Ben Manilla. A pioneer of contemporary audio production, Ben has been at the vanguard of creative radio since the mid ’70s. Recognized by professionals around the world for his award-winning programming and innovative production style, he has held executive positions at Radio Today, RKO Radio Networks, WOR Radio, WLIR Radio, and the Progressive Radio Network. Beginning with his work as a Top Ten metro market production director and morning man, Ben has initiated programming for virtually every format. He has directed or produced hundreds of features, specials, documentaries, ongoing series, commercials, and audio presentations. Ben teaches Radio Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Merle Kessler is a writer, humorist, and performer, best known perhaps by his pen name, Ian Shoales. As Ian Shoales he has been churning out cranky yet strangely humorous commentaries since 1979. First heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, he has been featured on Morning Edition, ABC’s Nightline and the online magazine, Salon. In addition, his pieces have been published in the New York Times, LA Times, the San Francisco Examiner, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Minneapolis Tribune, among other publications. Merle (as Ian Shoales) recently co-starred in, and co-wrote (with composer partner J. Raoul Brody) Slouching Towards Disneyland, a wild story of the history of the world.
Andy Valvur is a writer, journalist and comedian who divides his time between San Francisco and Europe. He has written for the House of Blues Radio Hour starring Dan Aykroyd, PBS’s Emmy nominated “The Durst Amendment” starring Will Durst, BBC Radio 2, the California Music Awards, Deutsche Welle Radio and more. Other writing credits include the New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Atlanta Constitution, The Philadelphia Daily News, Maxim, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and other national publications. He recently had a screenplay optioned by a big time Hollywood producer but isn’t moving to LA just yet. Meanwhile, he is working in comedy clubs and filing radio stories from Europe and working on his first book.
R.I.P. Coco (also answers to “Koko”) She resists being called a “mascot,” preferring to think of herself as a fierce and protective predator, half mastiff half alligator, raised in the wilds of Louisiana, where copperheads were her meat. Like all dogs, however, she does not dwell on the past. She contents herself instead with belly rubs, or even better, belly scrinches. She is very fond of this attention. When scrinches discontinue, she often remains on her back, waiting for them to resume. A sadness comes over her at these times, as though the notion of a world without further scrinches is too terrible to be endured. An infinity of sorrow is there, worse, an infinity composed of dog years. She also fetches. Coco passed away in 2020.