A Penney Not Saved

Oh, it’s official–the J.C. Penney store at my nearest mall is going away. The Northgate Shopping Center, which opened in 1950 as one of the country’s first post-war shopping centers, is going through a massive renovation that has no room for the big anchor stores that every successful mall needed. Penney’s is going through the closing process and Macy’s will be right behind it this July. In a few years, the shopping center will be transformed into a mixed-use center with hotels, housing, offices and the headquarters and practice facility for our new N.H.L. expansion team.

The going-out-of-business signs went up a week ago. There are those guys on the street corners, holding up the 50-70% off signs. We decided to go take a look and it was sad. Yes, times change, things come and go, and yes, we scored some great deals. But what we saw when we got there really drove home the point it was going away. You can’t access the downstairs. Where the men’s department and housewares used to be is now where all the shelves and racks are being stored. All the merchandise has been moved upstairs with ‘All Sales Final’ posted prominently everywhere.

I’ve always joked that the two places I only buy clothes are Costco and Penney’s.  That joke has now been cut in half. Penney’s is where my mom went to work, back in the 1960s when women dared to start working outside the home. Since my parents had one vehicle, I remember dad and us kids all piling into the car around 9:30 in our pajamas and then head over and wait outside the employee entrance for when mom got off.

Victoria’s dad was a school teacher, but started working at Penney’s to help supplement the family budget and was one of the first hires of that new Penney’s when it opened in Northgate many years ago. As a retired Penney’s employee, I believe he gets the employee discount for life, as long as he can find a Penney’s store still open.

But now, like so many things of his generation and now, my generation, it’s going away. I have to say, it’s very strange to see things that have been around your entire life just fade off into history. Perhaps it’s just another reminder to appreciate the day and all that is around us. I’m going with that.

Tim Hunter

I Did It Again–No Foolin’

Most people as they get older are looking for ways to make their lives easier. I seem to be doing the opposite.

Oh, we’re not talking brain surgery on the side while saving the world, or anything like that.  But the little radio show I do each morning for KRKO in Everett pretty much erased any “spare time” I might have had, and has made each of my work weeks challenging, to say the least.

But it’s what I love to do, so quit yer complainin’!

Back in January, as I looked ahead to the year and saw the traditions I like to continue, I wondered how the heck I was going to pull off another National Gullible Day video. Its a silly little tradition I started four years ago, producing a news-like report for a fictitious holiday that also happens to land on April Fools’ Day.

Being the goofball I am, I’ve always loved April Fools’ Day. My radio career gave me an annual opportunity to prank thousands of people at a time. From live coverage of the big April Fools Parade in downtown Seattle, to something as simple as having cell phones ring in the background while we were on the air, making people think their phone was ringing.

In fact, this year on the radio, KRKO celebrated the 40th anniversary of “the concert that set the standard for all the others except Woodstock.”  We promoted it as “The Return of the Jetty….Island Concert.”  I even used Star Wars font when I put together this visual:

You can even see at the bottom of the sign being held up the words, “We didn’t Photoshop this.”

The idea was that we were celebrating the anniversary of a big show that never really happened. Adding to the absurdity, we were celebrating the 40th anniversary of something that happened in 1972. Do the math.

This is my favorite hourly I.D..

And my favorite break had to be my interview with Sir Paul McCartney.  Thanks to the very talented Scott Burns for hooking me up with Sir Paul.

Oh, yeah, the National Gullible Day video.

Like I said, as if putting together this silly three-hour radio show wasn’t enough, I was determined to crank out another April Fool’s Day extravaganza.  I spent the entire year, stashing footage that I would be able to use. About a month out, I started scripting some bits and then called in favors from people who didn’t owe me anything, but I knew they would love to be involved. In fact, if you watch over the years, we have some recurring characters.

I set up taping sessions in between appointments. I asked for voice-overs from my radio friends and permission to use the images of other friends. I grabbed the gang from one of my clients, Opus 111 Group, and asked them to be people “who were at the Jetty Island concert.”  I tried to get all the pieces ready by Friday, got up early on Saturday to shoot my on-camera parts and then, put it all together.

