The Final Ho

Once again, it’s the holiday season, and along with it, so many events that have become a tradition for me. 

Over the next couple of weekends, I’ll be attending my wife’s Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle holiday concert, the Norwegian Commercial Club’s Fishermen’s Night seafood feast, emceeing the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce’s Julebord, the Bothell-Kenmore Chamber’s annual Holiday Wine Walk and multiple holiday parties that have somehow been wedged on to the calendar.

I also have certain things I try to accomplish during the three week December stretch prior to Christmas. The writing of an annual family update letter to accompany our Christmas photo cards, writing and producing a Christmas song and video with a good friend who’s a singer and producing my 18th annual “Ho Ho Brother” Christmas CD. It’s a collection of unique holiday songs and comedy bits I create, that’s basically a one-hour escape into the Christmas season. Over the almost two decades I’ve been doing that project, I’ve tried my best never to use the same exact song twice.

However, the one event I’m looking forward to most is coming up this Saturday. It’s the annual Santa Claus Arrival at the Country Village in Bothell. I arrive at 6, put on my Dickens-style town crier outfit and then run around ringing a bell, announcing that Santa is on his way. Then at 7 o’clock, I dash over to his arrival spot and welcome him to Country Village. I was thinking I had only been doing that a decade or so, but in going back over my earlier blogs, I’ve been enjoying this tradition since the year 2000. This will be my 18th Santa Claus arrival at this folksy collection of shops.

And my last.

I’ve blogged about my adventures there before. There’s this one from 2009, and another from 2015.  There was the year we changed Santa’s and when I wrote about the artist who does holiday sculptures who actually looks like Santa.

Now, after almost two decades of welcoming Santa to the Country Village, we’ve arrived at the final time. Yes, the Village has been sold to a developer and beginning mid-2019, they’ll begin tearing down those vintage buildings, clearing out the land, and building a mixed-use setting of condos, apartments and stores. It’s the way of the world and by this time next year, everything will be just a memory.

Over the years, we developed a nice little holiday routine around this event. We arrive at the home of friends who live nearby, have a pre-function, then I head down to the village to cry. The rest put the party on pause, come down to watch me do my thing and then we all head back to holiday party, part 2.

I have to give a shout out to Leann Tesorieri, who runs Country Village. She was the one that asked me to do this event years ago and has been inviting back ever since. I’ve already interviewed her for a documentary I plan to do about Country Village so that future Bothell residents can realize what was once there.

Saturday is going to be a special day. One last time, I’ll put on the town crier garb, run around the Village saying, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” and telling the crowd once again that my face may not look familiar, but my hand rings a bell.

It’s tradition. Join me if you can. I’d recommend getting there and wandering around by 5:30 for the sake of parking.

So, Ho-Ho.  I’m saving the last one for Saturday.

Tim Hunter

When Comedy Was King

I have long been a fan of comedy.

I was raised with it. When we went to Showtime Pizza back when I was a kid, we’d sit on picnic benches in this family pizza joint and I would not even remember the pizza, but I did recall the silent comedies on the big screen overhead. A honky-tonk piano provided the soundtrack to epic movies from the likes of Chaplin, the Keystone Cops, Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy.

There’s always a root to my weekly columns and this week, it was the result of mentioning Laurel & Hardy to a young woman. She looked at me as though I had mentioned the Smoot-Harley Tariff. That made me sad.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were a comedy team that inspired me at an early age into wanting to make people laugh. I personally enjoyed the euphoria that came with busting a gut and much like physicians are inspired to save lives, I’ve since been drawn to making people laugh. I want to share that great feeling.

That’s why I’m thrilled that a spotlight is about to be cast on them again in a movie that tells their story. You’ve got to remember, these were people creating a lasting product in a brand-new industry, one that started out without sound and who made the transition to creating film classics with sound. These two were the goofball nerds that made the viewers seem superior so everyone felt better about themselves.

If you have Amazon Prime, take the time to watch “Stan”.  It’s a fictionalized account about the last time Stan Laurel visited a dying Oliver Hardy. Incredibly well done.

And coming soon to a big screen near you, “Stan & Ollie.” I’ll be honest, I can’t wait for this one. I know very well that there is a behind-the-scenes part of every show, as I suspected with Laurel & Hardy, and I look forward to seeing their untold shocking story.

There have been many comedians and comedy teams over the years and most are beloved by us without knowing the many challenges that went into their careers and why they were driven to make us laugh. We’re all allowed so long on this rock to make our mark, to achieve what we want, to give people a reason as to why we were here in the first place.

Laurel & Hardy were destined to make us laugh. If I could go back in time and talk with just about anyone, it would be sitting down with those two and asking where the inspiration came from. Head to YouTube and experience a little for yourself. 

Laughter changes people, it makes them feel better. Laurel & Hardy were healers and gave us a medicine that has lasted for generations.

