Remembering My Brother Mike Hodel Host of KPFK’s “HOUR 25”
February 2, 2021
Los Angeles, California
Ground Hog Day
I dearly miss my brother, Mike. I came across the below photograph taken by Steven Moore showing Mike interviewing Ray Bradbury on his late night show, “Mike Hodel’s Hour 25” back in 1982.
Born and raised here, Mike was a true “Force for Good” in Los Angeles and devoted his life to “causes” and loved and was loved by his many listeners.
Brother Mike died way too young, taken from us at the age of 47 after being diagnosed with Cancer. Melanoma took him fast, just a few months from diagnosis to death. He passed on May 6, 1986.
Mike Hodel & Ray Bradbury on “Hour 25 SFTV” (1982)
Mike Hodel era (1972-1986)
Excerpt from Wikipedia:
Hour 25 was one of the longest-running science fiction radio programs, surpassed by only Hour of the Wolf, and surpassing Shockwave Radio Theater‘s 28 year run. In its first years, Hour 25 functioned almost as a science fiction “web page” for the Los Angeles area fan base, before computer technology made it much simpler to keep up-to-date on news and events in the relatively small world of science-fiction fandom. It was also one of the earliest programs to be taken seriously by both authors and publishers.
As the show became more of a fixture in the LA science-fiction community, noted authors began to make appearances on the show. Theodore Sturgeon was the first author to be interviewed by the show, in 1973; in the years following, Hour 25 interviewed virtually every major writer in the field. One well-known recorded interview was with author Philip K. Dick in 1976, in which Mike Hodel talked with Dick about his new book, “A Scanner Darkly“, and Dick read some passages which he said were inspired by his own use of drugs. The original recording was over three hours long, but the broadcast version was edited to be much shorter. Some time after being aired, Hodel realized that neither version of the interview could be found in the station archives, but a 75-minute version of the Dick interview is now available and a transcript is held on the Internet Archive. 
Here’s a much longer blog I did a few years back with additional details.
GOOD NIGHT MIKE!
One of my early memories from LA is a conversation with a fellow sci-fi fan at a weekly Objectivist meetup in Westwood in ’86. He waxed lyrical about Hour 25 and I still recall how he was quite broken up about your brother. I became a regular listener in the Harlan Ellison years and I assume that’s why the name Hodel seemed familiar when I came across the story about you in The Guardian thirty years later. Turned out that truth can be even stranger than science fiction.
So true Luigi.
When I was reading the Wikipedia summary on Mike and they mentioned his concept of “The Group Mind” where he could ask any question on the radio that needed an answer and within a short time “The Group Mind” as one of the thousands of listeners could come up with the answer. Then nearly twenty years later my idea of “thoughtprints” came to being with the potential to connect a person to a place, or potential crime. Mike was a very cool dude. A super nerd before the term was invented.
p.s. I was never a Harlan fan the few times I met him. Super caustic personality, but Mike and he seemed to “hit it off” so that’s all the counted.
Yes, I understand HE had an ego the size of a planet and could be pretty obnoxious — even just going by the stories he told about himself. But a very interesting guy and a great voice on radio -LW
Steve, A talented young man gone too soon but well remembered by the sci-fi world of authors! I am sure my son Joe & youngest daughter Grace may have been familiar with your brother Mike’s interviews & work in the Sci-fi world. Will have to ask them! To Joe & Grace in the ‘80’s/90’s, anything sci-fi related was their big interest & enjoyment👍! My sci-fi interest was limited to Philip Jose Farmer, Riverworld Series! After that I was too involved in True Crime works! Now living in such turbulent times, I feel sci-fi really is not fiction. Those authors, your brother, “saw” the future & let us glimpse that future in their works & discussions! Relating to “Riverworld”, Steve, one day in the great beyond we will “meet” w/Mike & share a delightful lunch with your invited guests & my group of guests including Winston Churchill, my grandfather Patrick McGoldrick, John Hartford…..wait, lets make it cocktails & dinner……too much to discuss!!🥂😎🌵
It’s a Date! I can get off this twenty-year-wagon and resume my Johnny Walker Black with no fear of it harming the physical cause there won’t be no physical. Perfect! But, to be honest, not in any rush for it. Let’s make fifteen or twenty years down the cloud.
I WORKED WITH MIKE AT KPFK WHEN HE WAS DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND I WAS A REPORTER AND PROGRAM PRODUCER. WE NEVER SEEMED TO HAVE DOWN TIME AND THEREFORE DID NOT GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER WELL. IN A RARE MOMENT, HE SHARED SOME FASCINATING DETAILS OF HIS LIFE WITH ME. IT’S TOO BAD HE DID NOT LIVE TO WRITE ABOUT THEM. THEY WOULD HAVE PROVIDED A GLIMPSE OF LA THAT FEW KNOW ABOUT.
