Daniel Powell 11 a.m., Dec. 6
Jim McInnes: The Last DJ, The OB Ranger Rides Again, DJ Stalker
Radio Legend McInnes, ‘70s OB Ranger, Radio Jock Says He Was Stalked
Radio Legend McInnes, ‘70s OB Ranger, Radio Jock Says He Was Stalked
1 Jim McInnes: The Last DJ
2 The OB Ranger Rides Again: Return Of a ‘70s Radio Cult Hero
3 Local Jock Says He Was Stalked: A Real Life ‘Play Misty For Me’?
"There goes the last DJ/who plays what he wants to play/and says what he wants to say/there goes your freedom of choice/there goes the last human voice/there goes the last DJ" -- lyrics from "The Last DJ," by Tom Petty
DJ Jim McInnes spent 28 years in radio before being fired for the first time a few years ago by Clear Channel/101.5 KGB FM. McInnes had spent most of disc jockey career ["And over half my life!"] at KGB.
"He's a local broadcast legend who knows the local music community," says Shambles guitarist Bart Mendoza. "He gave us our very first airplay back in the Manual Scan days [ Mendoza 's original mid-eighties group], kind of giving us the impetus to continue. Someone was listening!"
Says Mendoza, "In an age where 'local radio' means the DJ is in Texas and has possibly never seen your town, Jim is a treasure." Mendoza makes note of the fact that McInnes is a musician himself, having played from 1979 through 1981 with the local punk outfit Land Piranhas.
McInnes ignored his musical aspiration for nearly two decades, but has recently picked up the guitar again to play with Modern Rhythm, along with Jack Pinney, once the drummer for Iron Butterfly. "I respect that he continues to perform," says Mendoza . "It's an indication of just how much he loves music. He's also one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. He's the voice of San Diego radio!"
Scott Chatfield used to serve as promotions director at KGB and spent many years working alongside McInnes. He tells me "Jim's impressive because he's thoroughly unimpressed with his own celebrity. He's a great friend, personality, humorist, musician and water volleyball player. Before I joined KGB, McInnes' voice and dada-esqe yet conversational attitude were synonymous with the station for me. He and his wife Sandi were among the first to make friends with me when I joined KGB as producer of the Delany & Prescott Show in June '83, and they were kind enough to take me out to dinner the night I was relieved of that job in September '84."
"Jim and his family were our companions on our first European trip in 1988. Jim and I have traveled a lot together since then. When Jim took a two-year break from hosting his legendary local music show, The Homegrown Hour, he chose me to fill in, a task that was pure joy."
The Homegrown Hour featured only San Diego musicians, and there was also a series of Homegrown vinyl records, the first of which was released in 1973 and sported liner notes by a teenage KGB listener named Cameron Crowe (later to author "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" and the subject/writer/director of the film "Almost Famous"). "Through Homegrown, I became close with many San Diego musicians, including Mike Keneally, who I now manage and am partners with in our label Exowax Recordings." McInnes and Chatfield co-produced the final album in the series, Homegrown '84.
Mark DeCerbo of Rockola has resurrected Four Eyes, the power pop band he fronted in the late seventies and early eighties. "Jim was always hanging out at shows, checking out local bands. Being in a position as the top DJ at the biggest radio station in town, he was able to put on these shows called 'Homegrown Nights,' at a place called My Rich Uncle's. Local bands would play live for an audience and he'd record them on an eight track recorder and then play it that weekend over the radio, the full show. Whenever there was something happening with local music, he'd not only be there in person but then he'd take it to the airwaves, if not recorded then he'd talk about it."
Says DeCerbo, "Four Eyes had a song called 'Dangerous' on one of the Homegrown albums, and that was the first chance a lot of us had to be recorded and have records in the stores. He also played our songs sometimes during his drive-time slot and on a Sunday night show he had that focused on local music. DJs just don't have that kind of freedom any more and, even if they did, few would be daring enough to put so much into local musicians who don't even have a record deal."
