Ranch & Coast Magazine

August 2023

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at's Show Business L AUREN PHINNEY IS RUNNING LATE. e comely blonde KUSI-TV morning news anchor is a scheduled guest on the 120th episode of On the Air with Sully & Little Tommy. TV talk- show co-host and media entrepreneur Robert "Sully" Sullivan has Phinney on his cell phone. Inadvertently, all of us on set can hear Phinney's voice. She's a regular On e Air guest…but she's lost. Cut her a break; this is the first show being taped at a new location. Loft100 Studios in Carlsbad is roughly five miles from the former set. e crew isn't panicking. Members of the funky, bluesy Sully Band seem to be taking a possible delay in stride. Calmly, co-host "Little" Tommy Sablan announces that Phinney will appear last on the panel show. e other guests will include evening news anchor Logan Byrnes (fun fact: his father played Vince Fontaine in the original Grease movie); Sam "e Cooking Guy" Zien (he once shushed Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford during an appearance on the Today show); and Suzanne Husby, president and CEO of Make- A-Wish San Diego (her nonprofit makes the world a better place). One by one, On the Air guests enter the show's phantasmagoric Studio A and navigate past roughly 60 applauding audience members to sit on stools at the set's centerstage "bar" table. Conversation is free- flowing and loose. Sully likes to keep the banter organic. It works. Looking around the set — twice as big as the former one — you see uncountable pieces of nostalgic musical memorabilia. Posters advertising e Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie cover walls and shelves. Many of the knickknacks (antique mics, a statue of Elvis Presley) were moved over from the old studio. Smart move. Just days before this taping, the show's Jeff Van Gonka won a regional Emmy for Best Set Design. "Wait'll they see this new set," Sully effuses after the taping is over and everybody's outside eating food truck tacos. He's inside, resting in a cushioned chair in the studio's splashy green room. is space is also musically themed and includes framed displays of guitars broken onstage during performances by e Clash and e Who. Dressed as he was for the show in a casual plaid shirt, white baseball cap, and white sneakers, Sully expresses satisfaction that the first show in his new studio went off without a major hitch. "It was fantastic," he says. "is was the first time we stress tested everything. Music. Multiple guests. Studio audience. Sound effects. I knew it would work. But it was exhilarating and also a sigh of relief." Entrepreneurial guru. TV show host. Guitar-slinging bandleader. Robert "Sully" Sullivan is all that and On the Air in a big, bold, new studio in Carlsbad BY RON DONOHO | PHOTOGRAPHY BY VINCENT KNAKAL Robert "Sully" Sullivan ranchandcoast.com 78 AUGUST 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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