Tim Versus Amazon

Look, I didn’t want this war. To be beyond honest, I love Amazon. For that one-time fee, I get all kinds of movies to choose from AND free shipping. For the most part, the prices on Amazon are about as good as I can get anywhere.

Now, I will admit that I probably paid a little more than I should have on one Christmas present in particular. But this one was in-stock, God knows what’s going to happen in the weeks ahead, and I was trying to knock down at least some of the people on my list.

This is where I need to give you some background. We live on a private lane. In fact, our mailing address is actually the back of the house, but if Amazon or anyone for that matter were to leave something out there, it would probably be stolen. Or, suffer the wrath of the elements.

That’s exactly what happened the other day. I got a notice from Alexa that a shipment had arrived. I was in the middle of work, so a half hour later or so, I checked the front porch. Nothing. I looked in the back and sure enough, some half-brained, moronic, idiot, son of a delivery person left the package I had ordered out in the rain. By the time I got to it, the box was soaked.

We haven’t had this happen for a while, but it’s happened twice now in the past couple of days. Why it’s irritating is that I’ve posted a sign in the back to NOT deliver packages there. I asked them PLEASE to bring them to the front of our house, which is half a block east of where they’re about to drop off this package, outside of a locked gate.

In fact, when I went out to the back, the box was soaked. The inside contents might have been fine, but I’m not spending $86 on a present with a soaked box. So, I immediately went over to the local Amazon drop off point, and returned this version of the gift. Then, I came home and promptly ordered the same darn thing. It arrived today and this driver knew where the front of our house was. But I was prepared to have this happen over and over until they got it right.

It was a short battle, but I consider myself winning. Now we’ll just see how the rest of the packages I order this season will fare.

I went to let Amazon know on their website that the delivery person messed up. There was no option for that. This could be a long battle. And the great Christmas war continues.

Happy holidays!

Tim Hunter

Alex and Me

To begin, I never met Alex Trebek.

Back in my KLSY days, I was lucky enough to head down to the Washington State Convention Center one day and meet up with Vanna White and Pat Sajak, when “Wheel of Fortune” did a stop in Seattle. We did interviews, took photos and both couldn’t have been nicer.

I imagined Alex Trebek to be just like that, and everyone has said nothing but that for the past week since he left us. But I would expect that–he’s Canadian. Some of the absolute most sincerely nice people I have met in my life were Canadian. I don’t know what’s in the water (or the beer) up there, but we should pipe some of it down here.

So I would have to say that one of the regrets I have from my 43 years of being in broadcasting is not having my paths cross the host of “Jeopardy.” However, it’s not like we’re complete strangers.

For the past couple of years, part of my waking up routine is to make the coffee, head downstairs and ask Alexa to play a newscast. Then, the second it’s over, I say those familiar words, “Alexa, let’s play Jeopardy.”

The theme song plays, the announcer says, “Here’s Alex” and Mr. Trebek introduces the game. Alexa asks the questions, but then Alex comes back to say thanks for playing and, “See you tomorrow.”

It’s a great way to get the blood flowing in the brain. While I’m competitive, I’m OK with whatever score I end up with for the day. Sometimes I’m amazed at the answers I come up with. Other times, I realize I probably should have read more than two books in my life. (“My Father’s Dragon” and “The Martian Chronicles.” More if you include Dr. Seuss)

I tend to average 5-6 right out of 12 questions most mornings. I have one perfect game to my credit, but far more where I got 3 or less and Alexa wraps up our session by saying, “Today’s questions must have been hard.”

But it’s all about keeping the mind alert. When I hear the answer I missed, I just press that into my memory bank for the next time. Or, for when I get that call to come to the big leagues.

Yep, tomorrow morning, the alarm will once again go off at 4:45am. I’ll make the coffee, come downstairs and tell Alexa to play KIRO Newsradio, so I can catch the end of “America’s First News” and the CBS Morning Roundup.

Then it’ll be Alex and me getting back together. His answers, my questions. It’s nice to know he’ll still be there.

Tim Hunter

Happy Anniversary

Not to a person, but to a song.

I give the history of “Bimbo #5” in the video below, so I don’t want to take too much away from it. It was a parody song I did back in my KLSY days, in fact, 20 years this Halloween season. I would bring it out every year and play it on a speaker to go along with my decorated front porch for the trick or treaters. Then, as YouTube videos became all the range, I decided to try making a music video.

I’ve done dozens of those over the years, but this was my first. My creation. I outlined what I thought I needed, talked family and friends into gathering at my Seattle home and at a Bothell cemetery, and bought one of those Flip video cameras.

