But, What About….?

Well, good news and bad news for the Academy Awards this year.

Ratings were up by 5-million people compared to last year. I haven’t heard people talking about what happened at the Oscars like this in years.

Of course, back in my day, they were more civil about it. The year Marlon Brando refused to accept his Oscar, he sent a Native American woman in his place, Sacheen Littlefeather, to refuse to accept his award for “The Godfather.”

George C. Scott also refused one for his work in “Patton” and while producer Frank McCarthy accepted the award the night of the show, he returned it to the Academy the next day, per Scott’s request.

And no one was assaulted.

It’s been amazing to see the split of opinions of what happened Sunday night. You’d think, a guy walks up on stage, strikes someone and walks away shouting profanities to him on international television. Should be pretty one-sided. Not in this day and age. There are two distinct sides to every friggin’ issue that comes along and this was no exception.

There are those who feel that kind of response was completely wrong, sets a bad precedent, was uncalled for, degraded the institution and should be dealt with harshly.

Then there are those who say he stood up for his wife and chivalry is still alive.

I believe when you get to the upper echelon of Hollywood like those involved, you lose all kinds of common sense. Just ask Will Smith’s gardener’s personal masseuse’s executive chef.

OK, so the whole thing taught me a new word: alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that can result in hair loss. Oh, I knew she had something that had caused hair loss. Hey, we’ve all got our problems and Jada had embraced her condition many times before in the private confines of social media. Among the quotes in a recent post on TikTok: “I don’t give two craps about what people think about this bald head of mine. Cuz guess what? I love it.”

So, Chris Rock ad-libbed the line (it wasn’t in rehearsals), Will Smith laughed and then turned to his wife, who wasn’t amused and the rest is history.

OK, now that’s the review of the main story. Others were upset about the “In Memoriam” collection and the fact that it didn’t include Ed Asner and Bob Saget. Others got bent about a bit where Amy Schumer referred to Kristen Dunst as “a seat filler.” As if she didn’t recognize her, or was disrespecting her. (Kristen was in the gag)

There was something to upset everyone.

However, one of the bits puzzled me more than upset me. We’ve just come through a recent purge of tearing apart actors and careers because they had been closet letches. The creators of the “Casting Couch” finally got their comeuppance, and a spotlight was cast on the weasels and low-life’s that had preyed on women over the years.

I could have sworn that the lesson was received well, there was a new morality in town and we would no longer degrade people, of either gender, ever again.

And then this happened.

Funny? I’d give it mildly humorous. Love Regina Hall. Nice of everyone (except Will Smith) to play along. These days, when I watch older TV shows and movies, I cringe when I see some of the things that we laughed at back then. There are countless incidents of “Oh, they’d never get away with that today.”

While everyone knew Regina wasn’t going to take them backstage and give one of them “a deep PCR test” and she felt up a couple of them, imagine that bit being played out with the genders reversed? It would have been Will Smith’s dream. Everyone would have been talking about that bit, and maybe by the time he slapped Chris, we would have been more focused on the outrageous, sexist bit they dared to put on the Oscars.

In the skit, in case you haven’t watch the video, among the things Regina said was going to happen when she went backstage with them:

  • Just ake off your mask…and your clothes….
  • Then I’m going to swab the back of your mouth with my tongue….
  • And we’ll do some other freaky stuff which I’ll record for Academy protocol.

Oh, I’m not mad about this in the least. I was just frankly, a bit in shock. It’s just illogical in the aftermath of #metoo.

Or, maybe I’m over-reacting and should just imagine the laughs Harvey Weinstein could have had with that bit.

Equal means equal. Just sayin’….

Tim Hunter

A Valley Full of Ghosts

With a wife out of the country, I decided to do some things I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Last Wednesday, I went up on a school night to Whidbey Island to have dinner with some longtime friends I just hadn’t seen in a while.

On Friday, I tried out the new Amazon Fresh store that opened near our home.

And over the weekend, I semi-spontaneously decided to head over to Walla Walla and do some wine-tasting. You can never go wrong there and it had been at least a decade since my last visit. As far as the tasting went, I made some amazing discoveries and brought back quite a collection.

But surrounding the delicious tastings was a trip down and back through the Yakima Valley. Since you have nothing to do but think as you drive along the highway, I started reflecting on that area and the many memories associated with the valley.

Some good, some bad.

