Winger. Bob remembered attending a birthday party for Debby. He also provided me with a few class pictures from his archive which include himself and Debby. One of those pictures is this one from November of 1961. Debby (As she was known then) is second from the left in the front row. Bob is on the very left in the row behind her wearing a cool tie.

I don't have any memories of Debby. I do have memories of one other girl who was kind of a Lucy to my Charlie Brown. I remember one year we were tapped to be in a square dance. I was partnered with my Lucy (name withheld because she might remembers me and come after me). One day when I was particularly irritated with her I gave her a little extra yank on an allemande left and she almost flew off the stage. So now I am wondering if Debby was in that class or perhaps part of that dance group. Could it be she learned some of her Urban Cowboy dance moves from our little group?

Debra Winger is a fine actress who's work I have always liked and respected. Long brown hair, passionate eyes, a sexy attitude and a sharp intelligence. I wish I had known her then. But these traits also describe my wife so I guess I did ok.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Phone Rat's Memories of KGIL

This SKYWATCH button brings back a lot of fond memories of growing up in the San Fernando Valley back in the 1960s. The radio station was KGIL which broadcasts from the San Fernando Valley on 1260 AM. KGIL was the station my parents listened to most of the time. My Mom would have it on almost every morning and evening. At the time, a disc jockey named Chuck Southcott took callers requests up to midnight. The request line was Empire 4-9191. My friend and I were always calling in to make a request and Chuck would play the song sometime during that evening. It was usually a Chad and Jeremy, New Christy Minstrels or Peter Paul and Mary song. Sometimes I requested a John Gary or Floyd Cramer song for Mom. That phone number was also used for radio station contests. Announcer would say "I'll take the third caller at Empire 4-9191 to win a 4 pack of tickets to see the Musical Sound of Music at the Valley Music Theatre in Woodland Hills courtesy of the House of Sight and Sound in Van Nuys, “start dialing now". At that time with rotary dial phones, you would have already dialed the EMpire {36} 4 919 and let the 1 go on the announcers command.

During that era, Dick "Sweet Dick" Whittington, Dudley Williams, Doug James and other DJ’s were on during the morning hours. Sometimes Sweet Dick would broadcast live from somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. Des anyone remember one of those remotes and the phrase "Buffalo Chips"?

Also during the middle to late 60s, The KGIL jocks would play rival radio station DJ’s in baseball games which were played during the evening hours at North Hollywood Park. This was at a time when the 170 freeway wasn't yet complete. The park was located near Victory Blvd and Laurel Canyon Blvd. close to the J.C. Penney Store, Kinney Shoes. Radio fans would come out to watch their favorite radio DJ’s play baseball, get a few autographs and have fun. I mostly remember the KGIL and KMPC games.

But getting back to the SKYWATCH button, one weekend, KGIL had their SKYWATCH airplane on display at the Van Nuys Air Show. When I first saw the plane, it was a Cessna 170. The traffic reporters were Jim "Sky" Key and Maj. Bruce Payne. Bruce flew C-97s and C-130s out of the Van Nuys 147th Air Lift Wing. Not long after meeting them both at the airport and nabbing a button and some pictures, I decided to call up the station and ask if they gave rides to listeners. Someone at the station said yes they do and they gave me a date to show up at the airport. I was to meet Maj. Payne at 3:45pm sharp on the Roscoe Blvd side of Van Nuys Airport. The SKYWATCH plane was parked just on the other side of the fence. I was pretty nervous about all this. It was a big deal for a 13 year old. Bruce was a real professional. He gave me some basic instructions and told me where we were headed, how high we would fly, what to expect, and what time he would give his live traffic reports. After all that, I didn't feel quite so nervous. The trips took a little over two hours and we covered the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica. Maj. Bruce steered clear of Los Angeles, probably due to KGIL's signal not reaching much past Hollywood. So, I buckled in, closed the door and we taxied to ONE-SIX right for takeoff.

Soon we were airborne heading south and climbing to 1500 feet as we banked left to follow the Ventura Freeway. We followed most of the freeways as well as Box Canyon Rd. At the time Box Canyon was the only road from the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley. I remember Following Box Canyon a few times because for one, it was a bit turbulent over the Santa Susanna Pass, and two, because of the number of accidents. Box Canyon not being a freeway, but a two lane highway made it difficult for emergency crews so an airplane provided a great eye in the sky. I remember sitting there looking at the scenery when Bruce turned to me, handed me an air sickness bag and said “tighten your belt, there's an accident down there and I need to take a closer look and notify the CHP”. He skillfully maneuvered the plane down close to the accident where he assisted the CHP and followed up with a live traffic report. I Wish I had a video camera for that trip. I'd have a great YouTube entry for sure.

KGIL had their news promos "news live at 55". At 30 past the hour, the station would echo "Dateline dateline". Also at that time, I believe that KGIL used RADIO PARK as their station signature. News reporters included Jim Martin, Frank Bingman, Stan Warwick, and Howard Culver (who also appeared on the Dragnet series). If I remember correctly, the SKYWATCH reports were given 4 times an hour. During the news and twice during the morning or evening drive shows 7-9am or 4-6pm you would hear this: "next service center news when it happens on K-G-I-L San Fernando (Pause) K-G-I-L service center news, a sound service to the southland. [ascending trumpet music and a female voice] at the tone KGIL Music" [tone]

For the next several years, I continued to call the station to see if I could ride with the SKYWATCH airplane. By this, time a gentleman named Bill Smith, who was the public relations director and soon to be KGIL disc jockey, would set me up for another 4pm ride. You probably know Bill Smith now as a KTLA Channel 5 news reporter. His radio shows were very creative with his unique, humorous perspective, much like his current television reports. So again Mr. Smith, I thank you for those fun trips. When I took to the air again, Bruce Payne was now promoted to Col. Bruce Payne and the KGIL plane was now a Cessna 177 Cardinal. I remember this because the Cardinal was a high-winged aircraft without struts, which allowed you to see more. On that trip, Col. Payne brought along a friend who was also a pilot. Between traffic reports, we did a couple touch and go maneuvers at Whiteman Airfield in Pacoima, and a fly over along PCH.

By the time I was in high school at Van Nuys High, I was able to fly one more time on the SKYWATCH plane. This time I flew with the famous Francis Gary Powers. The only thing I remember about this trip is that we flew along Ventura Blvd. over the Cahuenga Pass into L.A. where we circled the four level interchange and made a live report.

A year or two later, KGIL stopped giving rides to listeners due to insurance reasons unless you were a pilot and could be an observer for other aircraft. I will always remember those trips and the wonderful people at KGIL.

This memory was posted by Guitar Rat for Phone Rat as for some reason he could not access his account.