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

 

Trying To Retain It All

This is a serious test for all of us. Face it–with Stay-At-Home, a killer disease lurking out there, everyone working from home, more Zoom meetings than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime (and that was just this week), misinformation, disinformation and plain old accurate information and having to sort through all that–we are just friggin’ stressed.

I do my best not to focus on the pandemic and let stress rule my life, although my work load has been heavier for the past four weeks than it had been for the past five years. I’ve got some incredible things going on and one day I can share those stories, but for now, I’m concentrating on winning what we’re going through together and making notes of all these unique and historical events along the way.

I’m an information hound, getting up at 4am every morning to begin searching through the Internet for interesting things people would want to talk about on the radio. That’s my job as a writer with Radio Online. So I know what’s going on, believe me.  Then, I shift in to “Day Tim” mode, and concentrate on work and not really pay attention to the breaking news or emerging stories from the day. I give David Muir around 20-minutes at the end of the day to tell me what I missed, borrow a little bit of local news from KOMO TV4, and then detach from current events for around 10 hours.

I’ve found it a healthy balance. Some feel they can’t quit listening to news or talk radio because they might miss something and they want to know everything immediately. Let it go. I’ve seen posts on Facebook that if we got rid of all the news for a couple of months, things would probably get a lot better. Well, yes, for those who don’t catch the bug. The truth, as always, is somewhere in between.

Grab a moment and just marvel at how different the world around us has become in just a couple of months:

Our air has never been cleaner. During my daily exercise walk to the mailbox, it’s downright impressive.

Traffic–which was up to two hours from Everett to Seattle just a couple of months ago–is gone. None. With everyone working from home, you no longer have to plan on what time you were thinking about that trip. Want to zip over to Kirkland at 4 o’clock?  These days, no problem.

Think of all the money you’re saving by not driving or taking the bus to work? Car insurance companies have started offering rebates to keep their clients happy.

Here in Seattle, we’re paying $400 or more for our car license tabs every year, just so we can build a mass transit system we put off for decades and frankly, one I’ll probably never ride. Now, do we really need it?

Companies have been forced to realize that they can still make money and conduct business with people working from home. And with a cautious return to the old ways, there may be a shift in the workplace universe where people just stay at home and companies save millions on renting space, office supplies, desks, etc.

But it’s tough out there. Financially, emotionally and just about every ‘ly’ in our vocabulary. If you’re strong, this is where you can put your talents to work and help those in need of support. Some are struggling now, but one study I read said that by mid-June, a lot of people are going to begin snapping.

All the while, we continue to add pandemic stories to our memory banks. There was the guy we saw at QFC this week, wearing a Darth Vader masks with the voice to match. There are the jokes, that try to defer the scared into a nervous laugh. The one that jumps out for me is:

Q: Can you use coffee filters as toilet paper?

A: Yes, but it may affect the flavor of the coffee.

However, one of the moments that is pressed in my brain as a result of this week came last Saturday morning. My father-in-law had another fall and was rushed to a hospital, where they gave him a total checkup. Thank God all was well and he dodged another falling bullet. But when I picked him up at the hospital (as the official ambassador of healthy people for my family) he told me that while he was there, they didn’t give him any breakfast or lunch. Innocent enough, as they weren’t sure if he was going to need some kind of procedure, so they would need to keep his stomach empty. But where his mind went, as he’s just about to turn 91, is that this was going to be it. He was never going home again. He was scared.

So, all of a sudden, there it was–what someone was honestly thinking, that he would never see his family again and never had a chance to say goodbye.

Those words, his voice, still occupy my brain and are a constant reminder for me to always check in with people. Ask everyone and anyone you chat with how they’re doing. That’s how we’re going to get through this together.

And remember as many of these stories and experiences as that gray matter of yours will allow.

Stay safe.

Tim Hunter

Heapin’ on the Help

Each week we gather here to read the latest thoughts that have oozed out of the gray matter in my skull. We will continue that tradition, not only talking in the third person, but also, this week, with a purpose.

These days are challenging for everyone, on so many levels. Suddenly finding yourself in a home work routine, trying not to leave the house anymore than you have to and when you do actually venture outside, you’re masked and gloved up and practically bathing in hand sanitizer when you return. As you can tell, I’m speaking to the people that are taking this all seriously, and plan to be here when we arrive at the other side of this pandemic.

Every day, I witness how easy it would be to spiral down along with the deluge of the day’s bad news–the latest totals, the newest death count, the next big event that’s been canceled.  I’ve adopted a ‘heads ‘n tails’ approach to following the virus, with a morning check-in of news while I work on my contributions to Radio-Online, and then I get lost in my busy days, wrap it up at some point, watch the 5 o’clock KOMO news and the national ABC newscast that follows, and my curiosity is satisfied. That’s what is going on out there, I know what’s going on right here at home.