I hope that someday, other comedians will emerge with comedy that goes beyond their generation. Only time will tell.

For now, we have Laurel & Hardy. Back in the day, when comedy was king.

Tim Hunter

The Ghost of Thanksgivings Past

I’ve rambled a lot over the years regarding my gratitude for everything I have, as well as everything I’ve experienced over the years, good and bad. Each incident we pass through affects us for the rest of our lives. They help to shape us and we add those moments to our memory banks, to cherish and to reflect upon.

Thanksgiving is a truly wonderful holiday. Kudos to Mr. Lincoln for recognizing that we have an incredible bounty for which our souls need to appreciate. I’m not talking material possessions. I mean sunrises like the one this morning, the fresh smell of the rain, the giggling of the neighbor girls in the street. 

With the way people embrace Christmas, I fear that the power of Thanksgiving is gradually being diminished and it’s becoming the holiday that just gets in the way of the Big C.  That was evident when stores started opening up on Thanksgiving Day to fuel the frenzy even more. When I was a kid, that would have been unthinkable. For that matter, when I was growing up, stores (including the mall) were closed on Sundays. Can you imagine? If I allow myself to be visited by the Ghost of Thanksgivings Past, I would be treated to a return visit of some pretty good times in my life.As a kid, I’d see me sneaking the green olives with the pimentos from the nicely decorated table. I’d smell that green bean casserole with the Funyons on top. During the years we went over to my aunt & uncle’s house, where my paternal grandmother also lived, there were garage dances after dinner, with a record player spinning polkas or whatever music they enjoyed dancing to in those days.

In my early 20s, I was playing radio in Yakima and we did a promotion called, “KQOT Gives You The Bird.” We gave away turkeys by going to a phone booth and making a call to the station. The first person to arrive there won the turkey. There was our WKRP moment when two people arrived at the same time and it made for great radio. There was also the time that one of the sales guys called in, there was accident involving two people trying to be the first and the person phoning in quickly departed the scene, for liability’s sake.

In my late 20s, the Ghost would show me the year of the big Thanksgiving Day windstorm where we lost power and I was forced to barbecue our turkey for Thanksgiving dinner that year. I’ve been preparing my turkeys that way ever since.

Several years later, during the Murdock, Hunter & Alice days on KLSY, we interviewed Chef Paul Prudhomme several days before Turkey Day and asked how he was preparing his turkey. He told us he was brining it for 24 hours before baking or barbecuing it. A gallon of water, a cup of sugar, a cup of salt and flavorings–you pick: onions, garlic and the magic ingredient, Liquid Smoke. That has become my standard procedure.

One year, yours truly had to spend the day before Thanksgiving dressed up like a giant turkey, along with my broadcast partner, Bruce Murdock. We first had our legs shaved on the air, and then took our turkey costumes downtown and walked around as penance for the guys losing KLSY’s “Battle of the Sexes.”

In these later years (now officially qualifying for geezerhood) I find myself turning into a sentimental pile of mush, deeply realizing how precious time can be. You can really look at things two ways: Looking around and noticing all the things you don’t have, or realizing the endless things you already possess. I prefer the latter. Frankly, it’s a much better way to live.

The Ghost of Thanksgivings Past has nothing but good things to show me and, once again, for that I am grateful.  The really good news about him is that he could work 365 days a year if you’d let him, but most people choose just the one day to focus on all the things for which they could be grateful. As always, I appreciate you, the reader, for stopping by and spending a couple of moments with me. 

And what else could I say, but thank you. It only seems right.

Well, that, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tim Hunter

The Psychic Curse

Yeah, I wrestled with what I would title this piece. I remembered the old, “Small medium at large” headline from years ago, but fought it off. Valiantly. What I want to say is that I have a curse–I have psychic powers that some of you may not enjoy.

You see, once again, the Washington State Cougars are in first place of the Pac-12 North Division and, should they win next weekend, will be one win away from a 9-1 start to their season and pretty much a cinch to win the division.

But (full disclosure), I’m a Husky.

What does that mean? I attended the University of Washington (from 1973-77) and am a proud Dawg who hates the Cougars on one weekend every year. See, I have too many friends that are alums of the school that resides in the Palouse and I understand their pride. They feel the same way about WSU as I do the UW. And I do cheer them on when we’re not playing each other, because I think what’s good for the state is good for the Pac-12 which is good for college football.

Further disclosure is that I am a Mike Leach fan. When he became coach of WSU, I knew they would succeed because he’s a real head-knockin’, won’t put up with BS kind of football coach that they really needed. This year’s record speaks for itself.

OK, this is where I put on the turban. Now, you can question my psychic abilities and I’ll give you that, because my theories are based purely on experience and following these two teams over the past five decades.

