The View From Retired Headphones

The Day of Our Last Show

The Day of Our Last Show


I’m not sure if I know too much or don’t know a thing.

It’s been interesting to listen to the Bob Rivers Show the past couple of mornings.  This past Monday, he announced that he was going to hang up his headphones and end the morning radio show portion of his career.

When that final show airs August 8th, it will cap off an amazing 42-year-run, with the last 25 of those years right here in Seattle. Bob has a first grandchild on the way.  He’s got bees to tend, a music career, his passion for World Vision and so many things to occupy his time that not having to get up in the middle of the night and sleeping in until 6am probably has got to be pretty appealing.

Was it Bob’s idea to step down?  I doubt it.  What probably happened was his latest contract came to an end and the minds of Clear Channel decided that now would be a good time to reboot the radio station. This is the part they don’t want you to know.  As unplanned as it may sound, a decision this major has been given lots of thought. Here’s one theory on what’s about to happen. The rumored replacement is a show out of Sacramento that will be syndicated here in Seattle. As we all know, that works so well.

I have so many directions to go here.

As I read the Facebook posts and hear loyal listeners saying that they’ll stop the listening to KJR if they’re dropping this show and changing format, guess what:  that’s exactly what they want you to do that.  You see, the money is in the under 35 crowd and this is where radio is heading down a dead end road.  The under 35’s have found other places to get their music and entertainment: phones, streaming internet stations, satellite with no commercials, to name a few.  The over 35’s don’t want to leave, but are being pushed out the door as they try to figure out why such a popular show is coming to an end.  The industry, meanwhile, continues to ignore the trends and where technology is going and chases an audience that doesn’t want them.

I have to admit, I would have preferred to have my radio career wrap up the way Bob and the gang are going out.  They’re getting the chance to say goodbye and are going out on top. The Bob Rivers Show is a finely-tuned ensemble that commands attention and is, on a daily basis, as fresh as the day’s news.  Over 17 years together, the Murdock, Hunter & Alice show had also achieved a loyal following.  I still have people come up to me today and remember things from back in those days.  But in 2003, we were doing a live Christmas show one day and out the door the next.  I still have a good number of the supportive emails that were sent my way and, yes, threats to never listen to KLSY ever again.

But that short-sighted decision by management sent my career in a new direction and I’m grateful for everything that’s happened along the way.  I’ve picked up skills and have had opportunities I never would have experienced had I stayed in radio.  I’ve thought about doing the radio thing again because I’ve never really lost the desire to sneak back into the madness.  However, the “radio” I want to return to no longer exists.

Which brings us back to the Rivers Show.  They experienced ratings and a large following that we never reached.  Yet, despite their strong fan base, Clear Channel is still deciding to sweep them all to the side and, along with them, their fans.

Spike, Joe, Jodi, Erik, Luciana and Pedro are talented and have lots to offer.  I hope that some station will seize this opportunity, bring them on board and allow them to demonstrate that this show had a lot of life left in it.  Radio listeners over 35 increasingly have more disposable income and tend to be a loyal audience. They also still embrace the fast-fading technology of radio. If you want to see loyalty, show up at any of the 25 concerts Spike & The Impalers or Heart by Heart perform during the remainder of the year. Bob performs in both and Spike’s Impalers include appearances by the rest of the show.

I had hoped to attend my radio brother Larry Nelson’s last show at KOMO, but I had my own show at the time and couldn’t be there.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I wasn’t lucky enough to listen to Bob and the gang until my radio gig blew up.  Now, like a lot of people, I’m trying to figure out a way to get by and see them in action just one time before they wrap it up.  I have become a fan.

I know better than to write the station, to stand outside and protest, to try to convince the corporate minds they’re making a mistake.  And so does Bob.

It’s funny, but something inside told me that Murdock, Hunter & Alice probably wouldn’t make it to a 25th anniversary show, so I put one together and we did it on our 17th anniversary of being on the air together.  I’m going to have to dig that out sometime.

For now, I’ll get up for another week and enjoy one of the greatest little collections of personalities this market has ever seen. It’s so refreshing to hear radio done right.  It’s a dying art.  I need to get it while I can.

Tim Hunter









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