It’s Just a Guitar

Not really.

Those outside the music world probably can’t appreciate the significance and importance of a instrument. I mean, c’mon, it’s wood, some fiberglass, strings and you strum on it, right?

My wife’s cousin’s husband, Donnie Dacus, has put his ‘Angel’ up for sale. He posted this vivid description of its importance and how much it is a part of his story in this Facebook post this week:

My Angel – The “Alive Again“ Guitar

“Angel”, my Stratocaster,  was acquired in Hollywood Calif. from Arturo Valdez, “Guitar Maker to the Stars”. He had suggested that this guitar, which he had restored, was a perfect match for my guitar skills. He had worked on all of my guitars and Valdez comes with a Who’s Who of credentials. I have included his info here.

“Angels” first coming out party was the mid 70’s.

Her first gig with me at the Greek Theatre in Hollywood, CA. I was playing guitar with Boz Scaggs on the ‘Silk Degrees’ Tour. She sang true and in the backup band were members of Toto, David Paige and myself, along with, and of course, Boz Scaggs.

After a long US tour playing the largest venues in the country, we found ourselves on the next tour with Kiki Dee and singing beside Elton John at the Roxy in Los Angeles. After a tour through the U.S. we wound up in New York playing with Kiki Dee in a large festival in Central Park to thousands of fans.

After the tour, “Angel” lived with me while I was starring in the the Motion Picture, “ Hair “, directed by Milos Foreman. She was my direct source to an instrument and comfort during that time.

After 10 months of filming we left unexpectedly, flying back to Los Angeles after hearing of Terry Kath’s untimely death by Russian Roulette. I had been introduced as a guitarist to audition for his replacement after the band Chicago had auditioned more than 40 guitarists for the position. We took quite a chance, as we were not allowed contractually to leave New York due to filming rights.

Angel sang again clearly as we began the rehearsal playing the song “Feelin Stronger Everyday“. To my surprise, we–Angel and I–were chosen as band members to begin recording immediately after my filming was completed. She is the guitar you hear on most all of the tracks on the albums, Hotstreets and Chicago 13, VI Chicago Decades Live on “ Little One “ and prominently on the intro to “Alive Again”, which was played at the Super Bowl in 1978.

She played in front of more than 120,000 plus concert goers and appeared on the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune front page with our picture together. We were featured in People Magazine October 13th, 1978.

Angel has played in front of millions of concert goers and her last prominent gig was on Saturday Night Live on “I’m a Man” during the end of 1979.

I have decided its time for her to fly again and share her story whether on stage or in person. She is bruised, scratched, and has changed in attitude but she has won many victories and fought many a musical battle. She won countless times.

She has traveled the world on more than 3 continents and been played by Leo Fender himself in his personal lab near Anaheim, CA. Leo Fender made several guitars for me as well. Wow!

Angel comes with Multi-Platinum and Multi-Gold Record status.

Please message me regarding sale of this collectable item. Cash Only. Please, only serious collectors

I know it pains Donnie to let this guitar go. If you have an interest or know someone who might, please pass along their information and we’ll connect them.
Tim Hunter

All Over The Board

I usually start the week looking for something that tugs after me and requires me to make my opinion known on the subject. I wanted to go so many different directions this week, that I decided it would be best to write a few mini-blogs within the framework of the mothership.

MAKING IT COUNT–In the course of writing 991 previous blogs, the theme of not taking one day for granted has come up before, but this week just slapped me in the face. I’m glad to be reminded because I plan to soak every bit of this life up while I can, but dang, I got the point. Can we lay low for a while?

  • Naya Rivera  My wife & I made it through the whole series of “Glee” when it was on the air. Naya was the edgy character, the rebel with spunk, the rival for Lea Michele’s character. A couple of seasons in, we heard of cast squabbles and eventually, she left the show for a while, only to come back. I didn’t know her from Adam, but from all reports, the last moments of her life were spent rescuing her son from drowning before she went under. It was an act that spoke volumes about her. And they were just going for a swim.
  • The Bothell Police Officer who found himself on patrol Monday night, having to pull over a vehicle which turned into a gunfight and resulting in losing his life. It’s the first loss of life in that department in 25 years and not only is the department, but the entire community is rocked. In the days ahead, we’ll hear of his circumstances and how he had the rest of his life ahead of him.

