Klondike Karl Nelson grew up in the San Fernando Valley and has worked for the City of Beverly Hills since 2002. He’s in charge of the mail room. His job is to sort and send the city’s mail. Once a week he delivers agendas and council packets to the mayor, city council members and commissioners. Klondike thinks that’s really cool. He likes his job.
Andrew Beeker grew up in Ludington, Michigan, and is now “El Presidente” of Klondike Air Conditioning & Heating. Since 1989, his family owned heating and cooling business has been providing Orange County residents with great customer service on professional HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) projects. Just like Klondike Karl, Andrew really likes his job.
Thus begins an amazing story of how fate has linked Klondike Karl and Andrew together in a life changing way forever. The common thread between them is music and radio, and that’s where I come in. We take you back to the start of this saga in 1983. That’s when I first met Klondike Karl. Klondike is a character. He’s big, he’s burly, he’s loud, and he’s jolly. He’s also a KROQ “one hit wonder.” I had been on the air at KROQ for barely a year and a half when I received a package in the mail from Klondike. It was a VHS tape (remember those) of The Klondike Karl TV Show. As close as I can remember, the TV show was a half-hour program mostly about Klondike taking massive bong hits. Within the show was one original song titled “Time is a Ticky Talk.” It was ’80s new wave all the way with influences from King Crimson and Talking Heads.
Klondike Karl was the singer and Casio player in the video, and his buddy Danny Schneider was on guitar. “Spacin” Scott Mason (R.I.P.) and I instantly loved the song, and we started playing it late Sunday nights on KROQ. The rest of the KROQ air staff also picked up on it. Klondike Karl became a one hit wonder “Roq star” on KROQ. What was really great is Scott and I would visit Klondike at his “home” in the San Fernando Valley. He lived in the upstairs of a video store. We became instant friends and would take massive bong hits with him on a regular basis, listening to “Ticky Talk” blasting on his speakers. Soon we discovered Klondike slept in a hyperbaric chamber a la Michael Jackson in the center of the room. It was freaky and fun!
Unbeknownst to us, Andrew Beeker’s older brother Chris had moved to Southern California from western Michigan in 1975. He settled in Costa Mesa. In 1984, his younger brother Adam came to visit Chris for a week around Christmas. He instantly was a big KROQ fan and became enamored with my late night Sunday show with Spacin’ Mason. Adam recorded my show on cassette tapes and brought them back to Andrew in Michigan. On the tape was Klondike Karl’s “Time is a Ticky Talk” being played and hyped up by us. Andrew grew up singing and playing guitar in bands in his hometown of 10,000 residents, Ludington, Michigan. He was living in Grand Rapids when he received the cassettes and instantly became a huge fan of Klondike Karl after he listened to them! They didn’t have anything like that on the radio in Michigan. In fact, Andrew changed the name of his punk band at the time from the Deadbeats to the Klondike Surfers. The band altered their style to surf punk in honor of the Southern California vibe.
They started throwing mid-winter beach parties while five feet of snow was outside and the temperature was 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Inside, they turned up the thermostat as hot as it would go to simulate summer heat conditions. Everybody showed up in swimsuits, and they even had a tanning booth. The Klondike Surfers covered “Ticky Talk” while playing these gigs on the cold winter nights in the Midwest.
In December 1985, Andrew moved to Costa Mesa to join his older brother. His dream was to start an air conditioning and heating company. He decided “when I start my own air and heating company, I will call it Klondike Air.” In 1989, Andrew’s dream became a reality. He named his newly formed company Klondike Air Heating and Cooling Experts. It’s been around ever since, serving Orange County for 30 years. Andrew’s older brother Chris now works for the company. By the way, this is not to be confused with the Klondike ice cream bar.
The story gets even better and more unbelievable. I lost contact with Klondike Karl somewhere in the late ’80s to early ’90s. Klondike Facebook friended me about five years ago and said I didn’t accept his request for about a year. He thinks I might have been in anger mode at the time. Luckily, I eventually did accept him as a friend, because a month and a half ago, through a crazy twist of fate, Andrew Beeker and Klondike Air became a sponsor of my radio show, Poorman’s Morning Rush on 101.5 KOCI.
We were doing a KOCI fundraiser party at Campus Jax in Newport Beach, and Running Down a Dream, Andrew’s Tom Petty tribute band, was performing. He plays the Tom Petty role as singer and rhythm guitarist. As they were breaking down, I jumped onstage to make some announcements. He came up to me and said, “I have a great story. There was a tape from the early ’80s of you and a guy named Klondike Karl.” He proceeded to tell me the story, and I told him I knew Klondike Karl. We got together a few days later, and Andrew signed up to become a sponsor. I messaged Klondike and told him Andrew’s story. On Oct. 24, Klondike Karl called into my show, and I texted Andrew to call in. They spoke for the first time live on the air a few minutes later, almost 35 years to the exact month the cassette recordings of KROQ were made.
Andrew mentioned on the air that he was doing a live gig at the Harp Inn in Costa Mesa on his birthday, Nov. 22. He invited Klondike to perform “Time is a Ticky Talk” with the band. Klondike accepted. He hasn’t performed live in more than 10 years. They both told me how they felt about this meeting.
From Klondike Karl: “I can’t wait to play with Andrew! Amazing story! Glad to help him out. He sparked me! I sparked him! It’s a win-win. I was really stoked that someone in Michigan was inspired by ‘Time is a Ticky Talk.’ I was really impressed by the whole thing.”
Andrew is equally excited! “The whole thing is surreal to me, because I’m finally meeting the two people (Klondike Karl and Poorman) who have heavily influenced my business and my love of West Coast music. Klondike was very surprised. He didn’t think that any other band in the world had covered his song, let alone a bunch of guys in western Michigan!”
This is definitely a feel-good story. Since their on-air reunion, I have probably played “Time is a Ticky Talk” on the radio at least five times, and Klondike Karl is reenergized to start performing again. I even had my own 30-year reunion with him on Nov. 16 in a garage while I was working at an estate sale in Burbank. He showed up on a motorcycle and was the same Klondike, just a bit bigger and grayer. The only thing that changed is we didn’t do any bong rips!
When Poorman doesn’t have his feet in the sand, you can find him on the air Monday-Friday 7am-10am at KOCI hosting Poorman’s Morning Rush – Orange County’s only morning drive show. His show brings plenty of excitement, and of course, the Poorman’s aura of unpredictability – both good and bad – that has defined his legend! Email Jim “Poorman” Trenton at [email protected] to request a song or submit music.