Some of the behind-the-scene nuggets from this year’s video: Check out my bed hair.  I woke up with it sticking out, tried to wet it down, but as you’ll see, it would not stay put.  When the guy talks about building a raft to get to the concert, those photos are actually of me, Skip Tucker and Terry Michaels from KQOT in Yakima at our station’s first-ever River Float.  The guy you see who found the long-lost movie of the first April Fools prank on film?  That’s Leif Eie, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in a couple of months.

Every year, it’s another passion project. No one’s getting rich and frankly, at times, I don’t think my wife completely understands why I do it. It’s just me. If you would do your job for free, then you win.  I’ve already started collecting things for next year’s edition and, if you would like to be included, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Just remember, at some point in my life, I’m expecting all this to be held against me.

Here’s the 2019 edition of National Gullible Day. Enjoy.

Tim

The Art of the Podcast

It takes a lot to impress this guy when it comes to media. I’ve known some pretty talented people in both radio and TV over the years, and for something to grab my attention, it has to be extremely remarkable.

Now, in the arena of podcasting, I seriously don’t have a lot of experience. Then again, I never felt the need. I’ve got the thousands of channels on my cable TV system, along with everything Prime and Netflix has to offer. I stay up on local radio, subscribe to Sirius XM and have my phone loaded with some pretty good songs. I’ve got media aimed at me from all directions, so the last thing in the world I needed was one more medium to become familiar with–the podcast.

Not to say I’m completely unaware of that world. For the longest time, I felt it was “an Apple thing” and being a die-hard Windows Phone/Android guy, I figured I would leave them to the nerds and hipsters. I heard that Adam Carolla, when his radio career went away, launched a fairly successful podcast and continues with it to this day.  Respecting the category, I actually produced a 10-20 minute podcast–the Wacky Week Podcast–for 167 episodes before my stalled radio career was revived. Sort of an Adam Carolla with .005% of the audience. For me, this was more like audio-scrapbooking, as I wanted to preserve some of my radio moments of the past. Seemed like a good way to use the podcast technology.

But one day, I was listening to KIRO in the afternoons when the now-departed (from radio, not the world) Ron & Don were interviewing a guy from a Salt Lake City radio station about their podcast, called, “Cold.” The topic was one of those morbid, “I can’t believe this happened” subjects where a guy undoubtedly made his wife disappeared and then, blew up the house he was in along with his two young sons. Sort of the “if I can’t have them, no one can” mentality.

I had followed the case from afar and, after listening to the host on the radio, decided to embark on my very first podcast experience (outside of my own).

Oh, my God.

What the team at KSL did with their “Cold Podcast” was a detailed explanation of what happened and how it all went down. How the couple met, what went on in their lives and all the details about how Susan disappeared and what happened when the boys were dropped off at their father’s house on their last day in this world.

There were not only interviews with the police, family and friends who were anxious to tell this story, but also audio recordings of both Josh Powell and his dad, who both kept audio journals. Add in some actor reenactments for the rest of the characters is this tragic story and for 18 episodes, I was completely mesmerized. In fact, I want more.

Every Wednesday meant a new episode and I couldn’t wait for the day. It never disappointed and was always done with the idea that this really happened and stories just like it are continuing to happen every day.
If only someone had spoken up sooner.

If you’re into the podcast technology, it’s called The Cold Podcast and I highly recommend it. Or, you can listen to all of the episodes via the website they set up, which is the preferred method of my 90-year-old mother. She absolutely loves it. They give you details that are disturbing, but done factually and not for shock value.

It’s heart-breaking to hear the story and you get this overwhelming feeling like you want to help but know you can’t. While I was aware of the news-story side of it, after hearing The Cold Podcast I am very much planning one day to visit the graves of those two young boys, Charlie and Braden, down in Puyallup’s Woodbine Cemetery. I feel it’s the least I could do out of respect for their memory and for those two souls who never had the chance to grow up.

Kudos to the KSL team that put in all the time and effort to make this audio achievement happen. It really is a must-listen–If not now, soon, or on your next road trip. It’s one of the highest forms of a podcast, with each episode inspiring you to hug your loved ones the next time you see them.

Tim Hunter

What a Great Week!

Weeks come and go. There are those that drag on forever while others blur by and the next thing you know it’s Friday.