David Peck's local Reelin' In The Years Productions maintains an archive of over 10,000 filmed musical performances, as well as representing others with footage to license for broadcast or video releases. Reelin' holds a piece of historical footage featuring McInnes, which it has licensed for use to VH1. "I got ahold of a piece of film that was shot at a backyard party here in San Diego , around 1981," he says. "Weird Al Yankovic was there, before he really broke big, when he was still doing 'Another One Rides the Bus' on [syndicated radio show] Dr. Demento. Jim is playing with him, and he's playing Weird Al's accordion and somebody comes by and spills beer on the thing. Weird Al got really upset with him, because it was a brand new accordion! And Jim is just shrugging his shoulders, like, 'hey, it's just an accordion, not a Les Paul,' but Weird Al wasn't laughing. Shows which one of them actually had the sense of humor, huh?"
McInnes explains in a phone interview "What happened was that my friend tried to pour a beer in my mouth while my hands were occupied trying to play accordion for the first time, and it spilled into the [instrument's] bellows. [Weird] Al was a good sport about it - he'd just had the accordion cleaned!"
Guitarist Marc Intravaia used to play with the Monroes, who had a brief taste of national fame with the hit "What Do All The People Know." "Back in the seventies," he says, "I was in a band called Listen, and we were on some of the Homegrown albums. In '75 and '76 or so, we did KGB's musical logos and played music for their commercials, and Jim even helped get us half hour spotlights about our band, like on the Sunday night shows. Back then, Jim was the guy who made KGB a really progressive radio station, and he really gave local bands a boost. I was 18 when we met, and I was in awe of DJs, of meeting the guys behind the voices on the radio."
"KGB used to put on free concerts at what is now called Starlight Bowl but then it was Balboa Bowl. Listen did a few of those, and Jim used to get up on stage and jam with us sometimes. The first time was '74 or '75, and I wasn't even aware at the time that he was a musician. I'm sure we had a bunch of beer and he said 'by the way, I play guitar,' and we said 'all right'.I think we just played a typical blues thing. As a guitar player, he's, uh, he's a great DJ."
DJ Gabriel Wisdom has been a fixture on local radio even longer than McInnes, since 1968 when he helped pioneer "free form" FM radio at local station KPRI. Wisdom went to work on-air for KGB in the early seventies. The station was at the time launching a publicity campaign announcing that KGB was being "recycled," referencing the then-current ecology craze but in actuality referring to a programming change that would now be called "instituting a new format." That format was progressive, album oriented rock and roll.
Wisdom told me about the first time he met McInnes, in the early seventies. "I had just started at KGB. I think I was the first FM disc jockey hired for the 'recycling' of KGB, and he was the second, when they lured him away from KPRI. When I first met him, and they were showing him around the station, I was knocking heads with the program director at the time because I wanted to do everything my way. Well, they fired me and hired Jim, so I was meeting my replacement, even though I didn't know it at the time. They hired me back a week later. So when Jim got fired from KGB recently, he'd never been fired, and I told him 'now you're finally a veteran radio DJ!'"
McInnes elaborates: "There's a saying in broadcasting; 'If you haven't been fired, you haven't worked in radio.' "
According to Wisdom, "Jim was one of the earliest people to use short abbreviated phrases like 'JM in the PM on the FM.' He's quite a wordsmith, and very well educated. He was the first guy that I ever heard use the phrase "cunning linguist" on the air, which you have to pronounce very carefully, or else, you know."
Wisdom reveals the little known fact that McInnes took seven years of Russian and is quite fluent in speaking the difficult dialect. "The irony of that, of course, is him working at a station called KGB! There was one time in the early nineties when Yakov Smirnoff, the Russian comedian, came into the studio when he was in town [performing] at the Comedy Store. Jim starts talking Russian to the guy and they sounded like a couple of KGB mafiosos! He'd told me he spoke Russian, but I'd never seen the proof until then. How do you describe half a dozen jaws dropping?"
"The most memorable part was when Jim said something in Russian, and I have no idea what it was, and Yakov Smirnov replied, in perfect English, 'That's the straw that broke Glen Campbell's back.' To this day, I have no idea what that was in reference to."
Guitarist Joey Harris is a former member of the Beat Farmers (he replaced Buddy Blue after the third Beat Farmers record, "Van Go"), and he fronted Joey Harris and The Speedsters. "Jim used to get me backstage to after-parties," he says in a phone interview. "He'd be emceeing the concert and we'd hang out and we'd go to the hotel afterward to hang out with the band. Like at Cheap Trick. There were a lot of naked girls everywhere, in '83 or '84, back when Cheap Trick still had naked girls hanging around them."
