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.

 

One of the Last of the Locals

Back in September, I returned to the Seattle-area radio airwaves on 1380AM, KRKO. Their consultant, Terry Patrick, crafted a blend of songs that have been largely missing from the radio around Seattle and have been gone long enough, that they’re a lot of fun to hear again.

They began playing that music and fine-tuning the songs in July and it wasn’t until mid-August before we embarked on our Norway trip that I confirmed, upon my return, I’d take on morning show duties for them.

To be clear, this was an add-on. The only thing I dropped from my hectic routine was my weekly podcast, which I had been doing to satisfy my radio Jones. Otherwise, I continued my life-as-normal routine as a writer for Radio-Online, operating Tim Hunter Creative Services, being the Chief Creative Officer for Create Impulse, doing auctions and events, being a member and on the board of the Bothell Kenmore Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Northshore School District‘s General Advisory Committee, plus taking care of my comedy clients–a ventriloquist, a comic strip and a political cartoonist.

Basically, I said I could offer so much time and they excitedly accepted. It took some fine-tuning to my schedule and getting a rhythm going, but I think we’re there. It’s funny, but some people I talked with about my opportunity after 14 years of radio silence thought this decision was based on the money. Hardly. In fact, that is in the description of my salary. “Tim Hunter shall be paid hardly anything.” Says so right on the contract.

I have to say the thing that drew me most to KRKO was the fact they were and remain being a local station. Oh, you’re probably saying to yourself, “But Tim, there are lots of local radio stations.” Not true. I’ll rattle off a few: WARM, Movin’, KOMO, STAR, KIRO, KJR. All are owned by godless, bottom-line out-of-town corporations and some of those stations have even gone through a couple of ownership changes from the time I left radio until my return.
KRKO is owned and operated by the Skotdahl family. I’ve known Andy, the “Big Guy”, for decades and he is one committed hardcore set on preserving his local station. You’ll hear what some might call “small town radio” things, like carry the AquaSox and Silvertips games, high school football and basketball and such. Some of the clients you’ll hear advertising on the air you may not recognize, because they’re primarily in and around Snohomish County. But besides being among Washington State’s first radio stations, KRKO (and it’s sister station, KXA) are the last of a dying breed. Local.

Their broadcast signals don’t travel far. AM will stalk you out of the county, but the FM’s are low power versions that are pretty much heard only in Everett.

But it’s their online streaming capabilities that really got me excited. There are multiple ways to listen to KRKO, no matter where in the world you live. On the website, KRKO.com, just click the LISTEN LIVE button, click the play button and there we are!  Got an Alexa or Google home?  Just say the trigger phrase and “Play KRKO” or even “Play Everett’s Greatest Hits” and start enjoying the music. You can even go to our Facebook page and on the left is a STREAM LIVE button. If you don’t see it, click on the SEE MORE to the left and you’ll find it.  Oh, if you have Bluetooth in your car, just stream the station on your phone and you can enjoy the music in your car while driving. It beats the heck out of a scratchy FM signal in hilly Seattle.

Well, if it’s in Wikipedia, it must be true.

The result has been incredible. This morning, my sister in Arkansas wrote a quick note to say, “She’s loving that Christopher Cross.”   Cousins Judy & Bill down in Santa Barbara are listening, as well as relatives and friends in West Virginia, South Dakota, Florida, Nevada….oh, and yes, you, too, Dagny, in Norway.

2019 feels like a year of change. Maybe that will include how you listen to the radio and who you tune in. I honestly think you’ll find the mix of music we play on KRKO fairly addictive and pretty soon, you’ll have a new favorite radio station. We just might actually change the way you listen to radio.

And I actually think their morning guy is kinda funny. Well, at least kinda.

Consider this your invitation.

Tim Hunter