If you visit someone you haven’t chatted with in more than a decade, you would expect things to have changed a bit. That is exactly what happened to Mike Latronic since he was on the cover of MidWeek way back in February 1993 (with the late Mark Foo).
The former pro surfer has added three kids, daughters Kaea, 11, and Wailoa, 9, and the newest arrival, 3-month-old son Keola, and has produced two television shows and one magazine. It’s been a busy decade.
“When I worked at H3O, it was probably one of the hardest things I had to do,” says Latronic, who was still competing at the time. “I was so busy. I just had a brand-new baby and I was sleeping on the couch at H3O. That was a difficult period because it took me away from my family and away from the beach.”
Mike left H3O in 1996, but was far from leaving the world of surfing behind. He continued as a writer and photographer for several different publications before being drawn back into television the very next year. Latronic began producing segments for Robert Kekaula’s Sports Sunday Hawaii. That gig didn’t last, but it did open the door for a new local surfing program that became Board Stories.
“It’s been going strong for several years now,” he says. “Apparently the ratings have been very good. We got a Neislon rating of two. From what I understand that’s unheard of for a cable program.”
Latronics latest stab at publishing began at the end of 2003. Originally titled Board Stories Magazine, the publication soon settled on a name that Mike feels is more in tune with the true spirit of the sport. Hence the title, Free Surf Magazine, which plays on the fun side of the sport and because, well, the magazine is free.
“Free surfing represents everything all surfers love. It’s why we all love to go the beach and go surfing. No jerseys, no photos. It’s why athletes love to do the sport.”
Things seem to be going well. The latest issue came in at about 120 pages, and in addition to the 20,000 that are printed for Hawaii, 2,000 issues are sent to the Mainland. And there is talk of spreading the distribution to Japan and Europe.
Though he may be even busier now than he was in the early days, Latronic is much more satisfied. “I have a crew of about five employees and 30 subcontractors. Not only do I have to make the coffee and change the water bottle, at the end of the day I have to make sure their payroll taxes are taken care of.”
Free surf, maybe. Free from taxes, never.
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