You’re Luckier Than You Realize

In a typical day, we are bombarded by tens of thousands of messages. From the advertisements that fill every corner of that website you’re visiting, to radio and TV commercials, to 5-seconds of an ad you have to endure in order to see a video on YouTube.

But the other day, the Facebook post of a friend stopped me dead in my tracks. So, I had to share it with you and I will, in just a moment.

Over time, this friend turned into a honorary son, yet we also became big pals when hanging out together at a local ad agency. I went to an Apple Cup game in Pullman with him years ago. During that year of the Seahawks/Pittsburgh Super Bowl, we watched every Hawks game together. He was the photographer at my wedding, and we continue to work together on occasional projects utilizing his videographer skills.

As a personal anniversary passed of a sad day in his life, he wrote down his thoughts in that Facebook post and I couldn’t help but picture myself in either his position, or that of his late father. I was fortunate enough to have my father around until 5 years ago, so he saw what I became and how I was doing in life. I’ve also had the good fortune of being able to watch both of my kids grow up, having been quite involved with that process, and eventually letting them go to live their own lives and adventures.

Brian was not that fortunate. Here’s his post:

Hard to believe, but 20 years ago today I lost my dad and my best friend.

In the fall of 1999, we found out my dad had kidney cancer. Just a few months later he was gone. It happened so fast. All of a sudden, the house was empty. Our little family was devastated.

It was my senior year of high school and I became a part of a club that no one wants to be in… the “Dead Parent Club.” When you’re young, it’s a small club. Only those that are in it truly understand. I tried to do what he would have wanted me to do… take care of Mom, press on, live my life, honor him, and never forget him. It hasn’t been easy.

My dad was a police officer in Seattle. For over 30 years, he caught bad guys and built relationships with people in the city. He worked weird schedules, but still managed to have time to help coach my baseball and soccer teams, go to my jazz band concerts, and help out at horse shows. He took me to Mariners, Sonics, and Seahawks games. We were buds.

My dad was the kind of person that everyone loved. At his memorial and in the days to follow, I saw grown men and tough-guy cops crying while telling stories about him. His death had a huge impact on people. There was some sort of comfort knowing that other people missed him as much as I did.

20 years later, people still talk about my dad. They tell stories about the fun times they had with him, how much he loved his job, how much he adored his four kids, how goofy he was, and how he made them feel when he was around. No one is perfect, even my dad, but we were all better having known him.

I’m thankful for everything I have now… an amazing wife, two beautiful kids, a loving mother, a great step-dad who treats us like his own, supportive friends and family. I wish he could be here to see all of this.

20 years later, it still doesn’t feel right. It makes me sad to know that I’ve been without him longer than I was with him. He never got the chance to come to WSU for a Dad’s Weekend. He never got to meet my wife and his grandkids. He should have been here for all of that, but these are the things life throws at us. In so many ways, he’s a part of me now.

I will press on.

I will live my life.

I will honor him every chance I get.

I will never forget him.

I love you, Dad. I miss you every day.

I still can’t read that without getting a little teary-eyed. A beautiful piece, Brian, and I’m compelled to put in front of as many eyes who will read it as possible. Dads or moms, sons or daughters, the fact that you’re here and able to read it means you are luckier than a lot of people on this earth.

As the years roll by, I find myself intentionally lapsing into more and more reflective moments of appreciation. It’s a delicate balance, because you can swirl downward and only focus on the sadness of your life or what you have lost. But I prefer to flip it around and appreciate all that I’ve had and have been able to enjoy.

And I am blessed.

That’s why I did the hand-off to Brian this week. He made it through something that could have easily redirected his life into the wrong direction. Today, he’s living a dream with a beautiful wife, both of them have great careers and two darling kids.

As a son, I can’t even fathom how my life would have turned out if I had lost my father. As a dad, the idea of not having been around for my kids is unthinkable.

Thanksgiving, certain holidays and anniversaries occasionally make us realize how lucky we are. May I suggest that you make it a day practice, perhaps the first thing you do once you’ve had a cup of coffee and you’re mildly coherent. Look around at all you have and the positive people in your life. Don’t waste a moment on the negative forces out there or what you don’t have.

You’re luckier than you realize. I know I am.

Tim Hunter

The History of Julio

Someone returned into my life last week and he brought along with him a wealth of memories.

Like so many great singers, he doesn’t have a last name.  Back in his hey day, he was known simply as, “Julio–the World’s Biggest Seahawks fan.”

