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

Next Up…

After a brief bask in the glow of my annual April Fool’s video for National Gullible Day, it’s time to move on to my next big project.

I really should look into smaller tasks.

What with the pandemic making events like luncheons and parades uncertain possibilities, next up on my ever-growing to-do list is taking on a virtual 17th of May celebration for Seattle’s own 17th of May Committee.

For those new to the party, the 17th of May is the day that the Norwegian community here in Ballard celebrates “Constitution Day.” A big deal in Norway, with lots of parades. In Seattle, we have been celebrating the occasion for over 100 years. In fact, that annual stroll down 24th and then a left turn on Market Street is the first Seafair-sanctioned parade of the Parade Season. You’ll also see it referred to as “Syttende Mai”, which due to my absorption into that community, I’ve become really good at spelling.

In a “normal” year (remember those?), there would be a luncheon at either the Leif Erikson Lodge, the Nordic museum or both, then after some live performances in Bergen Place Park all day long, the official parade would step off around 4pm. Or 6pm. It depends on whether the holiday falls on a weekend or not.

This year marks our second non-normal 17th of May in a row. So, the committee asked me to produce a virtual 17th of May luncheon at noon on the big day. The event is free if you’d like to tune in to the 17th of May Committee’s YouTube Channel. It’ll make its broadcast debut at noon that day. Afterwards, you’ll then be able to watch it whenever you want on that channel.

Tuesday of this week, I headed down to the Nordic Museum in Ballard to film some of the traditional festivities. I’ve got a couple of other folks grabbing footage and in no time at all, I’ll have a bunch of video to edit and assemble before May 17th. Right now, I’m feeling really good about it. Actually, having done the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce‘s virtual Julebord last year, I pretty much know what needs to be done.

Some special guests you may

recognize without their masks

The jury is still out on whether they’re going to try and organize a car parade down Market Street, although a group of us organized one last year to keep the streak alive.

So yeah, here comes the next big project. I’m producing a virtual 17th of May celebration, in-between my many other duties. That’s my self-chosen life. I just like things being busy. I wonder where that came from?

For funsies, here’s my brother-in-law, Kris Templin, warming up for his performance of “God Bless America” with me playing my mouth trumpet.

OK, break’s over. Back to work.

Sure. It’s work.

Tim Hunter

Just One Week Away

The tradition will continue.

I was thinking about what could be the topic of my blog this week. Gun control? Oh, I’ve done that, multiple times. Besides, the last couple of posts to this corner of the Internet have been a bit on the sad side, so I need to lighten things up. I thought of a couple of really good ideas, but then they left my brain because of my current obsession.

So I thought, “Hey, why not write about that?”

While others spend this month focused on spring, college basketball and other timely topics, as soon as March 1st arrives, I know the clock is ticking and I only have a month to assemble another one of my “National Gullible Day” broadcasts.

This will mark the sixth year I’ve asked friends to give it up and be silly with me on April Fools’ Day, doing a mock newscast as if National Gullible Day was a real holiday. (or is it?) And, as it seems every year, this year’s effort is looking like it will out-do all the earlier versions. You can watch them on the website.

This year will feature some of the regular cast members, along with a few new ones.

         

             

And a sneak peek at one of the funniest parts of the video that makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it, it’s a Memorialioleum (yes, I meant to spell it that way) of the National Gullible Fans we’ve lost since our last broadcast.

You know, of all the things I do throughout the year, this is the one tradition I need to continue doing. It’s such an incredible outlet. 
I did have one idea that I self-censored. It’s a pretty hilarious concept, but in today’s uber-sensitive world, I just know it could hurt someone. While I’m usually fine with that, I just didn’t want a controversy to distract from the rest of the content.
If you want to know what it is, just ask the next time we chat.
So there’s your sneak preview. If you subscribe to my Wacky Week jokes, the link will be included there on April 1st. (If you’d like to be added to the list, just email me)
If you “like” the KRKO Facebook page, it’ll be posted there. Same is true of my Tim Hunter Creative Services page.
Anyway, you’ve been warned. I love this tradition. We can never laugh enough.
Thanks for the read.
 
Tim Hunter

Preserving Those Lost Memories

It’s funny how aging works. There are you, reaching your 30s that quickly become your 40s and then all of a sudden, your 50s show up.
I’ve always described the 50s to friends on approach as the decade I’ve seen people really reach their stride. By that time, the kids have started migrating out of the house or are already gone, you’re putting the finishing touches on paying for their college (or contributing as much as you can) and now you’re on approach to retirement, but with a doable chunk of years to go.
I know that it was in my 50s where I had to make a crucial life choice–continue living the way I had been living or make a break towards something better. Looking back, it was one of the wisest yet most difficult decisions I ever had to make, but I thank God I had the guts to do it.

