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The Digital Diva
Paul Bonnell
Paul Bonnell

For Paul.
 
     I FIRST MET PAUL BONNELL ON A SUNNY MONDAY MORNING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AT OUR FIRST DAY AT BROADCAST SCHOOL. A GROUP OF ABOUT 70 STUDENTS OF RADIO BROADCAST, HOPING FOR OUR DREAM TO COME TRUE. TO BE PROFESSIONAL BROADCASTERS.
 
     WE ALL WENT ABOUT OUR BUSINESS THOSE FIRST COUPLE DAYS, GETTING ORIENTED, MEETING CLASSMATES, SIZING EACH OTHER UP. IT’S BEEN MORE THAN 30 YEARS NOW, AND TIME FADES AWAY MEMORIES, AND I DON’T REMEMBER WHO APPROACHED WHOM, BUT HOWEVER IT HAPPENED, AS I’VE SAID MANY TIMES, I’M ONE LUCKY PERSON THAT IT DID HAPPEN.
 
     WITH HIS WARM, FRIENDLY, OPEN PERSONALITY, HE MADE FRIENDS EASILY, AND ONE DAY WE JUST STRUCK UP A CONVERSATION, FOUND OUT WE HAD A FEW THINGS IN COMMON, A LOVE OF RADIO, AND A DESIRE TO DO THE BEST WE COULD. THAT MEETING LED TO A 30 PLUS YEAR FRIENDSHIP THAT WILL GO ON IN MY HEART UNTIL SOMEONE LIKE ME, STANDS BEFORE A GATHERING LIKE YOU, AND TRIES TO MAKE SENSE OF WHAT’S HAPPENED, AND WHY OUR FRIEND IS NO LONGER WITH US. SITTING AT THE DINNER TABLE WITH MY WIFE, CATHY, I’VE MENTIONED THAT, SADLY, OUR REWARD FOR STAYING HEALTHY, AND STAYING OUT OF HARMS WAY, IS HAVING TO SAY GOODBYE TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY THAT DIE. TODAY, I’M DOING BOTH.
 
 
     PAUL’S RADIO CAREER SPANNED 2 DECADES AND TOOK HIM LITERALLY AROUND THE WORLD. FROM OREGON TO COLORADO, THE UNITED STATES TO OVERSEAS, THEN BACK TO THE STATES INCLUDING STOPS IN INDIANA, CALIFORNIA & OREGON. AFTER HE LEFT KRNS, TRYING TO GET HIM TO SEND RECORDINGS OF HIM ON THE AIR WAS LIKE TRYING TO PULL TEETH. I KEPT BUGGING HIM, AND EVENTUALLY HE’D RELENT, AND SEND A COPY OF THIS SHOW OR THAT. I HAVE PRECIOUS LITTLE OF HIM ON THE AIR, BUT AS I  LISTEN TO HIM, I BELIEVE THE HAPPIEST I HEARD HIM ON THE AIR, EXCEPT FOR SCHOOL & KRNS, WAS WHEN HE WAS “THE CLOCK-WATCHER” A MORNING RADIO PERSONALITY, SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU MAY HAVE SEEN ROBIN WILLIAMS PLAY IN GOOD MORNING VIETNAM. PAUL’S SHOW WAS ON ARMED FORCES RADIO SERVICES ORIGINATING FROM Incirlik Air BaseIN TURKEY.   HE NOT ONLY WAS ON THE AIR, BUT ALSO TAUGHT YOUNG AIRMEN HOW TO PLAY THE HITS.
 
     OUR PATHS CRISS CROSSED MANY TIMES OVER THE YEARS…SOMETIMES WE’D LOSE TRACK OF EACH OTHER FOR MONTHS AT A TIME, AND THEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE PHONE WOULD RING, AND THERE WOULD BE ONE OR THE OTHER OF US…”HI…JUST CHECKING IN…WHAT’S UP?” AND WE’D PICK RIGHT BACK UP WHERE WE LEFT OFF. A REMARKABLE FRIENDSHIP. PAUL ASKED ME TO BE HIS BEST MAN AT HIS WEDDING TO ANNETTE. I WAS LUCKY TO HAVE HIM AS MY BEST MAN WHEN CATHY & I EXCHANGED VOWS. HE WAS MOST ELOQUENT AT THE RECEPTION. PAUL WAS SO GOOD WITH WORDS. BOTH WRITTEN & SPOKEN
 