Throughout my career, positive attitude has always worked for me and it continues now. I do my morning radio show, keeping it positive–with a combination of silliness, useful information and a musical escape for the masses wanting to get away from the COVID-mania going on.  I even put a video together this weekend to help explain how to listen to KRKO.  I swear, if you’re a day over 40, you’ll love the upbeat music.

So now that you know all the ways there are to listen, I sure hope you’ll give us a try. Put it on in the background while you work at home. I promise, you’ll find it habit forming.

Now, about today’s theme, helping. Well, I’ve already assisted you in how to listen to a great radio station. Days before our state’s Stay at Home order went into effect, I was able to shoot some very fun virtual wine tastings with the women of Goose Ridge Vineyards. I’m very proud of how they came out, and encourage you to visit their YouTube channel to enjoy all 8 of them. By the way, they’re now also making some awesome hand-sanitizer if you’d like to stock up.

At Alexa’s Café in Bothell, Leigh Henderson is doing something very cool. Monday through Friday from 11:30am-1:30pm, she’s putting out jars of soup. As in FREE for the taking. It’s her homemade tomato basil and all she asks is that when all this is over, you pop into the restaurant and say hi sometime.

Up in Arlington, Ryan Berg, the owner of The Shop of Arlington Tire Pros is doing a lot of good up in his community. He already works on several civic projects, he’s buying lunch for his crew every day from one of the local restaurants, he brings in a shower unit each week for the area homeless and since he’s been ruled an essential business, he gets to stay open and work on the local police and fire vehicles, if they need it. How do you top all that?  He’s announced that The Shop of Arlington Tire Pros will provide FREE service to any first-responder who needs work done on their car.  And going even further, he’s including all grocery store workers as part of that crowd. If you know someone in the North Sound, be sure and make them aware of this special offer.

And keep your eyes on the Facebook page of Lyle Ronglien. A very talented musician who has performed all over the Northwest and when he’s not performing, he drives a bus for the Northshore School District.  Well, you do the math–a performer with no place to perform and with the schools shut down, he’s got a whole lot of spare time on his hands. What he has been doing is what a lot of musicians are doing–creating virtual happy hours at a local restaurant. Recently, we watched him perform from The Cottage in Bothell for a couple of hours, which helps promote their ‘to go’ menu, we get to enjoy live music and then he has a tip jar for people to toss a couple of bucks in online. You can also find out where and when he’s going to be performing next at www.lyleronglien.com 

Oh, and one other suggestion. You can do this thing–put together a Zoom meeting with friends or family you haven’t seen in a long time. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve virtually gathered with former co-workers I’ve missed, some great friends I don’t want to lose touch with and enjoyed a couple of family gatherings for a birthday and Easter. It appears to be the way of the future and how we’ll be getting together, so you might as well start having fun with it.

All this to say, there is good going on out there in the chaos. I’d like to sneak in a quick thank you to my sister Terri, who sent us some homemade masks she put together. A quite fashionable look, I must say.

By the way, if you know of some good going on out there that you’d like to share, please drop me a note or respond to this blog. It’s up to us to support each other and focus on the positive, since we’re surrounded by the negative.

Be safe and I’ll dig up some more good by next week.

Tim Hunter

 

Social Distancing Myself

Yep, I’m doing it. For just the length of this blog, I’m going to separate myself from the seriousness of the whole coronavirus pandemic and pass along all the lines I’ve heard and seen over the past couple of weeks.

Oh, this covid-19 is serious stuff and I’m viewing this all as a student of these historic times. Our world has changed forever and all this, with us not knowing how this concludes or even if it concludes.

All that being said, for a couple of minutes, relax and laugh as much as you can with this compilation of nuggets. Some are mine, lots are borrowed from the pages of Facebook:

