A Salute To New Ideas

When people ask what I do, I have to give them the old “Jack of all trades” description of my work routine. Oh, I could just mention the top couple of jobs, but my professional style is more similar to that guy on the Ed Sullivan Show with those spinning plates.

For my younger readers, here’s a clip.

The biggest lesson I took from my three decades of playing radio is that you need to evolve, you need to keep fresh, learning what’s new and constantly have some plates spinning. That lesson was really driven home with my first radio departure, when I found out that I was losing my job on the same day I had a son on the way.

After that, I made sure I always had multiple gigs going. A main one and a bunch of smaller ones, in different areas. I was constantly learning something new and with each new skill, I considered making myself more valuable. What it did over time is give me an overwhelming urge to one day break off and not work for one company, but with as many people and projects as I could balance.

Always be fresh, always try something new.

Throughout my career, I’ve been involved with dozens of new ideas. There were hits, there were misses, but each gave me a new skill and perspective on something I previously had no experience with. Back in the days before Linkedin, it allowed me to constantly make new biz acquaintances.

There was the time I did an Inspector Gadget impression for a computer game. The company wanted to hire Don Adams (aka Maxwell Smart) but he wanted $1-million. So, for $20 an hour, I said every phrase imaginable and they used my poor man’s Inspector Gadget voice. Sadly, they didn’t have the computer game part quite figured out, and the game didn’t play on computers very well. I have a copy of the CD-ROM, but with a quick Google, I actually found a way to play it and hear my voice from almost 30 years ago right here.

Then, through various friends, I was introduced to a guy who had a brilliant idea. Do tours of cities like, oh, say, Edmonds, on a cassette. You’d put it on in your car, hit play, the tape would tell you where to drive and what you were looking at…and then, tell you where to go next. It was a bit of a flop, too. And I’ve got a couple of those still wrapped in plastic.

Going a way back, I remember connecting with former KOMO news anchor Ruth Walsh, who wanted to try launching a syndicated weekly radio show.  We did episodes for a couple of months, but it soon faded away….

The great ideas just kept on coming. One that was fairly successful was an audiobook of a couple of the “Wizard of Oz” stories. A guy named Bill Wright who owned Piglet Press and was a huge Oz fan wanted to create several audiobooks (yes, more cassettes) and we actually produced three of them. I say “we” as in the late Debbie Deutsch, who was the narrator; a girl named Alexandria who did the voice of Dorothy; and yours truly as EVERYBODY ELSE.  We’d record for hours at a studio in Lake City, and then audio guru Bob Majors fixed the sound to perfection. Former Bothell High School Principal Bob Stewart told me that he and his kids loved them as they drove across the country on vacation. Nice to know they’re still out there.

I was lucky to work on quite a few new projects during my lifetime, but geeze, the pace at which new stuff is coming out these days is insane!

What brought me down this rabbit hole? Well, I have a daughter-in-law that is taking a big swing. One of her classmates from graduate school has launched a new venture and she’s going to get on board Map Your Idea.

Right now, to introduce the product and get people to use it, it’s free. That allows this startup to build up a collection of examples of how small businesses and organizations are putting it to use. Go ahead, visit the website and see how it works. It’s pretty intuitive and who knows, your work or organization just might find it quite useful.

All this to say, I love innovation. And trying. Success is also a nice biproduct, but the experience and the lessons you take along with every swing at the plate will someday find a way to be quite valuable in your future.

It’s good to know things. And I hope you’ve taken a few big swings in your lifetime.

New ideas–I salute you!

Tim Hunter

You Got That, Wright!

I’d like to introduce you to one of the acquaintances I’ve made over the years. A fellow by the name of Bill Wright.

Bill has been employed over the years by various companies and that’s about all I know. It’s apparently the kind of stuff that, if he tells you, he has to kill you. So, I didn’t ask.

I’ve known Bill as a determined producer. A guy with ideas who passionately does all he can to make those ideas become reality.

I don’t exactly remember how met all those years ago, except that I was a hired voice for some projects he produced. Bill has always been a major fan of the Wizard of Oz books.  Yes, that was meant to be plural. 13 of them were written by the original author, L. Frank Baum. A total of 43 official books have been written by various authors over the years.

Back in the 1990s, Bill decided he wanted to turn a couple of those adventures into audio books. He brought in Seattle radio traffic legend Debbie Deutsch to do the narrating, hired a 12-year-old girl named Alexandra Barkley to provide the voice of Dorothy, and yours truly did ALL the other voices.  There were many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the Lake City recording studio where we spent hours laying down all the voice tracks.  Local audio guru Bob Majors did the tweaking and the next thing you know, there were audio books. (although, as of this writing, they are only available on cassette)

Over the years, it seems like Bill & I would get together, hear about each other’s lives and then off we’d go to our neutral corners. A couple of years ago, I helped his daughter with a demo video for a cooking show. Then, earlier this year, he reached out to me about a special project.

And this one is special.

Without going too much into detail, I can give you the headlines. Bill has done research about some lost stories from World War II. He’s even gotten the state of Hawaii to fund his project and we are at the beginning stages of bringing one story to video. I will be providing the narrator voice.  The long and short of it is, during World War II, the United States decided to set up camps where Japanese Americans had to ride out the war. The Japanese-American males of military age were used to form units that were deployed to Europe to fight the war.  One of those units provided the heroes that  freed 5,000 Jewish prisoners from the notorious Dachau Nazi camp when they intercepted a death march. The irony is thick. There they were, risking their lives to free prisoners from a German concentration camp, while back home, their families were locked up.

Finally, that story is going to be told. When there’s a finished project, I’ll do my best to bring it to your attention.

Then, after a few decades pass, maybe Bill & I will collaborate on yet another project. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

Tim Hunter