Asked for further details, Harris (now married) laughs and says "I can't remember. I'm not sure that actually happened." McInnes emceed Harris' wedding when he married his wife onstage at Street Scene in 1990, perhaps explaining Harris' reluctance to reminisce.
McInnes today is the evening news anchor for KFMB 760AM and he writes a monthly column for San Diego Troubadour magazine. Last month (1-15-08), he landed the afternoon drive-time traffic reporter slot at Jack FM. I called him awhile back, in part to give him a chance to hear what others had told me about him for this piece, but also to offer him a chance to add his own commentary or rebuttals, which I’ve inserted throughout this blog essay.
Mainly, tho, I wanted to ask him what it was that he and Yakov Smirnoff were talking about that resulted in Smirnoff commenting "That's the straw that broke Glen Campbell's back."
McInnes laughed and said "I don't remember that [about Glen Campbell's back]! I don't know if that actually happened. But it sounds good and, if Gabriel said it, well, it's at least entertaining. That's what DJs do, you know.we're entertainers."
At least the good ones are.
(Weird Al Video "I'll Sue Ya")
- THE OB RANGER RIDES AGAIN: RETURN OF A ‘70S COUNTERCULTURE HERO
THE O.B. RANGER RIDES AGAIN!
“We were going after the progressive rock or the album rock crowd,” says radio DJ and programming vet Gary Allyn about his early seventies on-air gig in San Diego. “We wanted an independent attitude of not giving a damn about anything because we could get away with a lot of that in Mexico. So our IDs and buffers had things you couldn’t say on American radio. We did quasi drug references. Like ‘It’s time for the scores’ - and the scores would be ‘four keys, two lids.’ With stuff like the O.B. Ranger routines, there was always that underground go-against-society undercurrent. Of course O.B. was the center of the hippie movement in that period, flower power and the drug culture and all that.”
Already in his thirties at the time, Allyn was an unlikely counter culture spokesman. At Ohio University, he’d majored in Speech, Radio-TV and Drama before earning a certificate in Radio-TV Arts from the Cincinnati College Of Music. He spent two years as a Radio Specialist in the 4th Army Information Section.
Allyn already had fifteen years of radio experience when he hit San Diego, having begun with an on-air gig at WING in Dayton Ohio in 1955. He also held positions as a production director, program director and operations manager at stations in Cincinnati, Miami, Atlanta, San Antonio, Denver, Los Angeles and elsewhere.
Additionally, he deposited the occasional extra check for jokes he’d written for comedians like Lenny Bruce, “Herky” Stiles and Woody Woodbury. “That was in the late fifties but comedy writers didn’t make a lot of money and still don’t make much more now than they did then.”
He first came to San Diego to work for KCBQ in 1965. “I was on the air right when KCBQ was kind of faltering and BOSS Radio had come into being. So KCBQ brought in some new jocks and tried to make a new start. Then I went to San Antonio for a couple of years and came back to KCBQ in ‘68, first as an on-air personality and then as Program Director. This was during the real ratings battle days with KGB. At that time progressive rock was just hitting the radio. Stations like KPRI were just starting to do it, playing longer album cuts.”
Allyn talks about some of the talent he worked with at KCBQ. “I had ‘Magic’ Christian before Buzz Bennett took over the ‘Q. Happy Hare made a late sixties comeback there too. Joe Light is another.”
“We had a great news staff with Richard Mock, Jim Buckalew and Joe Demott, plus I hired Jim Hill - yes, L.A.’s CBS2 TV sports guy - after he left The Chargers. That was some radio station.”
“As for KSEA, that was something else. I had a $31,000.00 annual budget including salaries, contests, everything. But I still managed to hire some good guys, including Neil Ross, Lenny Mitchell, Jeff Prescott of KGB and now KOGO morning fame, and Tom Straw. Our ‘Buzzard’ logo eating KCBQ was the first of its kind.”
He and Neil Ross had worked together on projects like the three hour Beatles documentary “The Long And Winding Road,” as well as at various radio stations. “We even roomed together for awhile. I hired [Ross] as a production man because he could do so many voices. Today he’s one of the top voice-over artists in L.A., he does cartoons and narration for A&E now. He’s a natural mimic, and very funny.”
“Neil and I came into XHIS and XHERS back in ‘71, ‘72. It’s FM90 today. The owner ran these stations in Tijuana and they had this new prototype machine. They were automated or semi-automated cassettes and you could literally put a station in a closet, one rack with ten cassette decks in it. The technicians in Tijuana were running it all and we had to program and lay out everything there for them. We put the music on the tapes first.”
