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, that may not mean much to the techies. But his 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 fortune to meet him.

Now, I worked with a legend. I was the producer for the Larry Nelson Morning Show on KOMO, and Norm was hired when the station and their afternoon host Don Chapman parted ways. First off, I liked Don. He was on the irresponsible side and 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, where was a “rock” voice smoothly talking to the conservative masses in a style unfamiliar to their current crowd, but that I was well familiar with. There were those who 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. You’ve gotta understand that, at a radio station, those people 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.

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

 

They Really Were Some Pretty Good Old Days

Last Sunday, I got to enjoy a wonderful stroll down Memory Lane. I gathered with friends from my college days, when I was living in a dorm named Terry Hall that no longer exists at the University of Washington.
You’re saying, “Oh, Tim, they still have a Terry Hall at the University of Washington.” Different one. They tore down the building I lived in for three amazing years back in 2014. When the last of the students moved out in December of 2013, the Seattle Police actually used the building for SWAT Team training before the wrecking ball showed up to do its work.

Taking me back to my time at the original Terry Hall means going back over 40 years ago. That’s weird. Growing up, when my parents talked about 40 years ago, that would have been referring to the Great Depression and pre-World War II.  But here I am now, in this 60-year-old body with a mind that thinks he’s still 35, reminiscing about those days in the 1970s like they were yesterday.

Terry Hall was my first experience at living away from home. It’s where I learned that if you spend too much time being lovesick over a girl from your home town, you could end up with a $112 phone bill. Yes, kids, there was a time where long-distance calls actually cost money. I was attending school at the UW, but my social world was this building full of other kids who had left the nest and were reinventing themselves into the people they wanted to become.  I arrived in Seattle as a black-belt in goofball (no surprise to my high school friends) but being away at college allowed me to be a goofball on steroids. A few examples? Oh, sure.

Like I said, no surprises there.

These were the transition years. Going from a kid whose parents provided a safety net to being a semi-adult with full adult responsibility. There was so much learning going on, both in and out of school. The three years I lived in Terry Hall pretty much shaped my future. The high school girlfriend I was supposed to marry decided to set a new course. A guy down the hall, Bob Carey, gets full credit for telling me about the broadcasting program at the U-Dub. I remember thinking, “You could play on the radio and learn about television and call that a major? Done deal!”

Each of the people at the reunion triggered different memories. There was Erika, the girl from Germany, who once tried to teach me skiing. Jen and Abdoul, who both ended up working for a local city. My long-time pal, Steve, who knows more incriminating things about me than anyone should. Even my old roommate, Les showed up. That was a treat. Les and I ventured away from the dorms my senior year of college, to a funky house in the Fremont district of Seattle. That house still stands and is now actually a barbecue place. Seriously, this was our home.

We remembered classmates who weren’t there and wondered what they were up to. Who was still around? Who is about to retire? Who has already retired?

I got to meet spouses and hear about their kids. It was a small group, but with all the value of a big fancy class reunion.  These were people I saw every day, that became a part of my life. They were the folks I would look for, when sitting down in the cafeteria and with whom I worked with in the kitchen. That picture of me up above in the white hat? That was taken when I had the dorm kitchen job of milk runner, where it was my responsibility to make sure none of the milks ever ran out. I was also a fry cook and on egg days, I would cook around 1200 eggs or flip 1500 pancakes in the morning for breakfasts.

Get me going and there’s a movie’s worth of stories that, maybe, someday I’ll write down. In the meantime and for now, they’re alive and well up in my brain. A few of the forgotten ones were knocked loose again last weekend. We all agreed, we HAVE to do this again sometime soon. Those really were some good old days.

The hardest part about pulling off one of these mini-reunions? Yes, all those various schedules make it a challenge. But the most difficult part is admitting that everything we talk about happened over 40 years ago.

That’s hard.

Tim Hunter

One Last Lesson

My former morning show partner used to always say, “It’s a pretty poor day when you don’t learn something.”

I usually followed that by saying to myself, “Well, how about learning a new slogan?”

Over the years, I’ve found that more true than not.

A quick side-diversion–that’s what I like so much about the game of baseball. You think you know everything there is to know about the sport and then all of a sudden a situation occurs or a play happens that has never happened before. And you pick up one more wrinkle in the grey matter.

My head is pretty jammed full of stuff. I’ve heard before that we keep shoving things in there until it gets full, and then we start letting go of the lesser important things. I don’t know about that. I can still arbitrarily let you know that the intro time of James Taylor’s “Your Smiling Face” is 25-seconds and really, it begins to fade around 2:15, although the time listed on the label is 2-minutes and 25-seconds. I’m an information junkie and, being a writer for Radio-Online and getting up at 4am every morning to gather data, it still excites me to learn something new.

This is where I bring in Marjorie. The quick connect is that she’s my sister-in-law’s mom.  When I married Victoria and added her extended family, I got to know Marjorie while taking in the many family events. We’d banter briefly about how she was doing, what’s new, the usual small talk.  Several years ago, I helped her out a couple of times with her computer. She was eager to know how to use it and keep up with emails, even though a lot of 80-year-olds were happy to not have anything to do with those contraptions.

Over the past couple of years, Marjorie has had some real health battles. A couple of weekends ago, she had to be rushed to the hospital and everyone thought they were going to lose her.  But, as she had done several times before, she rallied.  However, this time, Marjorie made it known she was done. No more hospitals for her. She wanted to get back into her apartment and not leave until her final breath.

Just last year, we celebrated her 90th birthday. In a fairly short amount of time, she needed the help of a cane and walker. She was tired of struggling to keep going. She decided she was done and had no interest whatsoever in wrapping things up at a hospital. So, she put out the word and night after night, her family and friends came over to say goodbye.  Not teary-eyed crying sessions (although, I’m sure there were a few weepy eyes) but spending one last time together, getting to hug the great-grandkids one more time or see a longtime friend. Although, by this age, you’ve outlasted a lot of those.

Last Thursday night, my wife, her daughter and I headed up to Marjorie’s apartment and hung out for a while.  A couple of hours, maybe. She did not appear in pain and, to be honest, when we left there, we all wondered if this was really it. She was lucid, talkative, laughed, and freely discussed all the goodbyes of the past week. Marjorie was planning to check out and so if you wanted to say one last goodbye as if to someone going on a long trip, you were encouraged to stop by.

Friday came and went. On Saturday morning at 4am, Marjorie headed off on her trip.

She told us during our visit that she had been having recurring dreams where a bus kept pulling up and invited her to get on board. She wanted to know where it was going, but they wouldn’t say. So, she didn’t get on.

Maybe this time they told her. Or, she just decided to finally take them up on their offer.

Marjorie did it her way and so impressively. The goodbyes, checking out when she was ready, tying up the loose ends and moving on in her time. I’m looking up from my keyboard at the “In Loving Memory” card of my dad who went home to his creator exactly three years ago today. He was just shy of his 92nd birthday.

We’re never really ever ready to let our loved ones go, but from their point of view, they eventually hit a point of wanting to move on. I get that. We do that all the time with friends, social circles, cars, jobs and such. You hit a point, and you recognize that it’s time to make a change. It makes sense that we’ll all feel that way at some stage of our lifetime where you just say, “Hey, I’m getting on that bus.”

I helped Marjorie out a couple times with her computer, but she got in the last lesson. She demonstrated the art and style of going out your way. Well done.

Tim Hunter