That being said, I’ve reached the next tier. In fact, I’m in the mid-60s now and with lots of friends and relatives already participating in future decades, I’m seeing their memories begin to fade. A totally understandable phenomenon, as if you think about our brains being giant file cabinets, you really only have so much room.

I know that in my brain, I’m still retaining so much information I really don’t need (like the instrumental opening of “Breakdown” by Tom Petty is 27 seconds and the song is only 2:29) but there was a time when that was really useful info, especially when talking over an intro on the radio.

All this to say, there are some fun nuggets from my childhood I’d like to hang on to and rather than relying on my busy brain that will eventually fail, I’d like to tuck away a few of them right here:

I grew during a time BEFORE area codes. Our phone number had a name: it was FRONTIER 5-1777 (not the real number. C’mon, give me a little credit). That meant FR5-1777 and when you reached to the rotary dial to dial a number, you’d do the F (3) then the R (7) and the rest of the number. But before you dialed, you had to pick up the receiver and listened to hear if there were people talking or if there was a dial tone. We were on a “party line” that meant others used the same dial tone and if someone was already on, you had to wait to make your call.

TV and I grew up together around the same time. By the time I was in elementary school, the networks began pushing limits to try and get more viewers. When I was in 3rd grade or so, I remember a note being sent home from the parochial school I attended, urging parents not to let us young, impressionable minds watch the TV show, “Combat.” (not sure why they also didn’t warn us about “My Mother The Car”) I don’t remember my parents’ reaction, but I know it remained my favorite Tuesday night TV show. C’mon, it was about wars and guns and battles. A common birthday present during those years were cap guns or air rifles that didn’t shoot anything, but made a popping sound. These days, kids get all that from their video games.

Not sure if it’s still true today, but as a boy growing up, I had plenty of lapses in good judgement. There was the time when I was five that I bit the cheeks of a fellow kindergartener because they looked liked “peaches.” (seriously) Her big brother met up with me on the way home from school the next day to make sure it didn’t happen again.

And then was my classic case of Kid Karma. Once, while playing Hide ‘n Seek with classmates on the playground at Immanuel Lutheran Church, a girl named Laurel Scherer was about to touch the flag pole and yell, “1-2-3 on Tim!” For some reason (and this is where that brain of poor judgement kicked in again), as we both approached the flag pole, I gave her a shove. She fell face first into the pole and broke a front tooth. Of course, I felt horrible and despite my actions, we remained friends for the rest of our elementary school days together, but WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Oh and, for the record, I was ‘safe’.

Back to the Kid Karma. Years later, I was hanging out with my fellow Cub Scouts in front of my parents house (mom was a Den Mother) when one of them threw a rock that perfectly hit one of my front teeth and broke it in half. I’ve had a cap on that tooth ever since.

I guess it’s time to whip out the old philosophy I dig out often–what we are today is simply a culmination of everything and I mean EVERYTHING that has happened in our lives to this moment, good and bad. That includes those really bad decisions or events that occurred over the years. They all combine to make up what they call “a life.” We’ve all had a wealth of experiences and I’m a firm believer in that it’s not what happens to us, but how we handle it.

I’ve already written a few movie scripts and have others in mind. But maybe one of these days, I’ll write one that will include a collection of these long-lost stories in a film about my life. However, before I take the time to write a complete screenplay, I’ll have to check and see if Brad Pitt would be willing to be the lead.

Allow me my delusions. I’ve got quite a collection.

Tim Hunter

PS–Second row, boy on the far right. (in the photo, not politically)

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

Not a Rainy Day or a Monday

Yeah, it was the one of the most challenging 24 hours I’ve had for a long time.

To be honest, by the time Monday rolled around, I was happy to have made it to the work week. Things just seem a lot calmer during my jam-packed work days. 

Last Saturday, thanks to my daughter, my wife & I were able to get our first Moderna COVID-19 shots down in Olympia at St. Peters hospital. We were thrilled to have the opportunity and so we made the 90-minute one-way trip to the state capitol. After getting our arms poked, my wife and I then had a chance to hang with my favorite nurse and get caught up on her family and such. Then, once we cleared the 15-minute wait period, we headed north back home.