What music was the station playing? “Now it’d be classic rock but in ‘71 there was only a few years of material to draw from. We’d play a dozen hit albums, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Beautiful Day, a lot of underground music. The signal was so strong...people used to pick us up in Vancouver British Columbia, in Idaho, Ontario. We got a lot of calls, from all over the place. It started to spread that we were a pirate station operating off the coast on a boat.”
The duo recorded their material downtown on the wharf in a studio across from the Star Of India. “It was maybe 10’X10’ and we put all the music together and what sound FX we didn’t have we made up ourselves. We did some phony commercials like the Thud School Of Skydiving, spoofs of local late night TV commercials, old time radio style but more hip like what The Firesign Theater was doing. Then we decided, since there weren’t going to be any personalities on the air between songs, we came up with this idea of the O.B. Ranger.”
(to the tune of the William Tell Overture)
“From out of the cave at the foot of Sunset Cliffs, the thundering hoofbeats pound...”
(intro, “O.B. Ranger”)
“We made the Ranger a bumbling Inspector Clouseau type narc who didn’t know any of the hip phrases of the day, and he was always trying to get to his arch enemy Panama Red, which as you may or may not know was a potent type of marijuana. So the Ranger is trying to get in with that crowd but his idea of hip is ‘far out,’ ‘groovy’ and ‘outta sight’ which even in those days was already passe, kind of camp. We made his Tonto a Yale graduate and he was the one who always corrected The Ranger. The Indian was the one who was hip, knowledgeable and with it.”
“The Ranger’s horse was a stud horse named Sylvia and the Indian rode his swift pinto Ford. They were raiding the dwellings of Ocean Beach in search of illegal and nefarious goings on. We wrote the scripts together. I did the voice of the Ranger, Neil did Panama Red, the Ranger Chief, Kilo Kane, practically all of the other voices. We did a takeoff of The Godfather, the Oddfather, and Neil did an outstanding Marlon Brando. You’d swear it was him.”
Also helping out was friend Lee Mirabal and guest characters came with nametags like Emil Nitrate, Miss Melons, Grassie The Dog, Madame Sativa, Count Downer, Chief of the Rangers Gus Stoppo and the mystical Swami Rama Lama Ding Dong.
Allyn and Ross wrote and recorded over ninety episodes of the O.B. Ranger, most of them episodic segments that unfolded in short chapters between music blocks. They didn’t shy away from controversial topics. “There was a marijuana initiative on the ballot one year and we did a couple of episodes around that. Nixon at the time was going through his ping pong diplomacy and we did a takeoff on that. One of the [fake] commercials was for the Johnny Combat Doll which would actually kill and maim just like the real thing.”
I ask if there was ever negative feedback or repercussions from dealing with sensitive or controversial issues. “To the contrary, the more we did it, the more people loved it. The comedy bits were getting to be more requested than the songs!”
Allyn says that the Ranger and his Indian partner were becoming local cult icons. “We used to have people call us from bars and you could hear them in the background, drunk out of their minds, having an O.B. Ranger party. They wanted The Ranger to drop by and have a drink with them!”
“One night, Neil and I got one of those calls from a Mexican place in Coronado. We decided ‘let’s go see what the Hell’s going on.’ We went across the bridge and looked in and these people are so drunk, they’re all toasting each other and yelling ‘far out,’ ‘groovy’ and ‘out of sight.’ We said ‘No, I don’t think we want to go in’ and we turned around and left.”
The station was soon programming full weekend blocks of O.B. Ranger segments. “We decided to put out a best of, a double LP. The radio station paid for it at the time and we had it pressed in LA. We edited the broken up episodes together into longer segments.” Over 3,500 copies of “The Adventures Of The O.B. Ranger Volume 1” albums were sold, especially once east coast radio stations started playing it and distributors were calling and asking for it. “Next thing you know we’ve got a ‘break out’ in Billboard from Buffalo. You have to wonder how O.B. hippie humor goes over in Buffalo.”
In 1972, the Ranger rode off the airwaves. “We had the usual flare-up with the owner of the station. I had the opportunity to go somewhere else and Neil stayed on another month or so. The funny thing was, after we stopped doing them, we started getting calls from parents saying that their little kids were all upset that the O.B. Ranger wasn’t on Saturday mornings any more. We never knew we had kids listening!”
