Rest in Peace, Craig Hines

Craig Hines, the most significant of my college era friends, has left this mortal world. What can I say in response? What is fitting or relatable? Let me try to help you remember him through some anecdotes I can share from so long ago.

A 20th-century photograph shows Craig Hines inside the Museum of Broadcasting, Chicago.

He was the first person I knew who managed to escape from that slow little town of San Luis Obispo on the Central California coast and land a professional gig in Hollywood. Craig became a radio personality in the 1970s on fabled Sunset Boulevard. His unforgettable voice and edgy personality were bolstered by his on-air name as “Hurricane Hines” at an FM station with the call letters KIQQ (promoted as K100.) The hurricane blew down doors to let me in and I was hired to work at that Los Angeles radio station with the oddly bright lightning bolts logo when I was only 22 years old.

We both were newcomers to “big city” living. On my very first day of employment in LA radio, we shared a night that stole our innocence. No, it’s not what you’re thinking. I was with Craig the moment I discovered somebody had smashed a window to break into my Volkswagen Beetle parked in a multistory garage adjacent to where the K100 studios and offices were located. We phoned into the nearby Hollywood police station. The young cop who stepped out of the squad car was a vivid stereotype from the television cop shows of that era–youthful vigor, a lot of swagger and muscles. He stared at us both with those cold, blue eyes as he told us he was going to haul us both in and throw us behind bars. Why? The cop said Craig and I were well-known for both having sold ourselves for sex on La Cienega Boulevard–a haven for hustlers and hookers.


A photograph reveals the existence of the would-be Los Angeles sexual hustlers
Woody Goulart and Craig Hines in the 1970s.


In reality, there was one terribly ugly thing I did in Hollywood that should have gotten me arrested: It involved a razor blade and magnetic audio recording tape. One day Craig informed me station management demanded I had to edit Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin before that hit song was allowed on the air on K100. If I wanted to keep my Hollywood radio, I had no choice but to slash away the very guts of Stairway to Heaven—arguably one of the most famous and influential rock and roll songs of all time. Like nobody would notice! My butchery of that wonderful song to cut away the Jimmie Page guitar solo haunts me to this day. It was not Craig’s fault; it was solely my own damn fault. I was not surprised when some seriously bad karma descended upon that radio station, which tanked in the ratings while the gods of rock and roll gleefully danced in another dimension.

Craig was a believer in those other dimensions. In fact, his entire life was devoted to attempts at understanding spirituality. Over many decades Craig and I spent long hours on phone calls and in emails repeatedly debating his many fearless explorations into unseen answers about the meaning of human life that went far beyond mere sensory experiences. I would feel happiest now if Craig will be remembered as a role model for embracing beliefs in powers greater than that of mortals. May you rest in peace, Craig.

What Happens in Vegas…

Since I live here in Las Vegas, I see this place through the eyes and mind of a local resident–not a visitor. As a local, I accept without holding anything back that Vegas is, if nothing else, a place of business.

Vegas is a place where people attempt to make money selling goods and services to others in ways that few other American cities ever attempt.

Money gets spent on marketing slogans to attract visitors to come here to Vegas so they will spend their money on gambling, transportation, eating, drinking (alcoholic beverages), enjoying legal cannabis, hotel rooms, live music concerts, pro sports events, and so on. Visitors who travel here need not stop to think about this aspect of Vegas as a place of business.

The whole “myth of Las Vegas” (if that’s how you’d like to think of it) springs from one totally comfortable falsehood: Vegas is primarily for being carefree, having fun doing things and experiencing stuff you normally don’t do when you’re back at home.

As social myths go in American culture, the Vegas myth is powerful and literally casts effective spells over mere mortals like you and me. Somehow, or so says the myth, whenever you visit Vegas, doing so instantly gives you free reign to behave however you want to behave (even to excess) without any responsibility to ever think about any consequences whatsoever of what you do here in Vegas.

You know exactly what I’m posting here is true. You know this because you, too, have heard the phrase what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas over the years.

That mindset is, of course, completely irresponsible. But it is also completely understandable.

