Brother Mike – A Happier Time
My brother, Mike Hodel was much beloved by many Angelenos and listeners of Pacifica Radio. Most knew him from the airwaves as a regular on KPFK radio. First as an investigative-reporter and news anchor, covering WATERGATE. (For which he won a “Golden Mike Award.”)
For those of you who didn’t know his work, I recently came across a Vanity Fair article, “Reliving the 1968 Democratic Convention” by Christopher Bateman (July 28, 2008) who begins his piece with a quote from Mike who was covering the 1968 DNC for KPFK. Mike’s words below will give you a good sense of the man:
“There are two Democratic Party Conventions in Chicago in August of 1968. One is inside the International Amphitheater, with banners and placards and gavels and speeches. The other is in the streets and parks of Mayor Richard Daley’s city with tear gas and rocks and mace and clubs, and most of all, with blood. And the cloud marked Vietnam hangs over both, tangling them together.”–Pacifica Radio journalist Mike Hodel, reporting from the 1968 Democratic Party convention
In the early Seventies, Mike began hosting his own SCI-FI show on KPFK known as – HOUR 25, which continued until his untimely death in1986 at the young age of- 46. (Lung Cancer) The show continues to this day on the Internet and its producers continue to honor Mike by keeping the original name- MIKE HODEL”S HOUR 25.
For those of you who are SCI-FI and FANTASY fans, I have included a delightful short-story, Negotiations at a Lower Level, written by Mike 27-years ago, and published in Fantasy Book. (Nov. 1982) The story nicely captures Mike’s wit and humor.
Click to read Mike’s 1982 short-story- Negotiations at a Lower Level.pdf
I recently came across some never before seen (at least, by me) photos of Mike and mother, found archived in USC’s Digital Photos Archive. These photos catch a happier time and place and I wanted to share them with you.
I’ll set the scene. The year is 1952. We three brothers are living with mother in Santa Monica. My younger brother, Kelvin is 9, I am 10 and our older brother Mike is 12 and a 7th grader at Lincoln Jr. High School. Mike has just won First Prize in an L.A. county-wide essay contest. The subject was, “What is the Bill of Rights?” The top two photos were taken at our home. The bottom, in an ironically bizarre coincidence, was taken at the Ambassador Hotel Awards Ceremony on January 15, 1952. (The 5th anniversary date of the Black Dahlia Murder.) You can see from the bottom photo with Mike standing in the front row that he was just “a little guy.” Little yes, but I’ve never known a man with a larger heart. Mike was always for the underdog, totally non-judgmental and fought for human rights and justice his entire short lived life.
We love and miss you Mike!
Mike Hodel 7th grade essay winner with proud mother Dorothy Hodel
Mike and Mother, Santa Monica 1952
Mike with new puppy “Tarzana”
Bill of Rights essay winners (Ambassador Hotel 1952)
Bill of Rights essay winners (Ambassador Hotel), 15 January 1952. (Rear row): Louis Hamos; Jane Ashbrook; Harper Whitehouse; Sandra Metzger; Arnold Feinberg; William Wittenberg; (Middle row): Clara Stearley; Charmaine Lava; Stephen Silverman; Nancy Striebeck; Carol Lynne Ayers; Mary Ella Flynn; (Front row): Leona Peak; Anne L. Bougher; Nola Mae Cato; Michael Hodel; Anna Marie Nagel; Thomas Richards; Joe Crail.
(All above photos from the Los Angeles Examiner Collection USC)
Mike Hodel Circa 1981
What a nice tribute – you’ve shown us your smart big brother who grew up to be a fine man.
The photos are interesting too. (He has your mom’s smile 🙂
You and your brothers are fortunate to resemble your beautiful mother in both appearance and humanity!
This is the first picture of her where she looks genuinely, really happy. Thanks for showing it to us.
Yes, in almost all of the other photos of mother we see that heavy sadness in her eyes. But, here, for a moment at least, nothing but joy and pride for her first born son. I’m so happy to have found this in the archives.
I had the honor of working with your brother, Mike, at KPFK from 1983 until his passing. I was a young board operator and recording technician at the station. Mike was one of the first people I met, and THE first person to encourage me!
Mike and I worked together on a number of creative projects. A couple times, I even filled in for Burt Handelsman, crack engineer, on the rare occasions when Burt couldn’t make it for Hour 25.
Mike lived and breathed KPFK, and both loved and hated the place. He had been working at the station in either a paid or volunteer capacity longer than anyone in the building, and was quite the grizzled veteran. I can see him now, arms folded, puffing furiously on his pipe as if playing an invisible chess match and plotting his next move.
Mike never talked about his personal life, at least not with me…although he did once share that he had been a gymnast in High School, and tried to demonstrate a maneuver which required him to lift himself with his fingers while seated and his legs pointing directly in front of him. Alas, he could not, and laughed ruefully.
Given his love of Sherlock Holmes, I can’t help but wonder what his reaction might have been had he known that his own father was a kind of…Moriarty.
Mike was a good man. I wish I had known him better, but I am a better man for having known him at all. Thank you for posting these photograph and his story…for me, this is a huge gift.
Thanks for sharing your memories with us. You captured the very essence of Mike Hodel. Mike was one of those rare humans that was totally dedicated to “causes” and had NO ENEMIES. He accepted and was accepted by ALL. I too have wondered what he would have thought had he lived long enough to know the truth that our father was a serial killer. I expect his response would have been outwardly objective, rational, and inwardly, like my own, deeply saddened. Thanks again. Steve
I wanted to thank you for this very good read!
! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I’ve got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…
Roscoe: Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the read.