Thanks, Mr. Allen

My phone lit up like a Christmas tree today when the news came out that Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, had finally lost his battle with cancer.

Celebrities and well-known figures pass all the time.  After John McCain’s recent passing, we experienced a huge national send-off, with praise coming from both sides of the aisle. We were reminded about what a great man he was. Paul was equally great, but in different ways and his departure has hit home with me for a lot of reasons.

I’ll rattle off a few–he helped co-create Microsoft, which is a part of my every day life. He was a Northwest guy who did things to make his home town a better place. He developed the South Lake Union area of Seattle with more on the way.  He was the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers. His love of music and pop culture resulted in “the Blob” at the Seattle Center, formerly the Music Experience Project, now a museum known as MoPop. The resident radio station, KEXP, is the frequency he bought from the University of Washington after I graduated from there. Back in my day, it was 90.5-KCMU, which is where I first began my decades-long love affair with radio.

I knew someone that played in his rock band. This friend would get a phone call and it would be Paul, asking, “You wanna fly down to Portland tonight and catch the Blazers game?”  We heard about his yacht, his toys, his companies, his passions. But on top of it all, he loved his music.

Paul Allen’s passing hits me particularly hard because he’s just two years older than yours truly. That’s just too young. It seems like a lot of the conversations I’m having lately with my friends and family have to do with retirement. How do you know when to pull the trigger? What’s the smartest thing to do to be prepared for it? Do you wait and work longer or call it quits at 65 and enjoy whatever you have left of this life?

We had heard about Paul Allen’s battle with cancer before. It went into remission and then, it returned. When you think about it, if there was anyone who would be able to have access to the latest science and technology at any price, it would have been him. He was recently ranked as the 46th richest person in the world, with a worth of $20.3-billion.

I never met Paul Allen. From friends who did know him, he was a very private person. He did what he had to publicly, but preferred privately living his life. The time we are allotted on this rock is all we get and, as I’ve said before, 65 years just doesn’t seem long enough.

But if that’s all he was going to be given, he really made his time count. If there’s one thing I have to express my appreciation for is bringing a Super Bowl winning team to this town.

Mr. Allen, you will be remembered. Thank you for all you did for your home town and the Pacific Northwest.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Here’s to a Successful Failure

I was chatting with a Millennial the other day, the much-maligned generation that some say feel entitled or simply expect everything to just go their way. And when it doesn’t, it’s “not fair.”

Now, while you’ll see that sentiment a lot online, I actually know of several very hard-working M’s that demonstrate a lot of the driven qualities I possessed at that age. However, in my conversation the other day, I was encouraging a certain person to pursue their dream. Not adjusting your dream to increase your odds of doing something, but taking a few chances, risking enough that you could fail. And they would have nothing of it.

When I suggested that they pursue one of the career paths they were interested in, this 20-something said, “Oh, that probably won’t happen. I want to concentrate on the sure things that I know will happen.” Translation–I’ll settle for certainty, even if it means minimum wage from now until I retire.

Unacceptable.

My head almost exploded with thoughts Not just what came to mind regarding my philosophy on the topic, but also the experiences I’ve had over the years.  From the 50,000-foot level, you could think, “Boy, that Tim is one lucky guy! He is actually living his dream, doing what he wants to do, the way he wants to do it.”

I would agree, but with a caveat.

I made it to this level of my life thanks to one thing: failures. Things that didn’t happen, that didn’t turn out the way I wanted, or things that were going well that just blew up.

I remembered being asked to be the featured speaker at Canyon Park Junior High School a long time ago. I wanted to say something to these kids that would actually matter. So, I did an entire speech about failure and not being afraid to try for what you believe in. My own kids probably heard my Ken Griffey, Jr. analogy a million times while they were growing up. “You know that amazing catch he just made? Oh, he could have thought that there was no way he’d ever catch that ball as it almost made it over the fence, but he tried and he succeeded.  How many times before that did he try to catch a home run ball and miss it? Every single time. But eventually, trying succeeded.”

In my speech to the grads, I brought up some of the greatest failures in history, as well as their generation. Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney and others were major failures…until they succeeded. Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and so many others starred in horrible TV series, some that were canceled after only one episode. But they got back out there and kept going.