When it comes to the Apple Cup game (this year, held the day after Thanksgiving), it’s going to be a winner takes all game. The Huskies are in second place and have a bye this weekend. The following weekend, they play the Oregon State Beavers, who have had a rougher season than Rick Grimes on ‘The Walking Dead.’  So, the two should meet up in Pullman with the winner going to the Pac-12 Championship Game and the loser going to some nice, but less-desirable Bowl Game.

As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see a Husky win in Pullman that will make Cougar fans even more bitter. It’s one thing to lose and not make the Championship game, but for the Huskies to be the ones to knock them out? Unthinkable.

In the Apple Cup, the lease likely thing happens. Do I have to bring up the “Snow Bowl” and the phased, “Rose petals freeze in 30-degrees.” The team that shouldn’t win usually does.  And this year, with WSU going in with only one loss, ranked #7 or higher and the game being played in Pullman–c’mon, that’s a no-brainer: of course the Huskies will win.

I think this is what draws me to college football so much more than the professionals. In fact, we attended the most recent Seahawks debacle against the Chargers (I’m steering clear of the whole San Diego/LA thing) and it sure seemed like the referees were told to keep it close and favor the Chargers. College football is still made up for dream-inspired athletes hoping to make it to Sundays and I just love that.

So, Cougar fans, just trying to give you a heads up. If you pay attention to history and think that this is script from what’s happened in the past, the Huskies show up in Pullman and crush your dreams. However, if they don’t and you guys really do win the Pac-12 North, I will be among the first to congratulate you and promise to post a picture of me in my WSU Cougar shirt. I own one. Yeah, I’m one of those Huskies that pulls for you every game of the season except for one.

But I’m afraid my psychic curse tells me that won’t be necessary.

Go Dawgs!

Tim Hunter

KING For A Day

I got to relive a part of my youth this past week. They don’t come often enough, but when they do, I embrace them with everything I’ve got.

I was invited to attend a KING Radio reunion earlier this week, across from the new location of KING-TV, at Henry’s Tavern, in the shadow of Safeco Field.

I’m wondering where to start this tale, where to begin setting up this story. Let’s head to my senior year of college at the University of Washington.

Crap, I’ve got to go back a little further. You see, when I arrived in Seattle to attend college, I was doing it because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I wasn’t sure what I was going to study or what my major would be. All I knew is that I had a girl back home that, once I finished college, I was going to marry and then grab a job somewhere doing something. Maybe work for the airlines.

However, late my sophomore year, I got a phone call from that girl, who let me know she had a sign from God to break up with me. Funny, God hadn’t said a thing to me about it. Anyway, two months later, she married the minister that helped her realize that sign from God and I had a clean slate as to where my future would take me.

Thanks to a fellow down the hall in the dorms, I found out that you could actually major in Communications and study radio & TV. Awesome!  So, off I went. While I gained experience in both, I was attracted to the control you had over the entire project on the radio side, and headed excitedly down that path.

During my final two quarters at the UW, I grabbed an internship at a Top 40 radio station in town called KING. My first quarter there, I interned under the Public Affairs Director and primarily wrote PSA’s for the jocks to read. While not the most exciting work, it did give me the opportunity to see the inside of a real radio station–how it worked, what the people were like, and connecting me with some real radio pro’s. I got to know the air talent of that time–Rob Conrad, Dan Foley, Andy Barber, Rick Scott, Joe Cooper and Big Jim Martin. Eventually, Bruce Murdock came up from Portland and took over the morning show. I met a weekender named Dave Christianson. The sales staff included the likes of Dana Horner, Ralph Heyward, Don Cannon and others.

The second quarter I interned there, I was under the direction of Steve Lawson. Steve was the production director at KING radio and the voice of KING-TV.  Believe me, you’ve heard his voice.  After KING, he went on to buy the Kaye-Smith studio and launched Bad Animal, where Heart, Steve Miller and so many other legendary Northwest bands recorded their hits.

All of the people didn’t need to take the time to mentor me, but they did. And over the next several years, most played a part in the direction my radio career took me.

Of course, Bruce Murdock and I were paired together at KLSY. In the early days of my time at Classy, Rob Conrad and Ralph Heyward wanted me to come and work for them at a new station called, “Magic”, but I stuck with KLSY.  When I arrived at KLSY, Dana Horner was the General Manager. Don Cannon was a good friend of Larry Nelson’s, so during my KOMO tenure, our paths would cross often.

My KING experience taught me a lot and forced me to cut my radio teeth. After I graduated from college, I hung around working for minimum wage, hoping a job opening would eventually pop up. I did odd jobs like music surveys over the phone, running mail, answering request lines, going to promotional events. I remember standing on the stage at the Seattle Center’s Center House at a KING Teen Dance, watching a flood of high schoolers moving away to “Dancing Queen” by Abba. This was the big time.

