Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg sits down with Hap Freund

(Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

(Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

Certainly the hardest working man in (local public access) television, the
Santa Barbara Channel’s executive director Hap Freund took some time
out of his busy day to talk media matters with Noozhawk’s Leslie

Leslie Dinaberg: How did you get started in public television?

Hap Freund: I moved to Hawaii in 1980, with my wife who had a clerkship in the Hawaii
Supreme Court … I got a job with the mayor’s office. I was in the office of human
resources and I was in charge of special projects in social services but I wasn’t supposed
to spend any money and all I had to do was monitor a bunch of federal grants and it was
totally boring. … Somehow it came to me that there was this access channel that if you
produced television for it you could get your programs on TV.

…. I got together with some friends of mine and we did a documentary on homeless in
Hawaii. And after I made that documentary I then went to the Junior League and I got a
$50,000 grant to produce TV programs, to do the video training and to produce local
documentaries on social issues. … Over the course of about two years we did 18 half
hour documentaries. So I did that through my job working for the mayor’s

…It was kind of a back door. I had never done television. I had been a lawyer, and a
community organizer and done a lot of work in social issues, but because the mayor
didn’t want to spent any money. …I could do anything I wanted pretty much in social
services as long as I didn’t spend money. So I did this and didn’t cost her a cent.

So that’s how I got into it. Then I moved to Ashland, Oregon when our son was about a
year and a half and I did independent work. I did a documentary for NOVA that took a
year. I wrote an article for Sports Illustrated on a wildlife forensic lab in Ashland … it
was in the swimsuit issue, so the joke was it was in the most widely read Sports
Illustrated of the year, except nobody read my article. (Laughs) But part of that, I took
that article and I wrote a grant to do a film on wildlife forensics.

LD: And you were in Seattle before you came to the Santa Channels when it switched
from belonging to Cox to being a nonprofit.

HF: Yes. We became a nonprofit in January of 2003 and I started up a couple of months
before that to set up the bylaws and the policies and personnel plan.

… One of the things I really like is what’s happened in video is it’s democratized, even
more so now because you can shoot a video with your phone. It’s been an incredible
leveler and it’s just democratized so much, and You Tube helps too. You can get the
word out. What we do is so you don’t have to have a network to get the word out. And
that’s one of the things I like about this (public television) is it’s a vehicle for people to
have their opinions. … I think that’s the cornerstone of democracy is having diverse
opinions and people hearing things that are uncomfortable.

… I always think we feel a real niche with cable. Channel 17, that’s the public access
part, with Channel 21 … I have a very broad definition of education, so I look at anything
that’s culture or arts also as educational.

LD: You are also doing things with nonprofits.

HF: Now we have a grant from Orfalea Foundation to do short spotlights on nonprofits
that are out in the field and we’ve got a grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation where
we’re trying to focus a lot on doing production work for nonprofits. I think if there’s a
direction we want to go in, we really see ourselves as being the media arm for nonprofits.

LD: That’s great. Especially because I know everybody is struggling with money to
spend on things like that.

HF: Yes and we’re inexpensive and we give them something they can multipurpose
because it isn’t just going on TV, we have a video-sharing site called,
and we have all these videos. … They can link to it, they can send emails out.

LD: I hear you’re moving into the old Univision buildings in Goleta?

HF: Yes, it’s very exciting. I mean I love to be downtown but the Univision building in
the long run and even in the short run saves us money and it’s a bigger facility for less
money. And it’s a better studio. … We can have an audience of 49 people and so one of
the ideas I have is … we want to market this to nonprofits and say if you’ve got an event
if you want to have a town hall or a forum, why don’t you do it at our place because you
can put it on TV live, you can have people calling in and interacting.

… Also the other part is that I think our major mission is to facilitate and make it easier
for people to get their content out. So we look at that in terms of both the media that we
offer, …it’s both the production and the distribution. Because a lot of people just bring us
content more and more … they don’t have to produce it here to get it on the air. I am
happy to have all of that stuff.