Yakima is where this guy landed after graduating from the University of Washington with a Communications degree, wanting to put it to work in radio. I had looked in the Washington State Association of Broadcaster want ads, saw there was opening in Yakima at a station called KQOT and set up an interview.

It was a long, nervous drive as I hoped they would see the good in me and hire me for my first professional radio job. After chatting with the business manager and the owner for a while, they said, “Let’s hear how you sound.” We walked into the control room, he tapped the disc jockey on the air on the shoulder, told him to get up and I was instructed to do a show. Apparently, it was their practice when auditioning talent, they would set them down in front of the microphone and then go out and drive around, listening to them on the radio.

I was hired. $350 a month to start, bumped up to $375 if I “worked out.”

I spent a total of less than three years in the Yakima radio market, but those were three very life-eventful years..

I reconnected with an aunt, uncle and some cousins that I hadn’t seen in years down in Wapato, just to the south. They had a mobile home for rent on their peach orchard for $175 a month. OK, there was half my paycheck. Shortly after moving over, my college sweetheart came over for a visit. She missed me. But I had decided it was just too early to settle down with someone, that we needed to break up. I was a jerk to her all weekend and she left knowing that we were over. Of all the things I carry with me through this life, how I handled that still haunts me.

So, let’s see. I got to be a disc jockey, do high school dances, do a ton of radio production and copywriting. Did some serial dating, had a stalker. (that’s a whole blog in itself) On the personal side, I eventually met someone, fell in love and got married immediately prior to getting a call from Larry Nelson at KOMO radio in Seattle to come ever there and be his producer.

Yeah, in less than three years, a whole hell of a lot happened.

On my way down to the Walla Walla wine-tasting trip, I arranged to meet up with Brady Layman, who was the seasoned veteran of KQOT when I first went to work there. He was now living in the Tri-Cities and reminded me that, as a child, he had polio. It had come back to bite him again as he was now wheelchair bound. We reminisced about those KQOT days: the people, the crazy promotions, the River Floats, etc. I asked about a couple of the old gang that we used to hang around with. One had a heart transplant and was now living in Spokane. The other had a tragic end with a messy divorce that drove him to take his own life. But even though that was 45 years ago, we both remembered details that triggered the other to remember something else, and it was just a wonderful stroll down memory lane.

After posting some pictures of day 1 of wine tasting, one of my kids’ former teachers from Bothell High School reached out and said, “You’re here? Let’s wine-taste tomorrow!” So, an extra stop was added to my eastern Washington tour and Shelly Crump & I managed to sip and reminisce in the early hours of that Sunday.

Then it was on the road again, this time to Terrace Heights, east of Yakima. Gary Myhre and I had a blast together during my time at both KQOT and KMWX. He was supposed to buy KQOT and we were going to rule the valley but the deal went south, he went across town and I went with him. If you search these blogs, he’s come up before so I won’t repeat stories, but we had so much fun at those stations. He’s always been so complimentary of what I do, so it was always nice to have a fan. And here we are, 40+ years removed from those days and when we get together, it seems like it was just yesterday.

By the way, weird coincidence—both Gary and Brady married women named Peggy.

My next stop was with the one remaining relative in the area, Bonnie, who was on that peach orchard with my aunt & uncle all those years ago. Another person I’ve previously blogged about with a fascinating story, but this was just a check-in to see how she was doing since losing her partner two years ago. It obviously still hurt. We had a great catchup and then I headed home.

I wanted to drive by that peach orchard and see if that mobile home was still there, but just ran out of time. To me, I’m just amazed when I actually think of how many life-shaping events took place during my 34 months in the Yakima Valley. I’m sure if we ever get together and you start me on that stretch of time, several dozen wild stories will come to mind.

Just like with Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”, not all ghosts are bad and some are there to help us understand our lives even more. I guess if I’m ever feeling like I’ve got everything figured out, all I need to do is head east of the mountains and return to the Valley of the Ghosts.

Yeah, there are a LOT of stories that didn’t come to mind during this time through.

I’ll just save those for the next time.

Tim Hunter

Life Hack #189–Go To Arizona

We’re all on this journey together and whenever I come across a life hack that is life changing, I feel compelled to pass it along.

My latest discovery occurred during the much-dreaded “Spring Ahead” weekend, which occurs during the shortest weekend of the year. Once again, we were forced to move our clocks ahead an hour to please the ghost of Ben Franklin and appease farmers who lived over 100 years ago.

