It was in the spring of 1975 that I signed up for the Radio & Television program in the Communications School at the University of Washington. I had put in a couple of years of basic training at the U-Dub and after a breakup with the girl I had planned to come home and marry following college, I realized it was time to pick a direction for my career.
One day, a guy down the hall in my dorm told me how he had gotten involved with the campus radio station. The what? Wait–you can play radio and they count that as an actual career? Where do I sign up?
Well, I found out that you don’t just go into radio, you have to learn about the greater world of Communications and, in this case, you’d study print media, television and radio. This just kept getting better!
So, I got involved with KCMU, the campus radio station that has since been sold to the late Billionaire and Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, who moved it to the Seattle Center and turned it into KEXP. I’ve answered the question, “Why did you focus on radio?” many times, but the quick version is that while TV was fun, when it came time for my senior project, I knew how it was supposed to turn out. However, due to a comedy of errors–the lighting person messing up, the director had a melt-down, the camera person wasn’t in focus and so on–I realized that if I stuck to radio, everything I did was in my control, so the blame and glory all came my way.
Upon graduation, I headed to Yakima to cut my radio teeth with a couple of stations there. Then, it was back over to Seattle for a 24-year run, a decade or so off to absorb all I could in the advertising world, and then, returning to mornings on KRKO, “Everett’s Greatest Hits” just shy of five years ago.
Between you and the other readers of this little corner of the Internet, my radio days are numbered. Part of my desire to get back on the air in 2018 was to prove I could still do it. While I started out my career as a solo act, I was either a partner or part of a team most of my radio existence. In my current gig with KRKO, I record tracks the day before, which then play the next broadcast day with me tossing to a live, in-studio traffic and weather person. While it satisfies my radio Jones, the rest of my world keeps getting busier and busier. So, just like at Disneyland, it’s about time for “low-ride out”–the attraction with the smallest return will be replaced with something more rewarding or profitable.
My plan is to make it to September and then hand off the headphones. It could be sooner, but not later. I just want to do what’s best for the station to thank them for this incredible opportunity.
In the meantime, I’ll continue doing my “Facebook Nuggets”, “Unglued News”, “I’m Witless News” and a slew of other bits and anything else that comes to mind. If you’ve never gotten around to streaming my morning show, do it here Monday through Friday from 6-9am. If you download our app (in the app store of your phone), or just say, “Alexa, play KRKO, Everett’s Greatest Hits”, you can listen to me that way during my summer farewell tour.
One of the best things I do each week is reach out to a KRKO listener who has downloaded the KRKO app and thank them with a $50 gift card to the Buzz Inn Steakhouse. A pretty modest giveaway, but a chance for me to actually talk with my listeners.
This past week, I had a conversation with one listener that really illustrated the reason why I love radio. It’s a connection. It’s you and a listener, enjoying the same music, or me talking about something in my life that connects to their life.
Last Thursday, I was once again trying to connect with a listener, this one, named John. He answered after only one ring, which these days, is rare. Most are thinking, “I don’t recognize the number, so off to voice mail you go” but John answered. I could tell he was driving in his car and it just sounded like he on the way somewhere. So rather than beating around the bush, I just blurted out that he had won the Buzz Inn gift card. You could imagine the smile with his response. He made me feel like I had been the highlight of his day.
It turns out I was. John was driving with his wife by his side. He explained that if I heard her blurt out random words, to just ignore it. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
I said I was so sorry and that sometimes life can just suck and he agreed. So, I hurriedly got his address so we could mail the gift card his way and wished him well, thanking him one more time for listening.
I found out later that it wasn’t just John taking his wife for a ride. She was on a one-way trip to a facility that was going to take care of her from now on, because it had become just too difficult at home.
He later posted this message on our KRKO Facebook page.
This is why every time you crack that microphone open, you’ve just got to remember that while your day may not be going perfectly, there’s an incredibly vast collection of life experiences going on out there among your listeners. From heading off to a job they may not like, to taking a loved one to admit them to an adult family home.
That being said, if you actually apply the brakes to your busy, crazy life for just a moment, you’ll probably realize: You’re probably actually having a really good day.
What a career you’ve had! Thanks for all you do!