LD: Do you have any favorite moments since you’ve been here?

HF: I could write a novel about this place. (Laughs) It’s never dull … My favorite
moment was we were producing something in the smaller studio for the film festival with
the film festival people and the police were getting ready to do a program in the other
studio and they brought some drug dogs, drug sniffing dogs in who went nuts. I saw all of
these people looking around kind of nervously and what it was was they had also brought
in some marijuana to hide behind the couch to show the dogs off, but I think a lot of
people were starting to get nervous.

… But really one of my favorite things is just knowing that people watch. When
somebody comes up to me and says, “thank you so much for showing the youth
symphony. It was so wonderful for all those kids to see their hard work on television.”
That appreciation that goes a long way.

LD: That’s great. With print media struggling, do you see an expanded or different role
for television?

HF: That’s a good question. I think the print media people who are sending the reporters
out with cameras, like the Ventura County Star or something, I think they get it. I don’t
think we compete with print media. I think the more information people have the better.
… I think there’s going to be some convergence. But I think what we need is more good
reporting and so I think the people who do print media, it’s really different than bloggers.
Bloggers can just repeat rumors. With journalists you get both sides of the story and I
think we’re losing some of that. That’s what I worry about the Internet, you can have an
opinion and people treat it as fact. … I would hate to see print journalism gone, but I
hope that what we need is good reporting. I think unbiased reporting, both sides of the
story, get the facts straight and let people make up their mind. I think that’s what’s most

LD: What else do you do when you’re not working?

HF: I like to spend time with family, watch basketball, exercise, and travel though it’s
getting harder to afford. I’m a huge basketball junkie, especially Duke.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?

HP: Enthusiastic, issue-oriented, and upbeat

Vital Stats: Hap Freund

Born: July 31, 1943 in St. Louis, Missouri

Family: Wife Claudia Chotzen, sons Zach (age 22 and a senior at Stanford) and Willy
(age 18 and a senior at Laguna Blanca).

Civic Involvement: “This takes a lot of my time. This is not a 40-hour a week
commitment, so I would say that my civic involvement really is through work and trying
to get organizations in the door and caring about what they do.”

Professional Accomplishments: Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Channels,
former lawyer and community organizer, award-winning documentary

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: “Shining City,” and “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.”

Little-Known Fact: Freund was once one of the leading experts in the country on lead
paint poisoning in children. He also holds the patent on a design for a carrot-shaped

Originally published in Noozhawk on March 29, 2009,  click here to see the link.

The After-Effects of Cruising

Love BoatI know cruises are supposed to be a splendid way to replenish your energy and deplete your bank account, but I didn’t realize the effects of going on the Love Boat would be so long lasting. It’s been three months since we went on a five-day cruise to Mexico for my parent’s 50th anniversary, and we’re still feeling the after-effects.

I finally got my land legs back last month, and the trip is paid for, but my son still expects turn down service and a mint on his pillow.

Worse yet, he’s decided he likes the 19 meals a day plan. It seems like every time I rinse another dish the kid is asking for more food. “Hey mom, my stomach’s got a little more room. Isn’t it post-brunch, second snack, pre-high tea appetizer time?”

Seriously, I don’t know what they put in the water on those Carnival Cruises, but we’ve created a monster.

Case in point: we went out to dinner the other night and Koss wanted to order crab legs as a starter, followed by a Cesar salad, French onion soup, steak and lobster, with both rice and French fries on the side, and a molten chocolate lava cake and crème brûlée for dessert. “Oh, and don’t forget the warm towels between courses,” he asked politely. The cashier at McDonalds was very confused.

At least the cruise taught him about washing his hands with something other than his tongue. But seriously, he’s having a bit of a hard time adjusting to his tough life as an average nine-year-old.

I get it.

It’s hard to go back to real life once you’ve experienced having a whole crew of maitre d’s and supervisors watching the waiters, dessert staff, bartenders, sommeliers and toque-toting buffet servers at your beck and call, just to make sure you don’t do something for yourself that they could do for you.

