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Fig Really Rocks When He Is Riding the Air Waves

March 18, 1993|Rick Fignetti and David Reyes | Rockin' Fig is Rick Fignetti, a Huntington Beach surfer/shop owner. Times staff writer David Reyes has reported on U.S. surf teams competing in Bali and Brazil.

Recently, Rockin' Fig, who announces the U.S. Bud Surf Tour, invited me to check out his announcer "office," perched high above spectators and contestants on a platform he shares with contest judges.

During the week that the tour's Seaside Reef contest was held, the Southern California coast was banging with four-to six-foot waves. I called Fig's work to find out when he was leaving for the contest.

I was told: "Fig's down at the contest flappin.' "

Flappin'? "Yeah, flappin' his mouth. He'll be barking all weekend long."

Seaside Reef (a.k.a. Table Tops) is just north of Solana Beach. The contest attracted about 5,000 spectators. And Figgy indeed was already flappin'.

When I arrived, Fig man greeted me on the platform, saying, Welcome to the Fun Factory.

In front of him was an elaborate electronic setup with wires coming out of gizmos that were hooked to other gizmos. As announcer, Fig is responsible for the music, announcing the heats, entertaining the audience and helping spot competitors for judges.

But he also monitors an array of digital heat clocks, calls each heat with a blast of an air horn, and changes flags, which are the keys to communicating with competitors.

Usually there are two announcers, but for Seaside, Fig was alone. So he became a human octopus: He was calling heats, describing radical wave maneuvers, entertaining the spectators, and with seven other arms he blew the air horns, set and reset digital clocks, changed cassettes and switched contest flags--all while talking to me.

Figgy, I said, I gotta hand it to you. This is work!

You thought this was EASY? (pause, and into the microphone:) Wow, Chris Burkart is up, there's a 360, and another one! He's slashing the inside section!)

Off-microphone: Hey, I need the guys who are next up. Who has the list?

Back on: OK, Heat 5. This is last call. Heat 5. He ended one tape and slipped in a Nirvana cassette. He blasted a horn, signaling the end of a heat, then began a heat and reset his clocks. His hands were a constant blur.

But Figgy is best when he's on the mike. When two non-contestants paddled into the contest zone, they ignored Fig's pleas to vamoose. So he got on their case when they had trouble paddling through the large breakers.

Arms feeling tired about now? Bet they are. Keep paddling, guys. Here comes another few waves.... Imagine trying to paddle out, in front of a big crowd, and you can't make the line up. Whoa, Bucky. How embarrassing.

And then my favorite: You guys are starting to look like a tortoise full of rigor mortis!

And Rockin' Fig does this 10 times a year. We'll catch Fig at the next contest, May 26 at Imperial Beach in San Diego County.

Disc jockey Les Perry, 43, has begun a two-hour, surf music and news program on KWIZ-FM (96.7). The show, "Les Perry Surf Party," airs Saturdays at 11 p.m.

Figgy's up on Perry but down on the program's hours.

Those hours are pretty hard for real surfers to listen to. They usually are asleep by then, getting ready for a dawn patrol. I'd have to set my alarm clock to wake up for it.

Perry, who has been in radio since 1966, said he wanted a unique program. Other stations already had jazz, big band and classical programming, so Perry, who has a collection of 1,100 surf cuts, chose surf radio.

"There's no radio program specifically geared to surfing. There are a lot of people who love the beach, so this is hopefully a good market," Perry said.

He plays everything from Agent Orange to the Ventures.

Do you play the Mermen? Gotta play the Mermen, Figgy said, referring to a San Francisco band.

"No, but send me a tape and I'll put them on the air," Perry said.

Perry also plays surf rap songs, (yup, they got 'em) and tunes from big-name recording artists who have done surf tunes, including the Isley Brothers ("Surf and Shout"), Bo Diddley, who did an entire surf album, and Eddie Money and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who teamed with Dick Dale for a surf album.

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