John Michael Flint, KTRB commentator in the mid 70's, was found dead July 29, 2010 in his Modesto home. He was 67. He was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1942 and raised in Auburn, New York where he graduated from Mount Carmel High School and attended the University of Rochester (NY). John was involved in the computer business during the industry's early years, first in Rochester, New York, then in Honolulu, Hawaii. John had a long time career in radio in Hawaii and KTRB in Modesto starting in 1975. He was a freelance contributor to the Modesto Bee usually wrote about local politics. John was preceded in death by his mother Margaret and father John. He is survived by his daughter Julia Flint Allen, a granddaughter and grandson, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins and his eternal love Carol Benson of Modesto. Graveside services were held at Lakewood Memorial Park, in Hughson August 10, 2010. (Short audio clip from KTRB)
John Michael Flint Obituary
September 19, 1942 - July 29, 2010
John Michael Flint
By Carol Benson
John was a libertarian all his life. He and his best friend, Michael Pullen, founded a local libertarian party in Modesto, and personally paid for bus benches around Modesto that simply said " Taxation is Theft." He passionately supported the Bill of Rights and warned about the dangers of Big Government.
John moved from Hawaii to Sacramento in the early 1970's. He was raised in Auburn, New York. He once was involved with the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). While living in Hawaii, he did numerous radio talk shows and public speaking about libertarianism; he also wrote a regular political opinion column for a Hawaiian paper and engaged in political debates and forums.
In 1975, while living in Sacramento, he discovered 860 AM (KTRB) and began calling the Ramona Adams & Carol Benson talk shows. KTRB owner Mike Pappas liked what he had to say, so in 1975 he had Flint host an afternoon talk show on KTRB. John was on the air stirring things up Mon-Fri until late 1977 when the station format changed. John worked selling KTRB air-time for several years after that (Kathy Connley was his boss and a good friend.)
It should also be noted that Mr. Pete Pappas (Mike Pappas's brother) asked John to do and early morning sports show during the early news on KTRB. John faithfully went in at 4:30 every morning to record the show (M-F), then went on to his regular day job in sales. He did this for years.
What few knew was that for a number of years - at Pete Pappas' request - John wrote Mr. Pappas' station editorials which ran every week. (John never got, or wanted, credit for them. He loved writing.)
Also, for a brief period (again, Pete Pappas owned KTRB-AM & KHOP FM- the latter became Rock 104) John hosted a Sunday evening talk show on Rock 104. I think that lasted about a year. Meanwhile, John kept his day job- which by then was in car sales.
The local libertarian Party lost it's momentum, but John continued to be in demand as a provocative and informative speaker and debated in public forums on various local issues. The week before Robert Kennedy, Jr. spoke at Modesto Junior College about the environment, John was a speaker on a panel at MJC that debated Kennedy's book.
In 1977, John became a community columnist for the Modesto Bee. He wrote more than 100 columns (every 3 weeks) and became one of their most popular op/ed writers. He was working on his next column when he died on July 29, 2010.
John had a gruff exterior and did not "suffer fools gladly, " but those of us fortunate to get close to him knew he not only had a brilliant mind, but also a kind and loving heart. He was a moral compass for many of us. He was 67 when he died. He is dearly missed.
Knowing John Flint
By Michael Pullen
I got the call early Friday morning; John Michael Flint was dead. I hung up the phone and wept. A man is lucky if he has three or four truly close friends during his lifetime. John was one of mine.
It started in 1980. I raised my hand to ask a question at a Libertarian meeting in Stockton and the next thing I knew I was a candidate for US Congress. I was a thirty year old hippie woodworker and in so far over my head that I really didn't comprehend it at first. It became clear soon enough. There were press ambushes, early morning telephone radio interviews when I was still half asleep, wild haired photo's in small town newspapers. Back then we had competing news departments on local radio so coverage was intense.
When the Republican suddenly dropped out it became a much bigger story. TV cameras in the living room, Marijuana growing in the backyard. My candidacy was a train wreck. John Michael Flint called, offering his assistance as unpaid producer for radio spots and campaign manager. I knew him by reputation because of his talk show on KTRB.
We met on the appointed Saturday morning in the old KTRB parking lot. I arrived with rehearsed scripts. John brought public domain music and the spots were cut in less than an hour. With nothing left to do we quickly adjourned to a pizza parlor for lunch and a beer or two. What ensued was an epic bender. We were literally overnight best friends.
So, John and I were drinking buddies. Our haunts were West Modesto country bars; places long gone but fondly remembered by some; Dixie's Kansas Club and The Whip . Our conversations were mostly political at first, whispered over dark tables with raucous pool games and (rare) bar fights as counter point.
Those were heady days for the libertarian movement. When Dylan sang "There was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air" he probably wasn't referring to Merle Haggard and Laissez-Faire Capitalism but that was our revolution and we pursued it with the passion of thirty somethings on a mission. Plans were made and some were carried out. There were tax initiatives and censorship groups to be battled and we won most of our fights back then.
Through it all there was always a lot of humor, mostly behind the scenes. John loved a joke, often at the expense of anyone who took themselves too seriously, and local politics provided ample opportunity for that. Local political junkies will remember some of those fights: Measure S, Measure L. Measure Y...CLEAN. It's all water under the bridge now and long forgotten by most, but those were heated local battles and John was in the middle of all of them.
We had high, wild times. John was usually in front and I was more often behind; volunteering for the opposition to gather info (even lifting a file or two, truth be told) , distributing fliers, making buttons, concocting front groups to Mao-mao the media...whatever it took.
John took the fight seriously, but never himself. That's why criticism rolled off him like it did.That was John Michael Flint's public persona. He made his share of enemies in local government long before he started writing his popular columns for the Bee.
By the tail end of the eighties I found it necessary to quit drinking and drugging. My friendship with John had grown so deep by then that it was hardly noticed. John, it turned out, had only been a tourist in that world; I was the one who lived there. His response to the news: "Well, you still drink coffee, don't you?"
Those who knew him as a friend knew a very different John Flint. Like a lot of curmudgeons John's gruffness belied a kind heart. He loved animals and never left our home without talking to each of our numerous pets. He seemed particularly fond of my chicken Amelia. John grew up in rural upstate New York. His boyhood chicken was named Gus.
In the 30 years I knew him I never once saw John turn his back on a friend. He would never you tell this story himself, but I know that he was a frequent visitor to an ailing, elderly Tom Howard. Tom was Turlock's John Michael; a bohemian sort who took on City Hall and won. Tom was nearly blind at the end, living alone as he had most of his life and with few friends left. Among them was John Flint.
I saw John a week before he died. We sat at our customary Denny's table and ate our dinner. It wasn't about the food; it was always about the conversation. We lingered much longer than usual that night; I arrived home after 10 pm. We talked like we would both live forever, but I'm sure we both knew better.
Now that it's over what can say about my best friend? He fought the good fight and had fun doing it. Can a life be better lived? I think not.