Oh, sure, the quality has come a long way and I was just starting to learn how to edit video. But somehow, it all worked out.

Recently, I connected with most of the cast members to talk about that day. Of course, it’s a Zoom world, so we had a virtual reunion. But once again, that worked out well, too.

Thanks to them and to you for helping make this silly little song a Halloween tradition. Here’s the 13-minute documentary I made for “The 10th Anniversary of Bimbo #5.” Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Tim Haunter

The Great AdVenture

As you know, I’m a busy guy. So when I have the opportunity to take on one more project, well, you know my answer is going to be, “Yes!”

The latest addition to my crazy weekly schedule has been as a writer for a new animated series, “The Great AdVenture.” It’s a series based on the main characters of a couple of phone games, “Adventure Capitalist” and “Adventure Communist.”

It’s pretty amazing how everything in my life contributed to me being able to play in this arena.

I’ve always wanted to be a screenwriter. When KLSY dropped me off on the front porch of unemployment, I thought, “Well, there’s never been a better time to get writing.” So, each day, I got up at 7 and spent the entire day writing, like it was my job. During that time, I managed to get a couple of screenplays done. Then, later, I teamed up with a partner and we wrote both a screenplay and a couple of scripts for a possible TV series. None went anywhere, but please, make an offer.

So, as I honed that skill, I stayed in touch with a woman that had interned at KLSY and went on to do a lot of show biz things, including attending Jim Henson’s school, she interned on “Saturday Night Live” and then headed to Hollywood to became quite the accomplished writer for movies and TV, especially for her passion, animation. Meet Libby Ward.

At the same time I found myself out of work and started writing movie scripts, I eventually found a job with a local advertising agency. While there, I met a driven person named Kevin Urie. He was an account manager, but had bigger things in mind. He was the president of Seattle’s Social Media Club, when that was all starting out. At that time, it was the largest chapter in the U.S.! Through that, he made lots of biz connections and went through a series of job that included a gig at Microsoft and eventually, landing a position with the above-mentioned Canadian game company, Hyperhippo. Knowing I was a comedy-writing guy, he put me in touch with the folks in the company who were trying to launch this new animated series.

Initially I wrote some commercials for the games. But finally, the big moment arrived when they started assembling the team that would make their dream of an animated series happen.

That’s when I dragged in Libby to the project. She had lots of actor contacts and grabbed some key folks to bring the characters to life, vocally. I brought in Scott Burns, a Seattle-based voice actor who is also a radio brother. For years, we had worked across the dial from each other but never together. When Scott became the audio production director at the ad agency where I worked, we became fast friends.

This truly is a modern-day effort. With producers up in Canada, actors in Hollywood and Seattle, a Hollywood/Seattle writing team and animators in Nebraska, we’re all cyber-connected and acting as if we were in the same studio.

The idea of the series is to make them very reflective of the times. So, even though an episode was written several weeks before, once the animation is done, we’ll insert a couple of lines that refer to things that happened this week. In our first episode, we had a few. But over time, we’ll get this down to a science.

On October 3rd, 2020, we put out our first episode, which is done in a three-part style so they can use each of the parts as free-standing contributions to their social media efforts. And so, the great experiment has begun.

Will it continue? We were signed for an initial agreement of ten scripts. The plan is to produce those and then weigh in if they’re considered successful. If so, this could be a year-round effort, with multiple ten-week seasons. We shall see.

In the meantime, my great adventure with being a writer for an animated series is off. Each trio of episodes are under five minutes long, so it won’t be a major time commitment. Here’s episode one, see what you think.

Thanks for watching and now you know one more thing that I’m up to these days. Yeah, I’m a busy guy.

Tim Hunter

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

MY WORLD JUST BECAME A LITTLE LESS FUNNY

Actually, we all share in this loss. This past week, my longtime radio brother from a different mother, Skip Tucker, passed away suddenly.

It was one of my usual busy Wednesdays, with Zoom calls a plenty and projects to tackle when I came up for air to quickly check Facebook. There at the top of my feed was a note from Skip’s sister, Melody, that he had passed away. What? When? How? I couldn’t process it. It didn’t make sense. This had to be the worst attempt at a practical joke in history.

Just a few weeks ago, I had received a text from his girlfriend for the last two and a half years who had asked me to make a video for his upcoming 70th birthday. Oh, I was going to roast him. I had some really fun pictures from the past that I was definitely going to share. Then suddenly, I learned that Skip wasn’t going to reach his landmark birthday.

