Travus T. Hipp: The Poor Man’s Paul Harvey
Back before radio became homogenized by bean counters, stations stood for something—even if it was nothing more than enlightened lightheartedness. Today there’s a newcomer, KPIG 1510 AM—the offspring of the late, lamented, alternative country station KFAT—broadcast out of the unlikely radio hub of Piedmont. It offers an eclectic mix of music and commentary courtesy of one Travus T. Hipp, KPIG’s Morning Show news commentator. A self-described “raging iconoclast,” the Berkeley bred Hipp advocates getting out of Iraq but is also a registered Republican. With an authoritative baritone and cadence reminiscent of Cronkite himself, Hipp offers nuggets of substance on otherwise vapid AM airwaves. I called him recently at his hideout east of Reno.
Paul Kilduff: Is it true that you often ad-lib your commentaries from bed in the morning?
Travus T. Hipp: I always get up. Although there have been times when I’ve drawn a hot bath and do it from there.
PK: I hear dogs barking in the background during your show sometimes.
TH: Oh yes. The ambience of remote radio. I want people to understand that this is not coming from their local radio station. I am high in the mountains of the old mining west.
PK: How would you describe your politics?
TH: My politics are derived from a consciousness that was developed in the left in Berkeley and a basic reality that I gained. I’ve been a Republican since Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson ’cause I knew that you can’t trust Texans, particularly Texas Democrats. It turns out you can’t trust Texas Republicans either. They should give it back to Mexico.
PK: As a Republican, do you support the Bush administration?
TH: Hell no. I’m sure that in his grave Barry’s rotating about 3,000 rpm at the gangsters and fascists who have taken over his party. The Republican party and its principles are now nothing but a tool of the PNAC [Project for a New American Century] gang who consider that in 20 years either we or China is going to be in charge of the world. I suspect that China is a better deal for most of the people in the world.
PK: You advocate something you call “direct action.” What is it?
TH: I was talking about the fact that demonstrations were the tool of the ’60s because we naively believed that the ruling class and the power elite would respond once they became aware of the serious problems that need to be addressed. All it did was get us to march up and down the street. Only direct action ever forced any of those decisions of that period. If that means the days when you used to shut down the ammo train in Berkeley by sitting on the tracks, so be it.
PK: You’re predicting that on March 28 the U.S. will blow up Iran’s nuclear facilities even though UN observers are telling us nothing is going on there.
TH: When did we ever pay attention to what people tell us? George W. Bush is in charge and if he thinks there is an imminent threat, and that there’s somebody running a reactor roughly the size of the cyclotron in Berkeley, then he’s going to bomb it. Maybe it is a piece of disinformation to put more pressure on the Iranians, circulated by our own intelligence operatives. But most of Europe has heard the word. They believe that the United States will go for some sort of military action on the 28th of March in Iran.
PK: Are the Germans in with us?
TH: Nobody’s in on it with us, but that doesn’t seem to deter anybody. This is going to be low-budget: go in and bomb the hell out of them and leave. We don’t have to rebuild anything. We don’t have to occupy anything. We don’t have any boots on the ground. We just use the unbelievable and ungodly ability to deliver massive smart bombs.
PK: Why don’t we take a hard-line approach with North Korea?
TH: Because probably the North Korean situation would immediately devolve into the destruction of both South Korea and our 38,000 occupation troops there.
PK: Let’s look at South Korea. If we left, would it exist?
TH: No. It wouldn’t have existed if we hadn’t created it in the first place. Same thing with South Vietnam. Or, for the British, Northern Ireland. The entire DMZ, which has been uninhabited by man for the last 40-some years, has turned into an ecological paradise. There are varieties of birds and critters in the DMZ that have disappeared from the rest of the Asian continent; they’re talking about making it an environmentally protected area.
PK: Are you behind any 2008 presidential candidates?
TH: Dennis Kucinich would be lovely in a world where we could afford to have somebody with principles and smarts. But we are in such deep crap at the moment, the president doesn’t make any difference. We are headlong rolling down a mountain. If we survive it, then maybe we can rebuild something with a civil society. In the meantime, I’m telling high school kids to study Chinese and Spanish and go to South America.
PK: If we all drove hybrid cars, wouldn’t that solve all our problems?
TH: The way to solve the energy crunch is not to make a more efficient car, it’s to stop commuting. I look forward to a future in which the downtown high-rise office buildings are inhabited by little communes of artists and other people who take over a whole floor for their sculpture studio because their business is in somebody’s laptop and their laptop is in the back of the kitchen.
PK: Or at Starbucks.
TH: Yeah. That is the logical future. You don’t see anybody building high-rises in the villages and towns of the third world of the Middle East. They’re doing business out of coffeehouses, their homes, and someplace in Yemen in the shade chewing cotton and typing messages to each other. We are now going to compete for everything in the way of employment and jobs with the rest of the world, and the rest of the world works cheap.
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