Branimir "Bane" Bakalic was one of the most unforgettable characters I have ever met (and that is something since I worked in radio for 3 and 1/2 decades). He was Serbian and although he had spent most of his life the United States by the time I met him in 2005, he still had his wonderful native accent. That accent made it difficult for us to chat on the phone but we communicated and bonded easily in person.
By occupation and nature Branimir was an Artist.... an amazing Painter. He seldom worked from photos or drawings but simply created beautiful artwork right from his mind. Never confined to one style, his work spanned Nudes, Horses, Landscapes and anything else he dreamed up.
I appreciated his paintings and he appreciated my writing and I think we clicked as friends so quickly because the creative process meant so much to each of us. We enjoyed sharing good cold beers and tall tales. Though most of our friendship years were in the Northwest Arkansas Ozark, we had the common background of working in New York City for years... another bonding factor.
Branimir by his own admission was a bit of an oddball. It was one of the things I enjoyed most about my friend. He loved America and the freedoms this country affords a native born citizen like myself or an immigrated citizen like him. He loved our Republic form of government with it's individual rights and had disdain fo the "collective" types of governments. Another reason for us to be friends.
Branimir passed on June, 3rd, 2019 at the age of 71. Some friend losses leave a Big Hole in our lives..... this is one of those.
Travis L Ayres
Early 1970. 2am, on board the USS Regulus: We were still at sea but almost home... not close enough that I could see the lights of San Francisco but close enough that my old portable radio could pick up the AM signal of one of the city's Top-Forty radio stations. Soon after we reached "The States" and our home port of Alameda, I would be making the transition from Petty Officer 3rd Class to civilian- without- a- job. As my Navy days had dwindled down I had struggled with the decision of what career path I would take. It seemed logical to me to try Commercial Art (as Graphic Art was called back then) since I had been drawing since the time I learned what a pencil was and I knew I had some talent. There was only one other job that interested me and that was being a radio disc jockey. Unlike a possible career in Art, I had no clue if I had any potential talent to be an on-air broadcaster. Also, I had no clue how one would get into radio. Then as I sat there on the deck of my ship, I heard an unfamiliar song on that Frisco station. It was rock. It was country. It was Mississippi River Delta blues. It was "Proud Mary" by a new band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. . And as simple as that, when that song ended I knew I wanted to make my living playing that kind of music on the radio. For the next 35 years, that's exactly what I did. Thanks, John Fogerty.
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