I’m doing my absolute best to savor this one. This is a great week!

Sunday, while most people were celebrating the day with green beer, we found ourselves sitting out on the deck of my step-son’s home in Kirkland, sipping DeLille wine and playing with their new pup, Ollie. The dog couldn’t have been cuter, the wine crisp and chilled, the skies the bluest we’ve seen in months. I don’t know how many times I  commented on them, but it was the kind of day you dream about when you’re battling through one of the high-stress varieties.

Meet Ollie

And that was just Day 1 of this awesome week.

Monday and Tuesday were more sun-drenched days and I believe both set records for all-time winter highs! Oh, sure, we could shift the conversation to global warming and our impending doom, but this is just what we needed after getting all that late winter snow just a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, I get to go hang with my KRKO gang for a weekly meeting and talk about what silliness we have planned for April 1st. Be sure to tune in, I think you’ll enjoy it.  It’s also when the baseball season kicks off at 2:35am, with the Mariners and A’s opening up the season in Japan. Spring also officially arrives that day, at 2:58pm. A perfect time for an at-work welcome party, which I think will be a popular concept this year. People are ready.

Yeah, the work things has hit a nice stride, where I’m feeling a doable balance. I’m working on a couple of video projects, was grabbed to emcee an auction in June for the Bothell Boosters, shot several scenes for my upcoming “National Gullible Day” video for this year. There’s just a lot of good things happening.

Thursday, March Madness kicks into high gear and Friday evening, I go to the Silvertips playoff game and during the first period, get to go out on the ice and give away a boat on behalf of KRKO. Dang!

That doesn’t mean that the week is perfect, by any means. But it’s illustrating even more that our good weeks and bad weeks are basically determined by what we focus on. The good or the bad. I know I could pull out a couple of bad things going on right now–oh, they’re there–but all that is good has been distracting me. And it’s working.

So, if this has been a rough one for you, give it a try. If you need to, write down a list of what’s been good and what’s been bad about the week.  Then, tear off the bad part and throw it away. Realize what’s good and remember, good attracts more good.

And another thing–I filled out my March Madness Brackets and at this point of the week, I haven’t gotten one wrong. I know that’ll change next week. Or, as soon as Thursday. But no matter—I’ll just write that down on the right side of the page and tear it off when I’m done.

That’s enough for now. Gotta get back to my great week.

Tim Hunter

You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are

I was doing one of my many multi-tasking days last weekend, where I went there, decided while I was there to go there, and so on…and next thing you know, I was grabbing a freeway on-ramp to go south on I-5 and head home.

As I approached the on-ramp, the flashing ramp-metering flashing yellow light was on–meaning, I was going to have to slow down and come to a stop, to a point where the ramp-metering gods would decide it was OK for me to merge on the freeway.

I awaited my turn and then, the golden moment arrived. OK, the green moment. It was my turn to go. As I gave it the gas, I head off to the sound of a horn honking behind me. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw a young 20-something with an angry look on her face, hitting the brakes and laying her hand on the horn.

As I drove away, I realized what had happened. She was pissed. Pissed that I had stopped on the freeway on-ramp (as required by law) because of the on-ramp metering system. (A quick side-note–my college roommate’s brother actually helped design the ramp-metering system. You may cheer or boo as you wish) 

As I merged on to the freeway, I glanced occasionally in my rear-view mirror to see if she had joined the rest of us on the freeway. As I suspected. she had laid on the horn honking in anger. But as I pulled away, she realized she had screwed up and vented when she should have been humble.

She had screwed up.

Maybe she was looking down, distracted by a text or a phone call. No matter. She came around the curve of that on-ramp and barely braked in time to avoid rear-ending me, giving me a nice case of whiplash and giving her insurance rates that would make Antonio Brown sweat.

In other words, she dodged a HUGE bullet.

My hope is that she accepted all that came her way. The realization that she avoided a mistake that would have followed her for life, if nothing else, for a couple of years. Young lady, you may not realize how close you came to really screwing up your life. And mine, for that matter.

But the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was hitting acceleration and avoiding the collision as she was realizing that she needed to stop and barely pulled it off. It was one of those rare life moments where everyone got out of it unscathed.