It takes training, but slowing down enough to realize what’s going on around you will definitely help you experience so much more than just trying to get to the next thing. Enjoy it all while you’ve got it.

WEAR THE DAMN MASK–The arrogance, the “I know better” attitude of the millions of mental midgets around the United States of America has me at a loss. What do you need to know? There’s a virus, it can kill you and while it may not kill you, it could use you as a conduit to kill someone you love. How this “Wearing a mask violates my rights” concept ever started is beyond me. But rather than go on about it, how about a couple of visuals.

First off, if we had only been better about masks and self-isolation from the beginning, I can only imagine how much better off we would be.

And as for having to wear a mask, you really should put your common sense to the test.

GET UP EARLY AND SEE THE COMET  In case you didn’t know, there’s a comet that is only visible right before sunrise and only through this weekend. It’s called the Neowise comet and if you think, “Oh, I’ll just catch it next time,” well, that will be in 6,000 years. I’m afraid the only people around for it the next time will be Keith Richards and Betty White.

Of course, if you don’t want to get up at 4am just to see a comet, you can always Photoshop one in, right?

OK, there you go. As I said, not a lot to say about any one thing, but things to say about a couple of subjects. And blog #992 is in the books. Thanks for the read.

Tim Hunter

 

Another Streak Snapped

2020 continues to taint its reputation with each new day. Cirque du Soleil has now filed for bankruptcy and has let go of its 3500 employees. This week, as we braced ourselves for another new month and what terror it might introduce, we said goodbye to a comedy legend, Carl Reiner.

Just today, I got word that the Sears store where I held my very first paying job, is heading for the history books.

There I was, the newly-elected senior class president as I headed into the summer before my final year of high school. Somehow, I was invited to be a member of the Sears Teen Fashion Board. Those who know me well are breaking out into hysterics, so I’ll give you a moment to regroup. Yeah, I’ve never been known as a fashion plate, unless you include bad fashion.

What that meant was that yours truly actually modeled clothes at the mall when Sears was rolling out the new fall fashions. They had my picture up in the store, wearing those Sears clothes. They also offered up the chance for me to put in 10-15 hours or so each week as an employee. I was what they called, a “floater”, meaning wherever they needed extra help, that’s where I would be assigned. The challenging part of that role was showing up to work and then finding out where I was headed. I’d put on my shirt and tie, arrive at the store and some days, find myself out in the garden shop loading bags of steer manure into trunks of cars.

But as if all that history and transition wasn’t enough, this is also the week that, for the first time in years, I won’t be standing along Main Street in Bothell on the 4th of July, doing the play-by-play of the annual Freedom Festival Parade. I’m not exactly sure when that tradition began, but I’ve got to think it’s been most of the the last 18 years. I seem to remember starting it when I was still waking people up at KLSY, and that concluded in 2003.

Celebrating our country’s birthday brings up so many memories, as the celebration has evolved for me over the years. Back in the day, I remember the family piling into the car, kids in our PJ’s, and driving down to find a spot on the beach so we could watch the fireworks there. Back in South Dakota visiting relatives one summer, I remember marveling at how my young cousins were allowed to run around and light off firecrackers.

Of course, in Torrance, they only sold the “Safe & Sane” variety of fireworks which, at that time, was pretty mild compared to today’s version. There was Smokey Joe, who’s picture appeared on the bottom of the box. You’d poke the hole in his mouth and insert his “cigar” which amazingly smoked! There were smoke bombs, the occasional pinwheels and fountains. Lots and lots of fountains. Oh, and Picolo Pete’s, which we discovered as we got older, if you clamped down on the first ‘e’ in Pete, it would whistle for a while then explode.

However, what I remember most about the 4th was going to the fireworks stand and having dad say that phrase he would utter every year, “I don’t know why we just don’t light a $20 bill on fire.”

Years later, I called him up on the phone and asked him to say it again, one more time, for old times’ sake. Today, I’d like to share it with you.