 
     MY MEMORIES OF HIM INCLUDE OUR FIRST MEETING AWAY FROM SCHOOL AT HIS HOME IN PACOIMA CALIFORNIA. THAT’S WHERE I LearnED Of his love of comic books, HORROR STORIES, AND THE BEATLES.  HIS COLLECTION OF BOOKS AND VINYL TOOK UP AN ENTIRE ROOM FROM FLOOR TO CEILING, WALL TO WALL. HIS CUTE LITTLE BLUE 4 DOOR TOYOTA COROLLA, HIS HELPING STUDENTS AT THE WORKSHOP WITH ALL THE WONDERFUL VOICES HE COULD DO, FROM BOGART TO A 6 YEAR OLD KID. WORKING WE WORKED DAYS ON THE AIR AND PRODUCED AND WROTE COMMERCIALS AT NIGHT AT KRNS. LIVING ABOVE HIM IN THE SAME APARTMENT BUILDING ON EGAN ROAD. GETTING PHONE CALLS, LETTERS AND PHOTOS FROM HIM AS HE TRAVELED. IN 1998, WE HAD THE CHANCE TO REUNITE IN BURNS OVER THE 4TH OF JULY HOLIDAY TO CELEBRATE OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF OUR FIRST DAY ON THE AIR AT KRNS. WE VISITED THE RADIO STATION, WALKED MAIN STREET, SWAPPED STORIES, AND EVEN WENT BACK THE RESTAURANT WE HUNG OUT AT, AND WROTE A COMMERCIAL AS WE WAITED FOR OUR DINNER TO BE BROUGHT TO US.
 
     WHEN HE CALLED ME AND TOLD ME OF HIS FIRST DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER IN HIS BRAIN AND IN HIS CHEST, HE CALLED THE NIGHT BEFORE THE OPERATION, SCARED OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN. WE TALKED FOR A SHORT TIME, AS THE MEDICATION HE WAS GIVEN WAS STARTING TO WORK ON HIM, BUT DURING THAT CONVERSATION, I DID TELL HIM I LOVED HIM, AND WOULD SAY A LITTLE PRAYER FOR A QUICK RECOVERY. WHAT I DIDN’T TELL HIM WAS I WAS SCARED TOO. 
 
     WHEN HE TOOK THE TRAIN TO VISIT ME IN OREGON IN EARLY 2006, WE HAD A WONDERFUL TIME AND DURING MY VISIT LATER THAT YEAR TO SACRAMENTO, HE WAS TIRED, BUT LOOKED GREAT, AND WAS JUST FINISHING HIS TREATMENTS. WE HAD A TOO SHORT BUT GREAT VISIT. HE WAS TALKING ABOUT GETTING BACK TO WORK, AND EVENTUALLY, HE DID.
 
 
    AS I MENTIONED A BIT AGO, PAUL WAS SO GOOD WITH WORDS. LET ME QUOTE YOU SOMETHING HE SAID ON THE OCCASION OF OUR 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ON THE AIR TOGETHER. IT WAS JANUARY 13TH 1979, KRNS, BURNS OREGON. ONE YEAR AFTER OUR FIRST 2 MAN SHOW ON KBW IN LOS ANGELES. THE TWO OF US HUDDLED TOGETHER IN THE CONTROL ROOM, SHARING ONE MIC, PLAYING RECORDS, HAVING FUN, AND REMINISCING ABOUT ALL THAT HAD HAPPENED TO US OVER THE PAST YEAR AND A HALF.
 
     “AFTER A YEAR OF WORKING TOGETHER, JOHNNY & I HAVE COME TO KNOW EACH OTHER BETTER THAN HUSBANDS & WIVES. JOHNNY KNOWS WHAT I DO AFTER WORK, I KNOW WHAT HE DOES, AND HE’D BETTER CUT IT OUT BEFORE HE GETS ARRESTED. WE WERE VERY LUCKY THAT WE MET…HAD PERSONALITIES THAT MESHED AND A SENSE OF HUMOR THAT NONE CAN RECON WITH. IT’S TRUE, WE’VE HAD OUR UPS AND DOWNS, HAVE HAD CLASHES OF TEMPERMENT, AND STRAIGHT OUT AND OUT ARGUMENTS. BUT IN THE LONG RUN…WE’RE BROTHERS. I WILL NEVER FIND ANOTHER PERSON AS CREATIVE AS JOHN, AND HE WILL NEVER FIND SOMEONE WILLING TO TAKE SECOND BILLING. THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE FOR ME PERSONALLY, I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT. I’M GRATEFUL TO JOHNNY FOR BEING AROUND IN TIMES OF TROUBLE…AND AS WE GROW IN RADIO; WE GROW TOGETHER SO WE CAN BOTH OCCUPY THE SAME CHAIR. IT’S CROWDED IN HERE…..JOHN, I GOTTA DIRECT THIS TO YOU, PARTNER TO PARTNER, BROTHER TO BROTHER…I’M THE LUCKIEST GUY IN THE WHOLE WORLD. THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN THE HAPPIEST TIME IN MY LIFE. THANK YOU.
 
     WELL PARTNER, AFTER A FRIENDSHIP THAT CONTINUES PAST 30 YEARS, RIGHT BACK AT YA. 


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