The History of Julio

Someone returned into my life last week and he brought along with him a wealth of memories.

Like so many great singers, he doesn’t have a last name.  Back in his hey day, he was known simply as, “Julio–the World’s Biggest Seahawks fan.”

THE MYTH

Julio was a lounge singer who performed at the White Shutters Inn in Renton and boy, did he love his Seattle Seahawks.  So much, that every Friday morning before a Seahawks game, he would drop off a cassette at the KLSY building that contained a customized Seahawks song which he had recorded and which we would feature on the Murdock, Hunter & Alice Morning Show. The basic formula for each song was to have a few lines commenting about the last game, toss in something about the upcoming game, work in a clever play on words involving the next opponent and then wrap up with several, “How ’bout dem Hawks!”  As time went on, he dragged in celebrities to help him say, “How ’bout dem Hawks” including Elvira–Mistress of the Dark, Tiny Tim, Aaron Brown, Stan Boreson, Scotty from ‘Star Trek’ and many others. Here’s one of several wrap-ups Stan Boreson did for Julio.

THE REALITY

I went through three different program directors at KLSY from the inception of Julio to his last song on the station.

Again, we’re talking 30 years ago so I’m going completely on what details I remember. My first KLSY program director, Chris Mays, turned me on to the song by Matt Bianco song, “Yeh, Yeh” and I couldn’t help but notice how much instrumental there was in that tune. So, I took out those pieces and created a music bed, searching for something I could do with it.

Even though KLSY was marketed as “Classy” and offered up Soft Rock songs to a mostly female audience, we still did sports things. For a while, we had a Don James show in the afternoon. Seriously. And eventually, Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg became a regular guest on the morning show. We got to know him so well, his wife Sue would do fill-in administrative work every now and then. Great people.

So, we had a Seahawks connection and it just seemed logical for me to create a rah-rah song supporting the team. The next thing you know, I did a couple of these “How ‘Bout Dem Hawks” songs and a character was born.

Back in my college years, I spent a couple of lost summers working at the United Airlines flight kitchen down in Los Angeles. That definitely needs to be the topic of a future blog. We’re talking scraping dishes and putting them into a conveyer belt where they would receive a high-temp wash and then be organized on the other side. I was either loading or unloading, 8 hours a day.

One of our supervisors was a guy named Julius. My guess would be that he was somewhere in his 50s, had a big round belly, receding hair and was always wearing one of those paper hats made popular in the food services industry. Picture him, walking around, making sure everything was moving along and then, when the time came, yelling out, “OK everybody, break time!” It’s that voice I have in my head when I sang as Julio.

Being a Latin music bed, it seemed only right to take that voice and modify the name Julius to Julio.

Eventually, we switched program directors and Bobby Irwin arrived on the scene. He was big on backstories. It was Bobby who found a picture of a mom with two kids, one around 5, the other in a stroller and taped it up in the control room so that every personality would remember that we were talking to “Darlene.” We should always say things that mattered to her, never saying anything that would embarrass her in front of her kids–THAT was our listener. He also recommended we humanize Julio and give him a backstory. Bobby gets full credit of coming up with the fact he was a lounge singer that performed at the White Shutters Inn in Renton. However, no matter how real we made him on the air, he would be Santa-esque–he would come and leave something, but no one ever saw him drop off that cassette in the early hours of a Friday morning.

Geeze, I think about those days and remember having to explain the concept to celebrities after an interview with them.  I hoped each would play along and say “How ’bout dem Hawks” for use in a future song. Elvira was all about it and ad-libbed her way through a couple of great lines.

There was also the time we did a week of shows in Japan and I even pulled off doing a Julio overseas by singing along in the stairs of our hotel in order to get the reverb. It wasn’t the greatest, but it kept the streak alive.

Then, after 7 years or so of doing Julio, it just felt like it was time for him to fade away and so he did. The Hawks were giving us very little to “How ’bout” about and so, he became a part of KLSY history. At least he survived until the Barry McKay (program director #3) era, which meant his tenure covered three PD’s!  It wasn’t long until, as staff changed over, there were KLSY employees when asked about Julio who would respond with, “Who?” and I’d say, “No, it’s who–LEE-o!”

During his run on KLSY, I easily recorded over 100 “How ’bout dem Hawks” songs that still exist, although on tape and that is fading fast. I’m trying to digitize them as quickly as possible along with the hundreds of other tapes I have under the house. It’s a “spare time” thing, which means it’s almost impossible.

THE RETURN

Last weekend, as we approached the Green Bay game, it just seemed like the perfect time for Julio to make a comeback.  I didn’t know if it would be a one-game thing, or if he would go along for the ride through the playoffs and eventually, to the Super Bowl. Besides, if Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin can come out of retirement, why not Julio–the World’s Biggest Seahawks Fan?

So, I got out the rhyming dictionary, started thinking about the subjects I could talk about or make fun of, and Julio was back. I even gave his return a little hype the day before on social media.

Here’s how it sounded on KRKO.

I was already thinking ahead to the next week. Had the Seahawks won, Julio was definitely going to be back for at least one more week. When I heard San Francisco was the first NFL with a comfort dog, I imagined Julio tossing a cat into the locker room. I was even giving thought to doing a video to go along with the song. However, it was all not meant to be.

The power of Julio and “How ’bout dem Hawks” was not enough to extend the Seahawks season. Still, what an amazing run for a really banged-up team that none of us were planning on seeing go this far. Where do we go from here?  I don’t know about you, but I’m going to take up Marshawn on his advice and take care of my body, my mentals, my bread and my chicken and stand by until the next Seahawks season, 7 months away.