Yes, HE IS MISSED. I regularly wonder what my brother Mike would have thought and how he would have reacted to the fact that our father was a psychopath and serial killer extraordinaire?
I, too, knew Mike at KPFK circa 1983 – 86. We worked together on many projects. He was a talented man with deep roots at the station, and he genuinely loved both radio and science fiction. We rarely discussed our personal lives, but he did tell me two things about himself: he had been a gymnast in high school, and his brother was a homicide detective!
His death was breathtakingly sudden. One day I heard Mike was sick, and the next thing I knew…he was gone! I miss the times when he’d be sucking furiously on the stem of his pipe while contemplating some knotty problem, muttering a sardonic comment and then rushing off to do…what? We never knew.
As for what his reaction to learning your father was a psychopath and serial killer, I imagine him first raising his eyebrows, then scowling dramatically as he whispers,” I KNEW it!”
Thanks for the comments on Mike.
Yes, the ever-present pipe for sure. It wasn’t Mike sans pipe. For some reason brother Mike got the harshest treatment from our dad. Never knew why, and not going to speculate at this late date.
He was a pretty good gymnast in school and then he got polio which impacted his ability. Minor case, but still had consequences. I think we three musketeers were about the very first to receive the polio vaccine in LA. back in the Fifties.
I got my polio vaccine in 1953.
Lucky YOU. Early on for sure.
Imagine a 17 year old back in 1969, wandering into radio station KPFK on a Friday night with a friend who said they let visitor’s in and we can look at the control room stereo speakers, amps, tape recorders and turntables.
All I wanted to do was operate the control board, so I went out and got my 3rd class FCC license and hung around the station in my spare time.
Eventually I gravitated to the small, noisy newsroom with the clattering Reuters teletype, a strange news director, Larry Moss (kowitz) and Mike Hodel, with the ever present aforementioned pipe.
As I learned the news operation and eventually started reading the on air news, Mike was very generous with his advice and suggestions. I do remember one newsread one evening when Larry, Mike and I were alternating stories. Mike, who I guess was somewhat nearsighted and forgot his glasses was forced to put aside his pipe and hold the copy very close to his face to read his stuff. The engineer at the time on the other side of the window found this to be amusing and exagerated Mike’s predicament by taking a piece of paper, holding it right next to his face and then tried in vain to bring it even closer to his eyes by ripping a hole in the paper and sticking his nose through it, again mimicking Mike.
I lost my composure, started giggling which started Mike giggling and I have no idea if he realized why I was laughing. Larry Moss, who took this stuff seriously, gave both myself and Mike the stinkeye as he motioned for both of us to leave the on air studio. The engineer was by then rolling on the floor.
Neither Mike nor I ever found ourselves in that position again, but it still brings back a half centure memory.
Yes, that was Mike alright. Actually, with the eyesight thing, it wasn’t that he forgot his glasses. Mike had an unusual condition in which glasses only helped improve his vision about 2%. He had a rare vision problem called, “atrophy of the optic nerve.” The condition created a loss of light and during Mike’s whole life that is exactly how he had to read. Very sad because he was a voracious reader and read at least one book a day. He was teased constantly as a young boy grow up. Kids in class called him Neglass, which stood for Needs Glasses. Thanks for the anecdote. Mike did LOVE to LAUGH and would easily “get the giggles.” Miss you Mike.
I remember Mike’s thick coke glass glasses, but a few years before his death I remember him wearing contacts which seemed to have done the trick. Or is it a trick of my memory?
Yes, “trick of the memory”. No contacts to my knowledge. I think that I recall that glasses only helped him like 5%. His problem was “atrophy of the optic nerve” so glass did not help.
I was fortunate enough to have worked with Mike way back in the mid-1980’s with the Janus Company Radio Theater, which he was part of. He was kind enough to tell me that my radio script were “really good”. I worked with him four times back then, and had the privilege to attend to parties at the home of Jan and the late Mallory Geller. He even performed a reading of a poem by Kipling, if memory serves. My favorite recollection of Mike was scurrying into a listening room in the studios of KPFK and listening to the playback of the show we just did. He puffed on his pipe and listened intently. Alas, he seemed a tad aloof and superior at times, but in point of fact, he was. I am forever blessed to have worked with such a unique and talented man.
Yes, I too wish I had been closer and spent more time with Mike and his beloved KPFK. It was his LIFE. Unfortunately, my career with LAPD kept me pretty much away from Mike’s “scene” in those days. Wish I had spent more time with my older brother. But, at least I was aware of just how giving and gifted he was to and for the Los Angeles community.