THE MYTH

Julio was a lounge singer who performed at the White Shutters Inn in Renton and boy, did he love his Seattle Seahawks.  So much, that every Friday morning before a Seahawks game, he would drop off a cassette at the KLSY building that contained a customized Seahawks song which he had recorded and which we would feature on the Murdock, Hunter & Alice Morning Show. The basic formula for each song was to have a few lines commenting about the last game, toss in something about the upcoming game, work in a clever play on words involving the next opponent and then wrap up with several, “How ’bout dem Hawks!”  As time went on, he dragged in celebrities to help him say, “How ’bout dem Hawks” including Elvira–Mistress of the Dark, Tiny Tim, Aaron Brown, Stan Boreson, Scotty from ‘Star Trek’ and many others. Here’s one of several wrap-ups Stan Boreson did for Julio.

THE REALITY

I went through three different program directors at KLSY from the inception of Julio to his last song on the station.

Again, we’re talking 30 years ago so I’m going completely on what details I remember. My first KLSY program director, Chris Mays, turned me on to the song by Matt Bianco song, “Yeh, Yeh” and I couldn’t help but notice how much instrumental there was in that tune. So, I took out those pieces and created a music bed, searching for something I could do with it.

Even though KLSY was marketed as “Classy” and offered up Soft Rock songs to a mostly female audience, we still did sports things. For a while, we had a Don James show in the afternoon. Seriously. And eventually, Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg became a regular guest on the morning show. We got to know him so well, his wife Sue would do fill-in administrative work every now and then. Great people.

So, we had a Seahawks connection and it just seemed logical for me to create a rah-rah song supporting the team. The next thing you know, I did a couple of these “How ‘Bout Dem Hawks” songs and a character was born.

Back in my college years, I spent a couple of lost summers working at the United Airlines flight kitchen down in Los Angeles. That definitely needs to be the topic of a future blog. We’re talking scraping dishes and putting them into a conveyer belt where they would receive a high-temp wash and then be organized on the other side. I was either loading or unloading, 8 hours a day.

One of our supervisors was a guy named Julius. My guess would be that he was somewhere in his 50s, had a big round belly, receding hair and was always wearing one of those paper hats made popular in the food services industry. Picture him, walking around, making sure everything was moving along and then, when the time came, yelling out, “OK everybody, break time!” It’s that voice I have in my head when I sang as Julio.

Being a Latin music bed, it seemed only right to take that voice and modify the name Julius to Julio.

Eventually, we switched program directors and Bobby Irwin arrived on the scene. He was big on backstories. It was Bobby who found a picture of a mom with two kids, one around 5, the other in a stroller and taped it up in the control room so that every personality would remember that we were talking to “Darlene.” We should always say things that mattered to her, never saying anything that would embarrass her in front of her kids–THAT was our listener. He also recommended we humanize Julio and give him a backstory. Bobby gets full credit of coming up with the fact he was a lounge singer that performed at the White Shutters Inn in Renton. However, no matter how real we made him on the air, he would be Santa-esque–he would come and leave something, but no one ever saw him drop off that cassette in the early hours of a Friday morning.

Geeze, I think about those days and remember having to explain the concept to celebrities after an interview with them.  I hoped each would play along and say “How ’bout dem Hawks” for use in a future song. Elvira was all about it and ad-libbed her way through a couple of great lines.

There was also the time we did a week of shows in Japan and I even pulled off doing a Julio overseas by singing along in the stairs of our hotel in order to get the reverb. It wasn’t the greatest, but it kept the streak alive.

Then, after 7 years or so of doing Julio, it just felt like it was time for him to fade away and so he did. The Hawks were giving us very little to “How ’bout” about and so, he became a part of KLSY history. At least he survived until the Barry McKay (program director #3) era, which meant his tenure covered three PD’s!  It wasn’t long until, as staff changed over, there were KLSY employees when asked about Julio who would respond with, “Who?” and I’d say, “No, it’s who–LEE-o!”

During his run on KLSY, I easily recorded over 100 “How ’bout dem Hawks” songs that still exist, although on tape and that is fading fast. I’m trying to digitize them as quickly as possible along with the hundreds of other tapes I have under the house. It’s a “spare time” thing, which means it’s almost impossible.

THE RETURN

Last weekend, as we approached the Green Bay game, it just seemed like the perfect time for Julio to make a comeback.  I didn’t know if it would be a one-game thing, or if he would go along for the ride through the playoffs and eventually, to the Super Bowl. Besides, if Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin can come out of retirement, why not Julio–the World’s Biggest Seahawks Fan?

So, I got out the rhyming dictionary, started thinking about the subjects I could talk about or make fun of, and Julio was back. I even gave his return a little hype the day before on social media.

Here’s how it sounded on KRKO.

I was already thinking ahead to the next week. Had the Seahawks won, Julio was definitely going to be back for at least one more week. When I heard San Francisco was the first NFL with a comfort dog, I imagined Julio tossing a cat into the locker room. I was even giving thought to doing a video to go along with the song. However, it was all not meant to be.