He says he doesn’t think that the drug humor was picked up by his underage listeners. “I’m sure it went over their head. And we never condoned drug use, we just made fun of it. The Ranger was out to nab the bad guy after all.”
Ross and Allyn had copyrighted the material and gotten a release from the radio station to use it, enabling them to market and sell a syndication package of around sixty episodes to several stations. Locally, KPRI re-ran many of episodes in the late seventies. Allyn went on to work in Miami while Ross went to LA but the pair kept in touch and did occasional work together. Allyn bought into a small recording studio, Top Spots, where he wrote and produced hundreds of commercials and voice-over commissions.
In the late eighties, Allyn became involved with a successful line of specialty tapes called Sports Fantasies - five minute audio cassettes where the subject is made the star of a championship game being announced. “I’ve done those for Bill Cosby, he’s ordered a dozen or so. Most of the major league owners, Ted Turner, Mario Cuomo. It started as a little weekend sideline and turned out to practically be a full time career.” He bought out his partner in 1990 and still regularly produces new tapes.
Over the last few years, Allyn said that he was hearing that the O.B. Ranger album was a sought after collector’s item. “It was like the holy grail to people who remembered or heard about the shows. Neil was not that interested in doing any more, he was trying to get his career going in LA and he thought that all these years have gone by, just let it go. But I always thought it still had possibilities. Especially with the seventies retro thing going on. Neil told me to go ahead and do what I wanted with the material and he even offered to co-promote it, but he’s not directly involved. He’s got such a voiceover career going.”
Compiling and remastering all of the master reels he could assemble, Allyn now has several volumes of O.B. Ranger material ready to release. He has already pressed a 19-cut Volume 1 and is marketing it with a partner on the internet. He also places them in shops on consignment and he’s been emailing and sending samples to people like Doctor Demento, who he says is interested in playing it.
“It’s very difficult," he says, "because if it’s considered ‘local,’ or if it’s not currently on the radio, currently being played. It’s not like it was years ago when you had more of a shot…a friend of mine works at KYXY but I don’t think it’s their bag to play it.”
He says it’s also hard because he no longer has the daily broadcast exposure or contacts in the local radio game. “I still do consulting for radio stations out of this market. I’ve been up in Escondido for years and I’m not in touch with people like I was. And what with the ownership changes and the format changes that have happened in radio, it’s just a volatile time. You don’t know who’s in charge and who’s going to own you next week.”
When I spoke with Allyn in March 2008, he mentioned that there are still two volumes of mastered OB Ranger shows ready to release on CD. "The first one sold okay, but not quite well enough to finance the other two."
If you're interested in buying Volume 1 (in turn, helping #2 and #3 to be released), the CD is $12.50 and can be ordered through www.garyallyn.com. You can also send check or M.O. direct: Gary Allyn 4650-92 Dulin Rd. Fallbrook, CA 92028
(photos & art courtesy www.garyallyn.com)
- LOCAL JOCK SAYS HE WAS STALKED - A REAL LIFE "PLAY MISTY FOR ME"?
The music industry is rife with stories of deranged celebrity stalkers. A VH1 special on the subject included excerpts from Madonna's court testimony against unwanted admirer Robert Dewey Hoskins (who was sentenced to ten years in state prison for making 'terrorist threats' against the singer), J-Lo's fear of fandom ("I have nightmares that I'll end up like Selena and be killed by someone from my fan club"), and the Bjork devotee who attempted to mail the Icelandic object of his obsession a live bomb and then videotaped his own suicide.
Rare, however, are tales of rabid radio DJ fans.
Of course, disc jockey worship was much more common in the years before automation revolutionized (or at least mechanized) the radio industry, reducing the presence and influence of the on-air personalities who once orchestrated the musical tastes and social inclinations of millions of listeners.
The dark side of audiological obsession formed the basis of the 1971 Clint Eastwood thriller "Play Misty For Me" (the actor's directorial debut). Portraying a jazz radio DJ for station KRML in Carmel California, Eastwood's character finds his life upended by a high-strung female fan who repeatedly calls his show to request her favorite song, the Erroll Garner classic "Misty." This seriously disturbed stalker, chillingly enacted by Jessica Walter, wages a campaign of seduction that instead results in her attempted suicide and eventual death, managing along the way to ruin the DJ's job, his relationship with a longtime girlfriend and ambushing his maid with a butcher knife.