Young lady, whoever you are: you don’t realize how lucky you are!

Tim Hunter

Yet, Another Reminder

I have to tell you the foreword of this experience. This past Monday, I had to visit Evergreen Hospital for a prostate biopsy. Yeah, great. It was everything I hoped it wasn’t and then some, but I survived without nary a girlish scream (that I’m aware of). However, as I sat in the waiting area, when my wife came to get me, she had tears in her eyes. Of course, my comedic mind took me straight to, “Oh, disappointed I pulled through? Interfere with your plans?”

Then I realized this was serious. Crap. I hate serious stuff.

It turns out while my insides were being used as a practice court for prostate hockey, she had received a phone call. It was from her son, Nick, with the news that they were going to have to put down their dog, Teddy.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Teddy was healthy, full of energy, all of 8-years-old. At least, that’s how she was the last time we saw her. However, since then, something had been not right. She became lethargic. The initial doctor visits resulted in the theory that she was anemic. While I was having my procedure, they determined that Teddy had a ruptured spleen, cancer and that it was only a matter of time.

Wow, that’s a lot to absorb in such a short amount of time. Here I was, ready to lay claim to having the worst Monday possible and my crown was quickly snatched away. And it just wasn’t right.

Teddy dated back to the young couple’s final year at the University of Washington, where they met. Despite being starving college students, they rolled the dice and got this incredibly cute pup, which they bestowed with the name, Teddy.

Where they were, so went Teddy. Hikes, breweries, you name it. They had planned to keep their bed a dog-free zone. That was a short dream. On occasion, they hoped to sleep in on a Saturday. Teddy was certain to make sure one of them was up. She was even the ring bearer in their wedding at the DeLille Winery.

Teddy was the kind of dog I hoped to have one day as a part of my immediate family. For the time being, I was looking forward to dog-sitting when they went out of town. But, for now, having her as a grand-pup was just fine. Whenever we’d get together, she’d be so excited, then she would calm down and want to be petted. Stop for a second, and she’d nuzzle her head under your hand so you knew you were slackin’.  I think on rare occasions, I heard her bark.

Now, there we were. Standing in a vet’s office patient room, with Teddy lying on the table top, just not acting like herself. There were plenty of tears in the room and she obviously was picking up on the sadness. Everyone took turns petting and caressing her soft fur, but when you stopped, that familiar head-nuzzle just wasn’t there. Her body was shutting down in spite of all the love that surrounded her.

As family and friends poured in, I think we were up to 10 people crowding that room and the lobby. After everyone said their tearful goodbyes, her parents stayed with her until she went to that place with no pain.

It was a surreal day that finished with an even more surreal reality. Teddy was gone, but hardly forgotten. In time, I’m sure another dog will come along in the young couple’s lives. All I know is that they have got one hell of an act to follow.

For the time you got to spend on earth, Teddy, I’m really glad we got to spend a little bit of that time together. Yet another reminder in my life, to make every minute count.

Tim Hunter

 

My World

I’m a staff writer for Radio-Online, a radio show prep service with subscribers all over the world. I’ve been getting up at 4am for over a dozen years (too lazy to count right now) and putting together a collection of things that disc jockeys could say to their audiences, without having to think of them.

I write jokes, come up with topics to talk about, and create games to play with their listeners. One of the games involves giving you the slogan a company uses and then, you have to identify the company. So while I’m out and about living my life, if I hear or see a slogan, I turn to my iPhone and text the message to myself so I can use it when that quiz rolls around again.

The other day, I saw a commercial for Microsoft and noted their slogan, “Empowering us all!” I grabbed my phone, dictated the message and hit send. As I did, the words that voice-recognition heard caught my eye. It said, “Microsoft. Empowering asshole.”

Well, close enough.

Tim Hunter

Oh, the Flashbacks You’re Missing Out On

As you know, I’ve got a new radio home, 1380-AM, 95.3FM KRKO. For most of you reading this, the best way to hear it is to stream the station over your phone, your computer or tablet at KRKO.com or to simply tell your Smart Speaker, “Alexa, Play KRKO, Everett’s Greatest Hits.”