This year, the time change was scheduled for the same weekend that I was invited to the wedding of a good friend, Corey Newton. He was marrying the love of his life and I was not going to miss it, so on Saturday morning, we flew down to Arizona, caught the wedding and reception, saw a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a while, went to bed, woke up and flew back home to Seattle.

Besides being an incredible wedding, It was the most painless time-switch ever.

You see, when we left Seattle on Saturday, we were still on Standard time. When we landed in Arizona shortly before noon, we had arrived in a state that ditched the time change years ago. They are in the Mountain Standard Time Zone, or Seattle’s version of “Daylight Saving Time” year ’round.

Technically, we “lost an hour” during the flight. But who knew? On paper, it was a 4-hour flight but in fact, was actually a 3-hour flight. Think about it–when you’re on an airline, you really can’t be a good judge of time. I’ve been on 2-hour flights that seem like 5 hours, and 8-hour flights that seemed like 4. Airline flights are a lot like movies: when you check your watch, they’ve gone on too long.

In this case, I spent the three hours in flight doing some work on my laptop and then catching a short movie. The next thing we know, we’re landing in Arizona. From that point, until the time we flew home, there was no time change. We woke up Sunday morning in the same time zone in which we landed, and Seattle adjusted their clocks while we were gone.

Even my wife, who is one of the time change’s biggest critics, barely talked about it. I figure if it makes her life easier, it may just justify going on an Arizona trip every second weekend of March.

As for what we’re going to do in the fall when we return to standard time, I’m sure if there’s an easier way to do that. I guess I could try to talk her into a trip to Alaska, but that could be tricky. I’ll work on that angle.

But in the meantime, next year for “Spring Ahead” weekend, may I offer up Life Hack #189: When it’s time to “Spring Ahead”, Go to Arizona.

Tim Hunter

Thanks For Stopping By, Earthling!

I’d like to try and give those with far less living experience a scouting report so that you have a better idea of what lies ahead when you blink and it’s suddenly 50 years later.

Eventually, the world changes so much around you that there comes a day where you feel like an alien visiting another planet.

That may sound a bit over-dramatic, but let me provide some examples.

The planet Earth I grew up in is vastly different than what today’s kids are experiencing. Back in my day, when you picked up the phone to make a call, there was a cord attached to the wall-mounted base of that phone. And if you heard people talking, it was due to the fact they were using the party-line at the time and you had to check back later to see if that line was available. Oh, and long distance you had to use sparingly, because back then, that was an extra cost. I remember when I was 18 and went away to college, my first month’s phone bill was $118 because I spent so much time on the phone with my girlfriend back home in Torrance.

During my “Wonder Years”, televisions did not have remotes. You had to watch what was on or get up off your keister and change the channels, and when you did, it clicked. And we only had a total of 6 stations to choose from. Somehow, we survived.

There were no copy machines, there were mimeograph machines, with a cylinder that had to be refilled with a cheap-high fluid and you hand-cranked it to make blue-scale duplicates.

Not every game of every sport was on a TV channel somewhere. During the 1960s, most of the Dodger games were NOT on television, so I spent an awful lot of evenings listening to Vin Scully do the play-by-play of my team. When I was 8, they won the World Series–sweeping the Yankees four straight. In ’65, they lost the first two games at home against the Minnesota Twins, and then managed to pull out the series in 7 games. The next year, however, they ran into the dominant pitching of the Baltimore Orioles, who swept them in four games.

But think about that–my favorite Major League Baseball team went 3 of those four seasons to the World Series. It was just assumed they would go, if not this year, then next. Here in Seattle, we have generations of kids who have grown up, never knowing that thrill.

We not only had the Popsicle Man, but also the Helms Bakery truck driving up and down the streets in our area. I could have cared less about the bread, but the Helms guy DID sell baseball cards. At a stage of my life when I couldn’t just run down to the store to buy them, the Helms guy had the goods. I think it started at 10-cents a pack and that included 10 cards and a stick of gum you could have used to pry open a window. Thank God my mom was not among those who threw out their kids’ seemingly worthless collection.


Thank you, Helms Guy!



Move that bread stuff and gimme the cards!

