Friday, March 30, 2007

Whodaguy Hawaii

From time to time I like to introduce you to some super talented people you might not know. Meet Ron Jacobs. He is not a screenwriter. But he is the James L. Brooks of radio. And one of the few creative geniuses I know.

A typical Ron Jacobs story. He was 21, working at a radio station in his native Hawaii in 1957. Elvis was coming to town for the first time. Jacobs learned that Presley’s entire entourage would be staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village one floor below his radio station. However, Colonel Tom Parker made it very clear that Elvis was not giving interviews or appearing in public before his shows.

So Ron decided to create a fake Elvis. He got an impersonator (the first), drove him around Honolulu while station personnel “reported” his whereabouts from mobile units (pay phones). There were practically riots. Ron even crashed into Honolulu Stadium with his “King” just before a football game and caused mass hysteria there.

They finally got back to the station, were practically doubled over with laughter when they got a call – from the Colonel. He wanted to see them immediately.

Jacobs and accomplices went downstairs as if going to the gallows. But Parker, the consummate showmen, appreciated a good stunt when he saw it, introduced Ron to Elvis, he got to emcee the concert, and a lifelong friendship with the Colonel and E. was formed.

When Ricky Nelson was the flavor of the month and wouldn’t go on the air for an interview, Jacobs had an imposter go on and staged a fist fight with him. Back in the states, Ozzie Nelson went bat shit.

In the mid 60’s Ron was the program director of KHJ, “Boss Radio” in Los Angeles. That station changed the entire course of Top 40 radio and was a major influence on the music of the decade. While there he created the 48 hour “History of Rock & Roll”. Today if a radio station gets a 3 share that’s huge. “The History of Rock & Roll” was getting 33 shares. That's "final MASH" type radio numbers.

He left KHJ to start a syndication company and created a little show called “American Top 40”. He went back into radio in the 70’s, this time taking the album rock format to new heights. Looking for a way to promote his new station he created “The San Diego Chicken”.

Oscar Levant once said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity and I have erased that line.” Ron has obliterated it. A typical conversation with RJ will go from astute observation, to mad rant, to expert analysis of the Los Angeles Rams (he refuses to accept that they’ve moved). to a lyrical discourse on the beauty of Hawaii. to Harrison Ford (who was once his carpenter in Laurel Canyon). to eastern religion. to the tits on a certain CNN anchor, and then in no particular order – a prediction on the future of technology so insightful you’d think he was Steve Jobs, a tirade on how he can’t get his George Foreman to work, an anecdote about Elvis, a take on the current pop culture, Don Ho, NFL collectibles, family values, recounting the morning of Pearl Harbor, Barack Obama, Robert W. Morgan, jail time in the Orient, and Carla Gugino. Usually all in a two minute span.

Hawaiian listeners (like Obama growing up) have had the pleasure of hearing all that over the years as Ron was a disc jockey on a number of stations (with the nickname Whodaguy).

Now he is about to launch a new venture – an internet radio station, WHODAGUY HAWAII. I’ll post the link when it’s up.

Starting 7-7-7 (according to Ron, a very lucky day, The number 7 has held special significance from the time of the ancient Babylonians, who revered the seven sacred planets – of course now we’re not sure how many damn planets there are…but I digress…), RJ will be broadcasting live for four hours and repeating the show throughout the day. He’ll be featuring an eclectic mix of Hawaiian, and every genre he’s ever programmed (meaning everything other than Gregorian Chants). But the real attraction will be hearing vintage/non diluted/100% proof/probably even wackier than ever Ron Jacobs on the air.

When I spotlight writers I always have the advantage of being able to post samples of their work. I’ll remind you when 7-7-7 comes along because this guy you’ve got to hear.



Anonymous said...

Ken, your blog is the highlight of my day. More appreciated than you could know.

Shameless plug -- I've started a website that creative types like you and your readers might enjoy. We just wanted to make a fun, hassle free site for good people to enjoy.

For example, you might be amused by --

We'd love for you to post a list of the most underrated t.v. comedies of the past 30 years. Or the most overrated for that matter. Or whatever your heart desires. It would be an honor to have anything from you.


Anonymous said...

