Preserving Some Seattle Radio History

This past week, radio folks who spent part of their careers with Seattle’s “The Mountain” had a reunion on Zoom and shared it with the world. It was pretty cool and makes me think we should be doing one of those with the KLSY staff while most of us are still around.

The program director that hired me at KLSY, Chris Mays, posted a nice history of The Mountain on Facebook and all that she accomplished there. That reminded me that its her story that  connected two amazing Seattle radio stations. So, I thought I would share her post and then chase it with a few more nuggets about my radio experience.

103.7 The Mountain celebrated our 30th birthday Saturday. It was a very special station, which I created. One of the questions listeners asked was about the history. This is a bit long, but it tells the tale!  A lot of people have asked me how I came to create The Mountain. The true story reads like a fairytale! I’ll try to save the details for my book; even so, it’s bit of a long journey. Once upon a time, there was a teenager growing up in the 60’s in Columbus, Ohio. It was the Vietnam and Richard Nixon era. Her parents were liberal and her brothers were draft age. She was very into music. From Carol King’s Tapestry to Grand Funk. FM radio was developing into a freeform rock. She read Rolling Stone and dreamed of moving to the West Coast to work in radio, preferably the legendary KSAN, San Francisco. She graduated from high school in 1970, the spring of Kent State, 2 hours away. Off I went to college to pursue a degree in communications. My stated career goal on graduation was to be a Program Director of a Progressive Rock Station in a major market, (preferably on the West Coast). After graduation I looked at a map of the West Coast and picked Eugene, Oregon. It was between Seattle and San Francisco, and had a college. I moved there, with everything I owned in the back of a pickup truck. I went to graduate school at the University of Oregon until I got a radio job. First was a cool little station, KFMY, then the bigger rock station KZEL. It was a freeform progressive rock station with 50,000 albums. Everyone played what they wanted. I was on the air at night as Chris Kovarik. It was rock and roll heaven! There was this guy who was a Yale graduate, spending his summer fighting forest fires in Bend. He would sit in the forests up in those lookouts, and listen to KZEL. One day he applied for a job. His name was Peyton Mays! He got hired. Ultimately, I became the Program Director and he was the Music Director. We fell in love. We both wanted to move to a larger market. I finally got my interview at KSAN, San Francisco and interviewed at KZAM in Seattle for a position as Promotion Director. I got the job and moved to Seattle. KZAM was in a struggle to retain the format and by the time I joined the staff, they had a consultant and the format was pretty tight. Within a month of my arrival, the guy who hired me (Paul Sullivan) was fired, then the General Manager. I applied for the Program Director job and got it! I worked with Marion Seymour, Kerry Lowen, Matt Reidy, and a ton of other talented people. Meanwhile, Peyton had moved to Seattle and was programming KEZX, a ‘beautiful music’ station. We had worked with his boss in Eugene. David Littrell went from KEZX to ultimately be the guy who booked the zoo, Marymoor Park and Chateau Ste. Michelle shows. This was 1981, a decade before the Mountain. So, in 1983, the owners of KZAM decided to change the format to KLSY, ‘classy’, a soft pop station targeted to women. They invited me to stay. On July 10, 1983, KZAM signed off with The Beatles ‘Golden Slumbers’. KLSY signed on with Eddie Rabbit’s Driving My Life Away. The audience was furious. I went home and cried. Next up, Peyton Mays changes the format at KEZX to a cool softer rock format with David Littrell. I hired Bruce Murdock, Tim Hunter and Delilah Rene, among others, and the station was very successful. It was the first time I had ever had a budget that included marketing, personalities and BIG promotions. I learned a lot about real radio basics from George Johns and Dana Horner. Prior to that, it had all been about the music for me. The final chapter. I left KLSY in February 1990 and was working for Broadcast Programming when KEZX changed their format back to ‘easy listening/beautiful music’. Now there were TWO of these formats. Entercom brought a man in from Chicago to do something with KBRD. G Michael Donovan interviewed me and asked what I would do with 103.7. They were thinking hip hop. I told him if that was their choice, I wasn’t their girl. Then I wrote a proposal and made a cassette tape of what MY station would sound like. Ultimately, they agreed! We had a dinner where we decided on the name “The Mountain” (The Needle didn’t have positive images). It started out more mellow than I wanted, but eventually I won the trust of Entercom and they let me morph it to what it became. There was an indisputable hole in the market for a high profile, liberal leaning rock station with incredible personalities. Or so I thought! And there you have it. From hippie teenager with a dream to ‘successful Program Director of a Major Market Progressive Rock Station’. And what a long, strange, wonderful trip it’s been!

