Originally posted August 24, 2009
By OB Rag Staffer
“From out of a cave at the foot of Sunset Cliffs, the thundering hoof beats pound, with a hearty ‘Hi Yo Sylvia, away!’ The OB Ranger rides again.” The OB Ranger was a radio series that aired on “HIS Radio, FM stereo ninety” in 1971 and 72. It was a spoof of the old “Lone Ranger” radio show, but a lot more fun. Ranger fans tuned in every week to find out what new trouble the OB Ranger would stumble his way into.
He introduced himself with “Far out, groovy and outta sight, I am the OB Ranger!” The OB Ranger was a bumbling doofus whose job was “Raiding the dwellings of Ocean Beach in search of illegal and nefarious goings on.” With the help of his trusty sidekick “Indian”, “Ranger Chief Gus Stoppo” and secretary “Miss Melons”, our not-so-superhero was always in hot pursuit of his evil arch enemy, “Panama Red.” Only problem was that he was totally out of touch with OB culture. When he tried to use “hip” terms, he always got it wrong and Indian had to correct him. Panama Red always gave him the slip and made him look like a fool (which wasn’t that hard to do).
Some of the other characters were: “The Creepy Little Guy” (who had a “Stoned gun” and wanted to put “A kilo under every pillow”); gunslinger “Lave sus Manos”; stone faced police sergeant “Moe Friday” from “Boss Angeles”; “Grassy” the narc dog who got kidnapped by the “Odd Father”; “Mister Louise” the hair stylist who cut a peace symbol into the ranger’s hair; you get the idea. In one episode, the OB Ranger and Panama Red were running for “high office” on the OB Town Council. Panama Red’s campaign was to “Stick to the KEY issue of bustin’” in OB. “People don’t want to be busted all over town.”
Since the radio station was transmitting from Mexico, XHIS could get away with a lot of things they couldn’t do in the US. (Like XERB’s Wolfman Jack before them.) Lots of drug references that might have been censored on a US station back then.
Local radio veterans Gary Allyn, Nielson Ross and Lee Mirabal produced the show. Gary was the voice of the OB Ranger. Neil did the voice of Indian, Chief Gus Stoppo, Panama Red and other male characters. Lee voiced Miss Melons and other female characters. Old timers may remember Gary Allyn from his years at KCBQ as “The world’s tallest midget.” Neil Ross worked at KCBQ and KDEO and did a lot of voiceover work. Lee Mirabal has been a talk show host and done numerous commercials and voiceovers. She is now CEO of Brainfood Radio Syndication. These were some big time radio personalities out to have some fun.
The OB Ranger was a spoof of the police tactics used against Ocean Beach residents in the early 1970s. (Those tactics were well documented at the time in the original OB rag.) Ranger Chief Gus Stoppo sounded like a jab at Police Chief Ray Hoobler. And this was all before marijuana was decriminalized in 1976, when possession of even a seed was a felony.
HIS and HERS Radio were a pair of powerful “border blaster” FM stations transmitting from Tijuana. Studios were in the Royal Inn at the Wharf across from the Star of India. Programs were recorded on cassettes and driven down to Tijuana where they were played on the air. HIS Radio (XHIS 90.3) played rock music and competed with the old KPRI. That station is now Jammin’ Z-90. HERS Radio (XHERS 100.1) played soft rock and is no longer on the air.
Gary Allyn has released a CD with the first 18 episodes of the OB Ranger. Stay tuned, Ranger fans, for volumes 2 and 3. You can purchase the CD for $12.50 and learn more about the OB Ranger at Gary’s website.
The OB Ranger gave us a reason to laugh at ourselves during some trying times in OB. Thanks to Gary Allyn, Neilson Ross, Lee Mirabal and the people from XHIS Radio for giving us this legendary Ocean Beach icon. “Stay tuned for the next mind-expanding episode of the OB Ranger.”
More on Gary Allyn here: http://www.reelradio.com/ga/index.html
More on Neilson Ross here: http://www.reelradio.com/nr/index.html
More on Lee Mirabal here: http://brainfoodradio.com/about.htm
More on the OB Ranger here: http://www.garyallyn.com/The_O.B.html
Here is a 2008 interview with Gary Allyn in The Reader (scroll down about half way): http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2008/feb/29/paintbrushes-with-fame-the-70s-ob-ranger/