Monday, April 30, 2007

Magic 61 AM 610 KFRC

When I was in Jr High School KFRC was the coolest station. It was all about Dr. Donald D. Rose and his annoying cowbell noises in the morning.

So I thought it was pretty cool when my dad was on KFRC...... Even if it was after they changed their format to "old people's" music!


"Phases of Stefan..." I was in diapers at Woodstock, so I don't remember too much.
Stefan wasn't in diapers... but, it wouldn't have mattered if he was.

We had many cross country trips in that VW Van.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Remembering Stefan"

At my first CHRS swap meet in 1988 or ‘89, I came across a table of radios with a pleasant looking, smiling man behind it. We talked briefly and his voice somehow sounded familiar to me. It was a comforting voice. I looked down and spotted his business cards on the table. “Are you the Stefan Ponek?” I asked with starstruck amazement.

Yes, his was the voice that I enjoyed listening to on the radio so much during those late nights of underground radio, in the late ‘60s & early ‘70s.
Stefan’s laid back style and choice and knowledge of the music that he played made him one of my favorites.

We lost Stefan in October last year. He left us many years too early at 62, due to heart failure. I got this sad news from Frank Camenish and Marc Gotleib at the November ‘01 meet. I was stunned and shocked. I had spoken to Stefan in late September and he told me he wanted to become more active in CHRS and wanted to remain on our Board of Directors. I always enjoyed talking to him.

During the 12 years I knew Stefan, I found him to be a kind and gentle man. He always had a good outlook, no matter if his current situation was good or bad. He always had a good word to say and a big smile.
I’ll miss that smile and the man who entertained me in my youth and later became my friend....

You can read about Stefan’s adventures in underground radio in a book called, “Voices in a Purple Haze”.

Steve Kushman, CHRS (California Historical Radio Society) President

Saturday, December 9, 2006

A Day at the Swapmeet

A Day at the Swapmeet
By Stefan Ponek

If you're confused by the new breed of collector-dealer-speculator that's started showing up at radio meets, you're not alone. Heck, just going to get rid of a few items you purchased while under an attack of Saturday Morning Fever can throw you into a quandary of ethics, etiquette and outright fear.

As you unlock the trunk of your Honda, you're trying to remember how much you paid for that damn pink clock radio last fall. Then you notice out of the corner of your eye that forty-seven lurching, drooling guys with weird eyes are running toward you, holding out dollar bills at you and tripping each other, deliberately it seems. They're all pointing at different things, and none of it is unloaded yet. A woolly hand reaches over your shoulder and yanks the Detrola cathedral into mid-air.

"How much for this busted up cathedral..." (as the box of unwrapped open-pin tubes falls into the abyss created by the cathedral's removal).
"Oh, gee, I guess I'd like 50 for that, but it's not busted up..." (at least it wasn't).
"Huh! too much!" (as the ancient wooden cabinet thunks on the pavement and a knob falls off).

Later on, this guy is back whining because you sold it to somebody else and he really wanted it. "You dealers get really high prices," he says. Telling him you're not a dealer wouldn't make much difference because he now believes you probably strangle kittens for fun during the week, anyway. As he walks away, two old, old, old-timers, both of whom knew Marconi personally, come by and ask how much you want for the pink clock radio. When you tell them 10 bucks, they smile at each other and walk away, secure in the knowledge that you're the person responsible for over commercializing the hobby (and also making their IP-500s equal in value to a college education).

After realizing you let the box of tubes go for way too little at 50 cents each, that by selling at this meet instead of buying you missed out on a Charlie McCarthy that your buddy is gloating over getting for 125 dollars, you decide to pack up and donate the pink clock radio to the auction. You wonder why guys who deal in this stuff for profit do it. And how they do it. Then you see the tubes on another guy's table for 5 bucks each.

As you start to drive off, somebody is yelling at you. Now what. The club president says your pink clock radio didn't sell and you better go pick it up because you can't leave it. You quietly vow to stay away from garage sales forever, but deep in your heart, you know you'll repeat this scene over and over. You're a radio collector...

Copyright 1994 California Historical Radio Society, all rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, without prior written permission from CHRS, except that you may make "fair use" of quotations of text fully attributed by you to the source (CHRS Journal) and author.

PO Box 31659
San Francisco, CA 94131

Stefan -ovich Ponek -ovski, semi-Seminole, partly Pole

9/14/39 – 10/15/01

[This eulogy was delivered at Stefan’s funeral on Saturday, October 20, 2001 by Brooke Jones, Stefan’s second wife and the mother of his daughter, Kristin Ponek. It is reprinted here to help you remember Stefan as he would like you to remember him – as a man who loved laughter every bit as much as he loved music.]

“Stefanovich Ponekowsky – part Pole, semi-Seminole”. Once upon a time Stefan referred to himself that way. He was, after all, part Polish and part Seminole Indian. He was many things.

As I contemplated what I would say today, the first thing that occurred to me was that this room would be filled with a very interesting assortment of people. Thanks to Stefan’s eclectic walk in life, what we have here are veterans of the Paisley and Patchouli past; Generation-X upstarts; and a lot of people taking it “one day at a time”. This gathering also includes Stefan’s two children; his three (count ‘em – three) ex-wives, and his lady. If ever there was an opportunity for me to stick my foot in my mouth, this is it!

I know he’s watching right now, and I can hear him saying “Be careful!”. Okay, I’ll be careful.