"Hey, this is your psycho freako, don't come home, freakout, freakout person. Hey dude, you never served me with that restraining order…I'm waiting on you to serve your f-ing restraining order, --hole. Come on now, big boy, let's do it…have a good night, f-ing --hole."
The preceding isn't dialogue from "Misty" – it's transcribed from a recorded voicemail message left for DJ Todd Braun (on-air moniker "Todd Kelly"), allegedly recorded in December 2000 by a female listener in San Diego, Karolin Sickles.
The real-life psychodrama he claims to have endured at her hands resembles "Play Misty For Me" in many ways. Except for the part where the stalker falls off a cliff to her death, and ignoring the unlikely circumstance of a radio DJ who can actually afford his own maid.
Kelly says that Sickles "terrorized" him over several years while he DJ'd at three different radio stations. In December 2000, KGB owners Clear Channel Communications, Inc., his employers at the time, filed a restraining order request against Sickles, seeking to keep the former fan-turned-fanatic from contacting Kelly, either in person or over the phone, for a minimum of one year. "I am afraid that she will escalate her behavior, including possible violent conduct," stated Kelly in the request. "She appears to be highly delusional, believing that I am in a romantic relationship with her. She also appears to be stalking me, following me to my promotional appearances and monitoring my movements in and out of the Clear Channel broadcast studios."
Sickles first began calling in song requests while Kelly worked at KIOZ/Rock 105.3 from 1993 through 1997. He didn't come face to face with her until working for XHRM at their National City headquarters. "During the summer of 1998," according to Kelly, "Ms. Sickles came to the radio station late at night during my on-air shift and pressed her face up against the glass window of our studio. I did not know her but assumed she was a listener who wished to make a request. When I opened the door to see what she wanted, Ms. Sickles grabbed the back of my neck and tried to kiss me. I immediately pushed her away and told her to leave and closed the door to the studio."
Kelly became aware of the woman's identity after recognizing her at promotional events and connecting her to the increasingly disturbing phone calls which followed him to station KGB 101.5 in April 1999, after he took over the 7:00 p.m. to midnight slot. That's when he began recording his voicemail messages.
"You just can't give up. You just cannot f-ing just like let it go…you have your life, you have your strippers, you have everything that you possibly f-ing want and everything you're doing in my life and what you're doing with me and my kids, I don't understand. I don't get it and I'm really like tired of it, okay? I'm tired of like staying up 'til midnight and dancing. I'm tired of like doing all that crap that I do for you and I don't receive anything back…you're a big f-ing star now, okay?"
Kelly denies that he and Sickles ever had anything remotely like a relationship. "This is absolutely not true. I have never seen Ms. Sickles on a social basis, am not involved in any romantic relationship with her and have only seen her at promotional appearances I make for the radio station."
One of those appearances took place in March 2000 at the downtown Hard Rock Café. "Ms. Sickles became very angry that I was talking to other people at the bar. She walked over to me, was visibly shaking and began shouting at me. She then punched me in the stomach with her fist."
Returning to the disc jockey booth, Kelly informed KGB promotions assistant Erica Gonzales of the assault. Gonzales says "I saw Ms. Sickles following Mr. Braun [Todd Kelly] around while he was talking to other bar patrons, especially other women in the bar." She notified security to evict Sickles but, before guards could arrive, the woman tried to gain entry to the booth and Gonzales refused to let her in. "Ms. Sickles then angrily swung her arm at a group of glasses on a nearby table…I was hit with the contents of some of the glasses. After this incident, the security personnel removed Ms. Sickles from the bar. While this was happening, she was screaming 'don't come home' at Mr. Braun and was telling the security personnel that she was actually in a relationship with him."
"I don't want to be with you no more, okay, and I want to be let go and I'm serious and you might think I'm a psycho freak and you can tell your friends that I am, but you know and I know it's time to let it go, Todd. It's time to f-ing let it go…I'm not gonna f-ing hang on no more, there's no reason for it."
During a November 2000 phone call, Kelly says "Ms. Sickles stated that I 'had some explaining to do.' I told [her] that I did not know her, I have never been in any type of relationship, romantic or otherwise, with her, and that her behavior was disturbing to me. Ms. Sickles became very angry on the phone, began breathing heavily, growling and shouting at me. I told [her] that I was concerned and was considering getting some type of restraining order against her…[she] growled at me and hung up." He says that night he watched fearfully over his shoulder for Sickles as he drove home and that he couldn't sleep once he got there.