  • It’s now official. Due to the coronavirus, the beginning of spring is being delayed until September.
  • I mean, you look at the timing of this coronavirus outbreak. I think it’s pretty obvious to me—God likes football
  • My job is to help you avoid the harsh realities of the world and provide a little escape from it all. We’re like Calgon for the ears.
  • People are panicking and already trading sex for food. It’s crazy. Anyway, I got two tacos.
  • Have we tried unplugging 2020, waiting 10 seconds and then plugging it back in.
  • If you bought 30 rolls of toilet paper, you owe three to the church. Tithing is still in effect.
  • I need 25 friends to dress up like zombies and join me in walking around the neighborhood. Can’t let this quarantine go to waste.
  • Are tortillas flushable? Asking for a friend.
  • I honestly hadn’t planned on giving up this much for Lent
  • “Family Feud” has shut down production because of coronavirus. However, there still is no cure for Steve Harvey
  • The NFL has approved a 17-game season. If the season delays go on long enough, so might Major League Baseball.
  • So, the governor closed all the bars. Someone’s having a hard time giving up alcohol for Lent.
  • Thinking about it, the safest time in our recent history was when we moved the clocks ahead an hour. For 60 minutes, nothing happened.
  • A Seattle Starbucks worker was diagnosed with coronavirus. The store became suspicious of him when he spelled a customer’s name right.
  • I feel like I’m in season 5 of my life and the writers are just coming up with ridiculous stuff to keep it interesting.
  • I have a 24-pack of toilet paper I’d like to trade for a 3-bedroom house.
  • President Trump says he hasn’t been tested yet for the coronavirus and, if you think about it, if you were the virus, would you?
  • There’s now talk of extending the April 15th income tax deadline because of the coronavirus. In a related story, at H-and-R Block, H has been asked to stand six feet away from R.
  • In New York City, a conference on the coronavirus has been canceled because of the coronavirus. The announcement was made by the Department of Redundancy Department.
  • Wow, the NHL, the MLS and the NBA have all suspended their seasons. At this rate, pretty soon the only things left are going to Betty White, Keith Richards and the Hallmark Channel.
  • By the way, this hour’s rundown of the coronavirus cancellations is being canceled, due to the coronavirus.
  • ESPN is going to reverse the spelling of their name to NPSE (No Public Sporting Events)
  • The WHO has declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. But all those dogs that were quarantined can now be released, since it’s been proven they can’t carry the disease. Yes, WHO let the dogs out.
  • The hottest drink these days? The Quarantini-its just like a Martini, but you drink it at home all by yourself.
  • Back in my day, if you TP’d a house, you were getting back at someone. Today, you’re doing them a favor.
  • Day four of no sports. Found a woman sitting on my couch. Apparently, she’s my wife. She seems nice.
  • Day five of no sports. Just found out my wife’s favorite color is yellow. Who likes yellow?
  • Coronavirus tip-wear a Dallas Cowboys jersey. You won’t catch anything.
  • Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch. You can do this.
  • If everything gets canceled and you’re forced to stay at home and nothing happens-that was the idea!
  • What if they close the grocery stores and we have to hunt for food. I don’t even know where Doritos live.
  • Dr. Oz says that couples should have sex while quarantined. I can hear husbands everywhere saying, “Sorry, honey, but doctor’s orders!”
  • My thought: Soccer, baseball, the NBA, the Kentucky Derby, the Boston Marathon, all canceled or postponed until at least September when football begins. To me, that says that God loves football.
  • The federal government is talking about giving us all $1,000 in stimulus money to spark the economy. Well, it’s not like we’re going to go out and spend it all on toilet paper.
  • Casinos are asking for bailouts from the federal government. Shouldn’t they at least be required to roll 7’s?
  • Bethany Frankel says she is creating coronavirus kits. Oh, goodie. We’re saved!
  • Sorry to say that there is already a long list of scammers at work over this coronavirus. For the full list, please send $100 in unmarked bills to…
  • OK, so you went out and cleaned out the stores of toilet paper, bottled water and enough food to last several months. Now, the good news–I can finally quit bugging you about putting together an earthquake kit.

And a couple of my Top Five Lists:

TOP FIVE THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD NOT DO BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS

  1. Go to a Face-Touching party
  2. Practice your deep-breathing exercises in a crowd
  3. Keep putting off getting tested because you haven’t studied
  4. While eating out, shake the hand of a different stranger between bites
  5. Accept a challenge to a Cough-Off

TOP FIVE SIGNS YOU’RE GOING A LITTLE STIR-CRAZY AT HOME

  1. Yes, it’s wrong, but you’ve used relatives’ names to create March Illness Brackets
  2. You can’t wait for the next robocall
  3. Named the dust bunny under the fridge, “Herman”
  4. Organized the macaroni by size
  5. You’ve developed a home version of curling, with a robo-vacuum and a Swiffer broom

All this to say, whatever happens, don’t lose your sense of humor. It’s the only thing that will keep us going. Stay home, stay vigilant and let’s all look forward to the day in the near future when we can reduce our social distancing by at least half.

And if you know of someone having a tough time right now that could use a little pickup, please pass this along.

Tim Hunter

Roger Murtaugh Really Said It All

As fans of the “Lethal Weapon” movies, my wife and I occasionally find ourselves re-watching those fun films. We’re also excited to hear that the boys have at least one more movie coming our way.

And when we sit down to watch the next “Weapon”, we know that at some point in the film, Danny Glover’s character, Roger Murtaugh, is going to utter his famous catch phrase, “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.”

Truer words were never spoken and as I continue staying heavily involved in the world around me, including social media, I know there’s a time coming where I’m going to just flat be too old.

And it’s getting closer.

The other morning, while multi-tasking my brains out as I often do, I came across an article in the New York Post about Jasmin Bleeth. It was basically a “here she is now” and I found it fascinating. It showed her in the 1980s during her Baywatch hey day, side-by-side with a phot of her walking her dog recently. Not thinking anything beyond, “Wow, that’s interesting!” I thought others might want to see this, too, so I posted it on Facebook. The only word I added to the picture was, “Huh.”