I will admit, for most of my adult life, I followed contemporary music. I wanted to keep up with the younger generation, to hear what’s new and fresh and innovative. I always felt that people who listened to “oldies” never progressed and were stuck in their past. However, after decades of a general decline in the quality of pop music, I’m finding incredible comfort in revisiting all those songs I grew up with, or that I played on the radio when they were new.

It’s not like there isn’t brilliant stuff going on out there, but it’s become the exception, rather than the rule. I hear most of the songs today and wonder if this generation is really going to look back on this music as fondly as I look back on mine.

With KRKO’s musical range, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s,  I’m hearing songs that I used to listen to on KHJ “Boss Radio” in Los Angeles while growing up and hitting the beaches. Or, there’s a song from my Yakima radio days from the 70’s. And next thing you know, we’re playing something from the early 1980s that I eventually played during my early years on KLSY.

The big payoff has been knocking loose some long-lost memories that were buried pretty deep in my mind. The other morning, after playing “Twist & Shout”, I remembered back to growing up on 226th Street and that group of neighbor kids I spent so much time with. The Beatles reminded me of Kenny Vaughn, who came from a family of 7 down the street. The best I can do is Penny, Lori, Kenny, Sandy and Tina. Not bad. But what I remember about the Vaughn family is that Kenny had a cool mom who loved the Beatles. At a time when their mop-head haircuts alarmed the more conservative parents, Kenny’s mom actually kept her kids out of school to go see a Beatles movie when it came out.

And that flashback triggered another one on what had been designated “National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.”

I remembered a disc jockey and eventually the “Laugh In” announcer, Gary Owens, and his radio show on KMPC.  While I loved the “Boss Hits” KHJ was playing in my tween years, I still found myself twisting the radio dial over to Middle-of-The-Road KMPC every afternoon to catch Gary, hear his witty banter and enjoy those comedy features like, “How the West Was Won” and “The Story Lady.”

I had a lot of comedy influences while growing up—Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Red Skelton, Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges–but I have to say that Gary had a huge part in making me dream about being funny on the radio, with features like this:

While he’s no longer with us, a tip of the hat to Gary and his smooth yet silly style. He made me laugh, was a big inspiration to yours truly and left me with memories that have lasted a lifetime. Laughter is a wonderful emotion. It makes us feel good, lifts us up, and takes us to a positive place in a usually not-that-funny world.

It makes me that much more excited to see what other long-lost memories I’ll be able to shake loose during my next radio shift. I hope you can join me.

Tim Hunter

PS–Always pre-read your radio copy before reading it live on the air.

 

I Live in a Special Place

Look, that’s no secret. Ever since I slipped up here in 1973 to attend the University of Washington and fell in love with this state, I’ve known that this is one, special place.

I remember describing the northwest to friends as “somewhere you could live in the kind of place we used to go camping.” When you fly into Seattle and look out the window as you’re about to land in Seattle, you may find yourself thinking, “Oh, my God, we’re going to crash into a forest!”

When my fiancé Victoria and I were house-hunting back in 2007, we did a lot of looking around. I had a home in Bothell and worked in Edmonds. She had a house in Ballard and worked in downtown Seattle, so we were looking for a neutral corner. To be honest, I didn’t even know the Broadview area of Seattle existed. But our realtor, Bruce Fulton, found the house we’ve called home for the past 12 years in the heart of this north Seattle neighborhood.

During some of our get-to-know-the-neighbors gatherings, I found out that our little neighborhood was among the “Parade of Homes”, one of the earlier versions of the “Street of Dreams.” I believe 7 of the homes in our neighborhood came with swimming pools, although all but two have been filled-in. Between leaves dropping and our far-from-resort-weather, having a pool in the northwest really isn’t that great.
Tonight, while working on social media posts for a client, I was doing some research into Seattle history and I came across some nuggets that simply blew me away. The “Broadview” area of Seattle is up around the 125th-140th area of the N.W. streets.  Our home would have a spectacular view of the Puget Sound if it weren’t for all the trees and neighbors, but then again, that’s among the things we loved about this area.

One of the things I learned about this area of North Seattle is that they used to have a place called, Playland. An amusement park located on Bitter Lake that opened in 1930, at a cost of $750,000 to build. This was back in the time when that was a long way out-of-town. The area where we live now used to be where people would have their vacation or weekend homes. Playland opened in 1930 and made it all the way until 1961 before closing forever.

