I’ve been listening to the radio since I first discovered a transistor somewhere in my parents’ garage. (My dad used to listen to baseball games while working on his car.) Lucky for me, both my parents (especially my mother) were music lovers and we had a home full of radios, records, turntables, instruments, cassettes, and whatever else delivered tunes. Mom always had the radio on in the car when schlepping us kids around town, and I always tuned in. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I quickly fell in love with the two most popular AM radio stations of the time ~ KYA and KFRC. (It would still be a quite a few years before FM radio became popular.) Anytime I was in the vicinity of a radio, I immediately tuned in to AM 610 or 1240, and would continuously bounce back and forth between the two stations to ‘catch’ the best songs being played.
Fast forward to today: I still bounce between stations, and whereas I don’t necessarily have one favorite channel, there is a particular disc jockey that stands out far above the others ~ Steven Seaweed, on 107.7 The Bone! (KSAN) Not only does “The Weed Man” (http://ksanfm.dnn.cumulus.net/StevenSeaweed/TheSeaweedStory/tabid/271/Default.aspx) have quite an interesting history in the area, he is also an encyclopedia of music and has an enormous following. With his local fame and status, as well as the ability to keep the studio, microphone, and radio waves as a barrier between he and the public, Steven could easily distance himself from his listeners. But, he doesn’t. Instead, he often invites listeners into his studio, offers something called “Free Food Friday Hot Lunch,” and very hospitably entertains them. He also has tons of ‘friends’ on Facebook and is very interactive on it. He is a major supporter of local music and musicians, and in the “Bone Voyage” segment of his show, he kindly allows local bands to plug their upcoming gigs, which Steven announces every weekend. He very often has local musicians, as well as ‘well-knowns,’ visit him in the studio and interviews them on the air, or lets them plug a show. This is a man who really “pays it forward.” He is a diehard music lover and appreciator, and he is gladly using his forum to help others in their musical pursuits.
I don’t usually request a “friend” on Facebook unless I know them personally. However, because Steven and I have mutual friends, and he started the “Have a Ball Foundation” (http://haveaballgolf.com/about-us.htm) with one of them, and since I feel that I’ve known the man for years because of listening to him on the radio, we ended up as friends on Facebook. Well, the truth of it is, as any of you Facebookers know, “friending’ people on Facebook is no major feat. And of course, I figured I would basically be getting updates (ie. advertisements) about what is important in the Weedman’s life. However, when it’s a well-known radio personality of your time, who not only accepted your ‘friendship’ but actually takes the time to ‘inbox’ a personal “Happy Birthday” message on your birthday (can you imagine how many he has to do a day with over 5,000 friends?!) Well, that’s what started the ball rolling for my birthday celebration this year. Here is how the story goes:
Last year, on my birthday I received a personal inbox message from Seaweed wishing me a ‘rockin’ birthday. Knowing he has an abundant number of Facebook friends, I was surprised and honored that he took the time out of his busy schedule (even if it was only 30 seconds) to send me this message. So, I answered back, telling him that he ‘made my day,’ though never expecting to hear back from him again. But, lo and behold, he responded with an invitation to come into the studio on a Friday for his “Friday Hot Lunch.” Honored by this personal invitation, I happily accepted, But, busy as my life is, I never got my act together to get down to the studio and partake in the event. So, a year later, just before my next birthday, I was feeling like a schlepp for never getting in there for this unique opportunity. I mean, it isn’t every day that you get a personal invitation from a prestigious radio DJ to come in and hang out in his studio with him! So, I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate this year’s birthday, as I could bring in nine of my friends, too. I went through all the rigamarole to set the whole thing up, which wasn’t as easy as expected since Steven was out with pneumonia during this time and my email got lost in Limbo land. Once he returned to work, and I gathered up nine eager friends who were also up for the adventure, the day came. Two car loads of women drove up to “The Steven Seaweed Building” in downtown San Francisco. First, we stopped by the Flower Market to buy him a bunch of orange flowers (to represent our San Francisco Giants) and brought alone a card signed by our group. Upon arriving at the studio, we were sent up to his floor where we waited in the lobby. I wasn’t expecting to see a room full of long-haired rocker dudes (and their wives/girlfriends) also waiting to get in. I thought that we ten women would be it, thinking that he had a crampy little studio. It ends up, these guys were in an AC/DC tribute band, cleverly called “ADD/C” that had a show in the area that night and would be promoting it on Seaweed’s show. While we waited, we were treated to our free hot lunch, which is donated by a local restaurant. On this day, it happened to be pizzas and sodas from Amici’s Pizza. In no time, Steven came out and introduced himself to everyone and we mingled and chatted. He was like an old friend, giving me a hug, and making a point to meet all of my friends. I never expected this man to be so friendly and personable, but as the time went on, we all learned that he is much more than that. Steven Seaweed is a ‘personality,’ so charismatic and charming that he makes you feel instantly at home in his presence. There wasn’t an air of arrogance or egomania whatsoever in this man. And, it wasn’t just me that felt it…every one of my friends took to him immediately. He has the gift of spreading great vibes and kindness without an ounce of attitude.