Stefan and I first met in Boston in August of 1969 – just days before Woodstock. In 1973 I moved to San Francisco. Stefan was working at KSAN. I began hanging out at the station and made a point of routinely telling Tom (Donohue) that the station sounded “okay”, but it would sound much better if I worked there. (I was 22 years old at the time – I was an idiot!) Stefan and I soon became friends. It was a friendship built on a very solid foundation – he told me he had a son named Seth…I told him I had a brother named Seth. Hey, friendships have been known to spring from stranger things.

In April of 1978 we had our first date. He cooked dinner – angel hair pasta and a really fabulous home-made pasta sauce. I thought “Wow, this guy can cook!”. Little did I know, pasta sauce was the one and only thing he knew how to cook…unless you count his ability to simultaneously flame-broil all the contents of a grocery bag…but my daughter already told you that story.

In the Fall of 1978 Stefan was the Program Director of KMPX. One afternoon in October, while eating lunch and waiting for a phone call from Benny Goodman, Stefan was hit by what he thought was a major case of indigestion. What it was was a major heart attack. He did what came naturally – he went for a walk and smoked a cigarette.

He walked back to the building that was the home of KMPX. The buildingalso happened to be the home of about a dozen doctor’s offices. He walked into an office and said “I think I’m having an attack of indigestion”. The doctor took one look at him and said, “No, actually I think you’re having a heart attack”, to which Stefan said “I can’t be having a heart attack, Benny Goodman’s about to call me”.

Stefan had an abiding love for music – all kinds of music. Whether it was a 40-piece symphony orchestra or “four white boys with Marshalls”, Stefan “got it”. If you’d sit still long enough, he’d tell you that Freddie Mercury was Mozart in a previous life; that the Beach Boys begat the Back Street Boys; that Marilyn Manson is a latter-day Alice Cooper; that Alanis Morrisette is “Starship – Next Generation”, that Snoop Dog is really just Pete Seeger with a good tan and a bad attitude, and that, on any given day, a little Polka can save your soul.

Between the two of us, Stefan and I worked at every place in the Bay Area that started with the letter “K”, with the possible exception of K-Mart. Sometime in 1980, while I was Rockin’ The Bay at KMEL, he was on the air at KYUU and a character by the name of Madame Dictionary began making regular appearances on his show. The crusty old Bag (Madame Dictionary, not Stefan) claimed to be the world’s foremost authority on the mis-use of the English language.

Each day, before she was scheduled to join him on the air, Stefan and I would sit around the house, legal pads and pens at the ready, and we’d retool the Mother Tongue.

He’d say: Protracter -- I’d say: A farm vehicle that gets paid.
I’d say: Altercation -- He’d say: A fist fight between competing seamstresses.
Horrific – A fabulously talented slut. Dragnet – Material used to catch cross-dressers.

An artful segue of music and laughter, that was Stefan Paul Ponek, Jr.

I’ll leave you with this one final story….When I was pregnant with Kristin, Stefan and I, like all expectant parents, spent lots of time trying to come up with a name for our baby. One night Stefan had an epiphany. “I’ve got the name” he said. “Boy or girl, I’ve got the name!”. I waited and then, with a smile on his face, Stefan said “Stereo!” Okay, say it with me now….Stereo Ponek!

He was a deeply twisted puppy…and I’ll always love him.


by Vicky Cunningham

Many former KSANers joined family and friends celebrating Stefan Ponek's life at his memorial service in San Anselmo. What a life he had! Three ex-wives were all there, saying nice things about him. Margaret, his close companion for the last three years was too distraught to talk, but many said Stefan had found real happiness with her.
His beautiful daughter Kristin and handsome son Seth (looking exactly like a young Stefan) talked about how Stefan had gotten it all together in the last years of his life, repaired his relationships, and spent a lot of time with his kids and grandchildren.
Stefan had been in AA for many years, and several men in tears said he had saved their lives. His son said Stefan had gotten him into AA, and he is so grateful that he did.
A tape collage of Stefan on the air at many different radio stations was played and had some very funny moments. Terry McGovern and Ben Fong-Torres were there. I met Brooke Jones, who is very funny and gave a wonderful eulogy that made everyone laugh. The chapel was packed, with standing room only and a very diverse group of people.
The Pastor was great. He opened the event by saying we were there to celebrate the life of "a good man." That pretty much said it for me. Stefan was a real sweetie, and he will be missed by a great many people.


Stefan Paul Ponek, Jr.

Passed away suddenly of heart failure on October 15, 2001 at his home in Greenbrae, California. He is survived by his beloved partner, Margaret Lochran; his sister, Susan Way of Vermont; his two children, Kristin Ponek of Southern California and Seth Ponek of Sebastopol, California; his grandchildren Kyle, Gabriella and Landon Ponek, all of Sebastopol. Stefan was a long time radio personality, known well for his work at KSAN in the 60's and other popular stations in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was a general contractor and an antique radio enthusiast. Most recently, Stefan was a senior broadcast technician at S. F. City College. Stefan lived his life one day at a time. He will be greatly missed by a large fellowship of friends and family. Friends are invited to attend the Funeral Service on Saturday, October 20, 2001 at 11 a.m. at Monte's Chapel of the Hills, 330 Redhill Avenue, San Anselmo, California. A Vigil/Prayer Service will be held Friday, October 19, 2001 at 6 p.m. at Monte's Chapel of the Hills. Visitation will be at the funeral home Friday between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Inurnment private. Memorial gifts to Ritter House, 16 Ritter Street, San Rafael, CA 94901 preferred. Monte's Chapel of the Hills Family Owned and Operated San Anselmo 415-453-8440.