“The Bone, hello! Who’s this?” Steven Seaweed asks, extending his o’s with the excitement of someone who’s long been expecting a phone call. Yet Seaweed — known on the air as the Weedman — has been taking calls and spinning wax for over 40 years. His charmingly incredulous, joking, and upbeat voice is one of the more enduring sounds in Bay Area radio.
“People just like me and they like my voice and they like what I have to say,” Seaweed says from his studio in downtown San Francisco. “I’ve worked hard at it, and I’ve also adapted to the changes that have come my way over the years, because every station is different.”
Seaweed has been the mid-morning-to-afternoon host on 107.7 FM The Bone for the past 20 years, serving up classic hits from artists such as REO Speedwagon and AC/DC to his listeners, whom he affectionately calls “boneheads.” But now, after decades as a California broadcaster, the Weedman will retire on June 30.
At 72, Seaweed looks like his voice sounds. He’s a bit wiry, with short hair and the kind, chilled-out face of a former surfer-hippie who’s passionate about cycling and his dog, Cali. While he was born on the East Coast and raised around Sunnyvale, Seaweed’s radio roots are tied to California’s coast. He made his radio debut on New Year’s Eve in 1972 on Carmel’s KLRB FM, and it was shortly after that he adopted the nickname “the Weedman.”
“You’ll notice that I never call myself that, ever,” he says. “My theory is you never get to pick your nickname, people pick it for you.”
Seaweed was behind the mic at KLRB for six years before joining the freeform rock station KSAN FM (then known as “The Jive 95”) on the weekends. Despite his love of rock ’n’ roll, Seaweed stayed on through the station’s November 1980 format change to country. He moved on to several other on-air positions at KFAT FM, KWSS FM, KRQR FM, and Alice 97.3, before rejoining KSAN, now called The Bone, in 1997.
While The Bone operates like a traditional commercial station with set programming, Seaweed has the rare privilege of creating original bits with music of his choice.
“I create all of my content, 100 percent,” Seaweed says. “A lot of people, they’ll sort of have an agency that produces a lot of bits. I think people like their announcers to be live and local, too. With voice tracking, a lot of times the person on the air is from another market. I don’t think I’m kind of typical of any radio DJs that are left, nowadays.”
The Weedman is on air for five hours each day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., creating unique programs for each hour of his shift. During the 10 o’clock hour, Seaweed picks a timely record from his massive private collection — like Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” for recent grads — and talks about the song’s backstory. Called “Classic Vinyl,” this is the last bit of original programming created by the Weedman that’s still on the air. He previously did a “Two Truths and One Lie” bit about rock stars, a “Bone Up on The Beatles” hour where he focused solely on the Fab Four, and “Live From The Bone Concert Vault.”
But Seaweed’s most iconic piece of programming was the all-request segment “Hot Lunch,” an hour-long show where listeners could call in to request a song based on a theme. “Hot Lunch” ran for 30 years before being cut last year, and was perhaps the greatest source of Weedman-related sayings. After a listener requested a song, Seaweed would lob his old standby phrase, “Get outta here and throw me a bone!” Listeners would then reply, “You’re rockin’ with the Weedman on 1077 The Bone, baby!” Some lucky listeners would even get to meet the Weedman in the studio during “Free Food Fridays,” catered lunches that often included a live performance by a local band.
“The most memorable times were these Free Food Friday hot lunches. I absolutely loved doing that. I loved the contact with the listeners,” Seaweed says. He keeps in touch with his enormous fanbase through birthday messages on social media and through in-person appearances at events.
Through his positive energy and deep knowledge of classic rock — Seaweed has about 8,000 albums and about 2,000 45 rpm records at home — the DJ has managed to tap into multiple generations of rock fans despite the growing dominance of streaming services like Spotify.
“The [classic-rock] format is very strong still. It’s a lot of the music that people grew up with,” Seaweed says. “People want to relive the past, and I get to give that to them every day.”
Seaweed’s classic-rock cred goes back to the heyday of San Francisco’s music scene, where he went to concerts by up-and-coming bands like Led Zeppelin and Country Joe and The Fish.
“Back in the late ’60s and ’70s, they would do a show at the Fillmore West on Thursday and then move it over to Winterland [Ballroom] for Friday and Saturday for a bigger audience, then back to Fillmore West for a Sunday show,” he says. “So a lot of times I’d go to a Thursday show, and if I liked [the band], then I would go to the Sunday show.”
While the Weedman still loves classic rock, many of the groups he grew up with are now “greatest hits” bands. This is partly why the Weedman has decided to get off the air sooner, rather than later. He doesn’t want to fade into obscurity or become dated, like many of his former radio colleagues.
“My father, a long time ago, said to me, ‘If this thing works out for you, you should think about going out on top,’ ” Seaweed says. “I kinda like that idea. I didn’t want to be one of these hangers-on that was on the downside of his career. Nobody’s pushing me out.”
Seaweed hopes his final day on air can be an all-request show, but after that, who knows where the future will take him. He says he might do some voice-work on commercials or “create some sort of podcast,” but before he does all that, he has to get one major life task accomplished.
“I’ve got to clean out the garage,” he says. “That’s where I’m going to start.”