I can’t even begin to tell you about the many, many projects that I was involved with over the years, that I thought for sure would be my big success story. There was an audio tape tour of Edmonds that I recorded; an Inspector Gadget computer game, where I was a cheaper alternative to Don Adams who didn’t charge $1-million; project after project that I did with the hope this would be the big payoff, which never happened.

Truth be told, you can do anything you want in this world. You can achieve whatever it is you desire. What most of the Millennials (and really, everyone, for that matter) don’t realize is that the biggest obstacle in the way of you being hugely successful is one person: you.

I do a great variety of things, not for monetary gain, but because I believe they are positive contributions to this swirling rock.  And I know that, for every one of me, there’s another person strictly focused on the monetary gain that determines if they come out the winner.

Once you decide which side of that fence you’re going to reside on, the rest is easy. If you try something beyond your comfort zone and fail, you will grow and, you’ll have at least tried. I can’t believe I’m bringing this up again (for like the third time in the past couple of days) but I hear that what people think about most on their deathbed is not what they did, but what they didn’t do.

So, take a swing. Believe in yourself. If you fail, congratulations. You’ve just gained a valuable education without racking up any college debt as a result. Your biggest growth will occur once you’ve gotten past the fear of failure.

Get out there and fail at something, would ya?

Tim Hunter

STOMPING THROUGH MEMORY LANE

Between you and me, time management has been a serious struggle lately. I’m coming to the realization that all the coffee’s and lunches I so leisurely took in-between my assorted work duties  will need to be cut back to better accommodate my little return-to-radio dream. After all, there are only so many hours in the day and while I’m having a blast, in order to be at my best in everything I’m involved with, I’ve really got to slow down and focus.

To that end, I got that wonderful “caught up” feeling the other night and decided to celebrate by going through the piles of papers that had collected beside my desk. The piles were made up of things I wanted to take a closer look at, when I ‘had time’.  So, Tuesday night, I made time.

I followed up with some emails to people that I had promised to get back to, sent out some monthly invoices and found a few mementos I had fished out of one of the boxes under our house. I have several of those boxes and when recently rummaging through one of them, I yanked a couple of fun things out.

The student ID was from my Junior year at Torrance High School, the Mighty Tartars. (that was our mascot) The hair was getting longer than I’m sure my parents preferred and I started parting it in the middle. (what a goof!)  Just to the right of that is a KQOT car window sticker, from my first professional radio station, a daytimer over in Yakima, Washington. After unsuccessfully trying to land a job working in Seattle radio right out of college, I opted to move to eastern Washington to cut my radio teeth. I remember that job interview to this day. I sat there with the owner and office manager, talked for a while and then they said, “Let’s hear how you sound.”  We walked into the control room, the owner told the guy to get out of the way so I could take over for an hour. They then went out and drove around, listening to me on a car radio, deciding if I was the right fit for the station. I was nervous as hell, but somehow, they liked what they heard. I got the job at Q93 for a whopping $350 a month to start and then, if I worked out after a couple of months, it would get bumped up to $400. Who said a college education wasn’t worth something?

But the item in the upper right corner was a surprise. I didn’t even realize I had pulled it out with the other things. That’s the inside of a Thank You note from the Student Activities Director at Torrance High, Mr. Tryon. During my terms as a Senior President and A.S.B. Vice-President, I’m sure I gave him many gray hairs.  Those years grow more distant by the day, but I seem to recall that I irritated him a lot. I was a goofball and probably not what he thought of when he thought of student leadership.

But on my way out, he gave me a Thank You note. I probably haven’t read it for over 40 years and I actually didn’t intend to pull it out of the memory box, but I accidentally grabbed in with the other stuff. The picture above is a little blurry, but here’s what it said:

“June 12th, 1973 (probably a high holy day to him, as I was finally graduating and leaving campus)

Tim,

Who says vaudeville is dead?  Just that you have such a perfect sense of timing is no reason to believe your (sp, and he was an educator) destined to become a second Harpo or was it Groucho? Keep yourself well, OK.

