ATASCADERO - The Colony Days Royalty Committee announced this week that retired broadcaster and long-time Colony Days Parade judge Bob Brown has been selected as their 2018 Grand Marshal.
The 45th annual event is formally kicked off at the Colony Tea on the Sunday before the event, where the Royalty will be crowned and the Marshall given his badge. The first event open for the public is on Friday, Oct. 5 at the Tent City After Dark Concert.
Brown said he was surprised and honored by the invitation and, even though “never in his wildest dreams” would he have expected it, he knows a lot about the festivities having served on the Colony Days Committee and been a parade judge through the 1970s and as the “Voice of the Mid-State Fair” in Paso Robles before computerized announcements.
His renewed participation in Colony Days this year comes as an early 92nd birthday present.
Born Oct. 13, 1926, in Stuart, Neb., his middle name is Fallo after his father’s best friend, who folks in the village of Cody referred to as “Fud.”
Brown has a great deal of information on his early childhood and and the 1930s into the early 1940s in part because he’s been asked to write it all down before. After handing an interviewer a six page typed document drafted in 2011, he notes that it was something the family’s 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren might want to have around.
Interesting nuggets include the reflections that although his friends had house parties in Los Angeles while he was in high school, he doesn’t actually remember there being smoking or alcohol involved. The family moved to California in September 1941 and he was attending Washington High when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7.
“As we became seniors we looked forward to going into the armed services during WWII,” he wrote frankly.
Sitting down with longtime friends Lamon and Jeanne Colvin, this year’s Colony Days King and Queen, he reminisced with them that he and his late wife Sue, must have, “driven to every state but Alaska and of course Hawaii,” in their later travels.
He added that he’d been to Hawaii quite a few times before however, serving on the USS Oneida in the final days of the war, he helped transport thousands of troops between Hawaii and the mainland and around various notable Pacific ports before preparing to invade Japan itself.
In the Navy, he said, he gained three inches and 25 pounds, and self confidence.
Going to school at Los Angeles City College on the GI Bill he majored in Radio Broadcasting with a minor in Speech, and met his first wife Charlotte. Although they moved away from California, he wrote that six months away and the cold winter at his first job after college as an announcer and engineer in Montana did not agree with him.
Through the 1950s he worked up through the industry in Ventura and Oxnard before, “the opportunity to become a general manager of a radio station presented itself, as my former mentor Karl Rembe put me in touch with John Cohan who owned KVEC radio in San Luis Obispo, along with KSBY TV, plus KSBW radio and TV in Salinas.”
Starting July 1, 1958, he ran KVEC as general manager for 18 years, becoming part owner in 1966 and Vice President of West Coast Broadcasters.
While building up a portfolio of stations and proud of making KVEC, “the most successful radio station in San Luis Obispo, doing more business than the other two AM stations combined,” he also relished the opportunity to broadcast local high school and Cal Poly baseball and football games.
Brown also started lecturing part-time at Cal Poly teaching radio techniques to students in the journalism department and filling in for staff shortages through the years.
Having separated from Charlotte in 1972, he made more big changes in 1976, marrying Sue and leaving KVEC. He started his own firm, Bob Brown Consultant, working on public relations, advertising, political campaigns and fundraising as well as broadcasting.
One of those projects included managing KPRL in Paso Robles for a year before going on to start an ad agency with Dan Clarkson, which they ran until he retired in 1993.
Retirement did not seem to sit well though, as between traveling the country, often with other couples from Atascadero on trips, and renting out their on home for extended absences, he returned to work part-time selling ads with the Atascadero News for more than four years, and doing books with his wife’s accountancy firm.
In that time, he also became active with the Elks Lodge, where one of the many tiles he accrued was President of the Past Exalted Rulers, as well as service on their various committees and editorship of their newsletter, the Velvet Antler.
“Community service has been one of my objectives over the years,” he wrote, noting the list of titles he’s held with various local Chambers of Commerce and booster clubs, but of Atascadero itself and the friends he’s known he adds, “we’ve done a lot of fun things here. We’re there for each other, too.”