Longtime radio personality Bill Heywood doesn't spend much time in the booth these days, having cut back to a one-hour show he does daily on KFNN (1510 AM).
After running the gamut from KUPD (97.9 FM) to KTAR (620 AM) to KOY (1230 AM) back to KTAR, and most recently KFYI (550 AM), Heywood is probably past his heyday in radio.
For many of his fans, that's bad news. But when someone suggests to Heywood that his career has gone to the dogs, he's right on cue.
"I hope so,'' he said, beaming broadly from behind that well-known deep voice. "It's a labor of love.''
Heywood, 60, and his wife, Susan, a former advertising and marketing executive, founded the Scratch & Sniff Awards in 1997. The idea was that, by spoofing the Academy Awards and Emmys, the event would raise money through an annual black-tie gala for the benefit of homeless dogs and cats, ultimately supporting pet therapy for the elderly, abused, blind, those with infirmities and those at risk.
"Over the years, we've raised close to $1 million and benefitted 10 or more different charities,'' said Heywood, pointing to such organizations as Pets 911, R-E-S-C-U-E, Pets on Wheels, Arizona Animal Welfare League, AZ Cats, Foothills Animal Rescue, Foundation for Blind Children, Friends For Life, Helping Animals Live On, and Gabriel's Angels.
The problem was, Scratch & Sniff became so big so quickly that more and more funds were needed to keep it going. Heywood, a pretty decent golfer who had played in "100 or so'' charity tournaments since arriving in Phoenix during the mid-1960s, took the next logical step.
"We wanted to do a golf tournament, but when I checked the schedule in the Business Journal, there already were 37 charity events scheduled for October,'' he said. "I said to Susan, ‘Let's not try to compete with them, because they're all good causes.’ ''
And so, Tuesday night at Marriott's Camelback Golf Club, the Heywoods held a golf gala without a tournament, as the inaugural Scratch & Sniff Non-Golf Classic After Party was born.
"I've played in so many of these scrambles, where you're out there for five or six hours and then, if you're not in the money, you just don't stick around,'' Heywood said. "We did have a little golf — trick-shot artist Peter Longo gave a show and we had a $5,000 putting contest — and then it was straight to the food and booze, silent auction and awards.''
Over 100 participants each put up $100 not to play golf, opting instead for Longo's act and a silent auction that included such unique items as a custom-made doggie bed (complete with miniature stuffed animal). Even Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an honorary member of the Scratch & Sniff board, was there to auction off one of his autographed pink pair of underwear.
"People criticize me over the fact that we spend about $1.15 a day to feed our (abandoned) dogs, but only about 15 cents to feed our inmates,'' Arpaio said. "I don't care what they say, my policy remains that anyone who abuses animals gets handcuffed and taken directly to jail.''
The Heywoods employ a less intrusive strategy, one that pokes a little humor at high society. For instance, next year's invitation to the big event Feb. 7 at the Arizona Biltmore promises "heavy petting.'' Awards will range from "Who Spilled the Kitty Litter?'' to "Best Dog and Pony Show'' to the "Pooper Scooper Award.''
"When Bill and I founded Scratch & Sniff, we really had no idea it would turn out so well, and at times, so heart-warming,'' Susan Heywood said. "But people love animals, are concerned with their welfare, and we plan to do as much as we can in that regard. In fact, we've had some interest to take it to a national level through the Animal Planet and Discovery Channel people.''
In the mean time, the Heywoods will keep coming up with new ideas like a non-golf tournament to make ends meet. What's funny, Longo added, is that the Heywoods' latest, greatest charity scheme just might catch on.
"Think about it: It's a lot less expensive, because you don't have to rent the golf course,'' Longo said of costs that often range $10,000 to $35,000.
"And, you don't have to cross off a whole day to play in it, and that's a huge consideration.''
Give the Heywoods credit, as they have devised a way to emphasize fun, cut down on frustration and expenses, and raise money for a very needy cause.