The power of Julio and “How ’bout dem Hawks” was not enough to extend the Seahawks season. Still, what an amazing run for a really banged-up team that none of us were planning on seeing go this far. Where do we go from here?  I don’t know about you, but I’m going to take up Marshawn on his advice and take care of my body, my mentals, my bread and my chicken and stand by until the next Seahawks season, 7 months away.

Hopefully, Julio will swing back around and rejoin the party.  In the meantime, you can still catch him at the White Shutters Inn in Renton, Wednesday through Sunday nights. He’s off Mondays and does dishes on Tuesdays.

How ’bout dem Hawks!

Tim Hunter

 

My 2020 Predictions

I should warn you. If you like surprises and don’t want to know about the major events of the coming year, please stop reading this right now.

OK, obviously, you’ve decided to continue and so get ready to hear my sure-bet predictions. Here are all the exciting things to come in the year of our Lord, 2020, as foretold by the Great Timbino:

First off, I’m going to work on coming up with a better name for a psychic version of myself other than Timbino. I suppose that’s a given.

In an effort to increase viewership for the next round of Democratic debates, the event will include a swimsuit competition.

Microsoft will develop obscene form letters that you can send to people you don’t like, called “F-mail”

By mid-February, early March at the latest, I’ll have all my Christmas cards mailed out.

The Seattle Mariners will try something new, offering a mid-June Escape Clause for their season ticket holders.

A confused Ozzie Osbourne announces that he’s completely lost his hearing in his left eye.

Bruce Willis agrees to do one more Die Hard movie. This one is called “Die Hard Like My Arteries.”

Larry King will divorce & remarry, maybe not in that order. That’s one of my go-to safe predictions.

With the decline in men committing to become priests, the Catholic Church will begin to use Robot Priests for the more remote parishes. The experiment is going well until one Robot Priest is accused to molesting several toasters and a vacuum.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the ultimate in modern laziness will be revealed with the flying remote control, so that you’ll never have to get up ever again.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden wins the Democratic nomination for president and surprises everyone by choosing Georgia Senator Thomas Thyme as his running mate. Yes, all the hopes of the Democratic Party are put in the Biden/Thyme ticket.  It was the lesser of the two evils, after Elizabeth Warren said she was considering Rebecca Peace of Alaska as her running mate.

And it completely avoided the impending disaster of Pete Buttigieg and Judge Judy, which would have resulted in the Buttigieg/Judge Judy ticket.

OK, the rest of the year is up to chance, but those are the sure-ins. Have a great 2020 and I’ll pontificate with you again next week!

Happy New Year!

Tim Hunter

 

 

Happy December 17th!

A lot changed on that day back in 2003.

It was the day I part of a live broadcast of the Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show on 92.5-KLSY. Several years before, we started a tradition of doing a Christmas show with live performers and this time, we were out-doing ourselves. Bryon the Producer had pulled out all the stops and arranged for us to have the Village Theater in Issaquah as our morning playground.

The theater was open to the public, so people could come and go throughout the morning as our three-hour spectacular unfolded. Among the performers that special morning–the Dickens Carolers.

Newspaper columnist and morning show fan, Sherry Grindeland from the Bellevue Journal-American and KING 5’s Tony Ventrella popped in for a visit.

 

KING 5’s Dennis Bounds read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Bryon the Producer did a performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with a local school.

Children’s entertainer Tim Noah performed.

There was an acapella group of Microsoft employees. I’m spacing on their name right now. (See, that’s why I’m writing this stuff down now)

They even sent in the Marines to plug the annual Toys for Tots drive.

It starts to get blurry but this photo reminded me of the last group to perform. It was a bell choir from somewhere. That’s about as good as I can do.

As they wrapped up and started putting their stuff away, we said our goodbyes on air and then the three of us headed backstage. It was there we bumped into Mr. KLSY, Marc Kaye, the General Manager of the station. He asked if our show was over and we replied yes. It was then we went from the high of that stellar and festive broadcast to the low of finding out that was our final show on KLSY. “We’re not going to renew your contracts,” was the exact wording. “No rush on cleaning out your office. You can get to that whenever. And we’ll have a little going away party to thank you for all the years you’ve been here.”

Yeah, right.

I went straight to the station, cleaned out my work area and packed up my car. I remember employees with tears in their eyes coming up to say goodbye. I hauled my stuff downstairs and left the halls of Sandusky Broadcasting for the final time. That “Thank You Party” never happened.

I’ve been let go a couple of times in my career. In radio, it happens. But each time it does, I’ve ended up in a better situation and that was once again very true in this case.