My diet of cartoons included all the Warner Brothers “Looney Toons”, before the days of editing out anything that resembled violence. The rest of my gang included, “Rocky & Bullwinkle”, “Beany & Cecil”, “Felix the Cat”, “Astro Boy”, “Gumby” and Sunday morning’s before heading off to church, I’d try to sneak in an episode or two of “Davey and Goliath”–which used the Gumby-style early attempts at Claymation animation.

Most of those characters are confined to my memory bank, with an occasional sighting whenever I get nostalgic about my childhood.

Speaking of nostalgia, while some may view it as a sentiment waste of time, a new study claims that looking at nostalgia actually triggers something in the brain that helps relieve pain. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better.

So yes, the world I grew up in was quite a differently. What’s interesting to me is that, in comparison to all that kids have today, I never noticed that I was missing things. In fact, I had everything I needed.

It was a very simple time. I mean, we considered Tang a major breakthrough in space age technology. So, when I compare that era of my life to today’s extremely complicated world, you can see why I almost feel like I was raised on another planet.

 

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Thanks for stopping by, Earthling.

Tim Hunter

My Brilliant Idea

OK, I have a quirky fondness. I love that all the days of February match up with most of the days in March. If the 1st of February was on a Tuesday, in March that will be true as well.

Then I got to thinking—what if we made every month of the year just 28 days long? Think about it–over time, if someone said the 16th, then you’d know over time that it had to be a Wednesday.

Naturally the next step is, uh, Tim, what about the remaining days of the year? I went that direction and multiplied 28 times 12 months and that gave me 336. Subtract that from 365, the number of days in a typical year, and you get…..29!

This is where my plan kicks in.

So, we have a dozen 28-day months of the year, January through December…and then welcome the 13th month which, because I thought of this, becomes the 29-day month of Timvember.

Now, the cool thing about Timvember is that we call get it off. All 29 days. I mean, c’mon, we’ve already put in a full year. We deserve a month off. And, of course, for the leap years, Timvember would be 30 days long.

Now, I’m sure there are some details to work out, but bottom line:

  • We’d get in 12 months of a calendar year.
  • Still enjoying all the pre-established holidays.
  • I’m trying to figure out the downside.

Look, I’m the idea guy. Explain to me why this isn’t a great idea. I’m sure they called Julius Caesar crazy for redefining the calendar, but sometimes it takes a leader to make big things like this happen.

Wait a minute–the Ides of March are coming up. And I just booked a lunch with a friend of mine, Frank Brutus on the 15th.

Uh, I’d like to withdraw my proposal and go back to the quiet life I’ve grown to know.

But you have to admit, it’s a brilliant idea.

Tim Hunter

Tell Me What I Can Do That Will Really Matter

After that long buildup with the expected result, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Who could have predicted that?

What you could see coming is the flood of traditional responses that Americans have developed from an assortment of tragedies over the years. Hashtags, Facebook profile pictures with an added graphic (in this case, the Ukranian flag), an industrial strength bombardment of ‘thoughts and prayers’, and so on. All well-intentioned efforts, but does it really help –oh, maybe we feel better about ourselves, but does it do anything to help Ukraine or punish Putin? Do you really imagine Putin flying through his Facebook feed and saying to himself, “Wow, maybe I screwed up?”

The steps our government and others are taking seem to be inflicting some economic pain. We’re closing air space to Russian airlines, freezing assets, sports events with Russian teams are being canceled, the ruble is plummeting in value and the Russian government has bumped up the interest rate to 20% with more increases on the way.

I do have questions for our leaders, like, “If we do sanctions and don’t the results we hoped for, then imposed more sanctions and then more sanctions after that, why didn’t we do all those sanctions at once at the beginning?” Sanctions take time to have an effect. Ukraine is out of time and has Russian soldiers, tanks and fighter jets attacking it right now. Things that will be painful for Russia a month from now seem like too little, too late.

Now, those are government efforts. What I want to know as a guy living in Seattle, Washington, what can I do that will actually make a difference? Something that will help Ukraine, inflict pain to the Russian government or both.

A natural instinct would be, “Well, I’ll show those Ruskies–I’ll just give up vodka!” Here’s why that won’t work.

Besides, I don’t drink vodka. (got sick on it once back in college) However, should Scotland ever decide to invade a country, I’ve got my economic hammer standing by.

Not being able to do anything substantial or meaningful is frustrating. I’m sure lots of people would like to financially fight the evil Putin empire, but in this day and age, Google “Aid Ukraine” and you’ll likely be aimed at a scam charity operated by long-time arch enemy Boris Badanov.