Hopefully, Julio will swing back around and rejoin the party.  In the meantime, you can still catch him at the White Shutters Inn in Renton, Wednesday through Sunday nights. He’s off Mondays and does dishes on Tuesdays.

How ’bout dem Hawks!

Tim Hunter

 

Happy December 17th!

A lot changed on that day back in 2003.

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

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

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

 

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

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

Children’s entertainer Tim Noah performed.

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

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

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

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

Yeah, right.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and Happy December 17th.

Tim Hunter

Stan The Scan Man

I found out the way most people hear news these days–on Facebook.

Stan Boreson had passed away.

I was a late addition to the Stan Boreson fan club. Kids who great up in Seattle during the 1950’s and 60’s were able to turn on KING 5 in the afternoon and watch a funny Scandinavian with an accordion and a basset hound named Nomo. It was back when televisions stations made the effort to provide live entertainment for kids after school.

Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I was unaware of Stan’s existence.  However, when I took a job at KOMO Radio as Larry Nelson’s producer in the early 1980s, our paths crossed and I had the good fortune to really get to know Stan.  He made frequent visits to the KOMO studios and would banter with Lar about Ballard, Snoose Junction, the Swedes and Norwegians, Ole & Lena, Ole & Sven and those old KING’s Klubhouse Days.

Some of my Stan Boreson stories include:

Stan coming in one holiday season and performing songs and offering memories all morning long. Then, to cap it off, another friend–Leif Eie from Scandinavian Airlines–was flying up in the KOMO Air Patrol with Ted Potter.  Leif sang an original song about KOMO Christmas Time in Seattle, while Stan accompanied him on the accordion in the studio.

You can actually here the KOMO broadcast and one of the KLSY visits on this week’s edition of my Wacky Week podcast.

After hanging with him a few times as Larry’s producer, Stan could see I liked to joke around. So, he invited me over to his house several times after KOMO to sit and write more parody Christmas songs. I think we wrote around a dozen of them and I even still have the original hand-written sheets.  He used several of them on one of his last Christmas albums, for which I will be forever grateful.

I stayed in touch with Stan over the years, sneaking him on the air over at KLSY a couple of times and even dragging him into a “Murdock & Hunter Deck Your Halls” promotion. I have some video home movies of that adventure.

I bumped into Stan here and there.  I was hoping to get him to perform at my wedding, but he said his manager wouldn’t let him do it for free.  I understood. When people know what you do, they aren’t afraid to ask, “Oh, just this one time….” and 93 one times later, you’re overbooked because you’re a nice guy.

I saw Stan at Larry Nelson’s funeral (was that really 10 years ago?) and once at Ballard Seafoodfest a few years ago.  Sadly, my final conversation with Stan wasn’t the greatest, but when you think about it, it was actually a funny misunderstanding and Stan was a funny guy.  You can hear that story at the end of this week’s podcast.

I will be forever grateful that our paths crossed and that I was able to get an up-close look at that special light.

Tim Hunter

PS–One more special video. I didn’t even know he ever appeared on the Lawrence Welk show.

 

Like Yesterday

It was just another day.  A Tuesday.  The alarm clock went off at 2:17am.  I thought that particular setting gave me time to wake up, do some initial show prep, take a shower, then head into work so that we were on the air by 5:30am.

Another Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show was underway.  The day before we had interviewed the author of a new book, that was all about 9-1-1 calls.   I’m sure his publicist thought it would be a good idea to do a tour and let people promote it on the date, 9-11.

In order to get the maximum amount of payoff for our efforts, we would air interviews early—like around 5:45am….and then, give them a replay later in the day, when more people were in their cars on the way to work.  Our first commercial break happened around 5:35am. The three of us checked in, made small talk, mentioned we had this author coming up in a “pre-sell” and then hit the spots.

The spots finished, we played a song and then, after Alice gave her traffic update, we launched into the feature.  As it played, we started seeing news reports about a plane crashing into New York’s twin towers. At first, the thought was that it was a small plane, like a Cessna.  Then reports kept coming in.  By the time we got to the top of the house, as we followed events on TV, we knew it was more than that.

KLSY was a music station.  Whenever we did a break, if it went over four or five minutes, it had to be the greatest thing ever broadcast on radio.  That day, September 11th, 2001, we went wall to wall talk.  Following the events as they unfolded, passing along information from news sources, as well as listeners calling in.  It was my first real experience at a talk radio program and I would like to say I enjoyed it, but it was if being in a bad dream. During our entire time on the air, it didn’t seem real.  By the time I got it through my head that a commercial airliner had crashed into the building, another one came in.  There were reports of people hijacking jets and crashing them intentionally into buildings.  You’ve gotta realize, at the time, nothing like this had ever happened.  Now, not once, but twice.

No one event in my days on this earth has been so life-changing. Innocence was lost.  Days of greeting people out at the airport gate were gone.  Unthinkable things became reality.

I don’t look at this day as a day of sadness, but rather, as a reminder of vigilance.  We’ve cried and adjusted our lives to better defend ourselves.  When September 11th rolls around, it should be a reminder to us all.  To just pay better attention to what goes on around is. To remember that, as sad as it seems, there are people in this world who feel it is their job to destroy us.

We will never forget those we lost.  It’s our duty to remember as much of those events vividly and do everything in our power to make sure that something like it will never happen again.

God bless the U.S.A..

Tim Hunter