In fact, here’s the photo.

Boy, remember when Baywatch was THE show on TV?  Those slow-motion jogging scenes, Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff and yes, Jasmine Bleeth. To me, the photo was a reminder of just how ago that was–it first debuted in 1989. Using a calculator and doing some quick math, that’s 31 friggin’ years ago. Wow.

I expected to see some entertaining comments, so I kept working while occasionally checking back on the post. I worked on my contribution to Daily Show Prep (that I write every morning), chatted with my wife during our morning hangout, listened to my tracks play on KRKO, even chatted with my son about one of their dogs and how it ate a bunch of rocks.

Eventually, I returned to the post and realized that I’m just not woke enough.

The responses ranged from “apparently its wrong for women to age” to “WTAF”.  I PM’d some of the respondents that appeared offended by this photo. One had a sister with a weight gain problem, and so it reminded it of her. My intent was never to be mean or offend or irritate anyone, I just thought it was interesting. The phrase “fat shaming” came up. OK, I’m done and so I deleted the post.

I know people who have gladly given up Facebook and this experience definitely pushed me a step closer. I suppose as long as I have a public persona to keep out there, I need to use it, but there will come a day when I will definitely disappear. Or, at least cut back to a very small club.

They way I understand Facebook is that it’s supposed to bring us all together. When I post something to my FB friends, it’s supposed to be like they were sitting next to me and I was just showing them something. It is and has never been my intent to offend, tick off or mislead anyone. Maybe its my fault for accepting too many borderline Facebook connections who are more acquaintances than friends.

I’m a big fan of hiding posts and ‘friends’ who put up stupid stuff, especially in the political arena.  I swear, every six months, this one shows up.

When this first showed up in my feed a couple of years ago because my cousin posted it, I took the time to inform him that Trump never said that. It was a hoax, fake news, whatever you want to call. And his response was, “Well, it’s like something he would say.”

So, rather than letting people know it was fake, it was passed on to other Facebookers, who most likely reposted it, assuming it was true.  If you’d like to read the story of that post, here you go.

And for the record, I’m not a President Trump fan. I’m following our political process and anxious to see if a viable candidate can emerge from the other side.

But look at those two examples. The Jasmin Bleeth was factual, the Trump story a hoax, and yet the Trump story is Facebook re-post gold.

It’s becoming obvious to me that the first step in making a gradual withdrawal from Facebook is to cut down my ‘friends’ list to only include people I know and can actually remember talking with in the past decade. I’ve been accepting anyone who would ask (except for a Nigerian prince. He still owes me that money) and now have 1,482 FB friends.  With almost 1500 people seeing my posts, I guess the odds are pretty good that something I post could offend someone.

And that’s a game you never win. Post a picture of a dog and someone could write, “Oh, I see, you hate cats.”  Show a sunset and someone else could post, “Oh, sure, flaunt your good weather. Back here, we’ve got three feet of snow.”

Look, if you truly know me, I’m all about positive and fun and being happy. It’s finally starting to sink in that maybe Facebook and I have different goals and expectations. I just know if I don’t have the time or energy to get caught up in a debate about something I post being mean-spirited or ill-intended. I just don’t do that.

My frustration is probably rooted in the fact that I’m just getting too old for this shit.

Tim Hunter

 

 

HO HO BROTHER 19–Quid Pro Ho

Well, I did it again. For the 19th consecutive year.

Let’s go back to where it all started, in 1999. I was playing radio as part of the Murdock, Hunter and Alice morning show on 92.5-KLSY in Seattle. Technology was beginning to pick up some serious speed. We had these cellular phone things that allowed you to make phone calls from practically anywhere if you were willing to carry the big battery it came with. It was the beginning of the digital world as we watched records and ‘carts’ replaced with amazingly clear compact discs or ‘CD’s.’

I have had several technology gurus over the years, going back to the early 1980s when I paid $1200 for a computer that ran DOS and had a monochrome monitor.  My neighbor Paul generously helped me learn all about them.

Over time, another neighbor in another neighborhood who worked at Microsoft came to my rescue more than once. Neil was a godsend as I took risks, screwed things up, but thanks to his tutelage, I learned what I did wrong and my computer know-how grew by leaps & bounds.

But it was as the century closed that Rick Taylor, the Sandusky radio chain I.T. guy, handed me a CD of Christmas music he had put together. “You what?  You found songs and then made your own CD? Tell me more.” And he did.

With enough knowledge to be dangerous, I created my first Christmas CD of holiday fun and favorites: HO HO BROTHER 1. It was a mishmash of Christmas songs, sentimental and goofy, while weaving in some of the Christmas bits I had produced over my radio career.  It was well received, and so the following Christmas I did another. And another. And another.

