'Crusin' Garage' opens its doors again

After a short break, classic car talk show is back
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Gold Country Motoring Editor
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The garage has opened its doors once again, and it's packing ˜em in. After closing up shop for two years, the Cruisin' Garage radio show, hosted by Butch Gardner, is back on the air Saturday mornings on KAHI, AM 950 in Auburn. The Cruisin' Garage, which runs from 10 to 11 a.m., is a show dedicated to hot rod, classic and custom-car news and talk. Basically, our thing is we're going to talk about hot rods and specialty cars, Gardner said. Generally speaking, anything 1975 and older. Mostly hot rods and customs and muscle cars are the big topics. We'll maintain a calendar of events, we'll talk about different events. The show also features guests, callers, and Gardner and his co-host, Mike Clougher, will also discuss automotive-related legislation that can possibly affect the custom car hobbyist. The show, which first ran from March of 2002 until '05, returned to KAHI on Jan. 5 of this year, and has come back to much fanfare. I knew that the show was very popular when we were doing it before, but I didn't realize how popular it was until we went off the air, Clougher said. It was surprising, people I didn't know listened to the show came up and said, ˜Gee, I wish you guys would come back.' That's when I really became aware of how popular it was. When the opportunity came to come back for an hour, I thought, that'll be fun. It has surprised me how many people have jumped on the band wagon so soon. As happy as the listeners are that Gardner and his self-proclaimed sidekick are back, so is the station, which initially came to Gardner to launch a show covering this topic back in 2002. We're extremely happy to have him back with us, said KAHI general manager Jerry Henry. He has a subject that attracts a certain segment of listeners, but also crosses over to any listener and they can enjoy it. He's got a loyal following. A lot of people tune in because they know Butch is part of the program. The impetus to get Gardner back behind the glass started when KAHI had its 50th anniversary broadcast. Gardner was invited back for that show, and when he hit the airwaves, classic cars started showing up on the street during the broadcast, according to Henry. It was on that day Henry and Gardner sat down to talk about opening up the Cruisin' Garage once again. The response (to the special broadcast) was overwhelming, Henry said. We talked later that day. ˜Do you miss doing this?' I said. ˜We miss having you here.' Gardner has decades of experience in the world of classic and customs cars. He's been actively involved, serving as past general manager of the Sacramento Autorama and the Grand National Roadster Show. He's also been professionally judging classic car competitions for more than 25 years and has previously been on the air talking about classic cars on Sacramento sports station KHTK, AM 1140. I'm very fortunate, I grew up in Southern California and I went from model cars all the way up until I was a hot rod guy, Gardner said. I stayed with the hobby throughout getting married and raising a family. Quite a few in the hobby today, they gave it up for a little bit while they raised their families. I was fortunate, I always had my hobby. I've been playing with this stuff since I was 13 years old. Clougher, Gardner's neighbor, has been involved in the world of classic cars for more than 20 years. The retired schoolteacher got the co-hosting gig when Gardner asked him one day if he wanted to come along and do the show. We're a pretty good team, we're kind of a good guy, bad guy combination, Clougher said. He and I get along fairly well together. What he forgets, I remember. He's really good at what he does, and I think I'm pretty good at what I do, just being a follow guy, a sidekick guy. I think it's a good combination. The Cruisin' Garage can be heard throughout the foothills in Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties, but for those who aren't in range of the 5,000-watt directional signal, they can go to the Web and visit and listen to the show live every Saturday morning. With the presence of the Internet broadcast, Gardner has picked up fans from all over the West. In fact, the first week on we got a call from Phoenix, Gardner said. We've gotten calls from Lodi and Reno. That's worked out pretty cool and I think it will get even better. Right now the show is slotted for just an hour, but there has been talk already about expanding the program to an hour-and-a-half, like it was the previous time around. That is totally up to Butch. Yes, we want to expand it, but that's up to him, Henry said of growing the show. If he wants to make that commitment, he has the go-ahead to do that as soon as he's ready. So, do you have a question about your '57 Chevy, or do you need to find a part for that Volkswagen Karmann Ghia? Dial up the Cruisin' Garage and ask away, but don't be surprised if they put you on hold, the garage is pretty busy these days.