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Pair Knows from Apples to Zucchinis By Rosemary McNalley
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Alameda Times Star Wednesday July 15, 1998
There's no front door at Paul's produce at the corner of Oak & central in Alameda. The setting, reminiscent of many produce stands in the Midwest in the 50's, is open and the fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads and grocery items are immediately visible to the customer.

It's fun to stop by any season of the year and step back to a peaceful somewhat slower time. But if you make your foray on Saturday mornings between 10 and 11 a.m., you will witness the store'smetamor-phosis to a decidedly contemporary scene as a live radio show, " Listening to The Produce Pair," is broadcast throughout northern California.

On a recent Saturday wearing a t-shirt with seven different apples and the motto "An apple a day" on it, Dan the Produce man dons earphones and takes the microphone. His sidekick, Guido the Gardener, smiles
broadly and welcomes listeners and shoppers to the show, from "The Isle of Style, Alameda."

Dan Avakian and Mark Ferro are doing what they love. Dan works full time at about just everything at Paul's and he seems always to be smiling as he works.

Devoted to "Growing, promoting and distributing produce, especially organic produce," Ferro is the produce sampler and cooking demonstrator at a large chain store and also helps tend a 400 square-foot home garden. He is a man who likes the history of produce. In fact, Ferro Court on Bay Farm Island is named after his Italian family, which had a farm there.
At a table next to the mangoes, behind the grapefruit, and with a stack of electronic equipment used for the broadcast, sits Jay Michaels, producer and chief technical director of the show. Amid all the activity, Paul Marchi, owner of Paul's Produce, continues to stock strawberries, tomatoes and peppers for the steady stream of customers.

Jay and Dan met in high school and discovered that they had a number of mutual interests. They remained friends and, during the 80's
developed another Alameda-based radio show. Paul's family has owned
and worked Paul's Produce on and off for almost 30 years.
For this foursome of 40-something guys, with their combined interest in produce and their radio
backgrounds, this Saturday show is a natural When Dan and Guido banter back and forth, speak with guests, call-in listeners, and shoppers, a whole new aspect of shopping emerges. The Produce Pair play easily off each other's personalities, offering advice
on nutrients, cooking tips and seasonal suggestions.
Each show has a theme, and the Fourth of July show centered on melons. According to Guido the most common question is "How do you pick a ripe one?" With that The Pair launched their "ping, ping, pong" watermelon ripeness test.
Gently drumming a watermelon with the palm o f his hand, Guido broke out into a spontaneous reggae tune, " We like a watermelon…" The air seemed to take on a Caribbean breeze, with customers swaying and dancing the samba near the coconuts and the carambolas (star fruit). One could almost imagine an orchestra of fruit instruments backing Guido as he sang.
Turning serious, Guido and Dan explained that if the watermelon's flesh is tight, your palm feels like it's banging a drum, and the flesh vibrates back. This is a good sign. If the gentle drumming causes a "ping, ping thudddd" sound, is a bad sign; the melon is soft and overripe.
Only two feet from radio headquarters, brothers Ross Koppel, 6, and Ray, 9, shopped with their mother Zerlyn. Watching the proceedings at
table level, the boys' smiles widened and eyes twinkled when they spotted the mound of mangoes. Fresh from their weekly martial arts class and clad in their black outfits, they offered their own bit of advice: " Cut the mangoes in half, then cut them like checkers and eat them."
Dan was drinking a concoction called "Brain Gain" with ginseng root and St. John's wort. Asked about it, he chuckled and said "It makes me think and puts me in a good mood!" Indeed it worked. Grinning Dan went back to the microphone, and noted that the background music was an instrumental piece called "Green Onions."
Lighthearted, but serious about their subject matter, these even chose their music with care. A favorite piece is their "Broccoli Song", but because time is limited that will have to wait for another Saturday.
Themes for future shows include kiwis and organic vegetables.
" The Produce Pair" can be heard Saturdays at 10 a.m. on 1220 am KBPA, or 990 am, KATD