P.S. I should note that between us, Peyton Mays and I programmed progressive rock in Seattle for 25 years. David Littrell still programs some of the best shows in the market.

Chris Mays

Thanks, Chris. This is where I thank you for hiring me and giving me that break I needed to go where I went, where ever that was. 

How did I end up knocking on KLSY’s door back in the days when they were “Classy-FM”?

Due to downsizing at KOMO radio where I had been Larry Nelson’s producer for 4-1/2 years, they let me know on the same day my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our second child that I was losing my job. In fact, I remember not telling her until after the weekend that I was now unemployed, so as not to harsh the buzz about the pregnancy.

After a few months of collecting unemployment and wondering what the heck was going to happen next, I managed to get an interview with Chris Mays and eventually the G.M., “Mr. Classy”, Dana Horner. I impressed them enough take me for a test hire, helping out production guy Jeff Bach with copywriting and production during the work week, and pulling a weekend airshift.  At this point, I had been off the air since I had left Yakima in late 1979. 
Over time, Chris like what I brought to the party on weekends, enough that she wanted to stick me into afternoon drive. I remember going to a station holiday event, where I met the woman I was going to be paired up with to report on traffic and banter with, Alice Porter. She was being brought over from KEZX–yes, the radio station being run by Chris’ husband at the time, Peyton Mays. I had a lot of fun doing afternoons with Alice and it sounded like it. The station wanted that fun to move to the mornings with Bruce Murdock, aka “Murdock in the Morning” but initially I just didn’t want to partner up with him on the air. I liked where I was. So, they hired a co-host from Chicago named John Thomas and it was a morning show nightmare. The two didn’t get along, had completely different styles and it was such a caustic environment, I remember Bruce, Alice, Dave Sloan and me doing a mock exorcism of his presence after they fired him. By this time, station management really wanted to move me to mornings. So much that I was told everything from, “Well, you know, we won’t really be able to raise your salary much if you stay in afternoons” to “Eventually, you’ll lose Alice and we’ll move her to mornings.” What else could I do but agree to start waking up early again and the team of Murdock & Hunter was born. In time, that became Murdock, Hunter & Alice. That continued until December 17th, 2003, when G.M. Marc Kaye came backstage at the Village Theater in Issaquah to tell us our services were no longer needed. We had just finished doing a live Christmas show. Ho friggin’ ho. That left me just shy of a 20-year run in one place. In radio, that’s like 147 regular job years.


We can all look back on our lives and say, “If only THIS hadn’t happened” or “If THAT hadn’t happened” but the bottom line is that everything occurs as a part of your story. Sure, I wish some of those more unpleasant events didn’t happen, but that’s not our call. The radio bug still is very much alive in me, but rather than depending on it for a livelihood, its now more of a hobby. It’s a part of what I do and my little KRKO morning show is the perfect outlet to satisfy my radio Jones. Chris mentioned of writing a book some day about her radio experiences. Having written 1,031 of these blogs since 2008, my story has seeped out a little at a time, much like a leak at a nuclear power plant. Ms. Mays’ retelling of The Mountain Story was just the inspiration I needed for me to put a bit of my story down while I still remember it.

You know, I’ve seen a lot of radio hearts broken over the years.  I have to say that its thanks to people like Chris and Dana that I got to spend 35 years (and counting) of my life doing something I really love to do. 

And that’s pretty lucky.

Tim Hunter

What a Friggin’ Coincidence

So, I started the week at the eye doctor for my annual check-up. Truth be told, this exam was scheduled a couple of Fridays ago and I just flat-out spaced and missed the appointment.

I set 126 reminders on my phone, on Alexa, I wrote notes, I was not going to let this happen again. I arrived 15-minutes early and was among their first patients of the day. Since they hadn’t seen me for over a year, they handed me a printout and asked me to verify that all of the information on the paper was correct.

I started with the phone number. Nope, that’s wrong. I checked the address, wrong again. Up and down the page, none of this information made sense and that’s when I headed for the name.

Right there, as plain as the nose on my face: Tom Hutyler.

That’s just down right freaky.