Then there’s the freedom of being able to sign for anything extra your little heart desires. I understand how it went to his nine-year-old head, but it’s got to stop. When we stopped by 7-Eleven for Slurpees the other day, he wanted to just “sign the bill” for all of his friends.

I fear all that service has scarred him for life. Thank goodness it was winter, which saved him from seeing a lot of people nearly naked that we would all prefer not to see nearly naked— although not from having to witness a case of suntan lotion being spread over the white expanse of skin belonging to a certain family of die-hard sunbathers from the Midwest.

Meanwhile, after traveling with our whole extended family (my side, which is much more opinionated than his) my husband and I have lost all capacity to make decisions for ourselves. We’re working on this, day by day.

I almost broke down and called my mom the other night when I couldn’t decide whether to make chicken or fish for dinner.

Luckily, Koss solved that dilemma for me. “I’ll have them both, Mom. What are we having for a palate cleanser?”

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on March 27, 2009.

When Leslie’s not reminiscing about vacations, she can be reached at For more columns visit



Butchering Barbie

Candidate BarbieBarbie turned 50 this week. And if Barbie, with her perfect, plastic persona, is anything like the red-blooded, hormone-drenched women I know who’ve turned 50, I would never dare say a word against her.

Except that every time I look at Barbie she pisses me off.

It isn’t her impossibly disproportionate measurements. Though the International Journal of Eating Disorders says that if she were life-sized, Barbie’s measurements would be 38-18-34. And others say that her legs are 50 percent longer than her arms, making it physically impossible for her to even walk, let alone snowboard, samba or play in the WNBA.

It isn’t her incredibly vast wardrobe either. Although I was terribly jealous when I heard that 50 famous fashion designers gifted her with custom made couture this week, including Tommy Hilfiger’s hand-beaded white minidress, Diane von Furstenberg’s hot-pink wrap dress and Betsey Johnson’s outrageous green party dress.

It isn’t Barbie’s refusal to let herself age gracefully that gets me hot under the collar either. A little Botox here and there is understandable; she’s always in the public eye. Though she’s had so many injections her face doesn’t move, and she’d be a much better communicator if it weren’t so hard to tell what she was thinking because her expression never changes.

It isn’t even her flakiness that ticks me off. Though I must admit, at 50 years old it’s about time Barbie figured out what she wants to do with her life. By my count, she’s had more than 100 careers-including teacher, Prime Minister, Mary Kay consultant, World Cup soccer player, nurse, yoga instructor, life guard, sign-language teacher, NASCAR driver, fighter pilot, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and rapper -you’d think that by now she would have found something that holds her interest for more than a season.

But that’s not it either.

Every time I look at Barbie she pisses me off because I see dollar signs floating away from me. Lots and lots of dollar signs.

I suppose I should explain.

When I was a kid, my Grandpa Jules was in the toy business. He never worked for Mattel, but somehow he got a hold of one of the original prototype Barbie sets. That’s right, one of the originals, with 20 different dolls from 1959, including Barbie dressed in her original black and white zebra striped swimsuit and signature blonde topknot ponytail.

Yes, the one and only original Barbie who sold at auction for $17,450 back in 2006. And there were 20 of them in the box, including some I don’t think ever made it to market. Can you imagine what they’d be worth today?

Growing up with a father in the toy business, my mom didn’t give a second thought to letting me play with the original Barbies. $17,450 for just one little Barbie! They may as well have given me dollar bills and matches to play with.

I shaved their heads, decapitated them, painted them with nail polish and ink, removed their limbs and put them into compromising positions with Ken, G.I. Joe, and Raggedy Ann and Andy.

But unlike all of the millions of other little girls who were torturing Barbie-by the way, this is such a common occurrence that Britain’s University of Bath did a research study which found that Barbie torture was a legitimate play activity-I was actually desecrating something that should have been locked away and cashed in as a down payment on my son’s college education.

