Memories of a Blessed Career

For all the things I’ve been able to do in this lifetime, one of the greatest collections of stories comes from my radio days.

The next time we actually get together, even if it’s socially distant, ask me about some of the classics: “Psycho Listener That Stalked Me”, “Feed the Horse”, “Lonely Military Wife”, and of course, the immortal, “Stop That Song! Now!”

This cartoon reminded me of a running gag that lived in the production room of KLSY.

 

So in the early stretch of my 19 years at Sandusky Broadcasting (the owners of KLSY, KIXI and assorted other radio stations), they had a salesperson named “Doc.” I don’t remember much about him, but this was back in the days when sales people were expected to write their own copy for commercials.

I still remember Production Director (the guy who makes commercials) John Nixon showing me a spot he wrote. I don’t even remember who the commercial was for, but I’d never be able to forget one of the lines–“Man in blue sweater walks by.”  Uh, you know this is for radio? You know, that media without pictures? How does a blue sweater sound?  It’s like a white sweater, but darker?

Seriously, for years, whenever we’d be working on stuff together in the production room, it was not unusual for the “blue sweater” line to come up.

Yeah, for all I do, as I continue to learn and explore new skills, to this day, radio and all those great stories are in my blood. That’s probably why I’ll be hiding out on KRKO, “Everett’s Greatest Hits” for as long as I can wedge it into my routine. You’ll have to give it a listen sometime.

And who knows? Maybe if you listen real carefully, you just might hear a blue sweater pass by.

Tim Hunter

Thanks, Delilah

I’ve been blessed over the years to meet some great and pretty unique people. While I usually grab this space on the Internet to pass along my thoughts on a given topic, I was moved by a Facebook post of a friend this past that I’ve decided needs to be shared.
Re-sharing it on Facebook, it could come off as one of those things you know you’re going to get to the end, and they ask you to share it. It could be true, or fabricated, being some kind of social media prank someone pulled to see how long it would go.
What you’re about to read is a post from a radio sister who I worked with during my days at KLSY. Boy, she’s had an adventure since those times when I did afternoons as the warmup act for “Lights Out.”  It was our evening show, featuring love songs and dedications and Delilah ruled the airwaves after 7pm.
I remember when her oldest son would come with his mom and sleep in the studio, because she had no one to watch him. There was the time when she was a new mom that she had pumped some breast milk and put it in the company fridge. Some employee mistook it for cream for his coffee and…well, it became one of those stories that got told a lot.
It’s amazing to think of how many years ago that was, and how yet it still seems like just a couple of years ago.
Thanks, Delilah, for writing this and for allowing me to share it.
God’s perfect timing
Romans 8:28
As many people know I lost my son Zachariah in 2017. He was my last born biological child, my late in life surprise. He was 18 and had hit some really rough patches in life. Thinking we were helping him to navigate turbulent waters his father and I got him to a counselor and a doctor immediately. The doctor put him on an SSRI, an antidepressant that we discovered too late, is deadly for almost half of the teens it is prescribed for. Less than eight months later he was so delusional and messed up from the effects of the drug, he took his life. In that instant my life, all our lives, were forever changed. Zack was a wild child, a spark of passion and light. He was a boy with a broad smile filled with immense talent and dreams for his future. And in an instant all that was taken from us.
Tonight his older brother, my first born son Isaiah, was driving home from work. He had put in a 9 hour day of training in 90 degree + temps, wearing 20 plus lbs of SWAT GEAR. He’d been up most of the night before, keeping watch over his wife and kids who live just a mile or two from wild fires. I texted with him at midnight while they were packing and waiting to see if they needed to evacuate. Needless to say he was sweaty, fatigued and eager to get home.
He was beyond exhausted when he drove across a high bridge, and for a moment his mind didn’t register that there was someone standing along the edge. He passed the stranger then suddenly realized the man wasn’t standing on the bridge, but instead he was sitting on the ledge, preparing to jump.
Isaiah stopped his patrol car in the middle of the bridge and slowly walked back towards the young man. “Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” My son asked. The man said yes but warned him not to get close…
Over the next several minutes my son engaged him in conversation. Real conversation. He shared about his baby brother and how his death has impacted our family.
They talked about life, and real struggles.
My son told me it was agonizing looking down and realizing the young man was barely sitting on the ledge, one false move and he would plunge hundreds of feet to his death. Step by cautious step Isaiah moved closer. Tear by salty tear, he listened to this young man pour out his heart.
My son trains weekly at a jujutsu dojo, and is constantly training for his role as an officer. He’s in excellent physical shape. The young man was also fit and was not a small man, but when the moment was right, Isaiah sprang into action and grabbed him from behind, pulling him to safety. They struggled a bit, but before he was taken away for help at a hospital, they had a tearful embrace and he thanked my son profusely.
Tonight there is a mother sleeping somewhere who doesn’t even know how her day, her week, her very life would have turned out differently if God had not placed my son on a bridge at the precise moment her son needed him. I praise God that the heartache Isaiah experienced losing his brother motivated him to stop in the middle of his commute home, to save someone else’s son.
Thanks so much for sharing, D.
Tim Hunter