This is the first blog I’ve written in a long time asking you for help. I welcome all responses. I’m looking for what you know, what you personally can share. Oh, I’ve already Googled, “How can I help Ukraine?”

NBC offered up this collection. Time put together this list. And I’ll just assume we can trust the Washington Post, who published this group of charities.

Again, that’s what others are suggesting. I want to know what YOU know, what you can tell me. Maybe something I missed or that just isn’t getting the publicity it deserves.

When you read stories like this, that’s not press hype or “fake news”–that’s reality.

Please. Just tell me what I can do that will really matter.

And thanks.

Tim Hunter

My War With Wordle

Earlier this year, I started noticing these weird posts by people on my Facebook feed. Something like this

⬜🟨⬜⬜🟨
🟨🟨⬜🟨🟨
🟨🟨⬜🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

At first, I wasn’t sure if my computer monitor was going out, or if the ‘Ruskies were trying to pass along a secret message to their spies here using a special kind of code.

Eventually, I learned that it was a result you’d get when playing the online word guessing game, Wordle.

Wanting to stay on top of social trends, I thought I would investigate. I played the game, got a kick out of it and most days when I get up, it’s one of the first things I do. (after making coffee and playing Jeopardy with Alexa)

Since you’re only allowed to play it once a day, it helps you from getting addicted and wasting a lot of time with it. I’ve been stumped a couple of times and then kicked myself for not being able to figure it out.

But then, Wordle-gate came along.

Around a month ago, the New York Times bought the game and fears immediately surfaced that they would start charging for this daily challenge. Was that the Old Gray Lady’s evil plan?

Well, not yet. But what some people were talking about online is that since the Times bought it, the puzzles have been getting harder. At first, I laughed it off as just a bunch of whining players who were stumped a few too many times. But then, last Sunday’s word made me re-think my position.

The word of the day? “Tacit

And I wasn’t the only one to notice that particular word. Now known among loyalists as “Word 246”, people were pretty ticked about that choice.

Yes, people were really upset.

Be honest–when was the last time you used that word?

Maybe when you were drunk, and slurred the sentence, “I’ll have to ask it”, which sounded more like “I’ll have tacit.”

Or, maybe you had an upset stomach and remarked, “I’m dealing with tacit indigestion.”

What exactly does ‘tacit’ mean? The dictionary tells us that means, “understood or implied without being stated.” Use it in a sentence? “Your silence may be taken to mean tacit agreement.”

Oh, yeah, I say that all the time.

I have never heard of that word before in my life. I’ve never used it and I can pretty much promise I’ll never use it in my remaining days. Why? Because if I did, I would have to explain what I just said.

So, are the new owners of Wordle trying to build up our vocabularies? I already have Reader’s Digest for that. That’s not why I play the game and if they’re going to start tossing me curve balls like tacit and have me guessing at words I’ve never heard of before, well, then, two can play at that game.

On Sunday, when I had figured out the ‘acit’ parts of the word and was only letter shy of nailing it, I did what every red-blooded Wordle player would do. I fired up Google and asked, “Words that have acit” in them.

Since there was only one possibility, I entered the missing ‘t’ and all was right with the world. Take that, Wordle.

It’s the first time I’ve resorted to this because I do want to keep adding wrinkles to my gray matter. I’ve solved some of the puzzles in 3 guesses, while others took me the full six guesses with the “Whew” comment from Wordle as I guessed correctly on my last try.

For now, I’ll keep playing Wordle. If you haven’t tried it out yet, do that here.

And one other hack that I stumbled across. Play the game on your phone first (a different IP address) and since the world is playing the same word that day, learn what it is on your phone, then guess it with one guess on your computer. Impress your friends. Influence your enemies.

What does the future hold for the game of Wordle? I don’t know, but if I get a chance to chat with the future, I’ll have tacit.

Tim Hunter

 

Sometimes You Can Go Home Again

I guess when it comes to that, I’m a pretty lucky guy. 

It’s not the first time I went back to the home I grew up in; to that blue collar street in Torrance, California, where my parents bought a home back in 1952-ish and raised a family.

But, for some reason, this time around really tugged on the memory strings.