We met at my first-ever professional radio job at KQOT, a daytime radio station in Yakima, back in 1977. Skip was a part-timer, a “weekender” that lived up in Ellensburg. At one point, I was made program director for the radio station, which meant I never really stopped listening. One Saturday, I had the station on while Skip was being Skip and I heard the Debbie Boone song, “You light up my life.” 10 minutes later, I heard it again…and again. After Skip played it like four times in an hour, I called the hotline and said, “Skip, why are you playing that song so many times?” His response: “I really like it.”

That’s Skip on the far right (not politically)

This was back in Skip’s very religious days, that connected him with the equally religious disc jockey Ichabod Caine. Not only did he introduce me to Ichabod, who graciously offered to critique one of my airchecks (a recording I still have to this date), but we also did a road trip over to Seattle to visit Ichabod in the 1970s hey day of KJR. What I remember most about that visit was that we were in a studio when Ichabod knocked over a glass of water and, without missing a beat, yelled out, “Quick! Somebody get some fire!”

Skip and I stayed in touch as we went our separate ways in the radio world and beyond. He eventually found himself in Los Angeles where he spent the rest of his days living his dreams. He was a KFI “Eye in the Sky”, he did some acting, he eventually found his way into being a presenter for the Karrass Company, that taught people how to be better negotiators. I actually attended part of one in Seattle and it was amazing to see the confidence of this new-and-improved Skip Tucker who commanded the attention of the room. He even wrote a book on how to become a better negotiator which I bought from Amazon this past week. If it’s not one of your strengths and would like to improve your skills even for just day-to-day life stuff, here’s where you buy it.

Skip was also an avid diver. Not like in soccer, but as in the water. As you can see, when he wrapped up the negotiating stuff, he focused on the diving world and by the Facebook posts that followed his passing, you can see he made a lot of friends.

While knowing Skip for over 40 years, I also became pals with his sister, Melody, after meeting her at KOMO radio. She used to capture game highlights for the Husky broadcasts on Saturdays. We worked on a syndicated radio program together with Ruth Walsh for a while. In time, Melody became a lawyer.

Country music listeners might remember the radio personality Penni Coyne. That was Skip’s other sister.

I was a pall bearer for their parents, as each left this earth.

I’m not sure how long Skip’s website will remain up, but check it out before it comes down. It gives you a great idea of his comedic style. He called it his “House of Chaos.” Sometimes, I suppose, you could consider his life was a bit chaotic, but Skip wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Every week for I don’t know how many years, Skip would send out a weekly email on “Website Wednesday.” I even had a spot on my website for Skip’s Website of the Week.  Here was the last edition of Skip’s Website Wednesday that I received on August 5th:

Website Wednesday
a subsidiary of Skip’s House of Chaos
(The 234,453rd Most Interesting Man in the World)

“From the Large Intestine of the Internets,
through the Sphincter of Electronic Mail,
peeing like a baby on a changing table
into the brisk digital wind…”

My gym just went bankrupt.

Who’s the quitter now?

Top of the Heap:  The Perseid Meteor Shower and Other Skywatching Events This Month

The Most Beautiful Drives in America, According to Long-Haul Truckers

18 Times Barack Obama Was Unequivocally You  (Thanks, Spidermonkey) 

Who Are ‘America’s Frontline Doctors‘, the Pro-Trump, Pro-Hydroxychorioquine Weirdos Banned From Social Media?

The Most Fascinating Shark Discoveries Over the Last Decade (Thanks, Laura!)

12 Words With Very Different Meanings  in the U.S. and the UK

Exploring the Solar System (Thanks, Jackpack!)

Robot Umpires in Baseball

A Non-Comprehensive List of Birds That Piss Me Off

Finger Tricks to Pull on Little Kids (not counting “pull this”)

The Coffee Kings of the Old West

Next-Level Beach Volleyball

10 (Mostly) Bloodless Horror Movies, for When You Wanna Be Scared, Not Unconscious

If she hadn’t been wearing a bra, it would’ve been game over

Seven seconds that illustrate 2020 perfectly

So many bad decisions

Face mask fails

Every self-help book ever, boiled down to 11 simple rules

Skipnote: Website Wednesday is a by-request only mailing list.  If, for any reason, you don’t want to receive it, simply reply to this email and let me know. No hard feelings.  Now, on the other hand, if you know someone who you think might like getting WW every week, have them drop me a line.

 

Be safe out there! Try not to end up on YouTube.

