Travus T. Hipp 1937-2012

In 1978 after the People’s Temple mass suicide in Guyana, WFAT in Gilroy, Calif., purchased 300 record albums by the People’s Temple choir. When word of this action got out, a reporter asked one of the station’s personalities about the action.

“They’re an honest collector’s item,” said Travus T. Hipp. “Certainly, there won’t be any more albums by this group.”

The quote ended up in Loose Talk, a Rolling Stone book of quotations.

Last week, Hipp died in his sleep at age 75 at his Silver City home. Before he moved to Nevada he had already had a full California career, and he was far from forgotten in the Golden State, which was shown by the wide coverage when word spread of his death.

“Callers began flooding Freedom-based radio station KPIG-FM … after disk jockeys told listeners that controversial newsman Travis T. Hipp passed away in his sleep overnight,” reported the Gilroy Patch site. “He was the man who gave ‘All The News You Never Knew You Needed To Know—Until Now.’ ”

All Access, a California music and radio industry site, reported, “Part of the ’60s hippie scene, Hipp was a contemporary of Wavy Gravy … KPIG deejays were playing songs in his memory Friday, including Country Joe’s ‘Fixin’ to Die Rag.’ ”

He lived on a Sausalito houseboat, then in Silver City, both of those locations supposedly a reflection of his belief that California was going to sink.

Hipp, whose real name was Chandler Laughlin Jr., hosted shows on so many radio stations—“town to town, up and down the dial”—that it may take time to compile a full list. “I started doing radio at KMPX, the first of the underground rock ’n’ roll stations,” he said. The legendary KMPX was a San Francisco station that became KHIP in 1960. It no longer exists. Others included KSAN in San Francisco, KZAP in Sacramento, KFAT (now KPIG) in Gilroy, KVMR in Nevada City, KZFR in Chico, KKOH and KWNZ in Reno.

In Nevada, in addition to his on-air activities, he sometimes engaged with officialdom. He was a scofflaw of the state’s car insurance requirement and fought a court case over the issue to the Nevada Supreme Court and then tried to get the law changed in the Nevada Legislature.

On Oct 30, 2008, Hipp and three other people were arrested on marijuana charges at his home in Silver City. The youngest person in the group was 42. Hipp maintained his aplomb during the bust, phoning KPIG to give a running report of the event as it unfolded (“Pot bust scoops up Travus Hipp,” RN&R, Nov. 13, 2008).

Hipp often found ways like that of coming out OK when his outspokenness or other difficulties hurt his radio career. At one point, he said of one of his Nevada disputes, “They sold the radio station, and the guy that came up was ideologically opposed to anything to the left of Genghis Khan so I was dispensed with. Now I’m fortunate enough to be … syndicated at six stations.”

At the All Access site, Dave Shanks—who used Hipp on a show he did at Reno’s KWNZ in 1984-85—wrote that Hipp “vacillated between consternation and amusement that the closest affiliate to his hideout in Silver City was a flame-throwin’ Top 40 station, but he put up with me and my rookie bullshit, and I learned from his example. He served the public, and he was always one of the most compelling news writers and presenters in all of media.”

Another radio figure, RN&R columnist Bruce Van Dyke, also posted a comment: “TTH was Da Man! I had him on my show on the X in Reno in the late ’90s and early ’00s. And he was continually blowing my mind with observations and comments that were never cliche and showed the product of a hyper-intelligent mind. There was a lot of good thinkin’ goin’ on up there at the Travus stronghold in Silver City, right up until the very end! The man is simply irreplaceable.”