Few, if any, visitors ever arrive in Vegas and tell themselves, “I am going to be responsible while I am here in Vegas!” And this is directly a result of all that marketing money invested by Vegas business interests to give clear-cut permission to all visitors to “do whatever you want” because everything stays here after you go back home.

Vegas is genuinely a playground for legal-age adults situated within a very large desert and sufficiently distant from most other American cities. The literal isolation Vegas has separating this place from other population centers in the U.S. promotes a sense of insulation for Vegas. When visitors arrive here, they instantly know they’re no longer in Kansas anymore (or wherever they may happen to claim as their home.)

In 2020 an awful thing happened to Vegas. A worldwide respiratory disease which is highly contagious and easy to spread from one to another person was brought here by someone. The coronavirus originated elsewhere (at least we know it was not created here in Vegas) so somebody had to bring it here. And they did.

Vegas suffered severe financial losses (not counting the number of human beings who died from the coronavirus) because since the early 20th century, Vegas has had to depend financially upon visitors who come here willing to spend their money here while visiting.

The worldwide spread of that highly contagious respiratory disease was at complete odds with visitors who would choose to travel to this fun adult playground to enjoy a few carefree days and nights without thinking about any consequences of their personal, public behaviors.

The pandemic changed all that during 2020. That was the year which forced people all around our planet to learn to think about such consequences. And now springtime of 2021 in Vegas heading into the summer months herald a return to the glorious, carefree days and nights when visitors came here to Vegas believing the social and cultural myth that what happens here stays here.

While that pleasant and comforting myth lives on as powerfully as it always has lived, we should know that the unpleasant and not-so-comforting reality is: You and I can still get infected by that airborne respiratory disease in 2021.

You may have done the correct thing and got fully vaccinated. Think of all those people who have not done so. Do you welcome them to Las Vegas in 2021?

While we all want to hear that Vegas businesses are happy making money once again in 2021. Do we want to jeopardize own personal health and the health of our loved ones by welcoming to Vegas unvaccinated visitors just because they are coming here to spend lots of money and help the local Vegas economy?

Think carefully before you answer this impossible question.

Is AARP a Scam?

I was employed at the national headquarters of AARP in Washington, DC from 1995 through 2006 in their communications and outreach operations. These views and opinions that I express here are mine alone and do not necessarily align with the views and opinions of AARP.

The very short history of how AARP got started is this:

In Los Angeles during the 1950s, the first female high school principal (Ethel Percy Andrus) during her retirement formed an organization (the National Retired Teachers Association) to help make it possible for teachers to buy life insurance by spreading the risk of insurance payouts to a large pool of people.

That risk pool approach generated a lot of revenue from the sales of life insurance to teachers. An affiliated organization known as the American Association of Retired Persons was formed to make possible the sales of life insurance beyond teachers. That is how the abbreviation AARP came to be.

What is AARP today?

Over the decades, AARP became much more than an organization to make possible life insurance sales. Andrus became known as an elder rights activist. She ultimately established AARP in the District of Columbia half-way between the White House and Congress to focus upon lobbying of the executive and legislative branches in elder rights issues. What had once been an insurance sales operation morphed into national advocacy on behalf of the quality of life for elder citizens.

The primary reason why some consider AARP lacks credibility and is therefore deemed to be a “scam” is the simple adherence to partisan politics. While AARP members (people over 50) are said to split more or less equally into three groups—independents, Democrats, and Republicans, the people who manage and work at AARP tend to support federal approaches for elder citizens that typically have been favored and supported by the Democratic Party.

It was Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd US president, who signed the federal Social Security program into law back in 1935. From the days of FDR to today, Republicans consistently have opposed Social Security in particular and any federal government support for caring for elder citizens. Republican George W. Bush, the 43rd US president, in 2003 signed into law changes in the federal Medicare program to pay for prescription drugs for elder citizens, which AARP supported. That challenged one traditional partisan political view that only the Democratic Party cares about elder citizens.

If you can free your mind from partisan political filters you will be able to evaluate AARP clearly and accurately.

Your Career Choice Can Ruin You Financially

Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be DJs or journalism majors. Your kids will soon after choosing to be in radio or television or journalism become dead broke and they will come begging for you as parents to let them move back in with you. Stop them before they make a terrible career mistake!

