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Monday, September 30, 2002


B. C. Stangl



Stewart Copeland of The Police was holding up a doll. At first he wanted to know what it was doing in the unkempt KSJO studios. Then he was dismayed to see that the curly mop-topped, chubby, plastic cuddly, clad only in station decals, had but one ear. "What’s with all this?" he asked me.

"Well. It’s another one of those odd, unpredictable twists in the comings and goings at a rock station. Not unlike this interview."

"How so?"

I proceeded to explain how our morning man, The Real Mother Deal, had launched a personal on-air campaign that pretty much genuinely reflected his disappointment in his salary. Or lack of salary, to his way of thinking.

To shrink the gap between that salary and his personal idea of what he was worth, he had solicited listeners to send him one dollar. He explained how just one dollar from each of his listeners would cushion his pain over the shortfall. Hell, had every listener sent him one dollar, he would have been raking in more salary than Bobby Bonds was at that time. Bobby’s son Barry, who was then attending Sierra High on the Peninsula, might very well have contributed.

"One day," I told Copeland, "This doll arrived in Deal’s mail. No one had the first clue what to make of it. All I could think of was the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s scion son.

The next day, an envelope splotched with red something’er other, probably lipstick, was delivered. Inside was the doll’s missing left lug with a scribbled note; ‘Here’s your doll ear, I hope it helps.’


That interview was definitely one of the weirdest I ever conducted. For one thing, it was an over-the-top coup. I was blessed – or punished – to be the first person in America to interview the band. It was a Sunday and I never worked Sundays. The Police were headlining the Berkeley Community Theater, their first ever North America concert date. The show was sold out. Sold out despite the fact that this threesome had never before sold one single concert ticket before in the U.S. Hell, they hadn’t yet sold one record in the U.S.

But a few stations around the country like KSJO had been relentlessly banging a bootleg copy of a live recording of this new song "Roxanne," to rave phone reaction. That was one big reason A & M Records had brought this breakthrough trio to our studios first.

There was just one thing; Only two-thirds of this trio was inside at a microphone. This new kid Sting – who in time, would prove that next to Eddie Murphy, he could sing about the red lights better than anyone – stubbornly remained ensconced in the limo. Maybe the first limo ride in his life, I thought.

First limo or not, Sting was already laying the groundwork for star status. Here was a guy who had never sold a record in the New World, but he was so confident in his own caché that he was waiting to make his "appearance." He would tell me later that he wanted to listen to the first part of the interview to determine whether or not he wanted to bless us – and the listeners – with his presence.

He might still be in that white stretch had I not dragged the remote mic on its terribly long cord through the offices, out the back door, then walked up to the limo door and begun talking live, on-air, to a tinted window.

The front window was quickly lowered and the record guy assured me that Sting would appear in the studios after the next station break.

Indeed he did. He graciously took calls, was very cordial, and quick to encourage me to replay Roxanne "once or twice more." I did.

Nowadays I often reflect on how I made Sting what he is today. For that, you’d think he’d at least call from time to time.

Bassist Andy Sumner showed his appreciation by prominently displaying a KSJO button on the band’s second album cover. Stewart Copeland? I dunno. Perhaps he has nightmares over that poor, one-eared doll.

Oh… Mother Deal never got the raise.