Early December: "I spoke with officer Doug Reinhart of the San Diego Police Department," remembers Todd Kelly. "Officer Reinhart informed me that Ms. Sickles had made a complaint to the police that KGB and I were stalking her by placing 'bugs' and hidden cameras in her home. [He] also indicated that Ms. Sickles had described my truck, including my license number, and she had also accurately described the car parked next to my truck in the Clear Channel parking lot that day."
On hearing this, Kelly immediately checked his voice mail, finding two messages from Sickles, including one where she shouted at him and called him an "a-hole" and a "f---er."
"I'm tired of like the thing that you've done to my work…when you know that you have bugged the place, we know that, you know that, everybody who knows you knows that and yet you don't f-ing let me go…you're not living by the border anymore, you're f-ing uptown, f-ing like just let it go, just let it f-ing just like go."
On December 11th, Kelly turned the recorded voicemail messages over to Clear Channel's attorneys, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, and on the 14th the entertainment conglomerate filed a lawsuit (GIC759466 Clear Channel Communications v. Sickles Karolin) at the downtown county courthouse on Broadway, seeking to "prohibit civil harassment" on the part of Sickles. Monetary damages weren't an issue – the order sought only to prevent her from "engaging in the described conduct toward all Clear Channel employees" in the San Diego area and to ban her from "all promotional events conducted by Clear Channel radio stations."
The order was granted with no opposition filed by Sickles, requiring her to stay 100 yards away from Todd Kelly's workplace and home and from any public events where he appears under penalty of possible arrest and prosecution. Karolin Sickles has dutifully adhered to the court order, but this doesn't preclude her from responding to inquiries regarding the suit.
When I contacted Sickles by phone awhile back, she said the friction between her and Kelly began when she used to call the DJ at Rock 105.3. "I told him a joke and he said he'd take the joke [and repeat it] over the air and then he said that I was a racist. He had all these people calling in and saying that I was a racist and that's not at all what [the joke] was about."
As far as the restraining order goes, she says, "It was pretty unpleasant because it was based upon what one person who has a microphone can say about one individual…[he] said some things about me and when I turned around and tried to defend myself he got his attorneys involved and those declarations you find there [in the courthouse file] are all based on lies and hearsay. He then tried to say that I was crazy. They had a court appointed psychiatrist come out and visit me and even the psychiatrist and police officer that with me said that I wasn't crazy."
Sickles denies stalking the DJ and she tells me that statements sworn to by other Clear Channel employees should be discounted. "I hope that whoever was a part of all that [lawsuit], Coe Lewis and then there was another girl named Erica [Gonzales, promotions assistant] and just a whole bunch of people were involved, all those people signed those declarations under penalty of perjury. And every single one of them lied." She never pursued legal reprisal, however, neither disputing nor replying to the original complaint in any way.
"I had him, Jay, I really had him, I really could have took them all down…honestly, I believe that some people know the truth about what he said and know that he lied. He really committed perjury and I really could have had him, I really could have had him good, but I was exhausted. The attorney was free, it wasn't anything about money, I could have totally done it but I was tired…I just decided it was easier not to fight it, to let it go."
As of 2003, Todd Kelly was an on-air personality in San Bernadino. I asked Sickles how she feels about Kelly now. "It just didn't turn out to be a good thing and I wish Todd all the best…I feel like the guy has a lot of good qualities and that he's a good guy. I think also that he tried to sell himself as a person that he's not. He puts himself under all this pressure to be this person that he's not so that people like Clear Channel can make money and that's basically what it's all about…I've made it a really big point to stay out of his way."
More like this:
- RIP Reader cover artist and underground comix legend Spain Rodriguez — Nov. 28, 2012
- Best Of San Diego: 50 Mini-Reviews, plus DJ Jim McInnes, & ‘70s DJ The OB Ranger — May 16, 2008
- Painting Rock Stars, plus Behind the Scenes: Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors — May 8, 2008
- 25 Local Musicians Reveal “My Favorite Twilight Zone,” plus Local-Produced Zone Comic Books — April 3, 2008
- JIM McINNES: THE LAST DJ — Sept. 1, 2007