KX FM’s New Program Pays Homage to Those Who Shaped Laguna

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Stories of Laguna Airs Every Other Monday at 7 p.m. on 104.7 FM

Stories of Laguna host Gary Cogorno (left) and KX FM General Manager Alyssa Hayek discuss upcoming episodes. Photo/Clara Beard

Dubbed a show for Laguna about Laguna, local radio station KX FM’s newest show focuses on the remarkable history behind the place we call home.

Hosted by local legend and Aquathon organizer Gary Cogorno and produced by KX FM’s general manager Alyssa Hayek, Stories of Laguna takes on homegrown historical subjects that deserve a deeper and more personal look. Since June, the duo has nine interviews under their belts, ranging from the history of Laguna Beach lifeguards to volleyball. 

“We have the arts, of course, but, my God, we have so many other things here,” Cogorno said. “Skimboarding was basically invented here. Mountain biking was kicking off at the same time that the whole industry was starting. And then we have beach volleyball. It wasn’t invented here, but the Laguna Open is the longest-running pro tournament in the world, and the surfing competition at Brook Street is the longest-running. Some world-class activities have come from this eight-mile stretch of this little coastal town.”

Hayek and Cogorno hatched the plan to start Stories of Laguna during a Laguna Open organizer meeting last May. Since then, they’ve unearthed more about Laguna Beach culture than they anticipated. They’ve had mountain bike hall of famer and freeride pioneer Hans Rey in for a chat, an extensive two-part series on the history of Laguna Beach lifeguards with Chris Brown and Laguna Open organizer Kirk Gibson drop by to discuss the history of volleyball, and that’s just scratches the surface.

“It’s hard to pick a favorite of mine, but the segment we did on the lifeguards was just invaluable,” Conogo said. “Even I heard stuff I never knew before, and I grew up with these guys. But you rarely get people to sit down and just talk. And that’s when you discover the stories you might not otherwise get.”

Hayek said that teaming with Conogo has made all the difference in creating an engaging dynamic with their guests. It’s not just a back-and-forth interview. It’s a conversation between friends. 

“When we first started talking, he had all the stories and knew the people,” Hayek said. “I said, ‘well, there is a way we can tell these stories.’ Whoever comes in to talk to us, and sometimes, it’s two or three people, I just sit back and let them talk. Sometimes I’ll ask a dumb question because not all of our listeners know everything about mountain biking, surfing or whatever they may be talking about to break it down so everybody can understand. It’s a cool dynamic.” 

Hayek and Conogo’s upcoming program is centered around the history of skimboarding in Laguna. Victoria Skimboard owner and maverick Tex Haines joins them into the studio to discuss its origins, along with plenty of anecdotes from a distinctive time in history.

“What I thought was really neat from our conversation was how Haines got involved with skimboarding and how it evolved,” Conogno said. “You could go on some rivers, and people would throw flat pieces of wood down and slide on them, also, they were doing it in Hawaii. Nobody really decided to figure out how to shape the wood better so that it wouldn’t get stuck in the sand. The early pieces of plywood that they skimmed on were basically flat, and if you didn’t hit it just right, you just went right over on your face. I loved talking to Tex about how he developed the skimboard. It’s such a special part of beach culture that originated right here in Laguna.”

Hayek and Conogo’s interview with Tex Haines will air this coming Monday at 7 p.m. on 104.7 FM. 

All archived episodes of Stories of Laguna can be found on kxfmradio.org. To see photos relating to each broadcast, visit Stories of Laguna on Instagram at @StoriesofLaguna

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