Bob Freeman's
Surfing Memories

... Surf Reporting / Forecasting
Story   Nov 1970 - Cocoa Beach, FL

    Canaveral Pier
Bob Freeman, Surf Reporting - 1970 "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 its present day location. The shop was located in the center of a row of other small shops. Ron gradually rented and expanded into most of the other spaces. He eventually purchased the property and later built the Ron Jon store we see today. Back then, he also had a cool little shop on Canaveral Pier ... near where the pier's Ocean Notions shop is now. I began working 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. Willy Hickmon ran the shop on the pier. Ron later had me 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" "Brillo skipped school" 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. There were no digital 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 Codgen 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. I left Ron Jons to run Sam's Sunshine House at 123 Manatee Lane, made Sunshine Surfboards and got to know shaper Bill Frierson and laminator Fred Grosskreutz. Bob Baugher took over my spot at Ron Jons. I eventually returned to finish college, started a family and began my career in manufacturing management.
Those were great times!

Ron Dimenna and I remain friends and stay in touch with each other. I thank Ron for recommending me for one of 6 East Coast slots for the Hansen Competition Team, surfing out of the RonJon shop. I became captain of the EastCoast team. I got to travel some and even won a couple contests while surfing for Hansen. I still have one of the RonJon/Hansen Team T-shirts.
I got to hang with West Coast Hansen Team riders Mike Doyl, Rusty Miller, Cheer Critchlow and Margo Godfrey. I still see Claude and Sam around town and surf with Claude every now and then.