One thing I remember most of all was calling in to the station one last time, to say goodbye to people I had never met in person, but considered my friends. Some of the phone operators you get to know over the years, but so many come and go that it is impossible to know all of them so when someone answered the phone that day whose voice I didn't instantly recognize, I thought nothing of it, because there was a huge gathering at the studio full of former DJs and phone operators.
The person asked me my name and where I was from. When I gave the name of my hometown of Downey, California, he answered back, "Downey's a nice place." Being a teenager, I gave an answer along the lines of, "You must have never been here, because it's so boring!" He answered back, "Actually, I grew up there. Had great times there."
It was right then that I realized: Holy shit, I am talking to James Hetfield. He grew up in my hometown. He went to the same high school as I did; where I am ditching school from. I am talking to the frontman of Metallica, the biggest fucking metal band on earth right now.
I had never spoken to a celebrity before, so I probably did not play it very cool when I asked outright, "You're James Hetfield, aren't you?" When he answered back, "No, I'm Lars.", I knew that it was indeed him that I was talking to. He chatted with me for a couple more minutes (about what, I can't really remember), and then that was it. Even on the final day, KNAC had given me a memory to keep with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, KNAC, for giving me an opportunity that every other teenager at that time could have only dreamed about: to have a few minutes to just shoot the breeze with James Hetfield or anyone from Metallica, and just to talk to them like a regular person. I got to do that, and it was because of KNAC. Even in their last hours of life, they were still giving back to their fans and still giving them happy memories to hold on to.
If I'd never had hometown pride before, I felt it not only after talking to James, but when those final moments of KNAC were approaching, and a montage was played over the Queensrÿche song "Empire", naming every single city in the area that KNAC had reached. When they named my hometown, I felt like I had been part of something. It was their way of telling all of us that we belonged, and that for all the love we had for them, KNAC had loved us back.
James Hetfield on KNAC`s final day.