The KING Broadcasting empire was run by Dorothy Bullitt, one of the most powerful women in Seattle. One week, when her regular driver went on vacation, they trusted me to be her personal driver. I would arrive at KING in the morning, get the keys to her Volvo, drive to her Capitol Hill mansion, pick her up, and then take her where ever she wanted. Lunch at the club, down to inspect how the work was coming along on her boat, whatever Mrs. Bullitt wanted, her wish was my command.

But even though they liked me, they just couldn’t justify hiring someone so green. When I lost out on a radio copywriting job to someone who had been a writer for Planned Parenthood with zero radio experience, I hit the road and headed east to Yakima. The rest is the beginning of my radio history.

On Monday, for two hours at a bar in downtown Seattle, I reconnected with some much-older, yet still familiar faces. Some of them I hadn’t seen in 40 years. People I had gotten to know early in my career, in a building that has since been torn down. I bounced from conversation to conversation, getting caught up on what we were all up to these days. While I was pretty much “just the intern” during my time there, you could feel the camaraderie of this group of people and how thrilled everyone was to get together one more time.

Our lives are a series of phases and special moments. We all get them. It’s up to us to recognize them, appreciate them and cherish them when they’re gone. I went through more than a half-dozen call letters during my radio career, but on this particular day, the others had to take a back seat for a few hours.

Monday, I was KING for a day. Thanks for including me.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Surrender

Surrender can mean all kinds of things:

A)  As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite Cheap Trick song

B)  It’s the title given to Ren Durr when knighted

C)  I just friggin’ give up!

For those of you playing the home version of our game, the correct answer is “C”.

Today, I arrived home the proud owner of a new iPhone XS.

This is big news in my electronics world. For years, while a proud owner of Apple stock purchased the week of the initial offering and a long-time fan of the company, their innovations and the quality of what they offer, I still went for the underdogs.

Oh, I’m still a PC guy when it comes to computers (for now). I love my Microsoft Surface and the only intention I have down the line is to get a larger one for those times I can spread out. But the way I use laptops, I’m usually scrunched on an airliner with the guy in front of me leaning back and the Surface is the perfect size for someone who likes to fly and be productive, without having to type with his tongue.

Now, back to phones.  Way back when, as the earth was cooling, the iPhone arrived. It cost more than the alternatives and, at the time, since they made Windows phones, I went with that. As I watched friends show me the latest cool apps out there on iPhones and and Androids, I was content knowing that I was using a Microsoft product. Supporting the home team. Admiring the high-quality of those three available apps.

After two Microsoft phones, I suffered way too much from app-envy and decided to go Android. I believe the Samsung Galaxy was the one that lured me over and eventually, I found myself the proud owner of a cutting-edge Samsung Galaxy S6. It was the bee’s knees as us hipsters like to say, had a cool screen, took pretty decent pictures and videos and I was quite content.

For a while.

I think I had that phone for at least three years (or 187 in phone years) and even though I had to replace a screen once and the battery, it still served it’s purpose. After all, this was about making phones calls, right? Keeping up with social media, checking your email, etc. You know, all those things that help you completely ignore what is going on in the world around you.

But the email program never really worked that well. I would send an email and it would take minutes to reach someone across the room. Someone would ask if I had received an email they had sent earlier in the morning, and I hadn’t yet. Or, something I received yesterday could no longer be found.

However, for Samsung and the Android nation, it was the battery life that ended this non-iPhone streak. If I didn’t keep a careful eye on it and continuously keep charging it, I could find myself with a dead phone by noon.  I had to carry a portable charger with me, to bail me out at events where I wanted to at least grab a couple of pictures. Or at least be reachable.

Last week, while driving home from an event, I wanted to call my wife and let her know I was running late. My phone had died, so I charged it up as fast as I could. After getting it up to 5%, I tried to make a call and after a couple of rings, the phone died. At her end, it was the husband she hadn’t heard from trying to reach her and then suddenly be gone. She called a couple of times but of course, I had a dead phone.

Victoria is the proud owner of two iPhones, one for work and one for personal. Both go an entire day without recharging.

So, I decided to see what my options were at the T-Mobile store. I could have gone the way of an iPhone 7, but then I was buying a dependable option from 2015. Or, since I don’t change them up every year, I could go with one of the latest and have it satisfy my technology urges for at least a couple of years.

I’m one of those who loves the new toys and, being electronics, I’m sure this is on the ragged edge of a business expense. (consult your tax professional) But I had reached the point of seriously wanting a phone that could consistently show signs of life. A phone that could get email and take pictures. Bottom line–that worked.

And so, sorry Samsung.  Nextel, you would have gone away anyway. I have joined the Apple nation and am excited about being able to take beautiful pictures, constantly check my social media and email accounts and completely ignore everyone around me.

I have officially surrendered to the Apple Army and am looking very forward to my new adventures.

Tim Hunter

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