Bob Freeman's
Surfing Memories

... Surf Reporting / Forecasting
Story   March 1968 - Cocoa Beach, FL

Bob Freeman, Surf Reporting - 1968 "This is Bob Freeman with the WKKO afternoon surf report and weekend forecast, live from RonJons on Canaveral Pier."
Ron Dimenna had just moved his small RonJon Surf Shop from downtown Cocoa Beach to a little bigger space in the middle of about 6 other small businesses at it's present location. He also opened a cool, little shop up on Canaveral Pier ... near where the pier's OceanNotions shop is now. I worked in the main store repairing dings in the back and cleaning up trade-ins for resale. Ron, Ted Lund and Bill Volmar ran the store. Bob Baugher would show up after school and sweep, carry out trash, etc. Willy ran the shop on the pier. Ron later asked me to run the pier shop. What a cool job that was! I could drive my '65 Ford up on to the pier and park next to the shop. My dog, Bubba, was the unofficial "pier dog". I could watch the "snackbar right" breaking from behind the sales counter. My vantage point was a great place to broadcast a live surf report from. So when part of RonJon's radio advertising included sponsored surf reports, I was asked to broadcast the report and give a forecast from the pier.

WKKO 860AM was the most popular radio station around at that time. AM radio was preety much all we had. The new FM radio was just beginning to emerge. But WKKO was what we all listened to. I remember O'Hare's radio ad for its Tommy McRoberts model O'Hare - the Rebel.

I had to be ready for the phone call to come in to the shop from WKKO. Once connected, I'd broadcast the report live from the pier. A challenge was keeping the local gang quiet while I was on the air. However, there were many occasions when they could be heard in the background while I gave the report. Some of the more memorable shouts overheard by the listening audience were... "Bite me", "GP sucks", "Mary has crabs", "Brillo skipped school", "free Stud service under da pier" and assorted other spontaneous exhaltations. It made the report quiet outrageous and boosted WKKO's ratings.
WKKO Hit List
click to enlarge
Canaveral Pier - 1966
Canaveral Pier - 1966

Canaveral Pier - 1968
Canaveral Pier - 1968
Providing the current surfing conditions was easy from my vantage point. Surf forecasting was a different matter. There was no Internet then, or desk-top computers, cell phones or anything digital. All I had was WFTV's (channel 9) weatherman, Charley Stump's weather forecast. His show was quiet entertaining as he was older, spoke very slowly and was somewhat clumsy on the set. He would sometimes knock over his weather charts off the easle. (There were no illustrated graphics at that time). I would watch for moving Low and High pressure systems and could soon predict an incoming swell and wind conditions with some accuracy.

One Friday afternoon, I reported the weekend surf forecast to be flat as a pancake. Ted Lund, the manager of the main RonJons store (and my immediate boss), after hearing my report drove up to the pier and chewed my butt for giving that flat forecast. "Damnit, Freeman" he yelled. "Don't ever say it's flat!" His concern was ... no waves meant no business. He told me to never give a "flat report or forecast again" or I'd be fired. Later that afternoon, Claude Codgens came strolling up on the pier to see me. He told me that he and Sam Gornto were gonna open a surfshop on Manatee Lane called Sunshine House. He wanted me to run it for them. I accepted CC's offer on the spot ... then I called Ted and told him to Bite me. Ted gave bogus surf reports for a few days after that and RonJons began to lose the respect of many local surfers.

2nd Light | 1964 | Canaveral Jetties | Canaveral Pier | Costa 1986 | return to surf report