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On the Media: Roger the Scanner Guy has the attention of Santa Barbara

It can be hard to tell fact from fantasy. But this insightful though anonymous poster on Edhat, a community website, is drawing a following.

June 05, 2010|James Rainey

That gritty shadow past gives Roger — seven years sober now by his account — authority and a unique perspective on the sordid events that drift over the scanner. Of a loud party on West Gutierrez, he describes people "smoking an unknown substance, that could have been dried banana peels, prunes, but sounded like crack."

Roger's observations provide impossibly fortunate Santa Barbarans a window on the world of the dispossessed. Many comment on Edhat that they come for the quirky observations but return because of the Scanner Guy's empathy.

He describes returning a family's stolen credit cards and identification that he found while dumpster diving. He warns women to look out when a sexual predator on a bicycle is preying on pedestrians on the Mesa.

Fans return the consideration, sending gifts via Edhat, like a space heater and blankets.

But the Scanner Guy is not all about raising social consciousness. Readers are as likely to read (in graphic detail) about his night of intestinal distress after ladling too much Tabasco sauce onto a pizza as they are to learn about a spate of burglaries.

Roger has resisted requests from his public and a few journalists to meet or have his picture taken. But he agreed this week to answer a few questions, first by e-mail and then over the phone.

The Scanner Guy told me he lives in a small cottage with his three-legged cat, Pooh Bear. He survives on Social Security and disability payments, working little since a construction accident he said left him with persistent back pain. He also gets token payments from Edhat.

A few fans have been clamoring lately to learn more about Roger, perhaps to meet him or at least see a picture.

He told me he might be up for that someday. But not yet. Why not?

"The best way to put it is kind of straight out," he explained over his crackling phone, which he explained had come from a second-hand store. "I kind of feel like a Bozo because I was a screw-up most of my life. And I haven't been a Bozo for a long time. But I kind of feel like if people knew who I was they wouldn't take me as seriously. And maybe I wouldn't take myself as seriously.

"I don't know," he ended. "I just kind of did this Scanner Guy handle and kind of kept it at that."

james.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: latimesrainey

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