Another Voice Confined To My Head

I first met Debbie Deutsch on the radio.

I was a Seattle radio listener in the 1980s. I listened to several stations, but the voice that stood out to me was Debbie Deutsch. She was the voice of AAA Traffic, which the Auto Club provided to area radio stations, much like other companies did ski reports in the winter. At one point, KJR decided to make her their own fulltime employee, pairing her up with the likes of Seattle radio legends Charlie Brown and Gary Lockwood.

This was back in the day when radio traffic reporters worked split shifts. They just did. So since I was over at KOMO radio working with Larry Nelson in the mornings with Ted Garlatz up in the KOMO Air Patrol, if i was going to hear Debbie at all, it would most likely be during her afternoon reports.

Over time, I was downsized from KOMO and headed across the lake to KLSY. Eventually, Debbie Deutsch found her way there as well and a great friendship began.

They paired her up with KLSY’s “Murdock in the Morning” and for years, they were the morning twosome on Classy, 92.5fm. While I worked in production, copywriting and did weekend shifts when she joined the station, I was around enough to get to know her. THE Debbie Deutsch. As incredibly nice as advertised. That down-home, Wisconsin kind of friendly.

I occasionally tossed some produced bits their way, including a song called, “I wanna be your Murdock” which I remember producing on the radio stations amazing 8-track recorder. Wow. I did a quick search for that and couldn’t find it, but when I do, I’ll update this post and give you a chance to listen to it.

There was the time KLSY did “The Prom For People Who Didn’t Get To Go To Theirs”. Here’s a picture from that evening.

From left to right–Promotion Director Lisa Sarkies, a listener, Delilah Rene, Debbie Deutsch, yours truly, Julie Hiebert and Bob Brooks.

Eventually, Debbie and her husband Jim had a couple of kids and the idea of heading into Bellevue from north Bothell every morning lost its appeal, so she left KLSY to focus on her kids and then, become a professional storyteller. She would always tell me that she named their second son after me. To back up that claim, they call him “Tim.”

At one point, she became part of an effort to create audiobooks of a few of the Wizard of Oz books. We spent many a Sunday morning in a recording studio bringing those stories to life, Debbie as the narrator. Me, taking on most of the other character voices and a young girl named Alexandra as Dorothy. Available where ever cassettes are still sold. I’ve been trying to get the producer, Bill Wright, to get them into digital form. I’m not sure where that stands. Here’s more background on that adventure, from a previous blog.

 

Oh, my gosh, I just found a website where you can listen to audio clips from those books. This was last updated in 2001. Amazing what you can find on the Internet.

In the years that followed, I would occasionally touch base with her. Storytelling became her passion; she even joined the Seattle Storyteller’s Guild. After KLSY and I parting ways in 2003 and doing a year with the Wolf, I wandered off into marketing and advertising, but still had the radio bug. Anyone who has been in the biz knows, it never goes away.

I did a podcast (167 episodes of “The Wacky Week” podcast are out there) and had fun, but I continued to miss radio. As you know, these days I get it out of my system on KRKO, while maintaining all my other vast sources of employment. But around a decade ago, I got together with my radio brother Scott Burns and Debbie and we recorded a demo with the idea that someone might want to put this on the air around Seattle. We came up empty.  But it was sure fun doing the demo together. Here’s that demo.