This became one of my Christmas traditions and I challenged myself to find songs you probably had never heard before, or different versions of the old classics, as well as creating original comedy, all blended together in a non-stop 68-minute Christmas-palooza. My self imposed rule was to never use the same version of the same song twice. In time, I even incorporated an original Christmas parody song that I wrote and local singer Alana Baxter recorded. We would even produce a music video to go along with it.

My goal was always to create a holiday experience that you could pop into a CD player and a little over an hour later, find yourself fully immersed in what this time of year was all about.

These days, I’ve got it down to a system. In fact, from the minute I put the finishing touches on the current year’s collection, I start stashing songs for next year’s compilation.

Here’s this year’s lineup:

HO HO BROTHER 2019—Quid Pro Ho

1) Dr. Phil’s Opening Big (Fred Bugg)

2) “Sugar & Booze” Ana Gasteyer

3) “I’ll be home for Christmas” Lea Michele with Jonathon Groff

4) “Christmas Tree” Meg & Dia

5) “Frosty the Snowman” Shannon & Keast

6) “Santa Stole My Lady” Fitz & the Tantrums

7) 1-877 SLAS-4-ELVS (Me)

8) “Christmas Cookies” Oak Ridge Boys

9) “Finally it’s Christmas!”   Hanson

10) “Colgate Tooth Powder Commercial”

11) “That’s What I Want For Christmas”   Shirley Temple

12) “I Love Christmas” Tommy James

14) “Little Drummer Boy”   Pink Martini

15) “A Willie Nice Christmas” Kacey Musgraves with Willie Nelson

16) “Merry Merry Christmas” John Legend

17) “Beer, Joy of Man’s Desiring” Christmas With Beer

18) “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”   Tommy Dorsey & Orchestra, Cliff Weston & Edythe Wright

19) “Christmas Comes But Once A Year”   Joe Bonamassa

20) “Jingle Bells” The Ray Conniff Singers

21) “Some Day At Christmas” Alana Baxter

22) “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”   Bing Crosby

23) “Mele Kalikimaka”   Chris Isaak

24) “O Come All Ye Faithful”   Susan Boyle with Elvis Presley

25) “I Believe In Father Christmas”   Greg Lake with Ian Anderson

26) “Walken In A Winter Wonderland”   (Scott Burns)

 

I’m really proud of this year’s edition. I stumbled across a Tommy James Christmas song he did that’s a lot of fun that I had never even heard of before.  There’s a Shirley Temple tune that brings back some childhood memories.  There are modern entries, some classics and two of my radio brothers bringing their best for the Dr. Phil open (Fred Bugg) and and Christopher Walken close (Scott Burns).  I am truly blessed.  Yeah, and that’s me not being able to resist doing 1-877-SLAS-4-ELVS.

With all the being said, enjoy this year’s collection right here.  Just click on it to listen, or right click it to save on your computer. Put it on your phone and you have a Christmas party to go!

And now with another shift in the technology, CD’s are going away, but I still make a few for those who still have players. Here’s what this year’s label looks like:

The little girl is from a photo taken in 1950s Seattle, as she gazed at all the dolls in Frederick & Nelson’s window.

I still don’t have a new song written for Alana yet this year, but we’ll pull it off again somehow. It always works out.  Last year, we did the “Someday at Christmas” you find on this year’s HO HO and filmed the video at Bothell’s Country Village, which is no more. It’s where I was a town crier and welcomed Santa most of the last 17 years. It’s amazing how quickly things we do become things we used to do.

That’s why I cherish this time of year and probably go overboard in holiday commitments and activities. But you know, one day, those will be the things I’ll remember that I used to do.

Make it count. Yeah, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but it’s going to be a short holiday season, so let’s get this show on the road.

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

PS Oh, and yeah, here’s last year’s Alana Baxter video. Enjoy!

 

My Soccer Evolution

Yes, to the rest of the world, it’s ‘football’. But in these United States of America, it’s known as ‘soccer.’

As for my ‘Top of Mind’ in regards to soccer, for years my response would have been Pele, Messi and Ronaldo. These days, it’s the Seattle Sounders. They’ve been my home town team for a dozen years now. When you appear in the championship game three of four years, you know you’re cheering for a team that’s doing something right.

What do I know about the Seattle Sounders? Their current coach is a guy who played high school soccer at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, and actually played with the team years ago. Drew Carey is among the owners, as is Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson, his wife Ciara and Seattle rapper Macklemore. My radio brother Ken Carson leads the “March to the Match” every week.

However, I will admit, soccer has its detractors and its hard to justify watching a 0-0 game that shaves 90 minutes off your life. (OK, nil-nil) So, how did I become a fan of this non-baseball/basketball/football sport?

It was not overnight. Going back to when I was growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s, somebody somewhere thought it would be a good idea to bring a bunch of European soccer teams to the U.S., assign them to major cities, and see what America thought of soccer. My team was the L.A. Wolves. I don’t remember much about them except the fact we never went to any games during the season, but somehow, my dad nabbed tickets to the season championship game. The L.A. Wolves won in triple overtime! Pretty exciting stuff, but that was the only year that league existed.

