Our Town: ‘The Guy from Tahoe’ is a versatile entrepreneur
Curtis Fong is an entrepreneur in the truest sense: He wears many hats – or, in his case, many helmets.
Fong is owner and president of TGFT Productions, a DJ and ski reporter on KRLT radio and an associate producer for KMTN-TV. As if that weren’t enough, he also provides ski-report podcasts on the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Web site and has written for print media.
A resident of the Tahoe Basin for 35 years, he is known on local media as “The Guy from Tahoe.”
TGFT Productions, which Fong started in 1989, produces Bike the West, which offers five bicycling events from spring to fall.
Fong was one of the original founders of the Alta Alpine Cycling Club in 1983 at South Lake Tahoe, was director of the Death Ride in Alpine County from 1984 to 1995, and in 1990 started his own series of rides with The Comstock Silver Century. In 1991, he started America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride and One Awesome Tour Bike Ride Across Nevada – and both still are going strong.
Eleven years ago, he started the X-Rides out of Rachel, Nev. The event includes a night ride to the Area 51 mailbox on Saturday and a ride from the mailbox to the perimeter of Area 51 on Sunday. Six years ago, he started Tour de Tahoe – Bike Big Blue, which takes place the Sunday after Labor Day.
America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride works in conjunction with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and has raised $40 million for the society in 13 years, $8.5 million of that in each of the past two years.
Born 57 years ago in Sacramento, Fong graduated from Sacramento State University in 1972 with a degree in business. At age 22, he was junior staff analyst supervisor in charge of the California Franchise Tax Board, where he supervised 140 people and oversaw all individual and corporate tax for the state. But he realized after four years that it wasn’t his “cup of tea.”
In the meantime, he had completed the Fishback School of Photography in Sacramento, and in 1973 opened the first photography concession at Kirkwood Mountain Resort on weekends. In 1980, he became advertising and public-relations manager for the ski resort.
He learned to ski when he was 12 at Peddler Hill, which was on Highway 88, 20 miles west of Kirkwood. The bug bit him while he was watching the Olympics at Squaw Valley in 1960, and he told himself, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up. I want to ski on that snow.”
He left Kirkwood to work in sales for KTHO radio and became station manager for KZFR radio. He returned to the ski industry as the marketing director at Sierra Ski Ranch from 1985 to 1986, then went back into radio with KRLT and KOWL.
Fong was married for 25 years but now is single. He has two grown children: Son Matthew, 24, is a sports photographer, and daughter Erin, 22, is studying health science at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Besides skiing and cycling, he has been collecting and driving exotic and sports cars for the past 10 years. He also plays guitar and writes music and lyrics, mostly contemporary and country ballads and light jazz.
Here are his answers to the Tribune’s questions:
“Everything! I like Chinese (duh), sushi, Italian, Mexican, steak.”
“I think it is health care. It’s sad to see how many people can’t afford health insurance.”
” ‘Feng Shui for Abundance,’ by David Daniel Kennedy. It’s helping me get my house and my mind in order.”
“I like all types of music, from album rock to current adult alternative. And, of course, I like my original music. I like to sing and perform Eagles, John Denver, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw.”
“A race-car driver, because I like to drive fast. Or a helicopter pilot. I went heliskiing to the Ruby Mountains recently and was totally impressed with the pilot and helicopter’s ability and agility.”
“I like everyone and, basically, anyone who is self-made.”
“I especially admire Mahatma Gandhi, because I believe in nonviolence.”
“I am single. How about Paris (Hilton), Britney (Spears), Lindsay (Lohan) – or their mothers!”
“I would choose a cure for all cancers. I work with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, raising funds with America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.”
“A satellite phone, so I could order pizza to be delivered.”