I know it’s a cherished part of American girlhood to dote on, dress up, and then eventually torture Barbie with scissors and ballpoint pens. And I loved every minute of it. But couldn’t I have weathered these important lessons in love, accessories, destruction, and deconstruction, on a less valuable Barbie’s body? After all, my sister and I had heaps of Barbie Dolls, which were left naked and either headless or with their heads twisted impossibly, arms and legs in agonizing positions, and abandoned to mingle with our extra cards, stubby pencils and lost buttons under the couch. Why oh why did mom have to let us play with the valuable ones?

When Leslie’s not blaspheming Barbie, she can be reached at email . Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on March 13, 2009. For more columns visit


Photo by Maggie Smith,

Photo by Maggie Smith,

I roll up my jeans, soak my toes in that mysterious blue powdery stuff and sink into the fake leathery comfort of a foot spa chair. I set the roller massage to just the right speed and pressure, so it kneads up and down my spine without shaking my body so hard that my boobs kiss my nose, then I close my eyes and prepare for bargain basement bliss.

Ah, Nirvana. There’s nothing better than a lunchtime pedicure to relax you in the middle of a long, hard workday. It’s the perfect cure for stress.

Ah, Nirvana. There’s nothing better than a lunchtime pedicure to relax you in the middle of a long, hard workday. It’s the perfect cure for stress.

I close my eyes and pretend I’m being pampered at the Bacara, or better yet, the Ritz-Carlton in Maui. Ah, this is the life.

Then I hear it: “trông như thế nào là chất béo của cô ankles.”

Huh? They’re talking about me already. This must be a record. I haven’t even gotten to the part about the crashing waves or the umbrella drinks at my fantasy spa.

“I said you have such pretty eyes. A rhinestone bleeding heart on your thumbnail’s gonna really play them up,” says my nail technician.

“Uh, I just want a pedicure,” I say, closing my eyes and trying to get back to Maui.

“Only $4 extra if you want a knife going through the heart,” she says, shoving a card full of rhinestone designs under my chin.

“Um, no thanks. I’m not really a bling girl, or a knife through the heart girl,” I say.

“Không có bạn nhiều hơn một giá rẻ chất béo bò girl.”


“I say you have boyfriend. You have such pretty eyes you must have lots of boyfriend. Boyfriend like the bling on toes, let me tell you,” she says.

I pull out my phone. I’m not sure what she said yet, but I know she did not say that.

“Không có bạn nhiều hơn một giá rẻ chất béo bò girl,” she says.

Hey, cut it out. I know you’re talking about me in Vietnamese and pretending you’re not.  And I’m sick of pretending not to notice.

And by the way, that iPhone I’m playing with has a translation app on it, so I know you just called me a big fat cow. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult in your culture, but cut it out.

And now I know that before the cow comment you made fun of my cankles, which isn’t very nice in any culture. Please just let me enjoy my pedicure in peace and quiet, instead of my usual paranoia that all of those giggles and guffaws from you and the other nail technicians are because you’re making fun of my outfit.

And while you’re at it, stop trying to upsell me every other minute. If I wanted to spend more money on my nails I would have gone someplace that wasn’t decorated with plastic flowers in December and Christmas tinsel in July.

I know you’re talking about me, just as surely I know there’s no way your name is really Tammy or Heather. I know you’re talking about me, just as surely as I know there’s no way you can possibly be comfortable in those hooker shoes. Relax, put on some flip-flops and stop talking about your customers while they’re sitting right there. I’ve got an app and I’m not afraid to use it.

You’re in America now, and here in America we make catty comments about people AFTER they leave, not when they’re still sitting there within earshot—and certainly not before they’ve given you a tip.

Share your nailed adventures with Leslie at For more columns visit

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on March 6, 2009.



Legacies: Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, photos by Brad Eliot, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, photos by Brad Eliot, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

Helping Students Pursue a College Education

By Leslie Dinaberg

“A project of immeasurable potential benefit to the young men and women of this community is the one now being organized as the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation,” reported the Santa Barbara News-Press on June 14, 1962. 

