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Alameda Pair Promotes Produce, San Francisco Chronicle Jan 1, 1999 by Paul Kilduff
Listening to a radio show devoted to fruits and vegetables isn't probably on yourlist of things to do each Saturday afternoon, but two guys from Alameda would like to change that.
Dan Avakian and Mark Ferro, produce professionals and long time Alameda residents, have taken to the airwaves with a cooking show that's heavy on the veggies.
They broadcast "The Produce Pair" live from a table set up between the walnuts andthe figs at Paul's Produce in downtown Alameda. On the air Avakian is known as "Dan the Produce Man." Ferro goes by "Guido the Gardener." Using humor to wash down the latest produce news, the show also features interviews, recipes, vegetable trivia questions, (What was the first fruit tree?)and listener call-ins.
Avakian, a polished-sounding radio pro, plays the foil, while Ferro goes for the yucks.
Recently picked up by the Talk America Radio Network, the show can be heard from noon to 1 pm in more then 60 markets nationwide and on the internet at www.talkamerica.com .
The idea for the show came in 1992 when Ferro 43 decided to leave a career in real estate sales and follow his heart" I was spending more time in my garden than hunting down sales leads", he says. After attending an organic gardening conference in Oakland, Ferro left real estate for Green Leaf., a San Francisco based vegetable wholesaler.
He became friends with Avakian, 39, then working at Paul's Produce. Ferro kept bugging Avakian to work with him on his schemes to promote fruits and vegetables.
Their first idea was a coloring book for children, but neither was satisfied with the final artwork.
Last April, Ferro suggested the two do a radio show, prompting Avakian to contact a friend, Jay Michaels, the program director at KATD 990 –AM in Concord, Michaels agreed to let them record a demo in the stations studio.
After listening to Ferro and Avakian interact for a few minutes, Michaels decided to put them on the air live. The first show was a half hour, then they went to an hour.
Although the show is devoted to all things green, they are able to work fruits and vegetables into just about any food topic. When Hollie Snyder, pastry manager for Whole Foods supermarkets, was a guest recently, she brought in chocolate chip cookies made with

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pumpkin. "It reminds me of Click and Clack," says passerby Tom Miro, referring to the "car Talk" advice guys on National Public radio.
While Ferro thinks the comparison is a "feather in our cap," Avakian would rather have listeners think of them more as the vegetable world's answer to the Carey Brothers' "On the House" weekend home repair show.
The Produce Pair is an avocation for Avakian and Ferro. They cover expenses by selling advertising on the show.But for Avakian, just the opportunity to do a show on the subject he knows and
likes is a plus.
Back in the late 80's , Avakian worked as a DJ at a Christian heavy-metal rap station in Concord. Although the lyrics of the songs were designed to uplift people, Avakian didn't stay. "It doesn't matter what the lyrics are in that kind of music, I just don't
like it", he said (heavy metal & rap).
As for Ferro, the radio show is a means to an end. "I can tell a ripe cantaloupe from 30 feet away, but I don't know radio," he said.
With his day job as an in-store produce demonstrator for Whole Foods and a column in the Alameda Journal, "Produce Profile," Ferro's wheelbarrow is plenty full already. He seems to like it that way.
" To grow, produce and promote produce. If I'm doing that, I'm a pretty happy guy,"
he said.