The Cal Poly journalism department is honoring alumni at its 100th anniversary celebration of student press. One of these alumni is Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Yankovic will be at the celebration’s Spotlight Gala on Oct. 15 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Luis Obispo, where he will be inducted into the inaugural Mustang Media Hall of Fame.
The Mustang Media Hall of Fame was created by the journalism department to honor Cal Poly students and faculty who have made major contributions to student press.
“We wanted a way to recognize some of our really accomplished graduates and other people who have played a vital role as mentors,” journalism department chair Mary Glick said. “All of them in their own way are superstars and we are thrilled to be honoring them.”
When the department started planning the Mustang Media Hall of Fame about a year ago, they knew they wanted to honor Yankovic.
“We asked a friend to let him know that we were hoping he would come and let him know that we think of him as an important figure in the history of our radio station,” Glick said.
Yankovic’s journey to becoming Weird Al started in the strangest of places— a men’s bathroom at Cal Poly. As a DJ for KCPR, a song that was frequently played in 1979 was “My Sharona” by the Knack. Knowing that bathrooms have great acoustics, Yankovic decided to play his hand at singing and pair it with his sense of humor, creating the parody song “My Bologna.”
When The Knack played a concert on campus, Yankovic met the Vice President of Capitol Records Rupert Perry, where he snagged a record deal before graduating in 1980.
“I think it’s rather weird that he was on KCPR,” psychology senior and KCPR DJ Justine Nader said. “And I hope he comes to visit the station because I have a lot of questions about his satire.”
Other honorees in the Mustang Media Hall of Fame include alumni Bruce McPherson, George Ramos and Robert E. Kennedy.
Yankovic and McPherson will be honored in person at the event while Ramos and Kennedy will be honored posthumously.
After graduation, McPherson worked on his family’s newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel. After 26 years of reporting and editing, McPherson served four terms with the California State Senate before becoming California’s Secretary of State. Now McPherson is running for reelection as Santa Cruz County’s 5th District Supervisor.
George Ramos — former editor-in-chief of El Mustang — fought in the Vietnam War before he furthered his journalism career as a Los Angeles Times reporter, becoming a Cal Poly journalism professor, newspaper adviser and department chair after that. Ramos was also a Pulitzer price recipient.
Robert E. Kennedy, Cal Poly President from 1967 to 1979, began as a journalism professor and adviser for the student newspaper and helped create the journalism department.