Now, add to that, they used to have an Aurora Race track out here, as well. No kidding.

 

Can you imagine?  Piling the family in the car and then heading out “to the country” to take in some auto racing while sitting in the giant wood bleachers?

And what area would be complete without a drive-in movie theater? It was a mile or so, due east of where we now live.

I’m sure you could get similar results with almost any neighborhood. Do a little digging, Google your neighborhood’s name and you just might some surprises about what went on before you got there. In my case, an amusement park, a race track and a drive-in theater, all made my neighborhood a destination for people to go and play almost a hundred years ago. All those places have been torn down, paved over and are now anything from SHAG housing to a car dealership or even a Dollar Tree store.

Thanks to those who took the time to capture those memories on film and everyone who helped preserve them along the way, so those of us around now can look back and marvel about how special this place is that we live.

It was special then. It’s special now.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Don’t worry–I was punished!

First off, to be clear, I’m one of those who hears that snow is in the forecast and I get all excited. I love snow. Well, I used to.

You see, a typical Seattle snowstorm shuts down the city for a couple of days and then we get back to normal. It’s a nice break, forces you to slow down and for a day or two, our little corner of the U.S. is turned into a temporary winter wonderland.

With my wife having to head to Florida to run a global sales meeting for work, I got to join her at the end of her duties.  We then hopped over to visit her cousin and her husband for a few days in the Tampa/St. Pete area. It was pretty much the most vacation I’ve had for a long time. We watched the snow reports from Seattle while we sat on the beach, enjoyed 70-degree weather, and I even snuck in a round of golf. (my first time in three years)

A quick home movie of one of the things we saw: the Don Cesar Hotel. It was a whole lot of pink (lighter than the T-Mobile kind) that had a bunch of history behind it.  Here are just a couple of photos from that historic hotel:

There were grouper sandwiches, beautiful sunsets, warmth, fun, great company and a whole lot of relaxing. So, when it was time to head back to Seattle, we were ready. We wedged in a lot of fun in those 5 days and knew when we landed that it was going to be one snowy mess in the Emerald City.

And it was, but it took time to get there.

You see, flying back on Monday, we were within half an hour of landing in Seattle when the pilot announced that we weren’t landing in Seattle. We were heading to Portland, Oregon. Oh, boy.

Initially, after landing, we exited the plane and were told to stand by for an announcement in half an hour. Then another half hour. Then ANOTHER half hour. Finally the announcement came as we saw the flight crew walking away that our flight was canceled. Seattle wasn’t accepting any more flights and we were out of luck.

So, now what?

The airline (whose name rhymes with Schmalaska) let us know that our bags were on the way to baggage claim and that we should contact their reservations agents to decide what we wanted to do. Well, we wanted to get back to Seattle that night. It wasn’t going to happen.

All the flights on Tuesday were full except for a few remaining seats on the 11pm flight, more than 24 hours away. So, we decided to grab a hotel, rent a car and drive home. I dashed to Hertz, they told me all their one-way rentals were gone, so I headed over to Dollar and scored a Honda CR-V. By 11:15pm, we were in a hotel room. 5am came early, but I woke up, did my morning show prep writing and we were on the road to Seattle around 7:45am.

The drive wasn’t bad. A few occasional stops, but what’s new? We arrived at the airport parking lot where I had parked my car and I had to wade through a foot of water to clean off the snow and make it drivable. We dropped off the rental car, and arrived home around noon. But there was one more challenge–to be able to pull into the driveway, I had to shovel out a spot.

All this to say, while I was out of town for the big record-setting Snowmageddon of 2019, I still got to share in the ‘fun’ when we got home.

As awesome as it was in Florida, those getaways never ever feel like home. They’re a brief escape, very temporary and I know that over time they’ll offer ample dream fodder. Really, if you’ve lived in the northwest for any amount of time, you know you need at least one sunny getaway during our dark and dreary winters. This was mine. I enjoyed and savored every moment of it. But for those who were stuck here for this record-setting snowzapalooza, rest assured, in the end I was punished.

But I would do it all over again.

It’s good to be home.

Tim Hunter