Yes, it was 16 years ago today and from the highs and the lows of that particular day, you can see why it is so etched in my brain.

We all have our December 17ths and now you know mine. It’s basically a microcosm of life–there will be highs and lows (not usually in the same day) but they’re all pieces of what shapes our individual world to create what we have now and I love my now.

All that being said, have a joyous holiday season and cherish those around you. They won’t always be there.

Oh, and Happy December 17th.

Tim Hunter

So Where Are You Going?

A friend of mine took me aside this past week and we had a great talk about life and happiness and all that stuff.

I’ve known a couple of people struggling with that very thing lately–being happy and how to get there. This one friend said that his therapist listened to him for a while the other day and then asked the poignant question, “So, where’s this all going?”

The doctor brings up a great question for all of us: Where is all this going?  Can you answer that? Do you know?  Are you heading towards a destination or settling on whatever destination you end up at?

If you have a choice, why not control where you’re going? And the big secret is–you can.

There are so many things that are completely out of our control and since none of us are deities, we just have to let some of those things go. (No, I’m not breaking out into a song from “Frozen”) Every single day of our lives we are faced with a seemingly endless parade of little decisions that all have an effect on where we end up. I like to use ‘driving a car’ as an example of our life. Are you just driving to see where you end up or do you have a destination in mind? This is where a lot of common sense can kick in, like if you were planning to drive to Mexico, you really shouldn’t head north. That’s the long way.

One of the best things you can possibly do to gain control of your life is to start each day in a positive mood. Sounds easy enough, but they did a survey recently and asked 2,000 people how many days a year they woke up in a good mood. The average response: 60 days a year. Seriously?  So, that means 305 days a year (one more in a leap year and that’s in 2020) your day starts in a negative mood.  For every 6 days of your life, 5 of them start sucking. Here’s an idea: flip that around!

That would be a great starting point. If there’s one thing my little 35 year radio career has taught me is that sometimes, you have to force yourself towards a good mood in order to get there on a more regular basis. At least, it’ll be that way in the beginning. If you train yourself that today will be a great day, you’ll make being positive your default mode. It doesn’t mean there won’t be some seriously sucky days ahead in your life, but you’ll be positive-based and can push those aside more easily. Plus, when you’re on the air, talking to thousands of people, each with their own day going on, what a great opportunity to be a positive influence in the start of their day!

Now, getting back to my car analogy, here’s a question: Maybe where you are right now was your destination?  You could be existing in the destination you imagined years ago. If so, enjoy it. Cherish it. If not, set your personal GPS to the goal you have in mind today and start driving.

I’ve continued to pursue balance most of my life, although I get drawn to excess. I just do. But making that effort to seek a balance has paid off for yours truly and I’ve seen it work for others. It’s so easy to look at others and do a snap judgement on whether they’re doing good or not. They may appear ‘successful’, but in reality, they could be struggling just like so many others. I got a reminder of that this week when I read that the lead singer of Roxette, Marie Frederiksson, had died. Maybe the name of the group doesn’t ring bells, but she was part of a band that had a string of serious hits in the 1980s–“Must have been Love”, “She’s got the Look”, etc.–so you might think, “Man, they’ve got it made.”

I hadn’t given her a thought in years. All I knew was that she was beautiful, had a fantastic voice, a series of hit songs and truly must be living the dream. In reality, she had been battling cancer for the past 17 years and finally lost that battle at age 61.

That was 3 years ago for me and I’ve got so much more to do in this life.

Remember, it’s not just about going–it’s knowing where you’re going. Got a destination in mind? Good, let me know when you get there and we’ll celebrate. In the meantime, enjoy the ride. Our trips are always shorter than we’d like them to be.

Oh, and buckle up.

Tim Hunter

For Pete’s Sake

If this keeps up, this corner of the Internet will be where you’ll find all the latest retirement news. Last week, I bid farewell to Channel 4 weather guy Steve Pool. This week, I’d like to put in my two-cents on Husky Football Coach Chris Petersen.

We’ll begin with the day I found out. I was on the phone with my business partner who was down in Arizona and we were talking about stuff coming up in the week. All of a sudden my phone displayed an alert from the Associated Press. It was hard to ignore, so I glanced at it while continuing to talk. I saw it just long enough that it had something to do with UW Coach Chris Petersen, but I didn’t see the ‘what’.  I immediately stopped talking and let him know I needed to check something out. Sure enough, Chris Petersen had resigned. It wasn’t ‘fake news’ or something from The Onion. I went to the Seattle Times and there it was online–our dream Husky coach was stepping down.