That is such a cool story.

You know some cool people, Ken.

Anonymous said...

Rules to live by for writers:

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Don't use no double negatives.
16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
19. The passive voice is to be ignored.
20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
22. Kill all exclamation points!!!!
23. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
24. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
25. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
26. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
27. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
28. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
29. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
30. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
31. Who needs rhetorical questions?
32. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

And finally...

33. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, I thought I was the only one who couldn't get a Foreman Grill to work!! Ahh, nice to know I'm not alone. :-)


Anonymous said...

Ken, this is BIG news...and to think you scooped Uncle Ricky and Reelradio (the Repository)!

Anonymous said...

Another radio legend refuses to let conglomerate radio get in the way of offering pure entertainment to the masses. By the way, some greats of radio are being honored by a new non profit organization in Georgia. The Georgia Radio Hall Of Fame just announced that Dr Don Rose and others will be inducted this fall. For more info, To bad you never worked in Georgia Ken, you'd be a shoe in!

Unknown said...

Who needs internet radio? Clear Channel does an awesome job in meeting the nation's radio needs, right?

Everyone who enjoys internet broadcasts should keep an eye on Washington and how they handle this loyalty legislation.

Really cool profile on a really cool guy, Ken.

Unknown said...

Perhaps I meant "royalty".

That's what I get for posting comments at a Dunkin Donuts instead of a Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

Ken, While I've never met Ron Jacobs, I too think he's a genius.

I know how hard it is to create one successful radio project, let alone the several that Ron has.

Two of Ron's other creations were: a wonderful album on Elektra Records called "A Child's Garden of Grass" narrated by actor and former radio jock, Michael C. Gwynne.
An amazing book called "KHJ: Inside Boss Radio". It's filled with stories of how KHJ came together and has copies of many memos Ron sent to the jocks, etc. I bought it years ago (for $93.00, naturally), read it cover to cover and never, ever lend it out because I know I'll never get it back. The first printing sold out. Ron recently republished it, adding more material (but the price is now $99.00 + S&H).

That might seem like a steep price to pay for a book that's not bound in gold, but believe me, any radio person, past or present will find gold on every page.

The last site I had for the book was But when I went there this morning, it said it was still available by e-mailing Ron at

This is a completely unsolicitated plug for Ron Jacob's book. I just think radio people would love it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Levine, I recently learned that, much like myself, you are a huge Honeymooner's fan. I joke with my wife that when I leave this earth, I want to be buried with my Honeymooner's dvd's.

In the past few years, my writing partner and I have developed three television shows. Our work has earned us interviews with, ICM, CAA and most recently William Morris.

One of the shows that my writing partner and I have developed is modeled after the HONEYMOONERS. Actors like Michael Badalucco and Roma Mafia are very interested in the project and it's currently being read by a few cast members of the Sopranos.

Is it impossible for first time writers to get their show, "green lighted"? Thanks for your time.

By Ken Levine said...

My dear professor,

I try to crank out this stuff every day. Not an easy task. Excuse me -- it's not an easy task. I try to write in a breezy conversational style and am more concerned with content than grammatical perfection. So please pardon me if my proofreading is not air tight and my sentence structure is not up to your standards.

There are many well written blogs that follow grammar guides with slavish devotion. You are welcome to visit them all... or all of them.

Sincerely... or yours truly... or whatever is appropriate,


Graham Powell said...

Ken, for what it's worth I think your grammer is teh shiznit.

Kevin Gershan said...

I have known Ron Jacobs since the late 60’s when he first threw me out of “Boss Radio” 93/KHJ at 5515 Melrose, just a stones’ throw from where I work now at the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood.

Since that time, as the late legendary L.A. morning man Robert W. Morgan’s producer and friend (who along with his wife Shelley ALSO threw me out of the building several times) I heard a lot about RON JACOBS, his genius and all the brilliantly creative things he has been coming up with all his life.

Many years later, after forming my own post-Boss friendship with Ron…I think they undersold his talents. Ron is an enigma, virtually impossible to describe. Some might say take a cross between Jack Keroac and Hunter S. Thompson, throw in some Col. Tom Parker and dash of Howard Hughes, stir gently but don’t overbake.