You probably have at least heard of Kiplinger, a publisher located in Washington, DC that provides business forecasts and personal finance advice. Perhaps you’ve read their content online. It is worth noting that this company has survived since 1920. I think Kiplinger deserves your trust and confidence when it comes to forecasting financial issues for you, personally, and for business entities in general.

I just read a 2017 Kiplinger analysis entitled “10 Worst Jobs for the Future.”

Kiplinger is warning young people at the start of their career to steer clear of the radio and television industries. This comes as number 5 of 12 such warnings worth knowing about.

A projected decline of 10% (ten percent) in available jobs up through the year 2026 is forecast. The median annual salary of $32,283 is cited for radio and television announcers in the Kiplinger analysis.

A far worse fate than suffering through the indignities of that very low salary level you can expect is this Kiplinger explanation as to why you should steer clear of such careers in the first place:

“More radio disc jockeys, talk show hosts and podcasters are under threat of being silenced. Consolidation of radio and television stations, as well as the increased use of syndicated programming, limit the need for these kinds of workers. Plus, streaming music services offer fierce competition to radio stations and their workers. On the upside, online radio stations may provide new opportunities for announcers. If you’re committed to this career track, consider addressing even smaller audiences and becoming a party DJ or emcee. These other types of announcers make up a small field of just 17,326 workers currently, but are expected to grow their ranks 6.0% by 2026. They typically earn slightly less with a median $32,177 a year, but only require a high school diploma to get started.”

Why I’m writing this commentary needs to be explained clearly to you right now: I chose to seek a career on the air in radio back in the year 1970 when I was not yet old enough legally to buy alcohol. More of less four years later I was let go from that amazingly thrilling gig in the Los Angeles radio market, which the second-largest in the United States. I just was not sufficiently talented for an on-air career in the radio industry in Los Angeles. That stunning E-Ticket ride in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard was fast, unpredictable, and, entirely too short.

After I was not talented enough to keep a radio job in the Los Angeles market, I tried to work (part time) in the dead-end markets in both Eureka, California and Bloomington, Indiana. Working in both of those markets proved to be exceedingly depressing compared to working in the Los Angeles market.

My dear friend Evan Haning wrote in 2011 for the Foreword to my book KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever that the profession has disappeared. That was one decade ago.

Evan Haning always was a man ahead of his time. And, Evan Haning is the ONLY person I knew personally who made it on the air in radio over the long stretch. Compared to me only being on the air in Hollywood at some rock and roll station for a very short while, Evan Haning, who started on the air in the dreaded San Luis Obispo, California radio market, made it from a success in the Los Angeles radio to the crucial Washington, DC radio market and he did so within the cut-throat all-news radio business there. He is one of the few living radio heroes I have.

Pay careful attention to my commentary here: It makes sense for you NOT to go after a profession that is already gone from our culture. I urge you NOT to pursue a career in the radio or television industries. I believe what Kiplinger is saying. So, should you.

You may want to go get a bachelor’s degree like I did in Journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. But, do not for one minute believe that being on the air at KCPR radio at Cal Poly actually will prepare you to make a living in a career on the air elsewhere. Read about my own KCPR radio at Cal Poly experiences as a possible guide to what may happen to you if you go that route.

Remember that ANY bachelor’s degree anywhere will do the basic minimum—train you to learn how to use your mind effectively. Just do not expect a financial payback for all the dollars that you or your parents invest in your undergraduate education if you choose a major such as journalism that is declining in job prospects. You will need more than merely a bachelor’s degree. You will need a top-notch graduate degree or two from highly-reputable universities that are expensive and not at all easy to get into.

Ironically, now in the wake of President Donald Trump’s claims about so-called “fake news,” which is a false claim that does not stand up to the test of reason, skilled and talented journalists are needed perhaps more than ever before. But, the reality is this: Skills can be taught during an undergraduate or graduate degree program, yes. Getting a bachelor’s degree in journalism won’t give you talent that you don’t already have within you. And seeking a career on the air on radio or television may just ruin you financially even if you go the extra distance to get graduate degrees. You don’t want to beg mommy and daddy to let you move back in with them after you are 30. Mommy will do your laundry. Daddy will curse you under his breath while he gets loaded on adult beverages at the dinner table. And, while your rent will be free, you will end up not being able to look yourself in the mirror for the rest of your life.