 

While raising kids in Bothell, we lived in a fun neighborhood that developed the tradition of making a run to Boom City, circling the lawn chairs and then explosives that could win a war roar into the sky for a couple of hours. From those days, I recall the time my son wanted to light one of the mortars, which he did….but it fell over and started shooting into the crowd. People scrambled, dashing behind whatever they could find and luckily, no one was hurt. But it’s one of those scenes I can see in my mind like it was yesterday.

While our night-time 4th of July celebrations these days are pretty much relegated to the TV and watching the fireworks displays there, at 11am on Independence Day, my place is along Main Street, as the Kiddie Parade kicked things off, followed by the Freedom Festival Grand Parade. It’s pretty much the parade where if you live in Bothell, you’re either in or at the parade. People put out their lawn chairs to reserve their spots along the parade route up to a week before it happens.

Over the years, I’ve had a flurry of co-hosts, but for the past couple of years, Bothell Kenmore Chamber buddy Mike Rue has joined me for the play-by-play and we’ve had a blast. Since we will be silenced this year, I thought I’d dig out last year’s parade so you can get a taste of what the broadcast is like.

                                                                                         Freedom Festival 2019

Yes, the on-going nightmare that is 2020 has snapped my streak, but I’m planning to start a new one next year. Or the year after that. Whenever we can gather together again. These days, we just don’t know.

Enjoy your 4th and all the freedom that comes with it.

Tim Hunter

Do You Need A Timeout?

Oh, I’m not saying you misbehaved and need to be punished. Then again, there are thousands of people that fit that category right now and probably why you went there.

No, I’m talking about the exhaustion that comes from the daily insanity of our leaders, the unrest, the rioting, the looting, the cabin-fever created by being good and staying home for several months. I’m suggesting that, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, I’d like to recommend an escape back to the 1960s.

I know, you’re thinking, “Wait a minute! The 1960’s? With all that went down in that decade? Are you kidding me?” OK, true, that was 10 years of serious unrest from civil rights marches to anti-war protests, assassinations, a doomed conflict in Viet Nam and so much more. But there was something about the decade that, if you were around you were lucky to experience it.

Two words: The Beatles.

 

I’ve written about them before, but while searching through Hulu the other day for something new, I came across Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week.”  I remember when that came out back in 2016 and how I read that it was a must-see. I felt it was long overdue, so, my wife and I started to watch it and became mesmerized. These days, so many of our memories are cleaned up, sanitized snapshots of the things we’d like to remember fondly. But, as you get longer, those snapshots start to fade. When it comes to the Fab Four, that was simply a phenomenon I will never forget.

Just like future generations will be curious about what it was like to live through a pandemic (after all, they only happen every hundreds years or so), it’s hard to convey just how much impact The Beatles had on music and our culture. They didn’t just influence music, they town ownership of the music industry and continued to evolve it as long as they were together. In watching Ron Howard’s film, I was transported back to the days when everyone on the earth knew the names John, Paul, George and Ringo (in that order) and that a Sunday night Ed Sullivan appearance meant you HAD to be in front of the TV to see them live, because all of your friends would be talking about it the next day.

The amazing thing about Ron Howard’s film is that it includes never-before-seen footage of them in concert, as if you were there. Before I go any further, here’s the trailer for the film.

To see them all so young, to watch them grow up in front of your eyes, from those fresh-faced lads from Liverpool, to the beard hippy-esque rooftop performers, it was simply amazing. For a  couple of hours, I was reminded of a very influential stretch of my childhood, as I looked back on the 60’s from my personal decade of the 60’s. Like I said, it’s hard to convey some of the things that I’ve lived through in my lifetime. That stretch of time, from their arrival in 1964 to their breakup in 1970, all occurred during my ages of 9 through 15.

As we grow older, its not unusual to fantasize about what it would be like to have grown up at a different time. For me, that would be a big, fat “No, thank you.” Each generation has their pro’s and con’s (and whatever this generation calls itself, you’ve getting a glut of cons), but I wouldn’t trade anything for being alive when music was redefined forever by The Beatles.

Watching it happen all over again was a wonderful timeout.

OK, now back to reality.

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

 

Take my ID, Please!!

You really don’t want another me, do you?

I’m pretty sure if the question was put to a popular vote, it would be Johnson/Goldwater all over again, for those of you old enough to remember. For those who don’t, look it up. Or, just ask Siri.