I just found out last week that we had lost Debbie. She had lost her battle with cancer a month ago and word was now just getting out. I was so sorry to hear it. It would have been so nice to get one more time to chat with her. For those who didn’t know Debbie, I thought I’d give you a chance to get to meet her on her way out. You missed a class act.

And here’s the official obit that her family put together:

Debra Ann Deutsch Bulger
July 18, 1952 – July 28, 2020

Debbie succumbed to cancer July 28, 2020 at her home in Woodinville. She was the third child born to Edwin and Phyllis (Smith) Deutsch in Menomonie, Wisconsin.  She moved with her parents to Kent Washington in 1966 and graduated from Kent Meridian High School.  Following high school, she attended Weaver Airline School in Kansas City, Missouri.  Her first job was with AAA in Seattle where she gave traffic reports on KJR radio.  She later became the traffic reporter and radio personality on KJR for 9 years and then on KLSY radio.  She met the husband of her dreams at a TGIF event in Edmonds, and they married in 1985, moved to Woodinville, Washington and had 2 sons.  Debbie was involved with her boys’ sports, Scouts, and school, she told children’s stories at libraries, bookstores, the Seattle Center and the Aquarium, hosted Mom’s Camps and lastly worked as Office Manager at Feng Shui property managers in Mill Creek, Washington.

Surviving Debb is her husband of 35 years James S. (Jim) Bulger; sons, E6 USN Scott (Paige) of Dallas, Texas, and Timothy (Lauren) of Snohomish, Washington; sisters Linda Lambert of Everett and Diane Ross recently of Cassville, Missouri and several nieces, nephews, cousins and a multitude friends.

All donations will be used to plant trees in her memory throughout the Pacific Northwest via the non-profit organization https://onetreeplanted.org

Thank you for your support in Loving memory of this most beautiful woman. We’re so grateful and expectant to grow a forest!

Love,
Jim, Scott, and Tim Bulger

Shortly after popping for a few trees, I heard from her son, Scott:

Mr. Hunter it’s truly an honor to hear from you. Mom has the best stories about her time working with you! And we thought she was the coolest for being in those Wizard of Oz tapes.
Thank you for your sentiments and contribution to her tree fund. I think all of us were just as surprised last year at the initial diagnosis. She’s gone from here too early, but knowing she’s no longer hurting really does bring us solace.

Would love to take on any audio you might find, what a treasure that will be.

Please reach out anytime!

Very respectfully,
Scott

I cherish the time I got to spend with her, and I know her family is feeling a mighty loss. Thanks for sharing her, guys. She was indeed one of the good ones.

The world will no longer get to enjoy her voice, which means she now joins that ever-growing club of great voices that meets regularly in my head. It’s getting crowded in there.

Tim Hunter

Happy December 17th!

A lot changed on that day back in 2003.

It was the day I part of a live broadcast of the Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show on 92.5-KLSY. Several years before, we started a tradition of doing a Christmas show with live performers and this time, we were out-doing ourselves. Bryon the Producer had pulled out all the stops and arranged for us to have the Village Theater in Issaquah as our morning playground.

The theater was open to the public, so people could come and go throughout the morning as our three-hour spectacular unfolded. Among the performers that special morning–the Dickens Carolers.

Newspaper columnist and morning show fan, Sherry Grindeland from the Bellevue Journal-American and KING 5’s Tony Ventrella popped in for a visit.

 

KING 5’s Dennis Bounds read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Bryon the Producer did a performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with a local school.

Children’s entertainer Tim Noah performed.

There was an acapella group of Microsoft employees. I’m spacing on their name right now. (See, that’s why I’m writing this stuff down now)

They even sent in the Marines to plug the annual Toys for Tots drive.

It starts to get blurry but this photo reminded me of the last group to perform. It was a bell choir from somewhere. That’s about as good as I can do.

As they wrapped up and started putting their stuff away, we said our goodbyes on air and then the three of us headed backstage. It was there we bumped into Mr. KLSY, Marc Kaye, the General Manager of the station. He asked if our show was over and we replied yes. It was then we went from the high of that stellar and festive broadcast to the low of finding out that was our final show on KLSY. “We’re not going to renew your contracts,” was the exact wording. “No rush on cleaning out your office. You can get to that whenever. And we’ll have a little going away party to thank you for all the years you’ve been here.”