These are my opinions. Your mileage may vary.


Boss Radio Links:

Boss Radio Forever (main page)
Archives of Boss Radio Forever
College Radio KCPR
Gallery of Photographs
Hollywood Rock and Roll Radio
KHJ Music
KHJ Timeline
My Work in the Radio Industry
Studying Radio

The Show Must Go On

What would it feel like to be a stand-up comic who was scheduled to perform in San Francisco the night after Robin Williams was gone? San Francisco’s KCBS radio covered this angle of the larger story concerning the suicide of the beloved actor and comedian. My partner, Sam Glass, and I happened to have August 11 tickets to see actor Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O’Brien on Fox broadcasting’s 24) perform at the Punch Line—San Francisco’s oldest running comedy club. The club’s announcer called for a moment of silence in memory of Robin Williams at the start of the evening’s performances. But, that night belonged to laughter, not sadness.

Innocent Schoolboy No More

The date November 22 became infamous 50 years ago when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I remember the panic that spread like wildfire that Friday morning through the elementary school I was attending.

There was an awful lot of crying, and not just by us schoolchildren. Seeing so many adults weeping freely and openly without shame was very unsettling to me. I never forgot the feeling that something so overwhelming in real life had trapped me in shock and terror far deeper than any book or movie I had ever experienced.

And yes, for me and countless other young people, what we experienced in late November 1963 brought about a sudden end to our childhood innocence. I was just 13. There was no way I could remain sweetly innocent after I watched Lee Harvey Oswald shot dead on live television that weekend.

More importantly, there was no way I was going to continue believing what grownups had taught me. Many adults from my parents to my teachers had taught me that American society should be considered civilized and sane. After JFK died, I started thinking for myself and seeking my own answers in this life. I lost faith in grownups as far as providing answers that I could believe.

The process of my maturing into an adult suddenly accelerated just five years later. At age 18 I became a volunteer in the doomed 1968 presidential campaign of Senator Robert Kennedy. This second Kennedy assassination hurt me far more deeply than the first.

It is no exaggeration that the death of RFK ripped away my hope for humanity.

I was raised within the Roman Catholic faith and education system to believe grownups who insisted that human society should be considered civilized and sane. Now I know better, but I certainly cannot disregard those very soothing and comforting feelings of schoolboy innocence.

Mission High Memories

What was then known as Mission Central Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo holds a special significance for many of us today. We survived high school during the turbulent Sixties and lived to tell.

Lettermen_68_e

We were young and restless and believed that we would grow up to become the leaders of tomorrow. Look back at a time long ago in a place far, far away. It’s difficult to believe (for me at least) that the year 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of our graduating from Mission High School.

Birthday Commentary

Woody Goulart photographed by Sam Glass, Jr.

A few months ago I updated my commentary entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go” — a title from that song from the 1980s by the English punk rock group The Clash. Here is update on the occasion of my birthday, June 29, about how to stand out.

It is good to reflect upon your life at least once a year. Doing so on your birthday makes good sense in my humble opinion.

As I reflect on this day, I realize how far I have come in my life. Literally and figuratively. I relocated from Phoenix, Arizona in 1995 to take a Washington, DC executive speechwriting career job. I am one of those people who loves living in the Desert Southwest, but the career employment opportunity in DC had to become my main priority.

Relocating from the desert to DC was one of those famous Life Changing Experiences, to say the least. I believe that there is very little that DC shares in common with life in the western deserts of the United States. For me, living in the desert developed a deep and enduring bond between myself and the physical environment. The simplest way to explain this is to say that I created a spiritual connection with the earth while living in the desert.

After the Great Recession hit in 2007, although I could continue to make a living in the DC market, I started feeling as though my life path needed to take me back to the Desert Southwest. My answer to the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” question was to stay in DC. During August 2012, however, I answered “Should I Go” with a clear “yes!” and I chose to relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada.

At this point in time, I have lived in Las Vegas almost one full year. This week in Las Vegas, we are experiencing record high temperatures. When the hot winds hit your face, you learn to take it or you will keep wondering why anyone would choose to live here in the Mojave Desert.