  Skip    ಠ_ಠ

 Website Wednesday archives

Unabashed plug:
Order a copy of my book,
How to Negotiate When You Hate Negotiating
paperback http://bit.ly/skiptuckerpb

or e-book http://bit.ly/skiptuckerkn

You might want to check out those archives for some really fun websites and articles.

Part of what makes it so hard to accept the fact that Skip no longer walks this earth is that we remained a part of each other’s lives all the way to the end. He was one of my small group of really, really good friends who didn’t keep track of when we talked last. Whenever we saw each other, we just picked up where we left off.

When Skip posted on his Facebook page a few weeks ago that he had a 12-hour cancer surgery, I shot him a text. He may have been much worse than he was letting on, but he wasn’t going to let me know it.

Once again, the “You Light Up My Life” gag reared it’s ugly head.

And through the modern convenience of the phone version of Scrabble, “Words with Friends”, we had connected several times for some pretty one-sided battles. Man, he just cleaned my clock in that game, with final scores like 421-180. Finally, a few weeks ago, I beat him. I didn’t know how, but now I think I do. He had other things on his mind.

We were playing again when all of a sudden Skip quit taking his turn. I’m going to leave that one right where it is.

It won’t happen right away, but in time, I’ll learn to speak of Skip in the past tense. For 43 of my 65 years, he’s just always been there and now, suddenly, without a whole lot of warning, he’s gone.

If you didn’t know Skip Tucker, I just wanted to make sure you met him on his way out.

Oh, and one more Skip story. One of his funniest gags occurred when he joined a Hunter family brunch and did the old “flaming wallet” gag. Yep, he pulled out his wallet, opened it up and a giant flame shot out, without warning. It tended to leave an impression.

If you’d like to get to know him even more, listen to the podcast I did with him several years ago. Too early for me, but in time, I’ll be able to enjoy it again and remember back to that conversation like it was yesterday.

I will always remember his voice, those looks and the big man hugs we’d exchange every time we got near each other.

Dude, you did this life thing really, really right. Thanks for being a friend. Now, enjoy the time off, Skip.

Tim Hunter

You Know What I Can’t Wait For?

Whatever it is, this isn’t it.

Oh, I’ll be fine. I’ve got my attitude locked into survival mode. I’m viewing this bump in my life as just a tiny chunk of the bigger picture. With so much negative energy filling our world, you can see how its wearing on people. Just remember, it will pass.

It’ll be interesting to see how we look back on the year 2020, say, 10 years from now. Go with that example and think about what you remember regarding 2010. We were recovering from the worst economic downturn we had experienced in our lives. (not knowing there was a doozy in the near future)  It was the year of the iPhone 4 and the brand-new iPad arrived. Justin Bieber ruled the music world just two years after being discovered on YouTube. 2010 was prime time for the Tea Party. Doesn’t that seem like forever ago? And it was only 10 years.

That’s what I’m excited to see. How we look back at this completely insane year and just pick out a handful of things we’ll add any significance to.

It’s my hope that the George Floyd incident propels our way of life into a less-divided society. When the anger turns into action that actually improves our world–that’s what I’m talking about. Right now, peaceful protests are being used as a hall pass for violence. With all this destruction, nothing will change and opposite sides will just dig in.

As a comedy writer, this has been an extremely challenging time.  Oh, whoa is me. We’ve had ’em before. The Space Shuttle disaster, 9-11 and those other major stories that just took over the news and became all you heard about. We’ve gone from how many people have died from a virus to the number of fatalities and loss from nights of vandalism. Yet, every morning the alarm clock goes off at 5am (yeah, I’m sleeping in these days) and I once again scour the Internet for things that inspire jokes. Lately, it just ain’t easy.

Oh, I’ve managed to sneak in a couple of them, like:

  •  I’m talking to you, looters. It may be a small victory, but I hope whatever you took during your looting turns out to be the wrong size.
  • You know, if Jack Bauer were to walk in the door and this all turned out to be a season of “24”, then this would all make sense.

  • Congrats to the astronauts who left Earth last weekend. Good timing!

  • This is the most rioting in our country that’s ever occurred at one time without involving an NBA Championship.

  • I’m now realizing why the beginning of the pandemic was so hard on me. For weeks, I thought they were saying, “Wash your face and don’t touch your hands.”

I keep taking swings because it’s worth the risk of ticking off someone who probably doesn’t have a sense of humor, as I hope to reach people who like to laugh. My country cousin over on Classic Country, KXA, Stitch Mitchell, did a listener poll on his station’s Facebook page the other day. He asked the simple question, “When we get to Phase 2, will you be comfortable going back to restaurants?” and after a few comments, politics broke out and he had to take the poll down. That’s sad.

