In my 17 years of being on the radio up here in South Lake Tahoe, I have never been more moved and had more fun since the day Ricky Reich called me wanting to come on my morning radio show that first week of November with a special holiday treat.
I'd only read about Ricky as the guy who was the caretaker, the protector if you will, for the Angel of Tahoe, Lisa Maloff. As most locals know, Maloff's philanthropic donations have benefitted so many, giving away literally millions of dollars in the past few years (that I know of) to many organizations and nonprofits.
Just off the top of my head: Barton Hospital, Lake Tahoe Community College, The Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, Nevada Diabetes Foundation, Lake Tahoe Unified School District, Whittell High School, Christmas Cheer All Year, Tahoe Youth & Family Services, the Tahoe Douglas Fire Department and even the K9 division of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department have all received a generous gift from our angel.
So it was no surprise when Ricky wanted to pay it forward and asked if I would be interested in giving away $500 a day when I'm doing my morning radio show. Uh, yeah! From day one the response has been phenomenal, to say the least. Some cried, a few gasped but most just screamed. Lately my listeners have been very creative, having their co-workers at the ready to call once I say, "Angel of Tahoe." It's just been a blast.
I knew I had listeners but wow! Now I have even more … and will probably sob when it all ends. The buzz in town has been really great and Ricky, I think, has been the most psyched, loving the responses from those who have won.
Ricky initially was only going to have me go through Christmas giving away this daily holiday present, but he told me over lunch recently that he wants to continue through the end of the year. I think there's something very special and uniquely Tahoe about this.
And it got even better recently when Ricky said that the "angel" wanted to meet me.
What a gem of a lady. When I got a hug from her I felt like I'd known her for a long time. She asked me how the holiday gift of $500 a day was going and I told her I was so excited one day I said, "be the 15th caller for your chance to win," which allowed me time to go into the other studio and call myself asking, "am I the 15th caller?" Lisa cracked up.
Obviously she loves South Lake Tahoe and all it has to offer. And she has quite a bit of entertainment history too. When I started talking about comedy, working the road and performing with some great acts before coming up to Tahoe she asked about some of the entertainers I interviewed. When I mentioned the legendary Don Rickles, Lisa talked about her relationship knowing him and others, including the late, great Sammy Davis, Jr.
I had no idea she was singer Kay Starr's assistant back in the '40s and '50s. And all this before working for Harrah's back when Bill was around and entertainers loved performing there with all the amenities that used to be the norm. What a history and an amazing person.
Between Lisa and Ricky this community has been greatly enriched. They're both just good people through and through and I can honestly say this is and will be one of the most memorable, and happy, holidays ever.
Howie Nave is a local comedian, host of The Improv at Harveys Lake Tahoe and the host of "Howie's Morning Rush" on 93.9 FM KRLT in Lake.