'Proto-hippie' still burning up the airwaves

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Silver City resident Chandler Laughlin's alter ego has been well-known radio personality Travus T. Hipp since the 60s.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Silver City resident Chandler Laughlin's alter ego has been well-known radio personality Travus T. Hipp since the 60s.

Some call him an old hippie, a label he wears proudly.

"I'm a proto-hippie," said Chandler Laughlin, also known as radio commentator Travus T. Hipp. "I was the model off of which they drew the overall ideal."

Laughlin is the owner of Cabale News Service, which supplies his news commentary to six radio stations, with his home base being KTHX-FM 100.1.

He is an unabashed liberal in a red state, where he moved in order to avoid conservative Ronald Reagan, then-governor of California. Politics have influenced much of his life.

"I was in Berkeley when Reagan sent the National Guard in to prevent the parking lot from seizure by the people," he said. "Then I thought it was a good idea to get the hell out of his state."

Laughlin returned to California occasionally to do radio shows and hunt deer.

"We were living off poached venison a lot," he said. "I got a great deal of pleasure out of going across the state lines to take one of Reagan's deer."

Politics aside, it was radio that brought the Californian to his home in Silver City in the 1960s, at which time he took his new name, Travus T. Hipp.

That name was made up for his radio shows. "It's obviously a nom de microphone," he said. "A number of people who have been listening to me for 30 years still haven't gotten the pun yet."

The San Francisco native began doing radio at KMPX in the '60s, and now is touted on KTHX's Web site as "an X-Ville favorite." In addition to the Reno station, he can be heard on California stations in Santa Cruz, the Bay area, Nevada City, Redway (in Humboldt County) and San Luis Obispo.

"I started doing radio at KMPX, the first of the underground rock 'n' roll stations," Laughlin said.

He was also one of the founding partiers at the original Red Dog Saloon in the mid-'60s.

"Most of what you heard about the Red Dog was not only true, it was understated," he said. "We had six women in period costume, and the theory of the Red Dog was, when your feet hit the floor in the morning, you were in a B Western movie, and the Red Dog was the saloon at the end of the street where the outlaws hung out, waiting to rustle the cattle of the starving widow lady."

But since even old hipsters have to make a living, Laughlin stuck to the airwaves, where he had developed a loyal following.

"I'm the poor hippie's Paul Harvey," he said. "I do a news commentary in which I select the stories and deliver them with an opinion and hopefully a sense of humor and/or outrage, depending on the day."

He's been with KTHX for about five years, and also writes occasional commentary in local publications, something that started with the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City.

"In 1965, when I was at the Red Dog Saloon, I wrote editorial commentaries for the Territorial Enterprise, which fired me when I wrote that America was suffering from too many guns in Vietnam and not enough guns at home," he said.

He spent quite a bit of time at Carson City's KPTL doing talk radio and offering live coverage of two legislative sessions.

Laughlin laments the demise of "meaningful" talk radio.

"Western Nevada is totally without anything meaningful in the way of live talk radio," he said. "Which is a pity."

He added the reason he is doing news is because "I can't get anyone to put up a talk show."

As Travus T. Hipp, he also had a good run at KOH in Reno from 1979 through 1980, hosting a talk show.

"I achieved the highest ratings that KOH ever had," he said. "It took Rush Limbaugh 21Ú2 years to get the ratings I got in 11 months."

But, alas, politics came between the man and his microphone.

"They sold the radio station, and the guy that came up was ideologically opposed to anything to the left of Genghis Khan so I was dispensed with," Laughlin said. "Now I'm fortunate enough to be in residence and I'm syndicated at six stations."

-- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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