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Ron Klohs, known to Hawaii radio audiences for more than 20 years as The Real Ron O'Neil, died Saturday at his family home in Newberg, Ore. He was 63.
Myk Powell, a longtime friend and radio industry colleague, notified the members of the radio industry with a post on the Hawaii Radio Alumnae page on Facebook: "The Real Ron Oneal (sic) has signed off."
Broadcaster Ron Jacobs had described Klohs in a blog entry as "just about the most amiable, simpatico broadcast brah among a sea full of ego'ed-out radio sharks."
Many others in the industry mourned the loss of an exceptional talent and friend.
Hawaii radio veteran Chris Hart recalled the kindness Klohs showed to him when he was starting out. "Ron was the first person to 'give me the time of day.' (He) made me feel welcome amongst a group of veteran deejays at the number one station in Hawaii at the time. He had heart of gold."
Chris Peters echoed those sentiments: "He was one of my biggest supporters in my early radio days and I will always appreciate that. He once told me that when times get tough, it just means it's time to get extra positive. Not easy, but I think he had the right idea."
Brock "B.Rock" Whaley, a longtime presence at the original KPOI Rock, recalled Klohs as "a brilliant radio personality. When he was on th`e oldies station, he was the closest thing Hawaii had to a deejay from the golden age of Top 40. Ron was not a deejay in the '60s, but he had all the skill and talent of the best fast talking, jiving deejays of that period. He was having great fun 'talking up a record' and that came through on the speakers."
It was a style that Klohs had grown up with. Born and raised in Newberg, he grew up with a love of music. Listening to Top 40 powerhouse station KISN-AM, he dreamed of being a disc jockey.
"Radio and music was his very first love," Kolhs' wife, Donna McGarrity, said Tuesday by phone from Newberg. She said that although Klohs had died of lung cancer, he was not a smoker. He had quit smoking shortly after he met her more than 20 years ago. "I told him I wouldn't date a smoker."
Kohls' final regularly scheduled air shift in Honolulu was a Sunday afternoon show on Oldies 107.9. Kohls and his one-name sidekick, Charlie, would hold forth on a wide range on topics between songs. Each June, Kohls would anticipate the arrival of the season he called "Donna Summertime" by playing the full-length 17-minute,
5-second version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," breaking the station's otherwise staid music format with a playful zest that fans looked forward to.
In addition to being The Real Ron O'Neil, Klohs was known within the local recording industry as one of the best studio engineers in Hawaii.
"He had 'golden ears,'" Whaley said. "His engineering skills were second to none and he was first to use the emerging digital recording equipment."
"I spent hours with Ron recording radio commercials and promos for the television stations in Dolphin Sound. Some of our recording sessions lasted six hours, turning out close to a hundred promos. Ron always kept the atmosphere light and fun. The time just flew by as he did his audio magic."
"He was a great guy," disc jockey Kamasami Kong concurred in a message from Japan. "A hard worker, talented, funny with a heart of gold. He engineered many of my programs for Japan."
"Ron was the consummate pro," radio veteran John Burnett summed up. "He always had a smile and a kind word for everyone, a drive-timer or a weekend overnight dude like me. I'll never forget that."
Klohs is also survived by son Jason Klohs, daughter Carly Klohs, three grandchildren and one step-grandchild.
A celebration of life is being planned for early next year in Lanikai.