I was chatting with my almost 92-year-old mother the other night about all the rioting and such going on, and she was in disbelief on how people could be that way. “How do you raise kids like that?” I wish I had an answer, Ma.

But a man being killed on video by police didn’t start this. Nor did a man jogging down the street and being shot by an angry father and son. Or a teenager wearing a hoody being killed by a vigilante. One after another, a living human being lost their life for only one reason–they were black. The sad truth is that these stories are not new, not rare and not going away.

Add in the fact that African Americans are dying of the coronavirus at three times the rate of white people, and you have a race that is under assault. In the year 2020.

All you can do for now is to do right in your own world. Love the people around you. Enjoy each day for the gift it is. Pray or, if you don’t pray, focus all the positive energy you can generate towards justice, peace and better days ahead.

And most importantly, vote.

Then in the year 2030, when we look back a decade, we’ll just shake our heads in disbelief that our lives could ever have been this way.

I can’t wait.

Tim Hunter

 

When Radio Held Us Captive

As we all stay hunkered down in our homes for the better good and to turn around the current pandemic, I was recently reminded of the power of radio and the times of my life when it held me hostage–by choice.

Great radio can trap you in a car and make you gladly late for things. Back in my KLSY days, that was the standard of a great bit or break–when people would call and say they couldn’t leave their car until they heard what happened.

Nothing today in my neck of the woods comes even close to that. But I can recall those special people in my life, starting with Gary Owens on KMPC. Yes, Gary, the announcer on “Laugh In” had an amazing voice and a sharp wit to match. Growing up, while others were listening to Boss Radio on KHJ, my mom would have KMPC on in the car when we heading home from school. By the time I reached my teen years and was occasionally driving home from high school, I remember sitting in the car in the driveway, waiting to hear how “The Story Lady” or “How the West Was Won” would end. I could easily tolerate another Bert Kaempfert or Henry Mancini tune if it meant catching some Gary Owens comedy. Here’s a great example.

Flash forward many years to my KOMO radio days, when I first became aware of Paul Harvey. Paul was a midwestern, conservative broadcaster who did a 15-minute news & comment segment every weekday. It was serious “destination radio”–whatever you had going on, a phone call, a meeting, whatever–it had to be done in time for Paul Harvey. And there was no way you would leave until he got in his kicker story at the end and you’d hear that famous, “Paul Harvey……..good day!” Here’s a newscast from 1963.

Around that same time, Gary Lockwood was ruling the morning airwaves over at KJR and had created this bit called, “Police Blotter” which usually turned into a 10-minute laughfest and there was no way you could listen to it and not crack up. While I was working in the morning while they did that bit, they finally realized what a nugget they had and started repeating it later in the day. Again, there is no way you could leave until the bit was over. Here’s an example.

You were held captive.

Gary Lockwood passed away a little over a week ago down in Florida, in his sleep, at the age of 74. Way too young, but as my former broadcast partner Bruce Murdock once pointed out, “We all only get so many wake-ups. Morning guys use theirs up twice as fast, because of those naps we grab in the afternoon.”

Within the same week of hearing the news about Gary, we found out that former KUBE morning guru, Charlie Brown, is in hospice and not long for this world. Charlie also had some legendary bits, so I’m told. However, being on the air as the same time as him and being a competitor, I never heard them.

And in the same 10-day period–in fact, on May 1st, 2020–Hubbard Radio executed a nationwide bloodbath of layoffs. Here at the Seattle outlet (formerly known as Sandusky Broadcasting, where I worked), 17 people lost their jobs on a single day. Lots of them were friends of mine who were in the same building when I was let go 17 years ago.

Yeah, that’s the dark side of the business. One day you’re #1 in the ratings and then the company decides they need a new program director or while you’re doing good, afternoons aren’t clicking so let’s fire them, etc. You know that going in, it’s the nature of the business. I had two ‘surprise going away parties’ in my 30+ years. Frankly, once the shock of that first firing or layoff subsides, you realize it’s just a kick in the butt for you to do better and prove the bastards wrong.

It is the power of radio, that one-on-one connection through a mass medium, that brought me back to mornings on KRKO. And if I ever break out into one of my bits and make you late for something, then I’ve done my job–to keep you captive using radio and maybe, if just for a while, help you forget about being held captive in your home.

Tim Hunter