Now 46 years later, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara (it was renamed in 1993) has grown and thrived, helping more than 23,000 students pursue a college education. 

With college costs going up every year—now the University of California averages $24,000 per year and private colleges or universities can cost upwards from $40,000 per year—there’s no doubt that the Scholarship Foundation has been incredibly valuable to the community and its services are needed now more than ever.

Started by a group of PTA parents, teachers and counselors, and the American Association of University Women, the Scholarship Foundation gave out nine $100 scholarships in 1963. 

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, story by Leslie Dinaberg. SB Seasons spring 2009.

“One of the driving forces in getting the group started was Annette Slavin, now deceased. Two of Annette’s children are still in town—realtor Steve Slavin and La Cumbre Junior High Principal JoAnn Caines,” says executive director Colette Hadley. “The Scholarship Foundation’s first fundraising event was a New Year’s Eve party at Annette’s house.”

The foundation was an all-volunteer organization for 14 years. Carolyn Ferguson was the first employee, part-time executive director, after being involved as a volunteer, says Hadley.  “Gail Towbes was another volunteer and the first director of development. … She talked about planned gifts and that sort of thing long before anybody did that. Now 20 years later some of those gifts are starting to come to fruition.” 

Along with bake sales and parties, the 1970s heralded a series of Los Angles Lakers Basketball benefit games to raise money for scholarships, while people like Michael Towbes, Richard Welch and Jim Black worked to bring a business-like approach to the board. “Attorney Arthur Gaudi brought us our first major gift when a client of his left us a farm in Iowa. It sold at that time for about $400,000 which was a princely sum,” says Hadley.

Santa Barbara Seasons Spring 2009 cover.

Santa Barbara Seasons Spring 2009 cover.

In the 1980s, the foundation raised money with “Wickets and Mallets,” an elegant croquet tournament held at the Klinger Estate in Hope Ranch, and in 1992 the first Concours d’Elegance classic car show was held to benefit the foundation, bringing new donors and even more attention to the organization. In that decade assets increased from $2.4 million to $16.5 million and annual awards went from $363,484 to $2.1 million, buoyed by gifts of $2 million each from the Cavalletto Family and Lillian and Lawrence Smith.

Each year the scholarships have increased. In 2008 the foundation awarded $8.6 million in student aid and helped more than 3,300 students attend college. One of those awards went to Stacey Lydon, who got her undergraduate degree at University of California Los Angeles, and is now in graduate school at University of California San Diego. “The scholarship from the foundation has made a very positive impact on my professional progress,” says Lydon.  

“With the scholarship I was able to take my dream internship with Network for Africa, and not have to worry about juggling a demanding school schedule, hours at an internship and time at a job, which may pay the bills but not really provide any career-enhancing experience.  I have been working with Network for Africa for almost a year now, and was able to travel with them to Rwanda this past summer.  … I couldn’t have done it without the scholarship.”

According to director of development Rebecca Anderson, 83 percent of Scholarship Foundation recipients complete their intended degree, compared to the national average of 52 percent. “Having that community foundation behind you is incredibly motivating,” she says.

Support from the Scholarship Foundation allowed Dr. Daniel Brennan to come back to his hometown as a pediatrician. “I feel so fortunate to be able to care for the children in the very community in which I was raised,” he says.  “It is an amazing privilege to care for the children of my former classmates.  It is even more special that I am able to practice pediatrics side by side with my own childhood pediatrician, Dr. Ernest Kolendrianos.”

That kind of personal touch is evident in the way the foundation does business—every eligible student is personally interviewed by either a board member or a trained volunteer—and as Hadley points out, these days it’s not just very low income families, but also middle income families that need assistance to afford college. “We do our best to make sure that everyone that wants to go to college has the opportunity to go.” 

Originally published in the Spring 2009 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Click below to read the story as it appeared in print.