   

Yeah, Mom & Dad bought that little 1200 square foot, 3-bedroom rambler in a brand-new development that was going into a field in this fast-growing suburb of Los Angeles. The story goes that they initially only had the choice of one home, the last one unsold, which was right on the busy street to the west. But then, a sale fell through on a home in the middle of the block and they purchased it with dad’s G.I. bill rate, for $11,9000.  I remember as a kid, walking down the street to the Bank of America with their final house payment in hand. I want to say their monthly nut was around $86 a month.

I was the first to arrive, followed by two sisters who shared the room down the hall until I went off to college. Then, they finally got to have their own room. It’s so funny to go back now and realize how small things really are. Yet, at the time, it was all the house we needed.

The backyard, which as a child seemed huge, was probably only around 800 square feet. But it was where we played in the wading pool, ran around with the family dog, posed for pictures for the home movie camera and, again, it was all the backyard we needed.

Mom is just one of two people left in that neighborhood from when I grew up there. As my sister Debbie pointed out during this visit, as troublesome kids go, we were a pretty mild lot. She couldn’t resist bringing up the time I got caught sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night.  “Snuck out? Through the window?”, mom remarked. “It’s a good thing you didn’t get hurt!”  “Uh, mom,” Debbie continued, “he was sneaking out to go visit Bette, the neighbor girl across the street.” Thanks a lot, Deb.

But it was true, I made a couple of successful reconnaissance visits during the middle of the night, until one time I was caught. You would have thought I had committed mass murder, and that bust abruptly ended our 2am rendezvouses. 

Yeah, the Fonti family across the street had three stunning daughters, and I had fallen madly in love with the middle one. That first-love romance continued until my second year in college, when she called one Thursday morning to let me know she had to break up with me because of a “sign from God.”

A couple of months later, she married the minister who helped her realize she had a sign from God.

Oh, well…

But the rest of the homes up and down the street offered brighter memories. I had a gang of kids that I hung out with, back in the days when you’d leave home in the morning to go play and your only obligation was to be home in time for dinner. I always relied on Mr. Toman’s whistle, which he belted out around 5pm and we’d close out another day of adventures.

In my elementary school days, the gang consisted of Mike, the other Mike, Glen, Kelly, Kenny, Karen and her brother Dennis, and some other characters that came in and out over the years.

We played a lot of tennis ball baseball, keeping track of those homers that would sail over the house across the street. There was hide and seek, some football that started on lawns—but, when some of the older kid-less neighbors started yelling the classic, “Get off my lawn” we’d switch to playing on the asphalt of the street.

As we got older and a little more daring, we’d climb aboard our bicycles, ala ‘Stranger Things” and ride down to the elementary school or over to Del Amo shopping mall, where we once saw candidate for Governor Ronald Reagan speak from the back of a flatbed truck.

We traded baseball cards, we had fights, we went to movies on Saturday morning, and celebrated birthdays together. It’s like I was lucky enough to grow up in a normal neighborhood, doing the normal things kids should do, in a suburb of Los Angeles.

These days, I could never imagine just letting my kid wander around down there, without a military escort.

Oh, it’s not like a chunk of innocence wasn’t lost during those years; that’s a normal part of any childhood. There was the Cuban Missile Crisis–one of my friend’s lived at a house where they had a bomb shelter in the backyard.  There was the JFK assassination, the Martin Luther King, Jr and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, the Watts Riots, the Manson Murders, the Viet Nam War, the draft and so many other things. I remember thinking for a time that it was just the way the normal world was—wars, riots, every now and a then, a leader was shot to death. Those were your 1960s.

And here I was back at the scene of the crime. 

Standing out in the front yard, I could look at each home, and each would generate its own memory. Right across the street, that’s where an older couple named the Kidds invited our family over to watch the Tournament of Roses parade on a real color TV.  A couple doors down from them were Fred & Carol, a fun couple who ever now and then would invite us to come over and swim in their swimming pool. It was the only one on the block. Go the other direction, and that’s where Irv lived, nicknamed “the Bachelor” because he was single for years, although he married late in life. Way up at the far end of the street were the Slingerlands, who had a cute daughter named Pam, but I never really got to know her. For a couple of years, I hung out with Irene, who lived a few houses up. The kids teased her because she had such long toes, and gave her the nickname, “Bozo.” 

Oh, man, how could I forget Raylene Crocker, who was the first next-door neighbor I played with? She was a year older and when I was 5 years old, she decided to plant a big old wet kiss on me. My very first.

