I’m sure everyone could do this to a degree. Look back at your life, in sections–the growing up days, my high school days, my college days and so on. The sections keep coming and as you grow older, you compartmentalize certain stretches of your life such that when you open them up again after a while, you get a rush of dusty memories.
That happened this morning when I saw the news about the passing of KOMO News Anchor Bill Brubaker. He was part of the cool kids down the hall in TV when I first arrived at KOMO Radio in the early 1980s to be Larry Nelson’s producer.
Look at those guys. Brubaker, Ray Ramsey the weather guy and sports guru Bruce King. They were the stars of 1980 TV news.
And to think, I found my way into the KOMO Broadcasting family thanks to being a goofball.
While working at KMWX radio in Yakima one day, KOMO news anchor Bob Gillespie heard me do a bit on the air with the Job Lady. Oh, yeah, someone from Washington State Employment Security would be allowed to call up the station and record a 1-minute dry-as-toast read of a few job openings. One of the most boring things ever broadcast–on a daily basis!
That day when Bob was listening, I apparently introduced the Job Lady using the Tonight Show theme as if I was introducing Johnny Carson. It cracked him up. So when he returned to Seattle and heard that Larry Nelson was on the lookout for a producer, he gave him my name. Larry called with that deep booming voice, I agreed to come over for an interview even though I was weeks away from getting married, I accepted the job, got married, went on a honeymoon, came home, moved to Seattle and started working at KOMO, AM-1000. All in a period of about four weeks.
In the KOMO building, radio and TV were at opposite ends of the building, so you didn’t really see each other very much, except with the occasional all-company meetings or the annual company picnics at Vasa Park in Redmond.
As an employee of the radio side, I felt obligated to watch KOMO TV Evening News, back when people did that at the end of their work days. Those were the days of Ruth Walsh, Bob Throndsen, Harry Sloan and other names unfamiliar to today’s TV audiences. Some did double duty, like KOMO Radio’s Brian Johnson, who did a slow transition from radio to TV news. And, of course, the crazy Ray Ramsey, who added so much to KOMO Radio mornings after doing the 11 o’clock news on TV the night before. They had a special hookup at his house so all Ray had to do was crawl out of bed and in front of a microphone and magic would happen.
I’ve got to share at least one of those breaks. Here’s a fun little time capsule to enjoy. Remember, this was on ultra-conservative-Ray-Conniff-has-too-much-of-an-edge KOMO radio.
I’ll be forever grateful that I got to know Ray. We had a mutual appreciation of each other’s comedy skills.
KOMO Radio was a long-time player in Seattle radio history, going back to the days when all the big entertainers were on radio. Here’s a picture of me along with Rip Taylor, standing in front of that famous mural of all the great radio stars of the past. My office was directly behind this wall.
I was only at KOMO radio four and half years before heading across the lake to KLSY. But during those years, I got to know a lot of people that I stayed in touch with over the years. Gina Tuttle, Mike Hamilton, Bill Swartz, Keith Shipman and others, we all still stay in touch, even if it’s just a quick Facebook howdy.
In my years after leaving KOMO, some of those TV friends remained a presence in my life. For quite a few years at KLSY, our Apple Cup tradition was to have Steve Pool and Kathi Goertzen on the air to play our “Battle of the Sexes”, with Steve representing Huskies and Kathi, of course, the die-hard Coug. Those were a lot of fun.
I even got to take part in a Radio-versus-TV local production of the game show, “Family Feud”, with some of brothers and sisters in radio and some of my old KOMO-TV friends. Here’s one of the episodes, if you’d like to walk down memory lane.
Swartz later provided some impersonations for various bits we did over the years at KLSY, as our gardening expert Frisco (in Seattle, there’s a gardening TV personality whose name was Cisco Morris). I can’t resist sneaking in one of those breaks, where Bill imitated both Frisco and Mariners broadcast Ron Fairly.
I really do have so many other stories to tell about those days. Special tales about some very extraordinary people I had the good fortune to meet during my crazy career. I think what amazes me the most about the KOMO stories is how much were condensed into my 4.5 years in the building. Then again, the connection never really went away.
Just a few of the stories that come to mind when I reflect on the KOMO section of my life.
Good times. Thank you.
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