After our lunch, it was time to file into his studio and watch him in action. He has a nice ‘office’ four floors up in a room full of windows overlooking downtown San Francisco. We lined up around his ‘desk,’ which was a high-tech collection of computer gadgets and contraptions that I couldn’t begin to describe or understand. But, it was impressive! People came bearing gifts, which were delivered to him as we entered the room. During Steven’s “Hot Lunches,” which he has every weekday from noon to 1:00 (tho, Friday is the only day he includes the public, and food) he announces the theme word for that day and listeners call in to request a song that relates to that word. I’ve listened to this many times in the past, from the ‘other’ side of the radio, but today I got to see it from the inside. Interestingly, he fields the phone calls during songs, records them, then plays them when he is back on the air. His producer, Ander, is right by his side fiddling expertly on some technological gizmo that does something like line up things to get the timing right for airplay. At least, I think it was something of that nature. Meanwhile, during songs, Steven was up and out of his seat every time to make the rounds and talk to each of the twenty-odd people that were in his studio that day! He also handed out cards (similar to baseball cards) with his picture on them to everyone, because he was recently inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. (http://bammagazine.com/index.php/archives/310-bay-area-radio-hall-of-fame-inductees-announced) It didn’t take long to figure out that he seems to have “groupies.” Many of the visitors this day were ‘regulars’ and were fans of this man. Meanwhile, I noticed that one of my friends, who happens to always have something up her sleeve, was taking him aside and whispering to him. This made me curious, as well as nervous, because you never know what this woman is up to! Was she requesting a song? Flirting with Steven? Or, could she be planning a way to put me in the spotlight because, after all, it was my birthday!! So much was going on in that studio – pictures galore were being snapped, we were amused and entertained by a DJ in action, there was an interview and ticket giveaway with one of the ADD/C band members, there were on-air requests (which reminds me, our word of the day was “THAT, “ which is one weird word to try to match with a song! But, people managed.) There was talking and schmoozing off-air, Hall of Fame cards being signed and passed out, etc, etc, so when Steven suddenly announced, “Where is Nadine?” I nearly jumped out of my skin. Uh-oh, what does he want with ME! I nervously stepped forward and he told me to come around to his side of the “desk.’ Yikes, what is going on here? I apprehensively went over to him, where he sat me on his lap. Yikes! “Are you going to make me talk on the air?” I barely managed to squeak out. No answer, as he fiddled about on his techie board. And, just as I breathed out, “Oh gawd, you are…” there he was, microphone dangling between us, speaking on air. “I have Nadine here in the studio today. Happy birthday!” I was shaking like a leaf, and barely remember responding, “Thank you, Steven.” The rest of our short conversation (what I can recall of it) went like this:
SS: “So, how old are you today, 32? 33?”
Me: “I’m 39 again…and again…and again”
SS: “39 and holding, huh?”
Me: “Yes, that’s right.” Smiling sheepishly.
SS: “Well, thanks for coming in and celebrating with us today.”
Me: “Thank you for inviting me.” Very gratefully.
SS: “Come in again some time.”
Me: “Oh, I will!” Excited!
SS: “Happy birthday.”
Me: “Thank you so much!”
I stayed seated on his lap while some more talking and announcements took place, probably so as not to disrupt the broadcast, still in a fog over what just happened. Then, when the time was right, I gave him a kiss on the cheek and stumbled back to where I had been standing. The rest of the show was a blur, as I was absolutely overcome by this unexpected twist. Thank goodness for Smart Phones, because I got some great pictures of the day, and of me on the air with the Weedman himself!
At 1:00, the show was over. It was time to say ‘goodbyes’ and ‘thank yous’ and end the adventure. I gave Steven a big, appreciative hug, thanking him for the opportunity to be a part of this behind-the-scenes experience. He respectfully shook everyone’s hand or gave hugs and said goodbye to each and every person who was there that day. What a blast it was! And, what an honor to be in the presence of this well-known, charismatic & charming disc jockey! My friends and I were in awe, and enjoyed every minute of that day. In fact, it was so much fun that I’m thinking of making it an annual event. Happy Birthday to Me!!