|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
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,
broadly and welcomes listeners and shoppers to the show,
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
always to be smiling as he works.
Devoted to "Growing, promoting and distributing produce,
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
Island is named after his Italian family, which had a farm
At a table next to the mangoes, behind the grapefruit, and
with a stack of
electronic equipment used for the broadcast, sits Jay Michaels,
and chief technical director of the show. Amid all the activity,
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,
listeners, and shoppers, a whole new aspect of shopping emerges.
Produce Pair play easily off each other's personalities,
on nutrients, cooking tips and seasonal suggestions.
Each show has a theme, and the Fourth of July show centered
melons. According to Guido the most common question is "How
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,
out into a spontaneous reggae tune, " We like a watermelon…" The
seemed to take on a Caribbean breeze, with customers swaying
dancing the samba near the coconuts and the carambolas (star
fruit). One could almost imagine an orchestra of fruit instruments
backing Guido as
Turning serious, Guido and Dan explained that if the watermelon's
is tight, your palm feels like it's banging a drum, and the
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
Only two feet from radio headquarters, brothers Ross Koppel,
Ray, 9, shopped with their mother Zerlyn. Watching the proceedings
table level, the boys' smiles widened and eyes twinkled when
spotted the mound of mangoes. Fresh from their weekly martial
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
Dan was drinking a concoction called "Brain Gain" with
and St. John's wort. Asked about it, he chuckled and said "It
think and puts me in a good mood!" Indeed it worked.
Grinning Dan went back to the microphone, and noted that
background music was an instrumental piece called "Green
Lighthearted, but serious about their subject matter, these
their music with care. A favorite piece is their "Broccoli
because time is limited that will have to wait for another
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