This month, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair in Seattle. You don’t hear much about World’s Fairs any more. I don’t even know if they have them. But half a century ago, the world did, in fact, come to Seattle to see the event called “Century 21”.
I was alive but not around in 1962, growing up in southern California. I really don’t remember much about the time I was 7 years old. I was in Cub Scouts, second grade, going to Immanuel Lutheran School in Redondo Beach, with grades 1-8 all taught in one big classroom. I believe my teacher at that time was Mrs. Lietz, proving that there are benefits of taking whatever that stuff is called.
But I digress and quite well. The World’s Fair in Seattle left the city with an amazing facility just north of downtown called the Seattle Center, the home of the Space Needle. Elvis made a movie here, called “It happened at the World’s Fair”, which is eye candy for anyone who’d love to revisit an earlier version of Seattle, full of Bubble-ators and Fun Forests.
Over the years, every time a landmark birthday for the World’s Fair rolled around, the local radio stations would dig out the archive tape and hearken back to those days. Fortunately, by 1962, we had caught on that we could actually preserve a lot of how history sounded.
Flash-forward twenty years later to 1982. I was the producer of the Larry Nelson show on KOMO radio, in the shadow of the Space Needle. The station wanted to pull out all the stops for the big 2-0 and a listener stepped forward with an archive tape full of countless audio gems from the event. I took all that tape, broke it up into sound bites, wrote scripts and had all of the jocks at the station share in the wealth. It was a full-blown, station-wise salute with awesome audio clips. I scheduled run times to spread out the bits throughout the day and it made us sound like THE station to listen to on this landmark anniversary.
Sadly, this was also the first time I had someone steal the thunder from me in radio. Not just a little, but a lot. An unnamed program director (oh, he has a name, but my therapist says it’s time to move on), decided to submit all these segments for an International Broadcast Award. I was all for it! This was great stuff and deserved recognition, which it received. The following year, we won the major award for radio excellence, beating out the likes of the BBC, and ended up with a crystal award in the display case out front. The sad part was that I was not mentioned. The “producer” was listed as the program director and so, when it came to fly back to New York to accept the award, off he went.
While we’re over-sharing, this same fellow once sabotaged a general manager by tossing away phone messages from the CEO, who wanted to be called. It portrayed him as not responding and eventually, cost him his job. But I digress.
I’ve never minded sharing credit. I love to give credit when credit is due and I rarely toot my own horn. But on this, the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair in Seattle, I’d like to set the record straight.
Please enjoy these segments from that award-winning series. At least now, you will know where they came from.
Here’s one from the late Gary Johnson.
Another from the voice of the Huskies, Bob Rondeau
Go figure–even I got into the act
And one from mid-day host Keith Johnasson