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12 QUESTIONS: Theater, animals, love and life inspire radio guy Jerry Cesak of La Jolla

Jerry Cesak is half of the top-rated “Jeff & Jer” morning show in San Diego, heard on KyXy 96.5 FM.

He graduated as a theater major from the University of Maryland after which he took a short 30-year diversion into radio. He’s been waking up San Diegans since 1988.

In 2003, he wrote and directed the play “Nickels and Dimes,” which sold out 16 performances at San Diego’s Lyceum Theatre and raised $150,000 for animals. Previously, he created, directed and performed “Bless The Beasts,” a multi-media theatrical event about animal welfare, which toured the country for three years.

Jerry Cesak of the ‘Jeff & Jer Showgram’
Jerry Cesak of the 'Jeff & Jer Showgram'
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For as long as he can remember, Jerry has been passionately involved in campaigning for animal protection, speaking and acting on behalf of animals whenever possible.

He is the founder of “The Unicorn Foundation,” a non-profit group that raises money for animal protection.

He is also on the board of directors of The Humane Society.

Jerry and his wife, Pam, live in La Jolla in a house owned by five rescued cats.

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What brought you to La Jolla?

As I recall, it was a bus. Oh, wait. That’s probably not what you meant. I came to San Diego in 1988 to start what is now a 27-year run on the radio with Jeff and the gang.

When my relentless and shameless pleading finally convinced Pam to marry me, we lived in Point Loma but dreamed of making La Jolla our forever home.

We found realtor Marion Hirsch and handcuffed ourselves to the back bumper of her car until she found our wonderful home. It is our favorite place on planet Earth. Plus, the housing here is so affordable!

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I’d remove those hideous “brochure boxes” disgracing the Village … such an embarrassment. We also need a really good deli like Milton’s … and a Greek restaurant … and a store specializing in dress socks, in case I’m ever allowed to attend another Jewel Ball.

Who or what inspires you?

The spirits and minds of animals inspire me. Animals are so pure. They make no judgments. They know nothing of hate, prejudice or unkindness. If given the chance, they love us unconditionally. They live in the present moment with no specific awareness of the past and none of the future. If you asked your cat what time it is, it would say, “It’s now. What else is there?” They have so much to teach us.

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If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

The Buddha, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Sinatra, Jules Verne, Johnny Carson, singer/songwriter Gino Vanelli, The Dalai Lama and the most truly extraordinary person I’ve ever known, my wife Pam.

What is it that you most dislike?

Cruelty to animals. I’ve devoted my life and its every resource to prevent and stop it. My decades-long work at this has given me a doctorate level understanding of horrific animal abuse, particularly institutional cruelty on factory farms and in research labs. Animal suffering has literally ruined my sleep every night for 40 years.

What is your most-prized possession?

As a Buddhist, I try (and wow, it’s difficult) to not have attachment to “things.” (Did I mention how hard that is?) If I interpret that question to ask what is indispensably important in my life, that’s easy: Pam, the animals sharing our home and my work for The Humane Society of the United States.

What are you currently reading?

I always have several books going at once. Right now, I’m reading “Deep Down Dark,” about the rescue of the 33 Chilean mine workers, plus “The Andy Cohen Diaries,” and the latest and best biography of Bob Hope. I also continuously re-read the astounding works of Jules Verne.

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What do you do for fun?

I treasure every moment spent in the company of animals. When a cat’s on my chest or I’m feeding pigeons or in a field with cows, I experience absolute, pure joy. We’re also movie freaks. We see everything. I worship Scorsese.

And, of course, I spend many cherished hours each week alone in a quiet corner reading the La Jolla Light.

What is your philosophy of life?

Never cause harm to another living being. The Buddha said, “Do not destroy life nor cause others to destroy life, nor approve of others’ killing. Refrain from oppressing all living beings in the world, whether strong or weak.” When Pam and I established our charitable endeavor, The Unicorn Foundation, we chose that name because a unicorn never steps on another creature.

What would be your dream vacation?

Anywhere in the world where I can scuba dive is a dream vacation. More than half the show is down there. If I could physically do it, I’d go diving in a birdbath.

What clothing item in your closet will you never part with?

A pathetic old denim shirt I’ve had since Lewis and Clark discovered the Beach & Tennis Club. There’s also a pair of powder-blue Capri pants in there that Pam doesn’t know about.

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Grilled-cheese sandwiches. We’re vegan and we’ve found a marvelous cheese alternative from Daiya. It’s available everywhere. I also take great comfort in beer. Fortunately, that’s available everywhere, too.