Petersen was the closest thing to a Don James type Husky coach we had seen since the Dawgfather. I began as a student at the University of Washington in the fall of 1973. That first year of going to college football games was a bit surreal, as students protested outside the stadium, demanding that the school fire the longtime coach, Jim Owens. He stepped down after that season and this meek and mild looking guy from Kent State University took over the program. In time, he would take the team to many prominent bowl games, including several Rose Bowl games and guide us to a National Championship.

In time, my career took me to KOMO Radio, “Your Husky Station”, which gave me multiple occasions to talk with the coach. He would come into the studio and I would be awe-struck. There were times when I helped his wife record radio commercials for QFC. In my early days at KLSY, we had a Don James show, believe it or not. And for one of the Dawgs’ Rose Bowl appearances, my KLSY broadcast partner Bruce Murdock and I ordered breakfast to be delivered to his hotel room and he called us up to say thanks.

Yet, for all those times I was with the coach, I never got a picture with him. There was one spring game that I went to when I saw him in the stands and we chatted, but I didn’t want to bug him for a picture. After thinking about it, I went back, but he was gone. He passed away shortly after that.

Coach James resigned after the team was gonged with sanctions for things the boosters were caught doing. He could have stayed, but the team would have been bowl ineligible for years to come and he knew that his time was done. The years that followed were dismal. Losing seasons, including an 0-12 debacle, and a series of expensive but short-term coaches that left the program wallowing in the mud for longer than we deserved.

Then, when Steve Sarkisian wandered off to U.S.C. (and both sides got what they deserved) we were lucky enough to talk Chris Petersen to taking over the program. He had performed miracles at Boise State and I remember seeing him on TV when he was hired, talking about this gig being his dream job. I thought for sure we’d have him for decades.

Thanks to an event called, “Raise the Woof” that the football program puts on every year, fans can pay $75 to hang with the entire team, the coaches, etc. and get a chance to actually talk with the athletes and their leaders. One of the years we went, my wife and I each won a Chris Petersen bobble-head. She had hers autographed. I thought at the time, “No, that’s silly.” Now, I have another regret involving a Husky head football coach.

The reasons Chris Petersen is leaving the program have not yet been revealed, other than he feels he’s done with head coaching. It’s something he’s been doing for 33 years. He says he’s a Husky for life and, after a recharge, plans to come back to the U.W. and work with the other athletic programs to help them achieve as much success as possible.

He was here only six years, but they were crucial years. Petersen righted the ship and brought the program back to Don James’ standards. He even kicked one guy off the team last year because he wouldn’t listen. This guy thought he was better than the team. He now plays in the NFL, but I believe after being kicked off the team, he even came back later that year, apologized and made amends with the coach.

The loss of Chris Petersen is hard and what makes it harder to accept is not knowing the ‘why’. But I’m excited about the future, about the foundation that Chris Petersen built and is now handing off to another brilliant football mind, Jimmy Lake. There are greater days ahead.

But for now, for the second week in a row, I’m saying goodbye to someone I hugely admire. Should I ever have the chance to speak to Coach Petersen again, I’ll only have two words to say: “Thank you.”

Tim Hunter

P.S. Go Dawgs!

Saying Goodbye To The Pool Guy

One of the kindest, nicest, most sincere people ever to make a career out of broadcasting, Steve Pool, has retired. There have been specials and interviews and articles written this past week and from all that, you would think Mother Teresa had been at KOMO-TV all these years. Well, I never knew Mother Teresa, but I did get to know Steve and all this praise is well-deserved. Frankly, everybody got to know Steve.

Because the guy that was doing the weather forecasts all those years with modest confidence was exactly who you would have met if you bumped into him on the street.  How long have I known Steve?

I have to drag you back to the early 1980’s, when I was hired to come over the mountains from my radio life in Yakima and become Larry Nelson’s producer on KOMO radio. That was back in the days when KOMO radio and TV blurred together, although when you work the 4am-noon shift, you would miss a lot of those TV folks who didn’t wander in until the afternoon because they would be there until almost midnight.

Every morning on the Larry Nelson morning show, Steve’s predecessor, Ray Ramsey, would check in and do the forecast from his home studio. The two of them created some legendary radio and had so much fun, it would drive management upstairs crazy.  They’d get gonged for having too much fun, and then slowly work the silliness back in. Ray was a quick-witted silver fox, who had been known as ‘Hay Head Ray’ back in his Spokane radio days. Somehow, he had made the transition from radio to television and often wore extremely loud plaid sports coats to work which I’m sure had viewers adjusting the color on their TV sets.

In time, management became less fond of Ray and as you’ve seen in local news around here in 2019, it was time to move on to the next generation. Enter Steve Pool. He wasn’t Ray and I’ll be honest, at first I was a bit resentful. But there was no way I could watch Steve’s performance and hold him accountable. He simply inherited the position. If it wasn’t him, it would have been someone else. And Steve was good.