One morning last week, my wife received an email notice from her employer that people were having their identities stolen and false unemployment claims were being made in their name,  The solution? Got to the state’s Employment Security Division (https://esd.wa.gov/—you’ll need this later) website and create an account.

What does that do?  Well, for those of us who aren’t filing for unemployment, it connects our name to our social security number, so cyber thieves in Nigeria can’t go in with our SS number, create an account and start stealing money from our state. And really, I’m going to have to write to that Prince in Nigeria and see if there’s something he can do about those guys. I’ve given him a lot of money.

So, I went to the site and found the form. This is what you click on to get there, down towards the bottom of the page.

I put in all the correct information on the form and clicked “Save.”  That’s when this mysterious red box showed up that notified “That social security number is already associated with another account.” What?

They gave me a phone number to call, which I did. But after waiting for a while, it gave me the option of keeping my place in line and they would call me. I chose that option. Four hours later, a rep from the state called me, kicked out the fraudulent me and gave me sole access to my social security number.

The reason I’d highly suggest you verify your number hasn’t been stolen–so far, our state has had HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS stolen using this method. Fortunately, in my case, the thief hadn’t begun siphoning off state dollars using my identify. If you want all the gory details, read this article in the Seattle Times.

So, wash your hands, wear a mask and check to make sure your identity hasn’t been stolen. All part of our wonderful new norm.

Oh, and that link again is https://esd.wa.gov/

There really should only be one of you.

Tim Hunter

The Norwegian Tradition Continues

Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood has long been a gathering place for Scandinavians, particularly Norwegians.  Through the 1800’s, people in Norway heard about this place called America and how this spot on the west coast felt similar to their homeland, while also full of opportunity.

To this day, lots of fishing fleets are based in Ballard. The TV show, “The Deadliest Catch” brought it into our living rooms. The area became known as, “Snoose Junction.” The biggest party of the year is always “Seafoodfest”, with three days of bands, crafts and lots of seafood.

But this year is different, as you know. Seafoodfest has been officially scrapped for this year, while other traditions are being postponed with a hope of rescheduling. But there’s only one 17th of May and this year, the annual Syttende Mai parade through downtown Ballard was canceled.

For us, we had turned the celebration into a two-day affair, grabbing a room at the Hotel Ballard and living there for a couple of days. There was a big luncheon at noon, followed by assorted happy hours and then, the 17th of May Parade that marched down 24th, and made a left on Market Street. For the past 7 years, I’ve had the honor of announcing the parade from the official grandstand.

Again, this year was different and the parade, the luncheon, the singing at Bergen Place, all canceled. That meant a 130-year-old tradition was at risk. I mean, c’mon, they even marched over a century ago during the Spanish Flu outbreak. Of course, that could have been what fueled that Second Wave we keep hearing about.

One day, I thought, “What if a few of us got together, maintaining our social distance, and put on a Syttende Mai parade of our own?”  I passed the idea along to a few members of the community and the next thing you know, we had a plan.

We had to walk a fine line because, in accordance with the Governor’s orders, there were to be no gatherings.  The official parade organizers wanted nothing to do with this, because they didn’t want to risk losing their official Seafair-sanctioned status. So, we kept it to a handful of people, who dressed up and, at the exact time the big parade would have stepped off, we began down the route in our cars, wearing masks and honking our horns.

But rather than telling you, why don’t I show you exactly what happened.

The streak remained intact. The tradition continued.

And if even for a couple of hours on that pandemic Sunday afternoon, the spirit of Syttende Mai lived on.

Skål.

Tim Hunter

Exporting a Few Memory Files

At the beginning of next month, I’ll be in the window where I need to sign up for Medicare. I was just cutting classes at Torrance High School to go down to the beach and now I’m doing “Senior Stuff.” OK, well I guess that was Senior Stuff back then, too.  I’d just like to give AARP the credit for being the first to point out that I was getting old, because they hit you with junk mail about joining AARP starting at age 50. It’s part of your turning-50 birthday package.

But even though I’m crossing into that 65+ threshold, I’ve still got a lot going on. I’m multi-tasking more these days than I was in my 30s and 40s. My brain goes 100 mph because I like it that way and I fully expect, at some point, I’ll have to shut it off and just relax. But until then, I’m going to get my money’s worth out of it.