Respectfully, Mr. Tryon”

Here’s a guy that I thought pretty much was annoyed by me (and he still probably was) but he saw that whatever I was going to do in my future was going to have to do with making people laugh. There is not a greater high for me. When I ran for Senior President, I actually had a script that was one-liner after one-liner, including such groaners as, “My opponent has the face of a saint!” after which a friend in the audience yelled out, “Yeah, a St. Bernard!” That incident pretty much sealed my deal. Over the years, hearing the comedy roar of a joke that works, creating jokes for my various comedy clients and those 8 years of actually selling jokes to Jay Leno and hearing them delivered on the Tonight Show, all combine to make me remember I’m one lucky guy.

Life is not about the accomplishments, but about doing what you love to do and then, oh yeah, it happens to be your job, too.

Each week, as I sit down to write one of these blogs, I seriously never know where the muses are going to take me until I start tapping away on the keyboard.  Occasionally, there are weeks where I sit down with an agenda. But in this week’s case,  I took an accidental stroll Memory Lane and what a fun little stroll it was.

Tim Hunter

Norm!!!!

That’s a yell that was reserved for a beloved member of the cast of “Cheers” on TV. But if you said that four-letter word among Seattle radio aficionados, there would be only one.
Norm Gregory passed away this past week. In this Amazon/Starbucks/Google version of Seattle, his name may not mean much to the techies. But Norm’s presence on the Seattle airwaves will long be alive among those who were lucky enough to hear him back “in the day.”

I first became familiar with his style and voice while I was in the School of Communications at the University of Washington. While I was setting myself up for a career in this field, I was listening to Norm live my dream.

You see, Norm Gregory, as much as he would argue against it, was a legend in this market. He was a familiar voice on KJR-AM, helped launch KJR-FM, was a presence on KZOK and eventually found his way to afternoon drive on KOMO-AM. That’s where I had the good fortune to meet him.

Now, I worked with a local radio legend. This was back in the days when I was the producer for the Larry Nelson Morning Show on KOMO, and Norm entered the scene when the station and their afternoon host Don Chapman parted ways. First off, I liked Don. Unfortunately, he was on the irresponsible side and probably never should have used that station credit card to fill up his boat, but his gravely voice and those Husky Hooper Bus Rides are pressed in my memory forever.

When Norm arrived at KOMO, it was a major leap for that MOR (Middle of the Road) station. I mean, here was this “rock” voice smoothly talking to the conservative masses in a style unfamiliar to their current audience, but it was a voice I was well familiar with. I remember getting some phone calls and letters who first thought of his style as “growling” and “arrogant”, but I recognized it as the sound of the cool, hip and all-knowing voice of the next generation. My generation.

I worked mornings as Larry’s producer, Norm was afternoons. Understand that, at a radio station, those two dayparts are worlds apart. As I told his brother, Brian, I was once assigned to be Norm’s producer when KOMO (because we were the Husky station) was lucky enough to be the local radio station for the final four when it visited Seattle in 1984. I showed up to help Norm; he didn’t need it. He was a self-contained jock, with sheets of show-prep he had written so that he was prepared his way for the broadcast. I handed him my stuff and just watched.

In radio, there are three types of broadcasters–the Self-Absorbed Super Jocks, the middle-of-the-road nice guys (and gals) and the quiet, inward types who turned it on with the mike switch. While Norm may have come off as the Super Jock, he was very quiet and inward. He was all about doing radio the way he felt it should be done and was a presence on the Seattle airwaves we won’t see again. Guarantee it.

Nice obit in the Seattle Times that’s worth a read.

One of the great voices in Seattle radio has gone silent.

Tim Hunter

100 MPH

 

Yep, I knew it was going to be challenging and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

First off, seriously, if you have not checked out my newest radio station yet, you have to do that. Now, I’m going to assume the bulk of you reading this right now are outside of the Everett area.  If so, there are so many ways for you to listen to KRKO.

Let’s start with Alexa. If you have one of those Amazon devices, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to listen. Just say, “Alexa, play KRKO” and you’ll start getting the music.

To listen on any device–computer, tablet, or phone–just go to KRKO.com and click LISTEN LIVE. It’s that easy.

Just a reminder, I’m on from 6-9am, Monday through Friday and not a lot. Top of the hour ID and three times an hour for a couple of minutes each break. But that allows us to get in more of the songs.  So many of these songs were abandoned by the Seattle stations and we’re actually playing them and a lot. I was just chatting with the consultant, Terry Patrick (the voice you hear identifying each of the songs) and I had to tell him I’m still hearing songs for the first time. That is, ones I haven’t heard anywhere else for eons.

