Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Pala Rez Radio returns to county fair

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Pala Rez Radio had a booth at the San Diego County Fair from 2012 to 2019. After a three-year absence, the radio station returned to the county fair this year.

"I thought it went really well," said Pala Rez Radio assistant station manager Eric Ortega.

Pala Rez Radio was at the county fair June 16, 22 and 28. "A lot of things are the same. A lot of things are different," Ortega said of the 2023 fair compared to four years ago.

Many of the changes can be attributed to personnel changes. "A lot of people down there were new," Ortega said.

Transportation carts were no longer allowed near crowds, which affected the ability to set up the Pala Rez Radio tent and equipment. "I never thought about bringing a dolly," Ortega said.

The June 22 stint at the county fair included legendary disc jockey Shotgun Tom Kelly. Kelly was raised in San Diego County and was a San Diego disc jockey for three decades before taking a position at K-Earth 101 (KRTH) in Los Angeles. He was with B‑100, the 100.7 FM station with the call letters KFMB, from 1976 to 1993.

Pala Rez Radio station manager John Fox was at KFMB for 16 years including as a disc jockey on B-100. He has been the station manager for Pala Rez Radio since the Pala station went on the air Feb. 3, 2011. Ortega has also been with Pala Rez Radio since 2011.

Fox and Kelly worked together at KFMB, so Kelly has had some involvement with Pala Rez Radio including appearances at the county fair. "John Fox always invites me to come every year," Kelly said.

Mark Gleason, who is now a Pala Rez Radio disc jockey, was at KFMB with Kelly and Fox. "They worked together for years," Ortega said.

Kelly joined Gleason on the air June 22. "They hadn't worked together in several years," Ortega said.

Kelly now has a show on Channel 73 of Sirius XM satellite radio which features 1960s music and airs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Gleason hosts "Mark's Groovy Trip," which features 1970s music, on Pala Rez Radio from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays.

"It was incredible watching those guys work," Ortega said. "They both talk up to the point where the lyrics start, but they don't talk into the lyrics."

Kelly also hosted children's shows on television. Many fair attendees who passed by the Pala Rez Radio booth noted their experience with Kelly on those shows. Many others shared memories of listening to Kelly on the radio.

"It's really rewarding that people remember. It doesn't make me feel old. It makes me feel good," Kelly said.

(Kelly was 13 in 1963 when he began his radio career assisting on remote broadcasts for KDEO, which is now KECR, at 910 on the AM dial.)

"All the people who came up to meet Shotgun Tom were incredible," Ortega said. "He's still very popular. People still remember him."

Janine Harty, who has a blues show on Pala Rez Radio from 8 p.m. to midnight Thursdays, hosted the June 28 remote broadcast from the San Diego County Fairgrounds.

"It's our first time back in four years, and we are happy to be back down there," Ortega said.


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