Chief Surfing Officer
Before hitting the waves, surfers in Hawaii first check with Gary Kewley’s Surf News Network. He’s on radio and TV, while his hotline receives 10,000 calls a day and his Website 10,000 hits a day
By Chad Pata
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Kewley catches up with Todd Bradley (right), with
whom he has been surfing for 25 years, and Michael
Newman at Buffalo’s Big Board Classic at Makaha last
When you’re Gary Kewley, the chief surfing officer for the Surf News Network, it is only natural that all your metaphors involve waves.
Ask him how he’s dealing with the rapid expansion of his media conglomerate and he says, “I’m just riding this wave and trying not to pearl.” As in burying the nose of your board in a wave and falling.
How about his work ethic?
“I’m the first one in the water and the last one out.”
And the capriciousness of conducting business in Hawaii?
“Sometimes it’s stormy, sometimes it’s glassy, sometimes it’s mushy and sometimes it’s perfect and off-shore.”
How does someone who runs a company that reaches a quarter-million people a day in the Islands think so simply?
Gary Kewley is up every morning before dawn to check
National Weather Service reports and buoy readings
and get observations from his reporters before putting
out a surf forecast
“I am Spicoli, dude,” says Kewley, referring to the stoned-out surf rat from the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
It turns out that Ridgemont High was fashioned after Kewley’s high school in San Diego, and his youth mirrored that of the Sean Penn character. After partying his way through high school, Kewley attended San Diego State, garnering himself a degree in psychology and four years in the surf.
Armed with a degree and a love for waves, his opportunity to move to the home of surfing came in 1980 when he was offered a job teaching outdoor education at Camp Mokuleia.
Once here he hooked up with Joe Teipel, who had started a surf report and needed wave spotters. Over the next 10 years, Kewley learned the business and eventually bought out Teipel in 1990, and the rest, as Kewley would say, has been a sweet ride.
“The past 16 years have just flown by,” says Kewley, who has grown the business into the Island’s largest locally syndicated news feature.
“It’s funny, people to this day still ask me if I drive around and look at the surf all day. I tell them that was my original idea, but truly it’s a sales job. Salesman by day, surfer by night.”
Sad but true: Kewley had to grow up a bit.
After all, offering comprehensive surf analysis to the public for free does not come cheap. So most of his days are spent trying to wrangle new sponsors and taking care of his current ones.
In fact, he admits to sometimes going
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