You see, three decades ago, Tom and I worked together at KLSY. Tom had been the afternoon guy, but the station decided to take me off weekends, put me in afternoons and shift Tom and those dulcet tones to the mid-day slot.

But you couldn’t have Tom Hutyler on the radio, followed by Tim Hunter and the station’s first suggestion was for me to change my name. I had never used an alias (or “radio name”) on the air in my career, so I offered an alternative. What about adding my middle initial as a differentiator? They bought it.

So, for a while on 92.5 KLSY, it was Murdock in the Morning, followed by Tom Hutyler, and then me, Tim J. Hunter.

Most of the disc jockeys I’ve known over the years arrange the shifts in this hierarchy: if you can’t have the morning show, grab afternoons. If afternoons are available, put your foot into mid-days and then wait. Well, Tom wasn’t about to wait and the next thing you know, he was off to a successful run at KUBE and then, he wound up over at KOMO radio, where he still anchors the news today. That is, when he’s not being the voice of T-Mobile Park for the Seattle Mariners. Yep, when you hear that stadium voice, that’s Tom.

Back to this bizarre coincidence. I shot Tom a quick Facebook message and let him know about what had happened. He let me know that he had an appointment later that same day.

What are the odds? We go to the same eye clinic and had booked appointments on the same day.

I figure when he got there for his appointment, they probably had him review my contact information. You know, come to think of it, I haven’t seen Tom in person for a long time. Maybe I better book another eye appointment?

Tim Hunter

I Wonder if That’s What Heaven Is Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Hunter

THAT Matt Riedy

A couple of decades ago, a typical morning for me started with an alarm that went off at 2:17am. A random time I had embraced as the official starting point of my day, if I wanted to get in everything I hoped to accomplish. I’d shower, grab something to eat, sit down at the computer and do a little show prep for the next Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show on 92.5-KLSY and then climb in the car and head to the Bellevue Studios.  More often than not, I’d arrive in the garage and there, having his morning cigar, was Matt Riedy. (pronounced REE-dee)

Matt was the morning guy on Smooth Jazz, one of the five stations that lived inside the Sandusky cluster. Once you walked in the lobby, you’d head down a different hallway to each station, so most days, you didn’t really see the other folks. Then again, we were there from 4am-noon, spending the bulk of our time in a studio or our office, so most of our encounters with people from the other stations were just in passing.

But I do remember those cigar chats with Matt fondly. He was curious how we did things over on KLSY with our contracts and how our morning show worked. (people still wonder about that)  You could tell that Matt had a restlessness and that being a Smooth Jazz morning guy was just a stop on his way to something bigger. But it would involve risk. To make it happen, Matt would have to abandon the comfort of a secure job and head down to Los Angeles to pursue a dream along with thousands of others. Eventually, when he felt the time was right, Matt gave up his radio job in Seattle and headed south. He grabbed a part-time radio gig, went on countless auditions and eventually, the career he had envisioned began to happen. The acting opportunities, the voice-over work, the video game gigs. As I’ve watched him succeed, I’m proud to say I knew him back in the days when he was wondering, “What if?”

Twenty years later, we’re both living our dreams. He’s an actor and I’m emceeing Lutefisk Eating Contests.  OK, that wasn’t my dream, but I am. Congrats to Matt for showing everyone how to not only dare to dream but also that you can achieve it. I’d like to also pass along a huge thanks to him, as it was Matt who hooked me up with one of his stand-up comedy friends, Frank King. Frank, in turn, connected me with Jay Leno, which allowed me the opportunity to write one-liners for his monologues for 8 years.

Matt just shared his Theatrical Reel of just some of his work. I thought I’d share it with you, so the next time he pops up on the screen in front of you, you’ll be able to say, “Hey, look. It’s THAT Matt Riedy!” (which is what he called himself back in his KJR Radio Days)

I’ve sent a note to the Internet, apologizing for posting such a positive story. These days, they’re pretty rare.

Congrats, Matt!

Tim Hunter

My Lunch With Victor

A serious retro-lunch

A serious retro-lunch

The world really has changed so much in my lifetime.  Not to date myself, but I grew up in the days of party lines, black & white TV and three TV networks.

However, even during the past couple of decades we’ve seen major changes in the way we do things and the way we live.  The other day, I got to go back to the radio hey days of the 1980s and 1990s and had lunch with a guy who covered the medium for the Seattle Times, Victor Stredicke.

