A radio voice fades

There’s a sports talk show on the air where the host asks two things of his callers. (1) Have a take. As in, have something to say. (2) Don’t suck.

Well, I had Travus T. Hipp on my morning radio show for many years, beginning in ’85, when we first got together at KWNZ (?!), and then on the X in the ’90s and ’00s, when I had him every Tuesday. We didn’t get on the air and shoot the shit in the now-common way of morning show blathermasters. No, with us, it was clean and simple. I would say, “Here’s Travus,” and he’d step up and take off, unleashing a 3-5 minute commentary on whatever was holding his interest that morning. And two things I can tell you about Travus, from years of hosting his diatribes. (1) He always had a take. (2) He rarely sucked.

If you haven’t heard, Travus—aka Chandler Laughlin of Silver City—got a knock on the door from a Mr. G. Reaper last week. Travus answered and let him in. Travus was 75. And so it goes.

Talk about gravitas. The guy had gravitas comin’ out of his socks. He’d been around the block a time or two or 458. When you had a newsman/ commentator who could combine hyper-intelligence with outrageously acute powers of recall, you had yourself a bona fide iconoclast. And a pro’s pro. He was fortunate in that he made a living out of doing his unique thing, which was sitting up in his living room in SC, phoning in his stuff to the X, to KPIG in Santa Cruz, and to KVMR in Nevada City, among others. And God bless him, he did that thing right up until the ole ticker said, “Boss, I do believe I’m done.”

Travus’ career as an FM newsman—and he was one of the very first to redefine The News as filtered through “FM” sensibilities—is legendary, with stints at such influential and paradigm-shifting stations as KSAN, KZAP and KFAT, before he settled into his Silver City groove.

But even more influential in the overall scheme of things was his connection to the righteously mischievous Red Dog Saloon, which he and two other peyotified troublemakers opened in Virginia City in that bodaciously kaleidoscopic and exploratory summer of 1965.

The simple truth is that there was an umbilical connection between the Red Dog of ’65 and the cataclysmic skullfuck known as the Summer of Love that blew a planet’s mind in ’67. Our man Travus, lo and behold, had a nice little part to play in that lively saga.

Good idea: Go to Amazon and buy the DVD Rockin’ at the Red Dog. A real nice documentary, of which TTH is the star.

They don’t make ’em like Travus T. Hipp any more. To say he’ll be missed is a world class understatement. The cat is stone cold irreplaceable.