They say what goes around, comes around. If that be the case, I had a Yogi Bera, “Déjà vu all over again” moment yesterday. I sort of got my start in this outdoor writing business with a radio show on a little 10,000-watt station in Fresno, California, in the mid-’90s. When the station went paws-up—not because of my show, it was about the only revenue that station had—so did my radio career. Yesterday afternoon I climbed behind the brass (this is Wyoming, we can’t afford gold) EIB (Excellence In Bloviating—sorry Rush) microphone once again to talk about the outdoors.
Russ Francis has started a radio program in Cody on the KODI station called “Forever West Outdoors.” Every weekday from 4 to 6 PM he goes on the air to celebrate the outdoor lifestyle, be it hunting, fishing, guns, and as he puts it, “jumping out of perfectly good airplanes,” aka skydiving. I’m sure there will be other subjects discussed as well. Russ is a relatively recent transplant from Hawaii—talk about culture shock—and as such brings a bit of the Hawaiian perspective with him. That perspective—for lack of a better term I’ll call it the shaka perspective—requires someone like me to slow down a bit.
The shaka, for my redneck buddies who are unaware, is that hand signal of an extended thumb and pinkie, with the three inner fingers folded into the palm. Often it is done with a gentle to-and-fro motion of the hand from the wrist. Originally it was used to convey the “Aloha Spirit.” A rough translation would be the ideas of friendship, understanding, compassion and harmony among various ethnic cultures living in Hawaii. The shaka has been corrupted somewhat by the surfer culture to “hang loose.” In real-world terms it translates into a more serendipitous attitude. This attitude used to drive me crazy when I was younger, focused and very goal oriented. People who live by this usually take what we rednecks refer to as, “the long way around the barn.” They seem to get distracted by every little rabbit trail they come across. Because I am no longer saddled with unreasonable deadlines and demands, I am far less irritated by this, but I occasionally need to remind myself of that.
All of this is to explain why I was a bit consternated when Russ did not provide me with an outline or even a few talking points as to what we were going to do on air. When I had my program I spent a couple of hours preparing what I was going to discuss. My show was a call-in, so the plan could get blown out of the water if a caller changed the focus, though that rarely occurred. I wasn’t nervous—got over that nonsense when I had my own program—but I told Russ just before we went on the air that I would just follow his lead. Apparently everything went fine. At least nobody has been calling for my head on a pike—maybe I should have been more controversial (?)—and the limited response I heard was positive. But we were all over the place.
Russ, despite this spirit, is actually a pretty focused individual. He clearly has a deep respect for the outdoors—all aspects of it—and while he seems less rigid, it would be a mistake to think he lacks commitment. I wish him a lot of success.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun getting behind the microphone once again. We talked about how I got here and a few of my misadventures, as well as touching on wolves, grizzlies and gun control. We’ll see whether I am invited back, but if I am, I’ll try to post another warning on Facebook, along with the Internet link to listen to a live stream of the show.