My World

I’m a staff writer for Radio-Online, a radio show prep service with subscribers all over the world. I’ve been getting up at 4am for over a dozen years (too lazy to count right now) and putting together a collection of things that disc jockeys could say to their audiences, without having to think of them.

I write jokes, come up with topics to talk about, and create games to play with their listeners. One of the games involves giving you the slogan a company uses and then, you have to identify the company. So while I’m out and about living my life, if I hear or see a slogan, I turn to my iPhone and text the message to myself so I can use it when that quiz rolls around again.

The other day, I saw a commercial for Microsoft and noted their slogan, “Empowering us all!” I grabbed my phone, dictated the message and hit send. As I did, the words that voice-recognition heard caught my eye. It said, “Microsoft. Empowering asshole.”

Well, close enough.

Tim Hunter

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

 

Fine. Then I’ll Resort to Bribery

Back in September, I returned to the Northwest radio airwaves on KRKO in Everett. It’s got a decent AM signal at 1380, with an FM signal that is a low-power edition and pretty much available only around Everett.

That’s why I’ve been encouraging friends and relatives to try out the station via streaming. It’s not hard to do, but it does require some extra steps and perhaps some you’ve never bothered to try before.

Now, I’ve got friends and family across the country and even a couple out of the country that have been listening to the station, and occasionally catching me in the morning. To me, it’s almost like having a private station that let’s me goof around in the early hours and fills up the rest of the day with “Everett’s Greatest Hits”–a tasty blend of the bigger hits of the late 60s, a lot of 70s and a few 80s thrown in.  I seriously love the blend of music, which is what enticed me to go back to radio and why I’ve been inviting you to give it a try. It could change the way you listen to radio.

The evolution is already underway. People are getting their music streaming via Apple Music, Google, Spotify and such, and maybe the idea of listening to a radio station via streaming seems odd, but here’s the deal. We live in a very hilly area. Drive down to Edmonds and you’ll lose just about every station here. Listen via streaming and you’ll get a clean flowing stream of great-sounding music. I’m hearing instruments for the first time on songs I enjoyed back on the 1960s on AM radio.

  1. To listen to KRKO online with your computer or tablet, just put in krko.com, click on the LISTEN LIVE button and you’re in business.
  2. On your phone, same thing. Open your browser, put in KRKO.com, click LISTEN LIVE and then PLAY and here comes the music.
  3. Have your phone connected to the Bluetooth in your car? Do step #2 before you start driving, change your stereo’s input to audio and you’ll enjoy the music through your car speakers.
  4. Have a Smart Device, like an Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home?  Just say your magic phrase and then, “Play KRKO” and you’re on board.

Why am I going to all this effort to get you to listen to KRKO. It’s because of what’s happening next week.

Imagine being able to stick this into somebody’s stocking: a pair of tickets to see the Rolling Stones during their No Filter stop at Century Link Field next May 22nd! Thanks to the gallant efforts of our promotions goddess, Kayla, we have five pairs to give away next week. A pair a day. Just listen and when you hear the cue to call, be the 3rd caller at (425) 304-1380 and you win. It’s that simple.

What’s the cue to call sound like? It’ll be different each day. But I’m posting what it sounds like every morning at 6am on the KRKO Facebook page. If you like our page, it’ll show up in your stream every morning.

I’ve already talked with several out-of-staters who are going try because, look–at the price of those concert tickets, it would be cheaper to buy the airfare and watch ’em here with free tickets, so why not?

Make sure you’re listening every day next week between 6am & 9am for the cue to call because we’re giving away a pair of tickets every day, on Everett’s Greatest Hits, KRKO. Good luck!

And if this is what it took to get you to try the radio station, it just reinforces the fact that bribery works.

Tim Hunter

100 MPH

 

Yep, I knew it was going to be challenging and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

First off, seriously, if you have not checked out my newest radio station yet, you have to do that. Now, I’m going to assume the bulk of you reading this right now are outside of the Everett area.  If so, there are so many ways for you to listen to KRKO.

Let’s start with Alexa. If you have one of those Amazon devices, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to listen. Just say, “Alexa, play KRKO” and you’ll start getting the music.

To listen on any device–computer, tablet, or phone–just go to KRKO.com and click LISTEN LIVE. It’s that easy.

Just a reminder, I’m on from 6-9am, Monday through Friday and not a lot. Top of the hour ID and three times an hour for a couple of minutes each break. But that allows us to get in more of the songs.  So many of these songs were abandoned by the Seattle stations and we’re actually playing them and a lot. I was just chatting with the consultant, Terry Patrick (the voice you hear identifying each of the songs) and I had to tell him I’m still hearing songs for the first time. That is, ones I haven’t heard anywhere else for eons.

Hey, we’re small-town radio. We feature the High School game of the week on Friday nights and carry minor-league baseball and hockey games, but that’s what really appealed to me. This is sincere radio,  the way we all expected the medium to be when we got into this business.  The staff has been very welcoming to me and is doing everything they can to help me make this work. I wanted to play in radioland again, but not put my current career on hold. So, I’ve added one more thing to my crazy schedule, all in the name of fun.

