By Rick Griffin
Five decades ago, growing up in Point Loma, Pete Gray, now age 65, was playing Little League baseball. He enjoyed baseball, but he enjoyed saltwater fishing with his dad much more.
In fact, young Pete, age 11 or 12 and a student at Cabrillo Elementary School, missed so many baseball practices that he was kicked-off the team by the manager.
“I liked baseball a lot, but, given a choice, well, I just had to go fishing,” said Gray, founder of “Let’s Talk Hook Up,” a weekend morning radio talk show nearing its 30th year on the air. “I was 11 or 12 at the time. There’s nothing better than time spent with dad out on a boat. I was glad to exchange baseball for fishing.”
“Let’s Talk Hook Up,” covering freshwater and saltwater fishing in Southern California and Baja California, includes call-ins from listeners, current fishing news from local landings, expert guests from various regions, live reports from Baja, charter boat owners and on-the-water skippers.
After elementary school in Point Loma, the Gray family moved to Los Angeles where Marv Gray, Pete’s dad, was an afternoon host for KABC 790-AM and later an evening host on KFI 640-AM. Sadly, Marv suffered a fatal heart attack in 1973. He was 52. Pete was 18. “It was tough for sure to lose him at such a young age,” said Pete.
Gray later returned to San Diego and got a radio sales job at Carlsbad-based KKOS 95.9-FM (the station is no longer on the air). He later was promoted to sales manager.
In 1991, during his 11-year run at the station, Gray started “Let’s Talk Hook Up” that aired on XTRA 690-AM, known at the time as “The Mighty 690.” He later left the station sales manager job to focus solely on selling the fishing show. “Let’s Talk Hook Up” is considered “block programming,” a radio industry term which means Gray purchases blocks of airtime from a station and then resells it to his own advertising clients.
In 2003, Gray’s show continued on the station’s new frequency of 1090-AM. Then, in 2019, when “The Mighty 1090” went off the air following a dispute over transmitter leasing fees, Gray’s show was picked-up by KWFN 97.3-FM The Fan, operated by Entercom Communications.
Now, “Let’s Talk Hook Up” has returned to the recently re-launched 1090-AM, known as “The Mightier 1090.” The show, co-hosted by Gray, Rick Maxa and Cory Sanden, airs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays.
“It was a good 19-month run at The Fan, and we gained some new followers. But, it’s great to be back on a 50,000-watt station that is heard throughout California,” said Gray, who believes “Let’s Talk Hook Up” holds the record as the nation’s longest continuous sport fishing radio talk show. “Moving back to The Mightier 1090AM will bring back that massive radio signal many of our listeners have missed.”
Gray said COVID-19 has resulted in one of the best years ever for San Diego’s sportfishing fleet, which he believes is the largest in the world with several hundred passenger-carrying vessels.
“2020 has been phenomenal for the entire fishing industry, including tackle stores, boat deals and charter boat owners,” he said. “That’s because record numbers of people have been cooped-up indoors and found new ways to recreate outdoors. They’ve discovered the joys of fishing I first learned as a kid growing up in Point Loma.”
Gray realizes he’s one of those fortunate individuals who has been successful at combining his vocation with his avocation. “I have been fortunate to make a career out of something I love to do,” he said. “I have had amazing experiences on trips to many bucket-list destinations. Being able to call it work is certainly a dream come true. After almost 30 years on the air, I still look forward to doing the show every weekend and talking fishing with our listeners.”
Bill Hagen, owner of Out The Window Advertising, a Flagstaff, Ariz.-based ad agency, is spearheading the re-launch of San Diego-based sports-talk radio station XEPRS 1090-AM, which returned in August to the Southern California airwaves as “The Mightier 1090.”
“We are really excited to have one of our original shows back on 1090,” said Hagen. “Each day we continue to build this historic radio station back into something that everyone loves. The biggest winners are our hundreds of thousands of listeners across California that will now be able to hear the show across the entire state.”
KUSI-TV Partners with Luna Grill to Benefit San Diego Food Bank
For every family meal purchased in December, Luna Grill will donate 10% of the profits to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. A Luna Grill spokesperson said KUSI produced a 30-second spot at no cost and is providing discounted commercial airtime throughout the end of the month.
“We are grateful to our local media partner KUSI San Diego which is helping get the word out to make this program a big success over the coming month,” said Rich Pinnella, president of Luna Grill. “We are also very appreciative of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank for their tireless work to help our local San Diego families gain access to healthy meals.”
Founded in 2004, Luna Grill operates 50 restaurants in Southern California and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Its fresh Mediterranean cuisine includes kabob plates, gourmet salads, appetizers that include hummus and falafel, wraps, desserts, craft beer and wine.
Warrior Foundation Receives $1.5 Million from iHeart-KFMB-TV Give-a-Thon
The iHeart Media-syndicated “Armstrong & Getty Show,” a radio talk show heard in more than 50 U.S. markets, including iHeart San Diego’s KGB 760-AM, headed a recent give-a-thon that raised $1.5 million in donations for the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station, a nonprofit that purchases plane tickets to reunite injured military service members with their families for the holidays. Other local media partners participating in the give-a-thon included iHeart San Diego’s News Radio KOGO 600-AM and CBS 8 KFMB-TV.
“The generosity of our incredible media partners and donors has, once again, enabled us to make warrior wishes come true this holiday season,” said Sandy Lehmkuhler, founder and CEO of Warrior Foundation Freedom Station.
“We are honored at 760 AM, News Radio 600 KOGO and our entire iHeart Media San Diego team to have participated in our first Warrior Foundation Freedom Station give-a-thon to support our deserving military men and women,” said Melissa Forrest, president and market manager, iHeart San Diego. “It is amazing to think we broke the fundraising record in a pandemic year.”
Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are based in Sacramento at iHeart Media’s KSTE 650-AM. “After giving so much to protect our country, it is our turn to help thousands of service members,” said Armstrong.
“Thank you San Diego for your generosity to help our injured warriors during the 2020 Give-a-Thon,” said Alberto Mier y Terán, president and general manager of KFMB Stations. “CBS 8 is proud to continue to participate with Warrior Foundation Freedom Station on this much-needed fundraiser.”
The San Diego-based Warrior Foundation also provides transitional housing for wounded warriors to heal and make the transition from military service to civilian life.
PRSA To Host Holiday Mixer, Announce Bernays Award Winners
The Public Relations Society of America’s San Diego-Imperial Counties chapter will host its annual member and volunteer appreciation holiday mixer as a free virtual event from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Dec. 16 over Zoom. The mixer also will include the annual chapter meeting and vote on the proposed slate of board officers, directors and assembly delegates to lead the chapter in 2021. For information and to RSVP, visit www.prsasdic.org.
In addition, the chapter will announce winners of its 2020 Edward L. Bernays Mark of Excellence awards over Twitter beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17. The complete list of winners will be posted on the chapter website on Friday, Dec. 18.
The PRSA awards are named after Edward L. Bernays, the man who launched the field of public relations in the 1920s. Often called the “father of public relations,” Bernays’ history-making campaigns explain why people eat bacon with eggs, women smoke cigarettes and bank managers join community civic groups. He died in 1995 at age 103.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.