In time, I found myself over at KLSY and Steve Pool was our “TV weather guy”.  That relationship lasted several years, enough that we could arrange Steve “the Husky” Pool playing against Kathi “The Coug” Goertzen for several years. Each edition was a blast. They replicated my relationship with several really good Coug friends where we’d flip each other flack, but in the end, it was just a game. The really drunk fans from each side take it way too seriously.

I even had the fortune of going down to Los Angeles once to represent Seattle radio as part of a charity “Family Feud”, with host Ray Combs emceeing a matchup between Seattle radio folks and the KOMO-TV news team.

 

Truth is, Steve and I were never best friends. But he was a solid friend. The kind, when you saw them after several years, it was like time had never passed. I’ve noticed that about me. I don’t really have any good buddies or friends, aside from my wife. Probably, KRKO’s “Maury the Movie Guy” would come close, but we only see each other once a week and we spend most of our time together doing a podcast. But when you’re one of my friends, there is no time involved. I could see you a week ago or five years ago, but the next time we connect, we just pick up where we left off. And if that is the definition of a friend, Steve Pool definitely falls into that category.

He’s a Facebook friend (as probably most of you reading this are) but I didn’t want to play that to get an interview with him before he retired. I did reach out to Dan Lewis last week–we connected over the years and after he retired–but I just wanted to chat with Steve if only he was up for it. So, I went through the proper channels and emailed the KOMO press relations office, just as anyone else would seeking an interview.

Monday morning, my phone rang and, when I didn’t recognize the number, I just let it go to voicemail. Once it had reached that mark, I listened. It was Steve, saying, “Yes, let’s do this thing.”  I called him back and this is the interview I had with him, which I chopped into bits for my KRKO morning show. (Hey, it’s a morning music show–3 minutes max and I have to be done)  However, if you’d like to hear our entire conversation, it’s right here.

It’s like when Frederick & Nelson closed, or Pay ‘n Pak went away, or when Stan Boreson left us, another chunk of the Seattle we all knew over the past 40 years faded away just a little bit more. Sure, we could be all sad about it, but I choose to remember all those great times, including ones I didn’t even bring up in this little roundup of memories. A really good guy just beat cancer, which reminded him of just how precious life is, and he decided to make every day count.

Which is a reminder that we should all be doing that, whether we’re retired or not.

Steve Pool, you’ve enjoyed a career well-lived. Now, let’s focus on that real-life thing.

Congratulations on the promotion.

Tim Hunter

HO HO BROTHER 19–Quid Pro Ho

Well, I did it again. For the 19th consecutive year.

Let’s go back to where it all started, in 1999. I was playing radio as part of the Murdock, Hunter and Alice morning show on 92.5-KLSY in Seattle. Technology was beginning to pick up some serious speed. We had these cellular phone things that allowed you to make phone calls from practically anywhere if you were willing to carry the big battery it came with. It was the beginning of the digital world as we watched records and ‘carts’ replaced with amazingly clear compact discs or ‘CD’s.’

I have had several technology gurus over the years, going back to the early 1980s when I paid $1200 for a computer that ran DOS and had a monochrome monitor.  My neighbor Paul generously helped me learn all about them.

Over time, another neighbor in another neighborhood who worked at Microsoft came to my rescue more than once. Neil was a godsend as I took risks, screwed things up, but thanks to his tutelage, I learned what I did wrong and my computer know-how grew by leaps & bounds.

But it was as the century closed that Rick Taylor, the Sandusky radio chain I.T. guy, handed me a CD of Christmas music he had put together. “You what?  You found songs and then made your own CD? Tell me more.” And he did.

With enough knowledge to be dangerous, I created my first Christmas CD of holiday fun and favorites: HO HO BROTHER 1. It was a mishmash of Christmas songs, sentimental and goofy, while weaving in some of the Christmas bits I had produced over my radio career.  It was well received, and so the following Christmas I did another. And another. And another.

This became one of my Christmas traditions and I challenged myself to find songs you probably had never heard before, or different versions of the old classics, as well as creating original comedy, all blended together in a non-stop 68-minute Christmas-palooza. My self imposed rule was to never use the same version of the same song twice. In time, I even incorporated an original Christmas parody song that I wrote and local singer Alana Baxter recorded. We would even produce a music video to go along with it.

My goal was always to create a holiday experience that you could pop into a CD player and a little over an hour later, find yourself fully immersed in what this time of year was all about.

These days, I’ve got it down to a system. In fact, from the minute I put the finishing touches on the current year’s collection, I start stashing songs for next year’s compilation.