However, I know there are physical limitations. That gray matter upstairs can only store so much, so occasionally, I like to export a few memory files to this blog so I can let them go and free up the space for the new stuff that’s coming in daily. So, here I go again. Some deep dives of stories and tidbits that are currently buried in my brain, but are now being moved to the Internet for storage.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF A DODGER KIND

Back in the 1960s, I grew up in a baseball family. The Los Angeles Dodgers were our team and most nights, we didn’t sit in front of the TV, but rather listened to the radio as Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett called the play-by-play. On occasion, we’d get to venture out to Dodger Stadium, usually in the cheap seats, to witness a game live and in-person. I don’t remember how he got ’em, but one time my dad got his hands on some front-row seats along right field. As we’re sitting there, the guy next to us yelled out at Lou Johnson, the Dodger outfielder. The next thing you know, Lou came over and talked to the guy. He might have been 3 feet away, dangerously close by today’s social distancing standards. I sat there in awe, and listened to the conversation while staring at ‘Sweet Lou’. Being that close, it was then I noticed that part of his right ear was missing. Apparently, he had lost it in an auto accident years before. I understand that, these days, he’s still working with the Dodgers in community relations.

I’M LETTING THIS ONE GO, LAUREL

God bless you, Laurel Scherer, wherever you are. Back in the third grade or so, I attended Emmanuel Lutheran Church’s private grade school. The church we attended had a school, with probably no more than 25 students total, divided into two classrooms–grades 1-4 and 5-8.  The memories from those early years are gradually fading away, so I thought I better preserve as many of those stories as possible. I’ll start with Ricky Niemeyer, who I became friends with and then, one day, he just stopped coming to school. His mom arranged for him to come back for one more birthday celebration with his friends before losing his life to leukemia. Hard to believe with today’s medical treatments, but back then, leukemia was a death sentence.

At recess, we played on an asphalt parking lot because that was all they had. There were lots of dodge ball and kick ball games, using one of those red rubber balls. I should also mention Terry Smith, who went down in history as the first person ever to tell me a dirty joke. There was another kid named Paul. One time, I went over to his house to play and they served us hamburgers and this thing called mayonnaise. It was awesome!

But Laurel Scherer comes to mind for a couple of reasons. She wore braces which, back then, were a major commitment. I remember being good friends with her, although I probably damaged it that time I gave her a push to help avoiding being called “out” in hide ‘n seek and she went face-first into a flag pole, chipping her tooth. Wherever you are, Laurel, I’m sorry.

And one more Laurel story. I saw this happen and it just left an impression. I was standing in our play area, watching Laurel climb up the slide in her dress. Yes, back then, girls had to wear dresses to school. Well, she got to the top, sat down on the slide and began heading down. Only problem was, her dress caught on something at the top. All in one motion, she slide down the slide, leaving her dress at the top and the second her feet hit the ground, she made a beeline to the girls’ room.

OK, Laurel, that was it. Last time around for that story, at least, as told by me.

MRS. REES

Around the 4th grade, the classes at Emmanuel Lutheran Grade School were big enough that it warranted adding a classroom. It was then that an attractive, red-headed woman named Mrs. Reese took over the class I was in. I had never really known a redhead until then, outside of the little red-headed girl in the Charlie Brown cartoons. I wouldn’t say I had a schoolboy-crush on her, but I can still see her vividly. A couple of times, her husband came to visit the classroom and I thought, “What a lucky guy!” Then suddenly, she was gone. I don’t know where went, but I do know she was no longer at the school. I eventually heard that she had gone through a divorce and, as awful as they are these days, back in the 1960s it was considered something you just didn’t do, especially if you were a woman. I just remember wondering, ‘How could someone so nice get a divorce?’ As I experienced later in life, it happens.

Wow, I look at the class picture of that year and I can pluck out first names of a lot of those kids: Carolyn, Thomas, Kerry, Dillon, Tim, Laurel, and Andrew.  To the rest of my classmates, I’m sorry those memories have already gone to the dark side.

OK, enough for this round of memory purging. I’m letting these go and if I ever want to think about those people again, I’ll just come back here. Or, I’ll ask you, since they’ve now filled up some of your space.

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

 

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