We all remember that special street or lane where we spent those care-free days of our childhood. How lucky am I to be able to go back and visit the place mom and dad raised us? This time, the memories were thick and it made me realize that I better start writing these down somewhere before they get away.

And so I have.

Tim Hunter

A Journey I Dared To Take

Oh, yes, the legendary “Senior Pond”,

where no underclassmen dare be caught.

 

Thanks to whoever is the driving force behind the Torrance High School Memory Wall. It’s a Facebook page with the sole purpose of letting graduates of T.H.S. know about classmates who are no longer with us. 

If you ever need a reminder of how grateful you should be, dare to see how many of those people you use to hang out with, are gone.

Looking back, high school is such a brief part of your life experience. Yet, those are amazingly powerful years that had a serious influence on what kind of adults we all became.

I roamed the halls of Torrance High School from the fall of 1969 until graduating in June of 1973. Some folks would rather forget those years. I cherish every single memory my increasingly feeble brain is able to retain.

Thankfully, there are others that feel that way and who get involved enough with preserving memories that they create a Facebook page and actually keep track of who’s still around, and who isn’t.

Those who leave us are put on the Memory Wall. Recently, they offered up an Excel spreadsheet of all the Torrance High School Tartars who had used their allotted time on earth. While there were a lot of folks I didn’t know that came before or after me, when I came across the name of a former classmate who had since passed, I was sad to think that their journey was over. But seeing some of those names knocked loosed a flood of memories:

Dave Sanford was a couple of years ahead of me but was a super-jock whose picture appeared several times in my first two high school yearbooks.

Danny Gans went from the kid I played with in Little League to the Las Vegas mega-star. His life was cut short due to an unfortunate combination of drugs and heart disease. Read more here.

Dexter Wolfgang acted as flamboyantly as his name at a time when you just didn’t do that. Looking back, the guy was a lot braver than most of the students who teased him.

Greg Stadler was one of those guys all the girls longed after, yet his ego was so in-check. Just a good guy. I had heard he had gotten seriously into the “born again” thing. I found his obituary online. 55 is way too soon.

There are dozens of others from that 600+ person class who had also passed away. As I scanned all the names, I noticed the last names of some of my classmates, which means they had lost their older or younger brothers or sisters.

The organizers of this page were also kind enough to keep us posted on some of my favorite teachers, like Mrs. Wright, Mr. Buck and my counselor Mr. Ronan (who I blogged about recently). People who devoted their life to teaching and who may not have realized the impact they had on so many young lives.

We lost them to cancer, to Alzheimer’s, to heart disease, to COVID. All leaving much earlier than they planned, while serving as yet another reminder to appreciate the fact we’re all still here to remember those life-changing days.

It’s a sobering reminder, but a journey I’m really glad that I took.

I’d highly recommend taking a similar stroll down your own path. 

Oh, the power of a high school yearbook.

Tim Hunter

For Fred’s Sake

You’re thinking, “Wait, Tim. You mean Pete’s Sake, right?”

No. I’m going with the insanity happening in the Seattle media market this week and randomly tossing away the name everybody knows for another one.

The change I’m referring to is the call letter change happening at KOMO radio, where after almost a hundred years as KOMO, this week the station will be renamed KNWN.

Originally, I was ticked off at the current ownership, Lotus. But broadcast buddy Gregg Hersholt informs me that Lotus actually wanted to keep the KOMO call letters. However, the evil Sinclair empire decided to spread salt around the Seattle radio landscape and take the call letters with them. According to Gregg:  “The new owners spent months trying to convince Sinclair to sell the call letters. They wouldn’t budge, and it’s their loss because our affiliation was a benefit to them.”

Here’s the news story.

Apparently, one of the things that comes with growing older is you get to see the things you know get new names–Ernst to Lowe’s, the Bon Marche to Macy’s, Payless to Rite Aid, Weight Watchers is now WW, and on and on.

I’ve already blogged about the specialness that came with being a part of the KOMO family for almost five years. You can catch up here.

So, Sinclair gets the credit for taking the call letters and going home. KNWN is supposed to mean K-Northwest News, a phrase that KIRO has already tagged to their top of the hour I.D. as part of the radio wars.

But the bottom line–we’re saying goodby to call letters the area has known since 1926. Yeah, another 100th birthday we’re not going to see.