Here’s this year’s lineup:

HO HO BROTHER 2019—Quid Pro Ho

1) Dr. Phil’s Opening Big (Fred Bugg)

2) “Sugar & Booze” Ana Gasteyer

3) “I’ll be home for Christmas” Lea Michele with Jonathon Groff

4) “Christmas Tree” Meg & Dia

5) “Frosty the Snowman” Shannon & Keast

6) “Santa Stole My Lady” Fitz & the Tantrums

7) 1-877 SLAS-4-ELVS (Me)

8) “Christmas Cookies” Oak Ridge Boys

9) “Finally it’s Christmas!”   Hanson

10) “Colgate Tooth Powder Commercial”

11) “That’s What I Want For Christmas”   Shirley Temple

12) “I Love Christmas” Tommy James

14) “Little Drummer Boy”   Pink Martini

15) “A Willie Nice Christmas” Kacey Musgraves with Willie Nelson

16) “Merry Merry Christmas” John Legend

17) “Beer, Joy of Man’s Desiring” Christmas With Beer

18) “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”   Tommy Dorsey & Orchestra, Cliff Weston & Edythe Wright

19) “Christmas Comes But Once A Year”   Joe Bonamassa

20) “Jingle Bells” The Ray Conniff Singers

21) “Some Day At Christmas” Alana Baxter

22) “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”   Bing Crosby

23) “Mele Kalikimaka”   Chris Isaak

24) “O Come All Ye Faithful”   Susan Boyle with Elvis Presley

25) “I Believe In Father Christmas”   Greg Lake with Ian Anderson

26) “Walken In A Winter Wonderland”   (Scott Burns)

 

I’m really proud of this year’s edition. I stumbled across a Tommy James Christmas song he did that’s a lot of fun that I had never even heard of before.  There’s a Shirley Temple tune that brings back some childhood memories.  There are modern entries, some classics and two of my radio brothers bringing their best for the Dr. Phil open (Fred Bugg) and and Christopher Walken close (Scott Burns).  I am truly blessed.  Yeah, and that’s me not being able to resist doing 1-877-SLAS-4-ELVS.

With all the being said, enjoy this year’s collection right here.  Just click on it to listen, or right click it to save on your computer. Put it on your phone and you have a Christmas party to go!

And now with another shift in the technology, CD’s are going away, but I still make a few for those who still have players. Here’s what this year’s label looks like:

The little girl is from a photo taken in 1950s Seattle, as she gazed at all the dolls in Frederick & Nelson’s window.

I still don’t have a new song written for Alana yet this year, but we’ll pull it off again somehow. It always works out.  Last year, we did the “Someday at Christmas” you find on this year’s HO HO and filmed the video at Bothell’s Country Village, which is no more. It’s where I was a town crier and welcomed Santa most of the last 17 years. It’s amazing how quickly things we do become things we used to do.

That’s why I cherish this time of year and probably go overboard in holiday commitments and activities. But you know, one day, those will be the things I’ll remember that I used to do.

Make it count. Yeah, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but it’s going to be a short holiday season, so let’s get this show on the road.

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

PS Oh, and yeah, here’s last year’s Alana Baxter video. Enjoy!

 

My Soccer Evolution

Yes, to the rest of the world, it’s ‘football’. But in these United States of America, it’s known as ‘soccer.’

As for my ‘Top of Mind’ in regards to soccer, for years my response would have been Pele, Messi and Ronaldo. These days, it’s the Seattle Sounders. They’ve been my home town team for a dozen years now. When you appear in the championship game three of four years, you know you’re cheering for a team that’s doing something right.

What do I know about the Seattle Sounders? Their current coach is a guy who played high school soccer at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, and actually played with the team years ago. Drew Carey is among the owners, as is Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson, his wife Ciara and Seattle rapper Macklemore. My radio brother Ken Carson leads the “March to the Match” every week.

However, I will admit, soccer has its detractors and its hard to justify watching a 0-0 game that shaves 90 minutes off your life. (OK, nil-nil) So, how did I become a fan of this non-baseball/basketball/football sport?

It was not overnight. Going back to when I was growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s, somebody somewhere thought it would be a good idea to bring a bunch of European soccer teams to the U.S., assign them to major cities, and see what America thought of soccer. My team was the L.A. Wolves. I don’t remember much about them except the fact we never went to any games during the season, but somehow, my dad nabbed tickets to the season championship game. The L.A. Wolves won in triple overtime! Pretty exciting stuff, but that was the only year that league existed.