So, I’ll ask–if you would like to play, if you’d be up for me to call you up some day and drag you into a conversation just let me know. Drop me a note and the best time you’re available for calling to tim.hunter@krko.com and I’ll definitely take you up on the offer.

The first couple of weeks have been challenging. My main computer crashed last Saturday, so I ordered a new one while I turned the old one over to the Geek Squad folks at Best Buy. Amazon failed me, saying they would deliver it on Sunday by 8pm…then 9pm….then promising it no later than TUESDAY!  Fortunately, the folks at Best Buy came through and got my existing computer up and running in time to record Tuesday’s show.

If stress shaves a few seconds off your life, I could go at any minute. I will say, it’s a bit of an adjustment to go from a fairly stress-free routine to a daily high-anxiety setting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Again, KRKO is on 1380AM and 95.3-FM, but mainly only in the Everett area. You can get a scratchy AM signal in Seattle, but I’d highly recommend streaming via KRKO.com  It’s the new way of listening to the radio, without all the static that comes with FM.

It’s that small town radio station I thought I would work at one day again, with occasional glitches here and there….but I’m loving it.

Tim Hunter

It’s Actually Happening

Four years ago, I rolled the dice big-time, gave up a nice-paying but not rewarding job to pursue my professional dreams. I could have easily crashed and burned and found myself working with former Cosby cast members at Trader Joe’s, but the crazy plan actually worked.

My goal was to create a working situation where–

  • I was doing what I wanted to be doing with people I liked
  • Earning enough to cover the bills, with a little left over
  • Create a balance of all the things I love, so I’d be able to keep doing it until I retired

Later this month, I crack the 63-year-old mark, so retirement is within sight. However, my definition of retirement is probably different than most. That will probably just mean thinning out the list of the many things I do, eliminating the less-rewarding and focusing my efforts on just the fun stuff.

Right now, I have my own creative services company, work for Create Impulse as their Chief Creative Officer, emcee events like this week’s Lutefisk Eating Contest at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival (I believe this is the 15th Lutefisk eating competition I’ve emceed), write for Radio-Online every morning, aim jokes at my various comedy clients and produce videos. I churn out a weekly Ima Norwegian cartoon, a podcast, write a blog and consult several clients. Then pile on top of all those things the duties and activities that come with being involved with ten or so clubs and organizations, and you could say I’m one busy person. But I like busy and when my schedule is mostly made up of things I love, what else would I rather be doing?

But underneath it all, I’ve had this need to do one thing that has been missing from my life for 15 years. Radio.

Seriously, I was thinking that one day, we’d move to a smaller town somewhere and I would latch on to the local small-town station just to satisfy my craving. Remember, I spent over 30 years of my life in the biz, and when it decided to push me away, I embraced developing new skills and pursuing other goals. That I have done.

I can now direct, shoot and edit videos and commercials, thus adding a nice collection of abilities to my skillset. But here’s the crossroads I came to: Radio is and has always been fairly unstable. Formats change, program directors love you or hate you, it’s entirely possible to come off a great show and be told that you’re done. I know. It’s happened.

Which begs the question, “Why would I risk all that I’ve developed to plunge back into the unstable world of radio?” I’d welcome the return, but not by risking everything I’ve built up. After all, been there, done that. So if I were to venture back on the airwaves, it would have to be a perfect fit and be able to be piled on to everything else I’m already doing. Are there enough hours in the day? I believe so, for the right situation.

Over the years, I’ve reached out and talked with Andy Skotdal who own’s Everett’s KRKO. He knew me from my Seattle work and was always interested in connecting. But I didn’t want to start something there, only to realize a month or two later, this isn’t what I really wanted to do. At one time, he was thinking a news station with me doing mornings. Not really my thing. I’m a goofball, you know that. Then, they went into the Sports Radio arena and, again, not for me.

Then, earlier this summer, they flipped to a music station. And not just a regular music station, but what they call “Everett’s Greatest Hits” which amounted to the songs I used to play on the radio. A few 60s, mostly 70s and some 80s. Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John. And, with an up-tempo feel.

Chuck Maylin, formerly of KBSG (the great Seattle oldies station that is no more) and veteran consultant Terry Patrick have created one fine-sounding station that, for now, didn’t have a morning personality.

Today, that changes.

I initially reached out to them to maybe track out an afternoon shift or weekend, just to satisfy my radio Jones. (not to be confused with Jones radio)  They were interested, but had someone internally for mornings and if they were to add an afternoon voice, it would be a “down the line” thing.

Then, the guy who was to host mornings parted ways with the station. So they had a need.

We talked and agreed to make this happen, but not until after my recent Norway trip. It just wouldn’t make sense to start on the air, and then disappear for a couple of weeks.

So, today, Monday, September 10th, I begin a new chapter in my broadcasting career. I’ll be hanging out at 1380-AM and 95.3-FM from 6-9am Monday through Friday. I would highly recommend streaming the station, which you can do easily with one click at KRKO.com.

I am incredibly blessed, because I’m going to get to enjoy playing radio again, on a small-town, local-owner radio station, while continuing to live my big-city life.  Here are a few of my fellow KRKO-kateers, excited to hear I was joining the team.

OK, well, mildly intrigued might be a better description.

Everett’s Greatest Hits, here I come.

Tim Hunter