Flash forward to the early 1990s, when my daughter wanted to play soccer because all of her friends were. We signed her up, but the league informed us there weren’t enough coaches. So, I volunteered to coach a sport I knew nothing about. I went to a couple of coach clinics, got my cones and practice balls, and attempted to make them soccer smart. The same thing happened with my son, where their team had no coach, so I stepped up.  Waking up at 2:17AM every morning and being done with work by noon, that gave me time to catch a nap, pick up the kids at school and then go to a field somewhere and coach them.

Eventually, more soccer-knowledgeable dads stepped up and I returned to the sidelines and studied the game. I had to admit, it was pretty darn exciting.

After my kids retired from the sport, I pretty much put soccer on the backburner until I met my wife, Victoria, whose son, Nick, was an All-Kingco goalie and soccer was pretty much their sport of choice. So, back in I went.

We catch most Sounders games during the season on the DVR and then fast-forward through them to see all the scoring highlights. I have to say that the passion the die-hard Sounders have is commendable and on par with what their European counterparts are doing.

The women have already shown us that the U.S. can win a World Cup. Now, it’s time for the guys to up their game. I still know people who just can’t get into soccer and I understand. You need a person connection like your kid playing to discover the intricacies of the mini-games within the game. Much like baseball, who some people feel it’s like watching grass grow, if you learn those little nuances of the game, it’s fascinating.

And so, here I am, a Seattle Sounders fan “until I die”, as the fans chant every game. It’s a team of unlikely but talented heroes who put it all together, even when the odds were against them. And what’s not to love about that.

The Seattle Sounders have discovered the secret sauce of how to always be a contender and that definitely keeps bringing me back. I can’t wait until next year! Thanks for a great 2019 Championship Year!

Go Sounders!

Tim Hunter

You Just Never Know

Over my decades of working for a living, I’ve met an amazing collection of characters. You know how when you reflect upon a certain period of time in your life, certain people suddenly pop back into your mind?

That occurred this week when I was notified of the passing of a former client.

Towards the end of my tenure at Destination Marketing, a local ad agency, I worked with a client called Leaf Filter, which was run by a guy named Mitch Reed.  Having a great radio name and the pipes for it, what I soon learned about him was that back in the day, he was quite the advertising guru for one of the major New York agencies. He enjoyed telling stories about those days and always included something special in all of our meetings: he smoked like a chimney.

We’re talking indoors here people, as in meetings where, if you sat anywhere near him during the meeting, you left their smelling like you had just come from a Marlboro test facility. Our agency wanted to keep him so badly as a client that we just smiled and didn’t say anything. The one time he talked about coming up to our offices, we knew he would probably light one up in our building and I was pretty sure no one would have the nerve to say something about it. He ended up not coming.

Even though in this day and age, it’s extremely illegal to smoke indoors in an office, the other Leaf Filter employees didn’t say a word. I remember at least three meetings where I came home, threw my clothes in the hamper and took a shower to get rid of the cigarette smoke.

In one of my earlier shoots as a director, we shot some footage at a fellow DM employee’s house. We produced some very nice commercials for Leaf Filter and, after stumbling across this video, I see that it was in 2010. Wow, almost a decade ago.

 

I haven’t seen or thought about Mitch for most of the last decade, so when I heard earlier this week that he had passed away, my limited assortment of memories returned. But one former co-worker was sent the inside scoop about Mitch’s life and I marveled as I read about this even more colorful character. So I thought I would share this very nice collection of memories written by his former wife:

Mitchell was a larger than life character and raconteur with a radio voice, sharp sense of humor and brilliant mind, who started his career as a radio broadcast journalist, but spent most of his career in advertising.

He was born and raised in Philadelphia, the son of Quaker and Jewish parents. The family business was Jacob Reed’s Sons, a clothing retailer with a 159 year history including outfitting the army and navy dating back to the Civil War. The flagship store on Chestnut Street that’s now a CVS Pharmacy, still stands as a historic building in Philly.

He was an athlete who was sought after by every MLB baseball team. Baseball was a passion but he was even better at hockey and played goalie. He would have loved to pursue a career in sports if his dad hadn’t talked him into going to college, so off he went to study at the University of Iowa School of Journalism, followed by an MBA from Fordham, which led to a career in advertising.

In advertising, he drove the creative for countless campaigns on Madison Avenue, many for P&G. When Listerine was the dominant mouthwash brand, he knocked it off its pedestal with Scope by forever associating Listerine with “medicine breath”. He would cringe if I said he’ll live on with his copy “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” but I think it’s true. Advertising and marketing was his craft and he could appeal to the consumers’ mindset better than anyone with simple, meaningful messaging.

