RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Frank B. Shaner, left, hosts "Make Me Laugh," a comedy show that features Melveen Leed, Mel Cabang and Jody Ballesteros (not pictured) on Saturday. Shaner's radio career is back on track after more than a year off the airwaves.
Back in the saddle
Frank B. Shaner is refreshed and ready for comedy along with his KUMU gig
You can finally stop asking the question, "Where's Frankie B?" A year and a half after Frank B. Shaner's abrupt departure from 105.1 KINE's morning show, he's resurfaced at KUMU-FM and describes his time away from the spotlight as "the greatest" in his life.
"Make Me Laugh: Classic Series"
With Melveen Leed, Mel Cabang and Jody Ballesteros
Place: C'est Sibon Showroom, Pagoda Hotel, 1525 Rycroft St.
Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
"I was running on the radio for 25 (years) straight," he said Monday afternoon, prior to a rehearsal with Melveen Leed, Mel Cabang and Jody Ballesteros, who he will introduce as host of this weekend's "Make Me Laugh: Classic Series" at the Pagoda's C'est Sibon Showroom. "For myself, it was a really good time to go back and take stock of what life was dealing (me) at the time."
BORN AND raised on Oahu, the 57-year-old Shaner worked a short stint in the travel industry before giving radio a try.
But as anyone who has tried to break into the business will tell you, getting on the air is more than just walking into a station and signing up. At first, Shaner had a hard time.
"Then I said I'd work for free, and boom, I got four jobs," he said with a laugh. "I don't think they called you an intern back then. They just called you go-fer."
Starting at KIKI in 1978, Shaner went from an unpaid assistant to weekends and overnights on the radio. He remained as an on-air personality throughout the 1980s, moving over to KINE in 1994. Shortly thereafter, he was joined by co-host Brickwood Galuteria, who remained at the station when Shaner was removed in January 2004 after returning from vacation.
"(It's) a crazy business ... it's corporate decisions, and they needed to make shifts and changes and so forth. That's how it goes sometimes. And as they say, one door closes and another door opens."
BESIDES LOSING his morning show gig, Shaner was dealt another blow last year when the Aloha Festivals decided to replace him as host of its annual falsetto contest and remove his name from the event entirely, after a decade of involvement.
But Shaner doesn't hold a grudge against the festivals' powers-that-be.
"Hey, listen -- the whole essence, the reason, for the falsetto contest is to find new talent," he said. "The Aloha Festivals folks were terrific, and we had a nice partnership over there. It was just time to pass the torch on, and they're doing a great job."
Without steady employment and the falsetto contest out of his hands, Shaner spent most of 2005 taking things one day at a time. He was forced to sell an apartment in Chinatown to raise funds, while also relying on personal savings and emcee gigs to make ends meet.
"It was close, but everything worked out nicely," said Shaner. "I have pake blood, see? If I have five bucks, I going put three away. And I'll share one, and keep one for me. You've got to look ahead a little bit down the road, always."
THAT ROAD happened to lead back into radio, when Shaner accepted a position as morning show host on KUMU in August. It was a surprise of sorts, since he had figured his radio career had ended after a quarter of a century.
Now he's back to rising before the sun comes up, making a short commute from Makiki to the station's studios on Amana Street. Instead of Brickwood, he now has Mandy Suganuma by his side .
Other than a couple of small parties, Saturday's concert marks Shaner's return to the stage as a comedian. Although he's officially the night's host, expect a lot of interaction with Leed and Cabang.
"Just to come out and play and goof around with them, it's absolutely fabulous," said Shaner. "And this young lady, Jody B, you're going to see some fresh comedy. And I've been working on some stuff, so we'll see what happens.
"This is the second half of the game for me. We're all rested, and we're going to come back. It's going to be good fun."