Orange County History Via KOCE

We love KOCE-TV Channel 50, watch it for television genius (and Orange County Business Journal editor) Rick Reiff's wonderful coif, the in-depth author interviews conducted by Maria Hall-Brown, and the Register-friendly worldview of Real Orange. So it pains us to discover that KOCE president Mel Rogers is apparently a doofus.

In the latest issue of business mag OC 360, Rogers penned an article about Orange County's role in shaping America. “The soul of Orange County can be sought its history (yes, we have history),” Rogers begins. He goes on to claim, “Orange County is truly the prototype for the America of tomorrow. Its innovations and achievements, recognized or not, are or have been of national significance.” From there, Rogers lists some accomplishments that prove our “subtle, almost viral impact on the rest of America.”

We agree with Rogers' thesis–but the man gets most of his facts wrong. For instance, Rogers claims Orange County made surfing a “sport” and “created the industry and the youth oriented sports culture” now surrounding surfing. Sure, local businesses Quiksilver, Roxy, Hurley and many others branded the sport, but has Rogers ever heard of the Beach Boys or Duke Kahanamoku? Fullerton's Leo Fender wasn't the “father” of the electric guitar as Rogers says; sure, Fender's Stratocaster revolutionized rock 'n' roll, but the Fullerton luthier didn't invent the plug-in axe–that would've been Adolph Rickenbacker. And Rogers dismisses Knott's Berry Farm as “little more than donkey rides and fried chicken dinners” before the arrival of Disneyland, when any serious student of Orange County history knows full well Walter Knott had already rebuilt a ghost town and an old railroad to entertain folks on his Buena Park farm during the early 1950s.

But Rogers' most laughable entry is on our role in shaping the New Right. KOCE's head asserts that the American conservative movement “languished” until the John Birch Society moved from “Appleton, Minnesota” to Orange County. Besides getting the wrong Appleton (the Birchers remain based in Appleton, Wisconsin), Rogers messes up on the evolution of the far-right group. The JBS never relocated its headquarters from the Midwest to our land of plenty, and to attribute the rise of conservativism in OC to out-of-staters disregards such local conservative icons as James Utt, Walter Knott, the Catholic Church and Robert Schuller.

And speaking of Schuller, Rogers misspells the Crystal Cathedral founder's name by using one “l.” Twice. Double d'oh!

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