Hey, we’re small-town radio. We feature the High School game of the week on Friday nights and carry minor-league baseball and hockey games, but that’s what really appealed to me. This is sincere radio,  the way we all expected the medium to be when we got into this business.  The staff has been very welcoming to me and is doing everything they can to help me make this work. I wanted to play in radioland again, but not put my current career on hold. So, I’ve added one more thing to my crazy schedule, all in the name of fun.

So, I’ll ask–if you would like to play, if you’d be up for me to call you up some day and drag you into a conversation just let me know. Drop me a note and the best time you’re available for calling to tim.hunter@krko.com and I’ll definitely take you up on the offer.

The first couple of weeks have been challenging. My main computer crashed last Saturday, so I ordered a new one while I turned the old one over to the Geek Squad folks at Best Buy. Amazon failed me, saying they would deliver it on Sunday by 8pm…then 9pm….then promising it no later than TUESDAY!  Fortunately, the folks at Best Buy came through and got my existing computer up and running in time to record Tuesday’s show.

If stress shaves a few seconds off your life, I could go at any minute. I will say, it’s a bit of an adjustment to go from a fairly stress-free routine to a daily high-anxiety setting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Again, KRKO is on 1380AM and 95.3-FM, but mainly only in the Everett area. You can get a scratchy AM signal in Seattle, but I’d highly recommend streaming via KRKO.com  It’s the new way of listening to the radio, without all the static that comes with FM.

It’s that small town radio station I thought I would work at one day again, with occasional glitches here and there….but I’m loving it.

Tim Hunter

It’s Actually Happening

Four years ago, I rolled the dice big-time, gave up a nice-paying but not rewarding job to pursue my professional dreams. I could have easily crashed and burned and found myself working with former Cosby cast members at Trader Joe’s, but the crazy plan actually worked.

My goal was to create a working situation where–

  • I was doing what I wanted to be doing with people I liked
  • Earning enough to cover the bills, with a little left over
  • Create a balance of all the things I love, so I’d be able to keep doing it until I retired

Later this month, I crack the 63-year-old mark, so retirement is within sight. However, my definition of retirement is probably different than most. That will probably just mean thinning out the list of the many things I do, eliminating the less-rewarding and focusing my efforts on just the fun stuff.

Right now, I have my own creative services company, work for Create Impulse as their Chief Creative Officer, emcee events like this week’s Lutefisk Eating Contest at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival (I believe this is the 15th Lutefisk eating competition I’ve emceed), write for Radio-Online every morning, aim jokes at my various comedy clients and produce videos. I churn out a weekly Ima Norwegian cartoon, a podcast, write a blog and consult several clients. Then pile on top of all those things the duties and activities that come with being involved with ten or so clubs and organizations, and you could say I’m one busy person. But I like busy and when my schedule is mostly made up of things I love, what else would I rather be doing?

But underneath it all, I’ve had this need to do one thing that has been missing from my life for 15 years. Radio.

Seriously, I was thinking that one day, we’d move to a smaller town somewhere and I would latch on to the local small-town station just to satisfy my craving. Remember, I spent over 30 years of my life in the biz, and when it decided to push me away, I embraced developing new skills and pursuing other goals. That I have done.

I can now direct, shoot and edit videos and commercials, thus adding a nice collection of abilities to my skillset. But here’s the crossroads I came to: Radio is and has always been fairly unstable. Formats change, program directors love you or hate you, it’s entirely possible to come off a great show and be told that you’re done. I know. It’s happened.

Which begs the question, “Why would I risk all that I’ve developed to plunge back into the unstable world of radio?” I’d welcome the return, but not by risking everything I’ve built up. After all, been there, done that. So if I were to venture back on the airwaves, it would have to be a perfect fit and be able to be piled on to everything else I’m already doing. Are there enough hours in the day? I believe so, for the right situation.

Over the years, I’ve reached out and talked with Andy Skotdal who own’s Everett’s KRKO. He knew me from my Seattle work and was always interested in connecting. But I didn’t want to start something there, only to realize a month or two later, this isn’t what I really wanted to do. At one time, he was thinking a news station with me doing mornings. Not really my thing. I’m a goofball, you know that. Then, they went into the Sports Radio arena and, again, not for me.