I have been telling him for the past ten years he needed to get back to his radio roots and go back on-the-air, in his native Hawaii. The excitement began the moment he first told me about the impending launch of This is a project that he is uniquely qualified to pull-off. Everything he has been doing his entire life has given him the perfect skill-set to be the first, as he calls it, “World Jock.” If you listen to him carefully you will see the on-air talent that inspired much of what Robert W. Morgan honed to perfection in Boss-Angeles. Even I can not comprehend EVERYTHING he will be incorporating into his broadcast. Talent and technology are going to be a key player in this venture, with Ron using true-tested basics and cutting-edge software/hardware to make it a mega multimedia experience around the globe.

No matter where you live on this planet, Hawaii is a magical fantasy vacation place, whose history, culture, music and lore are something Ron will infuse into each and every broadcast. I can not wait until 7-7-7 when Whodaguy Ron Jacobs returns to the radio.

Thanks, Ken for the preview.


Anonymous said...

My Dear Ken,

My humble entry was meant to be humorous, as I had violated each rule in every one of the 33 examples.

As my dear sainted mom always told me, "Sonny, if ya have to explain 'em, they ain't funny."

Your ardent fan,

PS: I would NEVER criticize your is my daily passion.

Quiet Marc said...

Ken, nice piece about R.J. You're wrong though on the two minute thing. Anyone who has ever conversed with him can expect at least a two hour plus dialogue on an array of topics. Ron Jacobs, is a real cross between Albert Einstein, George Halas, and Walter Mitty. My best to him on this adventure!! Always interesting how this guy thrives on the cutting edge of things!! "M"

lani kai said...

Howzit, Ken.

I first heard Jacobs in da 60's here in Hawai'i. We local kids grew up with his frantic antics, both on the radio and his kolohe (nuckin' futs) street action.

I met RJ in person three years ago at Bill's pad. He's a reclusive record/movie producer/Hawaiian collector/world yachtsman. I met da guy at the mogul's mega-Tahitian pad in Hawai'i Kai.

What an amazing day and night it was. Thankfully I had my ever-present camcorder. I shot Jacobs at Pu'u Ho'oHonuanua 'o Waimanalo when RJ was planning Bumpy Kanahele's 2006 campaign for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The decades have not diminished RJ's creative stream-of- consciousness raps and mind-blowing stories about everyone from Izzy to Ozzy.

Can't wait to hear what's up next.

Love from Lanikai.

lani kai said...


"...the ancient Babylonians revered the seven sacred planets... of course now we’re not sure how many damn planets there are"
true. but the ancient babylonians were concerned with only the seven sacred planets.
But planets or no planets, if ya wanna hear daguy now, clik

Anonymous said...

Well, it had to happen ! Just a matter of time, timing & resources...Top 40 radio's greatest programming 'engineer' is about to get back on-air, doing it the RJ Way. Welcome back to radio Ron, the world has missed you and now thanks to the Internet, the world will be able to hear you and the total "Whodaguy Hawaii" package.

Now, if we could only locate Beaver Cleaver to head the Humour Department, I reckon would add a further dimension to the great future of Internet radio. Mind you, I'm sure Ken is up to the task IF Beaver has left town !?!

Look forward to the 7/7/2007 launch.

Regards, IAN in Oz.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Ian...I'm sure Ken would welcome any excuxe to move to Hawaii.

Unknown said...

Sounds like the predecessor to Andy Kaufman. Speaking of which Ken, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Andy, perhaps you've had a run in or two with him?

Anonymous said...

In a million years, I never thought a live radio show from Hawaii would be a big deal. Not only is this big... it's innovative and something that is not available on any Internet audio stream.

As always, Ron Jacobs has found a new way to excite people with his incredible imagination.

I hope everyone is listening on 7/7 for an historic event. Yeah, there will be bugs and glitches. But it's the first really innovative webcast -- that isn't a simulcast of something else!

Keep it comin', bra!


Anonymous said...

(But I digress...)

wait just a gol dern minute, Jon. "Hawaii Calls" was a live radio show. and it most emphatically WAS a big deal. hey zeus! where were you when they passed out the cultural literacy brains?!


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