He was a New York ad guy until he moved to Japan to lead global ad campaigns in Tokyo where we met. He was CEO of Grey Daiko Advertising and a governor of the American Chamber of Commerce of Japan. His insight into the Japanese culture and consumer allowed countless global brands to succeed in the Japanese market. He loved his time in Japan and made lifelong friends. We fell in love with Seattle and moved here 25 years ago because we wanted to raise our kids in the most beautiful place on earth.

It seemed nothing was ordinary in his life. He’d tell stories of riding in a limo with JFK, hosting Jimmy Carter in his home, spending months with Jerry Lewis or Peter Ustinov in Israel for UNICEF commercials, working with Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell, Crocodile Dundee, Sigourney Weaver…

While with the American Chamber he met Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger and several Russian diplomats. He knew many Russian hockey players from his hockey days so he asked after several players. Dropping Russian name after name sent the wrong message. Thinking he was sending a signal that he wanted to defect to the USSR the Russians started a dialogue. He thought they were being friendly until his friend who was a US Embassy “cultural attaché” AKA CIA clued him in on what was going on. The reality was he loved to chat with people.

He always had a soft spot for The Phillies and The Philadelphia “Iggles”, but he became an avid Seahawks and Mariners fan.

He traveled the world extensively and experienced more of life than most people which added to his story collection. He genuinely cared about people and would be the first to visit friends in hospital or check in if they were sick. In our last conversation even though he was recovering from a previous stroke, he was calling to see how I was since I’d been under the weather.

Not all ex spouses get along but we were lucky. Despite ups and downs we remained family and he became BFF’s with Paul DeMars. Every conversation I had seemed to include Mitchell asking where Paul was.

At the end, he went according to his terms. We had transitioned to comfort care and were told he would pass quickly. Sure. The chaplain said prayers. Mitchell wasn’t religious but we wanted to cover all bases so we’d asked for a rabbi too. Sadly she wasn’t available until the next day, so we were resigned to not having Jewish prayers. We started playing his favorite songs and braced ourselves for the inevitable. 12 hours+ and almost 200 songs later, I’d run out of songs and resorted to playing Christmas music, which of course is when the rabbi walked in. Did I mention he had a sense of humor? He went peacefully as she was saying prayers. The day nurse had just come back on shift and said that in 25 years he had never seen anyone hang around that long, let alone 12 hours. He must have liked the music.

He was an East Coast guy on the outside, but soft and sentimental on the inside and loved nature and animals. He was many things but more than anything he loved his girls, Erica and Sara. They were his pride and joy. He was an attentive, doting dad and best friend to both. Erica inherited his sixth sense for marketing, business and appreciation for advertising, as well as love of sports and cooking. Sara shares his passion for baseball, politics, current affairs, people and is a natural public speaker and debater. They both have his gift of gab, curious mind and love to travel and explore different cultures. They appreciate good food and wine. He loved the sea, so together they went on many cruises to Mexico, The Caribbean, Panama Canal, South America, Canada, Alaska. They were lucky to have the time that they had but when someone fills your heart with so much love, laughter, adventure, imagination, wisdom and bear hugs, the loss is immense.

We will miss him, love him and remember him always ❤️❤️

I have to say, I liked the guy, but when he quit being a client of the ad agency, he instantly transitioned to being just a blip of my past. Even though it took his passing, it was nice to be reminded about those couple of years when I worked with one extremely interesting person that I actually knew very little about. Until now.

I can almost smell the cigarette smoke.

Rest well, Mr. Reed.

Tim Hunter

Chris Settle pointing out to Mitch

what we were doing next

Time IS Marching By…

I don’t know how I ended up in this particular place at this point, but time is racing along.

Oh, there have been weeks that seem like they last forever. But lately, it seems as though I blink and we’re heading into another month.

As we stand now, November arrives a week from Friday. Really?  Thank God Thanksgiving is so late; but, then again, that means there are fewer days between the end of November and Christmas. OK, quick reality check–Christmas is just 9 weeks from today.

I’d like to circle around to the thought that was inspired from all this: Make it count.

It’s just another day at work–make it count.

Got one more parent/teacher conference–make it count.

Yeah, this is a pulpit I’ve preached from before, but I’m called to remind everyone reading this collection of ramblings: if you do anything over the next couple of years, make them count.

I was just a nerdy kid who left a Lutheran elementary school and found himself in a public school with very few friends. That seems like yesterday.

I ended up a pretty popular high school student, who played on the basketball team, dated the girl of his dreams and was Senior Class President, ASB vice-president and Senior Prom King. As Walter Brennan used to say, “No brag. Just fact.”

Off into the real world I went and I can easily come up with a handful of moments where I wished I had “made them count.” But instead, I let them pass, figuring there were lots more opportunities like that in the future. That isn’t always the case.

I remember Al, the overnight security guard at KOMO radio & TV, who I befriended during my radio days there. He just wanted friends. At one point, Al had to be hospitalized and so I thought, I’ll get down and visit him eventually. He never returned.