Then, earlier this summer, they flipped to a music station. And not just a regular music station, but what they call “Everett’s Greatest Hits” which amounted to the songs I used to play on the radio. A few 60s, mostly 70s and some 80s. Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John. And, with an up-tempo feel.

Chuck Maylin, formerly of KBSG (the great Seattle oldies station that is no more) and veteran consultant Terry Patrick have created one fine-sounding station that, for now, didn’t have a morning personality.

Today, that changes.

I initially reached out to them to maybe track out an afternoon shift or weekend, just to satisfy my radio Jones. (not to be confused with Jones radio)  They were interested, but had someone internally for mornings and if they were to add an afternoon voice, it would be a “down the line” thing.

Then, the guy who was to host mornings parted ways with the station. So they had a need.

We talked and agreed to make this happen, but not until after my recent Norway trip. It just wouldn’t make sense to start on the air, and then disappear for a couple of weeks.

So, today, Monday, September 10th, I begin a new chapter in my broadcasting career. I’ll be hanging out at 1380-AM and 95.3-FM from 6-9am Monday through Friday. I would highly recommend streaming the station, which you can do easily with one click at KRKO.com.

I am incredibly blessed, because I’m going to get to enjoy playing radio again, on a small-town, local-owner radio station, while continuing to live my big-city life.  Here are a few of my fellow KRKO-kateers, excited to hear I was joining the team.

OK, well, mildly intrigued might be a better description.

Everett’s Greatest Hits, here I come.

Tim Hunter

 

Norway My Way

I just came back from a whirlwind tour of Norway from Bergen to places I can’t pronounce, to more places I can’t pronounce, then Oslo and over to Tau near Stavanger.

Now, anyone can take you on a normal tour of that beautiful country. I thought I’d offer up some of the more unusual sights I enjoyed during our trip.

One the places we passed on our walk through Bergen.

 

What I say, but I took along my 12th Man flag. Go Hawks!

I thought about stopping by and saying hi for a spell, but we kept moving.

 

Actually, a mom and her son.

 

Some Norwegian forest wisdom.

 

I got your fruit display right here.

 

No matter how hard you try, you can’t make dried cod eye-appealing.

 

I believe this was an ad for a Norwegian rapper, Snoop Lass.

 

If you want to know how to pronounce it correctly, consider it a question: Who’s Fleeden?

I don’t know how you can get more Norwegian than Omar’s Pizza.

Yes, there’s a ski jumper there. They were landing on soaked-down grass.

 

If you go with color codes, you can ignore the labels.

Yes, they have their own version of “Idol.”

 

                             This is to warn drivers to be careful because some Norwegian kid could be                        walking their toy slug and not notice you.

 

Nothing says freshness like a duck.

 

Get out of the city and you’ll see that Norwegians are seriously into rock stacking.

I was asked to sit down here so both ends of the horse could be represented. Uh, wait….

By the way, for those of you wondering, this trip paled in comparison when it came to taking photos. My first visit to Norway, I took over 4800 pictures using three different cameras.  This time, using my main camera and my phone, I only snapped 2,341 pictures.  I’m making progress.

Tim Hunter

My Thoughts On A Major Issue

I hate to get too political in my little corner of the Internet, but something happened during our vacation that violated my rights and which forces me to speak up.

It’s time for all airlines to protect our rights as passengers to be able to put a piece of carry-on luggage over our own seats.

Yes, I know it’s a pretty strong statement, but here’s what happened. Our little five person travel group took up five of the six seats on a row of our Iceland Air flight back home to Seattle. By the time we were allowed to board, we walked down the aisle only to find that both sides of the overhead space above row 13 was already full. I mean jammed packed!  The other person that completed our row hadn’t even shown up yet! But the greedy passengers surrounding us had already grabbed our space.

That’s just wrong. We ended up having to wedge in our packages and coats into the space behind us, which made exiting the jet that much more challenging when the flight was over.

C’mon! At today’s prices, you should be guaranteed at least a little of the space over your own aisle.  I didn’t pay a discounted price. Oh, sure, I could have tossed out the bags over our aisle, but I didn’t to cause an International incident. We’ve got enough people doing that these days.