Seasons_SP09_FCR + Legacies

The “W’s” of Working Out



The symphony of treadmills and weight machines always gets a little louder this time of year-whether it’s a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, a few too many latkes or too much eggnog, or the gift of a gym membership-getting fit is one of the most popular goals at the start of each year. Here are some options to suit every workout style.

Who: The Gym Rat

What: Santa Barbara Athletic Club has awesome equipment and a vast variety of workout options, including Pilates, Spinning, indoor and outdoor weight rooms, swimming, squash and racquetball.

When: Monday – Thursday: 5:00 am – 10:30 pm; Friday: 5:00 am – 10:00 pm; Saturday: 6:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sunday: 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Where: 520 Castillo Street.

Wear: For a guilt-free, post workout treat, head to the new supplement/protein bar at Montecito Athletic Club (40 Los Patos Way, Montecito).

Who: The Mom

What: Enlist with “General” Stacey Cooper on a BootyCampSB mission to “raise your fitness level and your booty to new heights.”

When: Kids work out for free at the Parent-Child Booty Camp every Monday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Girsh Park, 7050 Phelps Road, Goleta.

Wear: Head to Eddie Bauer (130 S. Hope Ave., La Cumbre Plaza) for the “essential daypack bottle” loaded with all the gear you’ll need to survive a day with the kids.

Who: The Beach Babe

What: Try Moms in Motion’s Stand Up Paddle Board team for “the most fun you can have on the water-while improving your balance, upper body and core strength.”

When: Sundays at 8 a.m.

Where: Leadbetter Beach, Shoreline Drive and Loma Alta.

Wear: You can rent equipment or splurge on a Kialoa -Nalu Stand Up Surf Paddle from Paddle Sports of Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Harbor).

Who: The Couch Potato

What: Try a Jazz Dance or Hip Hop Class at Santa Barbara Dance Arts (formerly Santa Barbara Jazz Dance Academy). You’ll have so much fun you won’t even realize you’re working out till the pounds start sweating off.

When: Jazz Mondays at 6:45 p.m.; Beginning/Intermediate Hip Hop Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; Advanced Hip Hop Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Where: 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez #100.

Wear: Pick up your dancing shoes at Harlequin’s Theatrical Supply (17 W. Gutierrez St.).

Who: The Yogini

What: Yoga Soup has a fun variety of classes, with owner Eddie Ellner’s good karma philosophy of “pay what you can,” for his eclectic “soupy mix” of classes.

When: Tuesdays at 5 p.m.; Tuesdays; Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.; and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Where: 28 Parker Way.

Wear: Head to Drishti (130 E. Canon Perdido St.) for a Manduka eKO eco-friendly yoga mat and a comfy pair of their “Beyond Yoga” pants or capris that are so stylish you’ll want to wear them all day long.

Who: The Jock

What: At Dr. Bob Wilcher’s Killer B Fitness, this Chiropractor/Personal Trainer will whip-we mean motivate-you into shape whether your goal is to run a marathon or sweat off a few sizes in his few frills, no mercy private gym.

When: By appointment, call 805-448-2222 for information.

Where: 126 Powers Ave.

Wear: Lucy (3825 State St., La Cumbre Plaza) offers a new “core power collection” of tops stay soft, comfortable and dry, no matter how much you sweat.

Who: The Hiker

What: The Santa Barbara Sierra Club offers a variety of hikes for every fitness level from the occasional hiker to the diehard backpackers.

When: Hikers meet weekly on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. and Friday nights at 6:15 p.m., destination are chosen at the meeting points.

Where: Santa Barbara Mission, Laguna and Los Olivos Streets. Also visit for additional hikes scheduled every weekend from a variety of locations and terrains.

Wear: Head to Santa Barbara Oufitters (1200 State St.) to pick up one of Ex Officio’s “Insect Repellent” hats, which are great for those sunny, buggy hikes on the beach. Plus, rain or shine, you can take a trek up their indoor climbing wall.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine in 2009.