For 25 years, Victor was the TV listings editor for the Times.  Remember, back in those days, you could cough up the money for a fancy TV Guide, or get the one that came in the newspaper for FREE (well, with your paid subscription)

When the newspaper found itself with some extra space in the guide, they suggested he write about the local radio scene and a radio tradition was born.

During those years, I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO, AM-1000 and, eventually, part of the Murdock , Hunter & Alice show at 92.5-KLSY.  Every disc jockey in town did their best to get into his column.  In the days before radio bulletin boards and websites, it was the way we all found out what the latest was about each other.

The funny part is, for as much as we communicated by email during those years and how he was aware of my career, we had never met in person.  I believe I stumbled across his name recently, reached out to him, he responded and the next thing you know, we were going to lunch.

Just finding a location turned out to be an adventure.  Since he was coming from the south end and I was going to dash out from my job in Mountlake Terrace, I suggested the Northgate area as a place to meet.  That’s when he asked, “Is there a Denny’s there?”   Denny’s, huh?  While I was trying to come up with a response, he said, “Oh, there’s one just off the freeway by Northgate!”  “Perfect!” I said, “I’ll meet you there.”

The day of the lunch, I arrived at the address only to find Victor in the parking lot, looking at  his phone.  The restaurant was no longer a Denny’s, but a Saphron Grill.  Victor said he had gone in and asked when they made the switch and the manager told him, “Fifteen years ago.”

So, Victor looked up another on his phone, at 155th and Aurora.  I said, “I know exactly where that’s at!” and led the way.  Soon, we pulled up in front of a boarded up Denny’s.  Strike two.  I asked if Sherri’s across the street would work, he said “Yes” and we were off.

During our chatty lunch, we got caught up with each other’s careers, talked about mutual acquaintances and some of the “behind the scenes” dirt.  I talked about the demise of our show, he gave me the low down on several famous names and even some from before my time that I didn’t recognize.  I also found out that day that Victor had become very good friends with Delilah Rene and you have to give him at least partial credit for helping launch her into the mega career she enjoys now.   Delilah will be the first to tell you that she owes him a lot and when I told her about the lunch, she asked how to reach him.  They’re now reconnected.

A lot of years have passed since both Victor and I had any influence with the Seattle media and as we looked back, I am more convinced than ever that the time I was able to play in the northwest radio arena, those really were “the good old days!”  The medium is quickly losing its relevance and is just a generation away from being the newspaper of electronic media.

I’ve always made it a point not to live in the past.  Oldies stations bore me.  “Really?  That song AGAIN?”  However, for an hour, it was fun to relive a couple of very fun decades and hang with the guy who was a big reason why radio still mattered.  It could really use a writer like Victor today.

Tim Hunter

October 16th

Probably one of the most significant dates on the calendar for me.
Sure, it’s my nephew Matthew’s birthday. This year, it falls on a Friday and those are always good days.
But the particular October 16th that resulted in making that date significant for me actually occurred a couple of decades before I was born.
It was October 16th, 1937, when Larry Bryan Nelson entered the world. Our paths crossed for almost five years in the early 80s: Larry at the peak of his radio career, me, in the “just starting out of the gate” days.
For four and half years, we had amazing times in the world of radio and as friends. Some day, I’ll go into as much detail as I can remember. The increasingly smaller circle of friends I met through him still reflect on this date on one great guy. Not perfect, none of us were. But his command of communication, of taking a fun moment and becoming the biggest kid in the room, of being able to play the corporate game to the tee…I was proud to call him a friend. Although, I like to tease him by saying that he was always like a great-great-great grandfather to me.
When I think of how many different paths our two lives could have taken, I have to realize that we were destined to have become friends.
He could have easily gotten into his dad’s trucking business or followed the path he was on to join the police. He could have hit the big time with his Doowop group, “The Shades”.
The morning guy who got drunk on the air and was fired could have stayed sober that morning…but he didn’t…and Larry found himself thrust into doing mornings for KOMO radio.
Larry had the pipes for radio, but he had the heart for so much more. Seattle was lucky to have him haunting the airwaves for all those years, with Katherine Wise (“The Happy Cooker”), The Teds doing traffic (Garlatz Sr. and Jr. and Potter) and a long list of characters, reporters and personalities.
I was fortunate enough to have been a part of that stretch of Seattle radio history and for that, I will always be greatful to Lar.
Happy Birthday Larry.

Tim HunterLarry Nelson