Yeah, right.

I went straight to the station, cleaned out my work area and packed up my car. I remember employees with tears in their eyes coming up to say goodbye. I hauled my stuff downstairs and left the halls of Sandusky Broadcasting for the final time. That “Thank You Party” never happened.

I’ve been let go a couple of times in my career. In radio, it happens. But each time it does, I’ve ended up in a better situation and that was once again very true in this case.

Yes, it was 16 years ago today and from the highs and the lows of that particular day, you can see why it is so etched in my brain.

We all have our December 17ths and now you know mine. It’s basically a microcosm of life–there will be highs and lows (not usually in the same day) but they’re all pieces of what shapes our individual world to create what we have now and I love my now.

All that being said, have a joyous holiday season and cherish those around you. They won’t always be there.

Oh, and Happy December 17th.

Tim Hunter

I Wonder if That’s What Heaven Is Like

Ask someone their idea on what heaven is like, and I’m sure you’d get all kinds of answers. I imagine it’s a collection of all the good moments, all the positive things that emerged during one’s life story.

Put my mind to a pop quiz and I’m imagining that walk with my Grandma Hunter, holding her hand as we walked on the next block, which had some mean kids. They said something cocky, and my grandmother told us to just ignore them. I was probably around 7.

There’s George, the first family dog, who was so spunky and, looking back, probably the perfect dog who just wanted to be loved and run. I remember we took him over to “the fields” to let him run and he did. That was back when Torrance had vacant lots, which are long gone.

There was that gang of mine at Immanuel Lutheran Church’s school, which were my best buds for the first six grades. Then, the church suddenly closed the school and I found myself thrust into public schools, having to deal with being “the new kid.” Traumatic at the time, I harnessed the confrontations to bring out my comedy skills. It prevented at least a couple of beatings.

High School was beyond awesome. I hit my stride, was a basketball player, a senior president and A.S.B. vice-president, prom king, you name it. And, after a long uncertain stretch, I got to be the boyfriend of the girl next door. (OK, well, across the street)

College days were fun and one of these days, I’m going to make that a film script, but I left with a ton of great memories and classmates that I really enjoy seeing again. We pulled off a reunion last year, but there were still some people I really wanted to see that didn’t make it.

OK, back to the concept of heaven. I was lucky enough to work at an eastside radio station called KLSY. There were several KLSY’s—when I first started, the next phase, the phase after that and the Mix 92.5 phase.

Last week, a spontaneous reunion broke out, featuring phase 2 of that adventure.

Remember, I was there 19 years of my broadcasting career. A lot can happen in radio in a couple of years, let alone 19. The crew that assembled that afternoon at the Ram Restaurant at Northgate was a wonderful time capsule of that KLSY era. By this time, I had joined Bruce Murdock as part of the Morning Show, (First, the Breakfast Club, then Murdock & Hunter…eventually, Alice got her name in the show, “Murdock, Hunter & Alice) and that night, we had to drunk Facetime Bobby Irwin our program director and talk about old times.

You see each other and break out in smiles, ask how you’re currently doing and then, return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  It was pretty much 3 hours that seemed like 5-minutes. Of course, there were at least two toasts to the memory of the late Alice Porter. Oh, sure, those days were far from perfect and there were insane challenges that we all shared together. But now, we could laugh at those challenges and fondly remember all the good times that surrounded them.

The old adage, “If I knew then what I know now” is so true. Probably, the number one thing I would do differently is to slow things down, to savor that time, which, of course, is a reminder that we should be doing that right now.

Up in our brain, there’s a storage locker that we fill up with all the great moments of our life.  The positive, the good. I’m convinced that is what we’ll be surrounded with when all is said and done, and that makes the end of everyone’s story just a little easier to accept.

Last week little KLSY roundup was just another reminder of just how good my life has been and I say that with the utmost of appreciation. It doesn’t mean there weren’t some awful moments along the way, but those will have no place where I’m going.

Enjoy the moments going on in your life right now. Several of them are probably heading to your mental storage locker.

Tim Hunter