Far Out, Groovy and Outta Sight: Remembering the OB Ranger

by on August 28, 2009 · 15 comments

in History, Media, Ocean Beach, Satire

OB Ranger and his trusty sidekick Indian (from the CD cover art)

OB Ranger and his trusty sidekick Indian (from the CD cover art)

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.”

OB Ranger advertisement from "The Daily Aztec" circa 1971

OB Ranger advertisement from "The Daily Aztec" circa 1971

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.

XHIS advertisement from "The Daily Aztec" circa 1971

XHIS advertisement from "The Daily Aztec" circa 1971

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/

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar jon August 25, 2009 at 8:01 am

Cool story Wireless Mike. It’s fun to see how things change, and how much they actually stay the same. OB Ranger seemed like quite a character. And now we have the stand-up comedy guys and gals doing their thing at Winstons every Friday where they reference a lot of OB in their acts. We also have the late night talk show at Gallaghers which focuses on OB. So it seems we have quite a history of funny mixed with social commentary in our kick-ass corner of the world.

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avatar Frank Gormlie August 25, 2009 at 8:52 am

Thanks for the memories, Wireless. I do remember the OB Ranger. Seems, as Jon pointed out, we have quite a history of funny mixed with social commentary. We’ve gone from radio figures to funny guys at the local bars.

There was also a tongue-in-cheek real-person series on local TV called “OB Law” – does anyone remember that?

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avatar lane tobias August 25, 2009 at 9:20 am

I think its part of the local personality that people mix social commentary with a smart ass, sarcastic form of humor. It is quintessential OB.

I wish there was something like this still available to us…

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avatar Frank Gormlie August 25, 2009 at 9:24 am

… and man, do we have some smart asses on this blog! geez!

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avatar Geniezuc August 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm

now that was a fun recall……….
and hmmmmm, Frank who would you be speaking of? come give up the names! ha ha

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avatar Dave Gilbert August 25, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Thanks Mike, You Rock!

I remember listening to (X)HIS back in the early ’70′s with the OB Ranger and the images they conjured up!

I even saw a copy of an OB Ranger LP over at COW the other day, talk about a collectors item.

Great job on the history too! HIS & KPRI kicked ass back then and paved the way for KGB going FM, though KGB called it “recycling” at the time.

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avatar PSD August 25, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Very cool piece, and the CD sounds like something I want to get my hands on. Thanks for filling in the kids around here on more of the cool stuff we missed…

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avatar Pat August 26, 2009 at 7:44 am

PSD

I bought a copy a year or so ago at Cow records on Newport.

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avatar jon August 26, 2009 at 8:49 am

I LOVE Cow records. It was one of my first record store experiences as a young teen. They always have something there I want. And they keep a good selection of local fav’s too. They almost always have a Beat Farmers album or two….

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avatar PSD August 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Thinking next paycheck I’ll follow the link and go straight to the source…but yeah, Cow f’in rocks. For the last two years I’ve slowly been stocking my collection with some of the more obscure stuff I dug when I was a kid and that my parents got me hooked on or interested in. Lots of great older stuff, but I love it for all the mid-nineties albums from when I grew up that are too old to be cool but not old enough to be classic…

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avatar Mike James August 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

A little trivia.

Frank mentions “O.B. Law.” That was a segment of a goofy local TV program called “San Diego at Large.” It was shown on KFMB Channel 8 during the mid 80′s.

It produced and starred local TV reporter and commentator Larry Himmel. It also featured Rick Rockwell who would later become the infamous millionaire on “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?.”

When Larry moved out from Chicago in the 70′s he moved to Ocean Beach. He then become a radio personality on KPRI-FM 106 as part of the Doobie and Roach M (he was Roach) morning show and later Baba Cruz at KGB.

Where he got his inspiration for his characters is anyone’s guess. Possibly he got it from his first job in San Diego as a bartender at the Sunshine Company Saloon.

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avatar O.B. Ranger March 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Far Out, Groovy and Outtasight Weirdless Mike, oops there I go again…
mucho thanks for that britchin article about me-oh, and yes…Indian.
Many nights I sit on Sylvia my beloved horse here in my Sunsetcliffs pud-er pad
and known by many as “The Secret Ranger Cave”, and recall those days of yore.
I was just doing my job, and now I’m collecting my Ranger SoCal Security(which
isn’t much since Calif. is broke). Indian is doing well as a croupier in a local
casino in North County. I asked him what a croupier was, and he said there was
hardly a job any croupier than what he had…so I guess he didn’t like it. Well
Mike, I have to take Sylvia to Horseicure shop to have his(yes, HIS) hooves painted.
Sylvia may finally have come out the casket—er closet. It’s either that, or he’s been
listening to too many Adam Lambert CD’s. Talk about your basic “download”.

Hi Yo Sylvia–A-waaaa-aaY!!

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avatar Michael April 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I was living in Imperial Beach when XHIS and the “sister” station, XHERS were broadcasting. It was such a sweet time. Icarus and music like that. Later on in life, when I had little OB rangers of my own, they grew up hearing me say “far out, groovy, and outta sight!” Even said it a couple of times, themselves, until I reminded them that they didn’t have the necessary background check or authorization from THE OB Ranger to say such things. They told me, ‘Buzz off, Dad.” Ah, yes…a better time.

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avatar Jay Allen Sanford October 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Possible to please add my byline to this article, as I’m the author (and I’m not “OB Rag Staffer,” as this page header claims) – thanks!
Jay Allen Sanford

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avatar Sam November 23, 2013 at 10:08 am

I have an original OB Ranger LP I got while in San Diego in the early 70′s. Is there any value as a collectors item?

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