Radio Guest List — Catalina Casino in Avalon, California on Santa Catalina Island — August 17, 2019
At Burbank Airport preparing to helicopter on Island Express over to Avalon, on Catalina Island.
This week, Eye on Travel broadcasts from the legendary Casino in Avalon, California on Santa Catalina Island (This year marks the island’s centennial). Scott McCartney, Travel Editor at The Wall Street Journal, joins the show with the latest travel news: from which airlines are installing free WiFi to keeping track of your hotel shuttle van. Patrick Smith, Airline Pilot, Author & Founder of Ask the Pilot, dives into the story and ongoing investigation into the 737 Max and what he thinks it could potentially mean for Boeing. You can’t talk about Catalina without talking about William Wrigley and the Wrigley family, and their passion for preserving the island. Allison Wrigley Rusack, William Wrigley Jr’s great-granddaughter, joins the show and shares the family’s passion for keeping the island’s history alive — including the reopening of the iconic Atwater Hotel. Sean McAlpin from the Catalina Island Company, reports on the history of the Chicago Cubs on the island and what really happened during spring training at the other Wrigley field. There’s all this and more as Eye on Travel comes from the Catalina Casino in Avalon, California on Santa Catalina Island.
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Scott McCartney, Travel Editor at The Wall Street Journal, joins the show to chat about all of the latest travel news. We start off with airplane WiFi and what airlines are now doing to try and discourage passengers from using it in the first place. Scott then chats about a big source of complaints and improving customer satisfaction. Then, he brings up hotel shuttle vans and how to keep track of where they are. And don’t miss what Scott’s wife had to say about traveling with him.
Patrick Smith, Airline Pilot, Author & Founder of Ask the Pilot, dives into the story and ongoing investigation into the 737 Max – and what he thinks it could potentially mean for Boeing – along with his analysis of the “monster” that it has become. Patrick and Peter then chat about pilots filing for lack of compensation, if there is an end in sight to the whole fiasco and the plane that Patrick would like to see in the sky and why.
Allison Wrigley Rusack, William Wrigley Jr’s great-granddaughter, joins the program to speak about the reopening of the iconic Atwater Hotel, the family’s passion for keeping the island’s history alive and keeping up with the times. Allison then discusses her grandmother’s sparkling wine legacy, the new hotel’s unique turn-down service and keeping Catalina authentic. Then, she shares some more on the Catalina Casino’s history and managing the growth of the island.
Austin Wrigley Rusack, a 5th-generation Wrigley, shares his stories from living and working on the island, Descanso Beach and the significance of maintaining and preserving the island. Austin chats about being a bartender on the island and what his all-time favorite drink is. Spoiler alert: there’s Wrigley gum involved. He also discusses his favorite food spots around the island and what his go-to items are.
Sean McAlpin, the Catalina Island Company Historian, speaks about the little-known history of the Chicago Cubs on the island as well as the fun anecdotes of the players’ stays in the springs. Sean also chats about learning more and more of the island’s history every day, his favorite aspects of the place and the famous story of the bison on the island. He also talks about the private airport – with a wonderful restaurant – and his favorite places to eat at all times of day.
John Tusak, Organist for Catalina Casino Theatre, opens up about living and playing on Avalon at the famed Casino and the big bands that have played since the Casino opened, about 90 years ago. He talks about the organ itself, playing for movies and shares some history about the newsreels that people would come and watch at the theatre as this was how they got the news. John then plays “Avalon,” the island’s theme, for us.
Roberto Hernandez, Executive Chef at the Catalina Island Company, chats about all things food and beverage on the island – sourcing, organization and thinking ahead of time. He speaks about some of its challenges on the island and how he has incorporated his Mexican heritage into the food that he makes on the island. He also explains his techniques. Roberto chats about the types of fish that gets cooked up around the island and the dishes that did and didn’t do well on the menus.
Andrew Welham, Vice President of Activities at the Catalina Island Company, speaks about how he, an Englishman, ended up on Catalina and why he stayed on what he says is a “tropical paradise.” He talks about the trip to “the interior” where bison roam free and his personal hidden gem of Catalina: a place you wouldn’t normally know how to find. He then shares the top off-limits-to-vehicles places and how to access them. And he explains why there’s french fry oil in cars.
Gail Fornasiere, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the Catalina Island Museum, tells the story of the island going back to the time of the native islanders who inhabited the land at least 8,000 years ago. She speaks about the impact that Catalina had on American history and the military and the time (and team) that put the island on the map. She also talks about what surprises people the most about the island’s history and her favorite part, too.
Hunter Wrigley Rusack, a 5th-generation Wrigley, discusses growing up on the island and the array of activities that can be found on the island. Hunter talks about the nature preserve and history, common misconceptions, and where he takes his friends when he comes back to visit. Then, he shares more about the island in the off-season.
Hillary Holt, Interpretation and Outreach Specialist with Catalina Island Conservancy, discusses why preserving and encouraging tourism can be a slippery-slope. She talks about the endemic species on the island, some of the surprising discoveries that have been made and why Catalina is such a big deal in terms of preservation. Hillary then highlights some challenges and managing water in a drought-prone environment.