Friday, August 28, 2015

The Kirkster

I've known my brother, Kirk, a long time. Even before he even knew he was Kirk.

Born in Berlin, Germany, he was the last of the six McEwen kids.

He sure was cute as a youngster, big cheeks, an affinity for cookies and sweet as he could be. He also was smart and he used that and his cuteness to knock on our neighbor's doors to ask them if they could spare a cookie or two. They saw a scrumptious little kid and we saw our house fill up with cookies.

I went to L.A. to do stand up comedy and the person I missed the most? Him. Life is funny and I don't mean ha ha. Starving, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, riding the bus to get to comedy clubs and missing my baby brother.

That would be me.

As Kirk got older, his big brother got into radio and would send him swag back home. First in Detroit and then in Chicago. Lynyrd Skynyrd paper weights, various rock bands' tee shirts, Police singles in the shape of a police badge, that kind of thing.

Remember Pitch, Hit and Run?

It was a baseball competition that combined the talents it took to be a Major Leaguer. Kirk entered that contest and I watched him on teevee in Yankee Stadium when I was in my Los Angeles living room with my roommates.

He took second in the entire country.

Now, c'mon, how many people do you know saw their brother holding a huge trophy, on television, 3000 miles away?

He was twelve.

And I had a puffed out chest.

As a junior in high school he was Class President.  In between his junior and senior years he ran for and won President of the Maryland Association of Student Councils for the entire state of Maryland. Somewhere there's a picture of a high school Kirkster in a tie that's worth the price of admission.

He went to the University of Maryland for a spell and then began a career in radio.

Kirk started out hitting the ball hard and just got better and better. He was 19, the station was 98ROCK in Baltimore and he sounded great. He used to sing on the air like Axl Rose, be funny, be cool and just generally be entertaining as hell. That afternoon shift is what got him promoted to morning drive and that show made him a legend.

It was called KML, Kirk, Mark and Lopez.

Kirk, Mark and Lopez
My brother, Mark Ondayko and newsman Bob Lopez. They owned that town. Funny thing, Lopez lived across the hall from me in our college dorm long before he worked with Kirk.

They were about the biggest thing Baltimore had ever heard. I used to come home and hang with him and at the height of his fame it was like going around with a rock star.

He met Kelleigh. Sweet Dear Kelleigh.

They got married in Maui and I was there. Talk about a party. Talk about a wedding.

If you're going to tie the knot, Maui's a great place to do it.

They now have two kids, Tatum, my niece and Cauley, my nephew. Kirk's a great father. And Kelleigh is a wonderful mother.

I have to tell you a story.

Kirk had moved on and was on the air here in Florida. The family, sans Kirk, came to visit when Cauley was a baby and had to be carried everywhere. When they got here I put out my arms and Cauley came right to me. And THEN, he looked at me and you could see him thinking, "Hey, you're not my dad. You look like him but you're not him."

He never came back to me that trip.
Miles, Tatum, Griffin and Cauley

Kirk told me  early on, that he wanted our kids, the cousins, to know each other and he was determined to have them together as often as possible. It worked. Tatum is a big deal in our house and just visited for a week. Cauley stories are the rage with my twins. By the way, he calls each of them Griffin.

Kirk has returned to Baltimore to 98ROCK and it's been a love fest. He's glad to be back and the listeners are glad, too.

Lucky them.

I always tell him he's in my Hall of Fame. Not because he's my brother but because he's that good. He's also in my brother Hall of Fame.

He's earned that.

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  1. what a heart warming, great tribute to your brother, your family! xx

  2. Talk about a "bromance"! Beautiful to read...