There was a girl I was dating my senior year of college that I pretty much disbanded. I thought it was just too darn early to settle down and it probably was, but she was a quality human being and I was a young guy trying to get it all out of his system. I owe her more than an apology, but I’ve offered that and she said it wasn’t necessary.

So, people move on. Maybe I’m the one hanging on to things I should let go. I’m seriously convinced that everything that happens in our life has a purpose, maybe even a lesson attached. Geeze, I’ve learned a ton of lessons during my years on this rock and I’m grateful for all of them. I’m also big on “everything happens for a reason” in that, where I’m at today is an accumulation of everything I’ve experienced before.

And here we are. I’m here, married to an amazing women who cares about the things in her life more than I could ever dream. Oh, I love my wife, my kids, my mom and sisters, and all the relatives I stay in touch with. I really do appreciate you. But the curse of being a perfectionist is that you review what you did–good or bad–and continually reevaluate if it was the right thing to do.

And because of that “everything happens for a reason–good or bad” philosophy, I’ll have to assume my choice was correct.  In putting a high value on time, it seems like its wasteful reliving things that have already happened. They had their time, as that precious commodity disappears so quickly.

So do whatever it takes to slow it all down. Don’t be in a hurry for it to all be over. Let it breathe, enjoy the ride and while I’m at it, thanks to everyone who has been a part of my incredible journey.

And as your ride continues….make it count.

Tim Hunter

       I still remember posing for that picture

A Significant Date

Well, lookee there—it’s already October!

When this month arrives, everything under God’s green earth is available in a Pumpkin-Spiced flavor, we start seeing suggestions for Halloween costumes and brightly-colored leaves are tossed into every piece of advertising. As I’ve said before, this is my absolute favorite season, with the return of football and big games on both Saturday and Sunday, baseball and soccer playoffs and so much more, I welcome each day as a favorite relative making an annual visit.

So it seems only fitting that October 1st should mean so much to me. That’s the date, five years ago–October 1st, 2014–that I rolled my career dice to see what would happen.

I was in my late 50s, in a job that was slowly smothering my creativity. Whatever I came up with was dumbed down. I saw projects I was proud of be “corrected” into Pablum. I initially talked about quitting that summer or looking for work elsewhere, but my salary was boosted enough to make me stay, at least for a few more months.  But as the summer wore on, so did my patience. When I went away for an extended Labor Day Weekend, I came back to find out that radio commercials I had creatively written had been slashed down to the 4th grade reading level and targeted towards consumers in the 1980s at best. I walked into my supervisor’s office and gave my one-month’s notice.  That would give them 30 days to find someone else to take on this mental flogging.

As September 30th approached, there were going-away events, tying up loose ends, and cleaning out desks to keep me busy. After all, I had been there 10 years and a lot of crap tends to pile up. I made some life-long friends at this place and stay in touch with a dozen or so of them still today. I actually sat down to count up the number of people I had worked with in that building. It was an even 100, with a staff averaging 16-41 people at any given time. Yes, people came, people went. I was going, but not in any particular direction.

I decided this would be a great time to create my ideal work situation. Rather than going into another full-time job, I wanted to piece-meal and craft some kind of situation where I could do more of the things I love and then just keep doing those until I was ready to hang it up for good. (not that I ever think I will)

For some of those close to me, there was trepidation and concern. There are those who need that sure-thing, full-time job for security’s sake. Having been eliminated from radio positions twice in my career, I found both times that when a job goes away, everything will be OK. You gotta believe in yourself and your skills and know that someone out there is going to appreciate them.

I reconnected with a former co-worker, Corey Newton and joined Create Impulse, a local ad agency. I started Tim Hunter Creative Services and picked up a handful of clients right away, and then spent more time developing other ventures I had dabbled in–voice over work, creating videos, writing more comedy, etc.  And now, it’s been five years since this grand experiment began and I’m so glad I finally took the big plunge. I’m also very grateful that it all worked out.

I remember, somewhere in mid-September of that year, I got a phone call from Fred Herring, a Bothell real estate guy that reached out to me every couple of years to have me speak at the Bothell Kiwanis breakfast. He asked if I was available to come and chat at their next gathering and I asked, “When’s that, Fred?”  “October 1st,” he responded.

“As a matter of fact, Fred, I’m available that day.”

It would be Day One of my grand experiment, so I already had a topic: “Now this is living!”

I live a busy life and every now and then, like this week, commitments pile up and make for an on-the-go adventure. I live for it, yet some don’t understand it. “You’re too busy!”

I laugh and over-schedule in your face.

The day will come when I can’t do this anymore. But for now, I can and so I will.

And loving it. For five years now. Something I heard many years ago was that, in your final moments, you don’t regret what you did during your life–but rather, what you didn’t do.

I’m making that list shorter every day.

Tim Hunter