On odd occasions,we have encountered an Anorak who fails to
see any practical purpose to having Internet access. Anoraks with this outlook
are, of course, unlikely to be viewing this website, but we feel the following
tale presents a perfect illustration of how valuable the Net can be. Print
it out for your friendly, neighbourhood sceptic!
Around the end of January '99, Chris spotted a message on an Anorak site from ex-Caroline South DJ, Bud Ballou. Always interested in talking to ex-offshore jocks, I sent a knee-mail to the man in question. From his reply, I discovered that Bud Ballou is a ghost from his past, as since his Caroline days, he has remained in the radio industry, working under his real name of Howie Castle. Howie had been seeking some of his old Caroline cohorts, and the story of how we assisted each other and began corresponding can be found in the Sixties DJs section. Having worked for stations all over the States, Howie had been living in San Diego, California, for the past ten years.
(Picture: Howie with Mary enjoying 'two for one' in the Margarita department...)
For some time, Chris and I had been contemplating a visit to California. Never having been to the West Coast of America, we homed-in on San Diego because of its reputation for having the perfect climate all year round. When we told Howie we were coming and that we would like to meet him, he immediately offered to be our San Diego Tour Guide. What a brave man, (some would say foolhardy) offering to take on two (very) strange Anoraks he's never even met. Fortunately for us, Howie (clearly some sort of masochist) did cope with us very well, and we spent a fair amount of time seriously anoraking each other to death during the three weeks we were in town. One memorable evening was spent in front of Howie's computer, listening to the PAMS jingles from the WABC site, with Chris and I singing the Radio London versions over the top of them for Howie's edification. "I don't believe you guys!" he laughed. Although he now had no doubts about our being barking mad, it didn't seem to bother him!
Then came the ultimate trip for anyone suffering from anoraxia. Hire cars are not allowed to be taken into Mexico because they get stolen, so Howie very generously arranged to take us there for the day in his own car, which he assured us would not be a target for theft. After sampling the most glorious (and lethal) margaritas south of the border, we were taken (still staggering) to pay homage to the original site where Wolfman Jack had broadcast from XERB. The place, now a shopping plaza, contains a plaque commemmorating the Wolfman.
Howie is a radio man through and through. He became fascinated in the medium as a child, began broadcasting while still at school, and has worked in the business ever since. Coming to England, changing his name to Bud Ballou, and becoming a Caroline DJ, albeit only for a short spell, has remained a memorable landmark in Howie's life. He has never lost his fascination for the UK radio scene and while everyone else in San Diego is surfing from the beach, Howie is indoors surfing the Net (to use his own words), "Like a crazy Anorak!"
We quickly discovered that not only was Howie able to identify any radio or
TV mast we passed, but he could reel-off the night-time power output of just
about every AM station in North America. Chris and I decided that we should
rechristen the man, Howie 'Night-time Power' Castle! Thanks to him, we had the
most unbelievable holiday - sorry, vacation - ever!
Our visit would never have been complete without recording an interview with Howie about his radio career and of course, his alter ego, Bud's, life on board Caroline.* Howie was aboard the Mi Amigo on that fateful day in 1968 when the tugs arrived to tow her into Amsterdam Harbour. Thanks to the Net, Howie has been able to renew acquaintanceships with former shipmates, Johnnie Walker, Roger Day, Steve Merike and Andy Archer, none of whom he had met since the Sixties.
(* Didn't someone make a movie called 'A Bud's Life'...? )
(Picture: Chris and Mary treading in Wolfman Jack's steps. "Alright, Alright, Alright!!!")