Am I asking too much? Am I over-reacting due to jet lag? Probably. I’m tired.

Tim Hunter

Dodged a Bullet

Well, these days, bullets pretty much fly everywhere, so let me rephrase that. I just went through an experience where there were a lot of red flags, but I just kept going and it all worked out. Let’s see if you would do the same.

Let me begin by saying I’m frugal. “Cheap” is such a harsh word. Frugal sounds more wise, that you’re being Ben Franklin-ish. “A penny saved is a penny earned”, that sort of thing.

So, when I was shopping the Internet recently to find the best rate on a rental car, I came across a lot of deals. One company I had rented from before and their pickup location was in the back of a hotel. A bit weird. And the last time I rented from this other one, the car smelled smokey. We get enough of that in Seattle.

It’s why this company I had never heard of before sounded like a new low-cost winner–Right Car. I looked ’em up online and they existed (it wasn’t an online scam), they were world-wide and headquartered in Canada. Canadians are trustworthy, right? So, off I wandered down the path of renting from them.  The reservation was made, I printed out the paperwork and we were set.

The big day came to fly to Los Angeles to celebrate mom’s 90th birthday. RIght Car was to have a Volkswagen Jetta waiting for us and we’d be off to mom’s.  Our jet landed at 10:30am, taxied until around 11am, we grabbed our bags and headed to the waiting area as described on the paperwork. And waited. And waited. Now, in Right Car’s defense, how were they to know that a moron would park his car at the airport with a bunch of movie prop grenades and guns which caused police to shut down Terminal One and put the airport into gridlock?  Needless to say, 45 minutes passed before the Green Line Bus arrived. Oh, yes, lots of other companies drove by (and several times) during that time, but Right Car didn’t have their own pickup shuttle. At least that came to the airport. We were told to take a city bus which delivered us to a parking lot around a half-mile away.

Apparently, this is a new thing. Rental car companies are popping up left and right, to cash in on all the people coming and going from a major airport. At this parking lot, there was a sign that said, “Right Car”, so we waited by it. One of the drivers who worked for another one of these pop-up rental places told us we had just missed their van.

So, we waited again. And waited. And waited.  One of the other people waiting with us decided to walk it, since it was under a mile away. We gave it 45 minutes until I summoned a Lyft, which took us to the car rental facilities in around 10 minutes for $7.

And this is where we arrived.

 

Uh, yeah.

The building looked like something that Steve Martin would use to operate a movie production company, like in “Bowfinger.” Inside, a make-shift office with employees that seemed to know what they were doing. We did the paperwork and then headed out to the car. Everything seemed fine. Some nicks and scratches were noted. Nice trunk space. Then I closed the trunk and saw the license plate.

Yes. A paper license plate, printed out on someone’s computer. My theories were either the car was stolen, or the license plate had been. I went with the lesser and assumed this poor rental company had a license plate stolen from the car and they needed to keep it out there to make money.

What added a nice layer of “What’s going to happen next?” was that I lost my driver’s license at Sea Tac airport somewhere between the TSA check point and the gate of our flight.  Fortunately, I had my passport with me, so I could get to where I needed to go. Then again, I drove around L.A. all weekend without a driver’s license in a car that had a paper license on it. Yeah, I was pushing it.

When we went to the rental place to return the car on Monday, we discovered they didn’t open until 8am. And that was a slow process. We were finally able to turn the car in by 8:15. However, the driver apparently overslept and their van was not yet available. I got out the Lyft app, just in case. But she eventually arrived, we made it to the airport in time for a flight and there was a happy ending.

In the end, I have to admit, I dodged a bullet. There were so many things that could have gone wrong, and I ignored quite a few red flags. After arriving at SeaTac we headed straight to their wonderful Lost & Found department, where they had my driver’s license. It either fell when I was at TSA or someone turned it into them.

What have I learned? Stick to the reputable companies. It’s taken three such misadventures, but this one cured me. Yes, it’ll cost a little more, but the extra money you pay will reduce the stress of the experience which I believe will give you a couple of extra minutes on this earth in the long run.

And besides, when you stick to one of the major companies, they throw in real license plates on your rental at no extra charge.

Tim Hunter