Back in the day, you wanted to make radio stations easy to remember. So, instead of four letters that all started with a K, you went with names that you could pronounce, like “KOMO” and “KIRO.” That would help them remember what to write down if they had to fill out one of those ratings diaries from years gone by.

These days, it’s all done digitally. People carry around something that logs who they listen to, so they don’t need to fill anything out. 

It saddens me to think of all that history that’s being tossed out. I haven’t been bummed out like this since I found out they were going to tear down the old KOMO radio building, that I haunted from 1980-1984. I remember my little office that I shared with Larry Nelson, the morning guy. Just outside of that office was a wall with a mural of radio stars who had been featured on KOMO over the years. The greats of the 30s and 40s. I believe in the remodeling, that wall was torn down.

With Rip Taylor in front of “The Wall”

It saddens me to watch a place so full of personal memories and that for decades, was a part of the daily life of people in the Puget Sound area. be relinquished to the history books. During my tenure, there was Brian Johnson’s 7:45 Morning Report (when Larry Nelson would head to the bathroom and shave); Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies for so many years, was the “sports guy” who did the morning sports report; KOMO was the on-air home of Paul Harvey, with an abbreviated 5-minute early report at 5:30 and 8am, and then the full “Paul Harvey News and Comment” at high noon. I can still recall when we moved to the new technology, from a phone-line report to a satellite feed. It was like he was in the studio.

That was back in the days of “Destination Radio”, where people came for personalities and other things they just couldn’t get anywhere else on the dial.

KOMO was, of course, your Husky Station, which allowed me to meet so many of the Dawgs of that time, including head coach Don James. He knew me as Larry’s producer but would always greet me like an old friend whenever our paths crossed.

Another big phase was the arrival of AM-Stereo. It was going to change the industry. The announcers were told to start calling the station, KOMO, AM-Stereo-1000. I remember the big AM-Stereo kickoff event we did at some fancy estate up on Capitol Hill.

During my brief tour of duty in the building, I got to know so many people in the radio biz, as well as some of those fancy TV folks down the hall.

On the radio side, (and apologies if I forget you), Larry Nelson, Bob Rondeau, Gary Johnson, Brian Johnson (no relation), Dale Good, Bob Gillespie, Harmon Shay, Jim Reed, Monte Grau, Wanda Hutton, Pat Eisner, Shirley Thom, Kathy Cozu, Leslie Soule, Karen Heric, Rita Carrier, Bob Adkins, Keith Shipman, Eric McKaig, Gina Tuttle, Stan Orchard, Bill Swartz, Michael Hamilton, Roger Nelson, Jim Reed, Keith Johansson, Norm Gregory, Don Chapman, Joe Coburn, Jaynie Dillon, Kirk Lawrence, Rich Osbourne, Melody Tucker, Ted Garlatz, Jr. & Sr., and a host of others whose faces popped up in my head, but whose names escape me. Cut me some slack—that was 40ish years ago.

On the TV side, I got to know Ruth Walsh, Ray Ramsey, Bruce King, Kathi Goertzen, Dan Lewis, Dan Ibabao, Dick Foley, Steve Pool and others.

And two great engineer types–Stu Hitchner and Lloyd Jones, a classic character and brother of Seattle’s own Quincy Jones.

In just under 5 years, I packed in a lifetime of memories, not to mention all the life changes that took place while I was in the building. I was hired a week before my wedding and started after we returned from the honeymoon and moving over from Yakima. My daughter was born during my KOMO days, and I found out that my son was on the way the same day I was told I was being laid off.

If you want to read the adventures of KOMO in Seattle radio history, Wikipedia has a nice write-up here.

Management didn’t always make the best choices for the future of the station. It was the original flagship station of the Seattle Supersonics, until they let KIRO swipe them away. I had also heard a rumor while I was there that, at one time KOMO had an FM frequency but gave it away to UW, which became KUOW. I don’t have any verification of that story, but it’s a good rumor.

A radio station isn’t a building, it’s a frequency. It’s that place on the dial that you go to out of habit, so really, changing its name doesn’t really impact anything. When I go to AM-1000, I’ll be reminded of those years, of people who were and some, still are, a big part of my life and my history.

KOMO, I’m sorry to see you go.

Now, I no longer want to live forever. I just want to live long enough to see some company to buy out the Sinclair folks and re-name it “Evil Broadcasting.”

For Fred’s sake.

Tim Hunter