Flash forward to the early 1990s, when my daughter wanted to play soccer because all of her friends were. We signed her up, but the league informed us there weren’t enough coaches. So, I volunteered to coach a sport I knew nothing about. I went to a couple of coach clinics, got my cones and practice balls, and attempted to make them soccer smart. The same thing happened with my son, where their team had no coach, so I stepped up.  Waking up at 2:17AM every morning and being done with work by noon, that gave me time to catch a nap, pick up the kids at school and then go to a field somewhere and coach them.

Eventually, more soccer-knowledgeable dads stepped up and I returned to the sidelines and studied the game. I had to admit, it was pretty darn exciting.

After my kids retired from the sport, I pretty much put soccer on the backburner until I met my wife, Victoria, whose son, Nick, was an All-Kingco goalie and soccer was pretty much their sport of choice. So, back in I went.

We catch most Sounders games during the season on the DVR and then fast-forward through them to see all the scoring highlights. I have to say that the passion the die-hard Sounders have is commendable and on par with what their European counterparts are doing.

The women have already shown us that the U.S. can win a World Cup. Now, it’s time for the guys to up their game. I still know people who just can’t get into soccer and I understand. You need a person connection like your kid playing to discover the intricacies of the mini-games within the game. Much like baseball, who some people feel it’s like watching grass grow, if you learn those little nuances of the game, it’s fascinating.

And so, here I am, a Seattle Sounders fan “until I die”, as the fans chant every game. It’s a team of unlikely but talented heroes who put it all together, even when the odds were against them. And what’s not to love about that.

The Seattle Sounders have discovered the secret sauce of how to always be a contender and that definitely keeps bringing me back. I can’t wait until next year! Thanks for a great 2019 Championship Year!

Go Sounders!

Tim Hunter

My Long-Shot Presidential Prediction

Months from now, you could be passing along this piece to someone as you say, “I knew a guy who called it back in November of ’19 who called it!”

This early, we simply just don’t know how next year’s presidential race will turn out. There are so many variables that could affect the outcome, not just in the election, but also in the nominating process. However, I have a feeling, a hunch, an inner voice that is saying to me, “You know, this seems awful familiar.”

Candidates who were long-shots at this stage of the game (before the first primary) ended up receiving the nomination of their party and winning the whole thing. Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia, was a very unlikely candidate.  Ronald Reagan, a former actor from California? C’mon. And Bill Clinton, a governor of the hog-raising state of Arkansas made it to our nation’s highest office, coming out of what seemed to be nowhere.

I remember a fairly tight presidential race that took place in 1960. I wasn’t into politics, since I was only five years old, but I do remember hearing things.  Oh, I was oblivious to the mentions in the evening news or in the newspapers (since I wasn’t very good at reading quite yet). In fact, my memory of that time in my life is pretty limited and slowly fading. Yet, I do recall hearing something that I have cited over the years in conversations where someone states that a particular candidate could never be president because (fill in the blank).

During that Presidential Campaign of 1960, somewhere along the line I heard that there was no way that John F. Kennedy would be elected president because he was a Roman Catholic. As we know now, not so much a practicing one, but a Roman Catholic. The phrase that burned into my brain from whatever source it came from was, “Yeah, if he gets elected, he’ll have us all praying to Mary.”

There had never been a member of the Catholic church elected to be an American president until JFK cracked that barrier.  By today’s standard, a pretty small barrier, but that was just the beginning of the evolutionary 1960s.

Years from now, I’m going to remember hearing people say, “Oh, Pete could never get elected president because he is gay.” Here’s where I go out on the skinny branches–I believe Pete Buttigieg will be the next President of the United States.

Several months ago, when he was a true longshot, I sent $50 his way, hoping that by some miracle, his candidacy could catch fire. Up until recently, it’s been Biden, Bernie, Warren and all the others. I figure the others are hanging in there so they might be considered as a running mate.

I’m convinced Pete is going to surprise people in Iowa and then, once people see that it’s OK to vote for him, his campaign is going to catch fire.

Why Pete?  Have you heard him speak. He’s eloquent, intelligent, a moderate Democrat (which is more in keeping with someone who could get things done) and has all the youthful energy that JFK did when he took office. There’s that military background, toss in manners and decorum and a Buttigieg presidency could end up being an incredible unifying gift to this country.

However the election turns out and whoever becomes president will have a small impact on my personal life and happiness. So many people act as if it’s a life and death matter and it can be if you want it to be.

From my view, I only see a man with conviction, who served his country–first in the military and then, in public office–who isn’t afraid to take the really big swing and reach for the country’s highest office.

Very Kennedy-esque. However, he’s gay instead of Catholic. I believe our democracy can survive. And so, I’m going to go with Mayor Pete as the longshot winner.

However you feel, vote, and we’ll get our answer in a year.

God bless America. (picture flag waving here)

Tim Hunter