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Lifestyle // Old Friends
Chris Fleck

Ron Jacobs

Photo courtesy Ron Jacobs

He has been called outlandish, eccentric and most definitely outrageous.

He speaks with ferocity about topics from technology to politics. Never short on words, Ron Jacobs – aka WhoDaGuy – revolutionized radio, from its tactics and techniques to its overall impression and delivery. With much left in his unconventional tank, Jacobs brings his Ron Jacobs: What Was I Talking About? live talk experience to Paliku Theater at Windward Community College Sunday, July 29, at 6 p.m.

“Live shows separate the men from the boys,” says Jacobs – who to some extent is shooting for a Don Rickles meets Garrison Keilor direction for the show, which will incorporate fan participation and interaction, character skits and some of Jacobs’ fondest and most bizarre memories from a lifetime of radio antics.

Jacobs most notably made American history as programming director at San Diego’s KGB radio. He helped create the KGB Chicken, which America now knows as the famous San Diego Chicken. Also during his stint in San Diego, Jacobs created the first Home Grown album, which gave amateur musicians a chance to play on live radio. That was 1972, a full 30 years before American Idol was even in its infancy stage.

Well before Jacobs – as a red-headed Jewish kid whose parents moved from New York to Hawaii in the late 1930s – made his mark on the Mainland as a creative radio leader, his ideas and concepts were innovated in Honolulu. “In the ’50s we didn’t know we were doing something new and outrageous because the ideas just kind of occurred to us. Isolation was really good because it allowed us to be creative, as compared to the others who were ripping off ideas from the towns next to them,” says Jacobs – who has worked at more than a dozen stations from KPOI and KKUA in Hawaii to KHJ radio in Los Angeles where he directed the original History of Rock & Roll documentary.

Inspired early on by radio pioneers Lucky Luck and Hal Lewis, aka J. Akuhead Pupule, Jacobs created a plethora of radio antics, characters and segments. He buddied up with the likes of Elvis and Jimi Hendrix, created American Top Forty with Casey Kasem, broadcast the announcement of Hawaii’s statehood, and helped bring enjoyment or at least a laugh or two to hundreds of thousands of listeners.

With no desire to be a one-trick pony, Jacobs shifted his way to all mediums of entertainment and news. A descriptive and tenacious writer, Jacobs wrote columns for both Hawaii and Honolulu magazines. He has published numerous books including the insightful and visual-friendly Obamaland, which will be available for purchase at the live show.

Never shying from any form of public expression, Jacobs sticks to his guns, guided mostly by an eagerness to create conversation.

“I think curiosity might have killed the cat, but it has kept me going for as long as it has. Sometimes it has led to trouble, but other times it has led to great rewards,” adds Jacobs – who was featured on MidWeek‘s cover June 1, 1988 when he was running KDEO country radio.

For tickets to the Ron Jacobs: What Was I Talking About? experience, visit ronjacobshawaii.com.

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