Las Vegas is internationally famous for being a place where you can escape for fun and relaxation. That is as true today as it has been since 1906 when the railroad came to Las Vegas and enabled casinos and hotels to exist here as viable businesses.

But, living in Las Vegas permanently as a local is a whole different experience compared to visiting Las Vegas for just a few days of fun and relaxation as a visitor. From experience, I would suggest that if you choose to relocate to Las Vegas as I did, choose also like I did to relocate here during any month when the temperatures are at their highest. Why? If you relocate to Las Vegas when the weather is cool, doing so will create a very false sense of reality for you regarding how punishing the physical environment can be here in the Mojave Desert. When you experience a high temperature of 120, you will know rather quickly if you are going to be able to survive living here.

Life as a local in Las Vegas has many advantages that cannot be matched or exceeded anywhere else in the United States. Among these advantages are a highly favorable tax environment, a clear and consistent welcoming and encouragement by municipal and state governments towards entrepreneurs, low-cost entertainment of the highest quality, low-cost dining out opportunities of the highest quality, and, overall genuine friendliness of the locals. Vacationing here and attending conventions here is a terrific experience, too.

Infamously, many people move to Las Vegas and then leave within about 30 days. The reasons for their exodus are numerous and personal. You can find part of an answer why many never make it past 30 days here if you consider some of the disadvantages (excluding the famous daily 90+ temperatures during many months of every year) of life as a local in Las Vegas.

Other than the threat of heat-related physical injuries, there can be flash flooding caused by rare thunderstorms. I experienced two successive flash flooding incidents during 2012 and 2013. On the plus side, there are not likely going to be tornadoes or hurricanes here, however, like elsewhere in the United States. Nor are you going to suffer under several feet of snow.

Throughout the Las Vegas Valley there persists the old-fashioned 1960s emphasis upon single passenger vehicles. This unavoidable reality directly results in routine traffic congestion and extraordinarily inconvenient and frustrating parking. Alternatives to this outmoded single passenger vehicle way of transportation are beginning to establish a foothold here in Las Vegas. Pun intended.

Some locals you may encounter in the Las Vegas Valley choose to play by their own rules of public behavior that exist outside the typical bounds of polite society. I cannot go into detail about this without sharing anecdotes that easily would earn an “R” rating.

At the same time, this is a welcoming place. I quickly became involved on the board of directors of the Las Vegas chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). I am a serious advocate for everyone who is in the communications fields to join your local IABC chapter and get as actively involved as you possibly can. IABC is a fantastic networking opportunity for communications people. Everyone I have met within IABC Las Vegas have been genuine and welcoming towards me.

In conclusion, only you can answer your own “Should I Stay or Should I Go” question. If you are like me, you may discover after weighing all the factors that choosing to stay where you are is not the best for your career. But, know that choosing to go is very difficult. You should expect emotional and financial challenges.

But, if you are like me, you may discover that augmenting your personal brand requires you to move your life and your career to some other place than where you are right now. I’m convinced that one’s personal brand may need such a reboot or restart from time to time. I urge you to face this kind of life change bravely and with determination all the while knowing that there will be experiences in this journey that are not fun. I’m confident that you, like me, will emerge at the new location a stronger person than you were before your move.

Create Your Own Reality

Throughout Western culture in literature, song, movies and other artifacts there is a common meaning to be found: Each person has the capability of creating their own reality. Tapping into this ancient wisdom can save your life and reinvent who you are.

A very recent echoing of this wisdom came from Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO at GE. Read his simple, yet profound message to a graduating class of college students to see what I mean.

Immelt’s core message is powerful and merits requoting here: “We can’t wait for the economy to stabilize. We can’t wait for a time when there is more certainty. It used to be that you only had to manage momentum. Today, you have to create your own future.”

I’m not sure how I came to be someone who embraces that kind of viewpoint about life. I just do embrace it. Wholeheartedly.

I have been reinventing who I am for many years. Long before I ever heard of the word reinvention, I was doing it in my own life.

That is partly why I write commentaries here on this website. My goal is to share with you what I have discovered to be true. I hope your life can benefit from the lessons I have learned.