Initially, it wasn’t so bad.

But when Sunday morning arrived, my left arm was SORE! I equated it to feeling as though someone had swung a baseball bat as hard as possible and hit your arm. However, that’s only where my fun weekend began.

That very morning, I went to flush the toilet. A common, normal thing to do in a home, but upon pushing down the handle, the water didn’t disappear. Ruh-oh. I gave it another flush and it wasn’t going anywhere. Then I heard water backing up in the laundry room next door and I knew we had a blocked drain again.

Yes, it’s happened before. We have an older home and that’s one of the things that comes with the ‘charm’ part. Occasionally, water that tries to flood our basement and a main sewage line that occasionally clogs. A couple of times I’ve had to call out a plumber to do his magic, but before surrendering to a $300+ fee, I went outside and retrieved my 50-foot auger.

It was completely in the pipe with no luck but I gave it one last little twirl and a push and WHOOSH! The drain opened up. Working with sewage is really not one of my favorite things, but you do what you have to do and I chalked that up as a win.

But before the champagne could be chilled, it was snack time! That was when I reached for a handful of pistachios (after showering and washing my hands multiple times). A couple of chomps and OUCH! I hit something hard, which I assumed was a shell that slipped past the factory. I pulled out the object and would you look at that–half a tooth! Yep, it was half of a former tooth of mine from the lower right corner of my mouth. It had apparently decided it was time to split.

And, oh yeah, my arm really, really hurts!

As luck would have it, I was very fortunate to be able to get into my dentist who made magic happen. He told me I was lucky because there were all kinds of ways for that tooth to have cracked that would have caused a lot of problems. Of all the possibilities, I had won the broken tooth lottery. It’s a nice way to win something, without all that messy money. And not anything that, after insurance coverage, $499.18 couldn’t fix.

So I guess in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that bad of a weekend. I’m still breathing, I’m halfway to being inoculated against the coronavirus, and in a couple of weeks I’ll have a new cap in place and no one will be the wiser.

It’s all about how you view things. And it wasn’t rainy or a Monday. So, let’s get down!

Tim Hunter

A Gift For Someone Else

We’re in the final days before Christmas. If we’re not working fiendishly to get as much work done as possible so we can relax over the holiday, we’re donning (a seasonal term) our HAZMAT suits to go to the grocery store and buy everything needed for our upcoming feasts. Then we double check our gift lists and realize we’re a couple of gifts short, or even worse, the neighbor comes over and gives you a nice fruit basket. So, you panic, run over to the tree, rip off a name tag and hand them a present. Hopefully, it wasn’t that Fitbit you bought for your wife.

Our modern problems. But even as negotiations continue with the various family members on how to get together in a socially distant and responsible manner, there’s a world outside of ours filled with need.

For as much as 2020 was a challenge and setback to most people reading this, there was a gut punch to millions of Americans who were really hurt through no fault of their own. Jobs disappeared, unemployment benefits were used up and waiting in a long food line to get whatever they can to feed their family has become way too common. Governments, charitable organizations and people with far more resources than I are trying to help, but we’ve still entered an entirely new territory of need.

I’m pretty sure you’re like me in that you don’t want to just toss money at it, then return to your fortunate life and feel better. You want to make sure that whatever you donate actually reaches those people battling these incredibly hard times.

Through my job as the morning guy at KRKO/Everett, I’ve gotten to know the folks at the Volunteers of America/Western Washington. When I first heard their name, my first questions were, “Who?” and “Can they get the entire name on a t-shirt?” The past couple of holiday seasons, we’ve stood outside of a Fred Meyer up in Everett and gathered items in a fun “Stuff a Bus” promotion benefitting the VOAWW. Well, due to COVID and other reasons, that collection drive didn’t happen this year. So, take the existing need, add the pandemic bonus need, and you’ve got an organization scrambling to serve as many down-on-their-luck people as possible. And it’s a lot.

I encourage you to think about supporting your local food this year, maybe a little more than in years past. As much as I detest those donation solicits on Facebook when someone’s birthday rolls around (I just want to wish you a happy birthday, I don’t want to donate to fight your disease of choice that will put me on an relentless email list and so, instead of wishing you a happy birthday, I pretend I didn’t see your post), I’m going to give you the opportunity to help out the folks at VOAWW. On the radio for the next couple of days, I’m challenging anyone who enjoys the music we play on KRKO to donate $13.80 to the Volunteers. Of course, that’s in reference to the frequency of KRKO, 1380am.

Jessica Moore is the Director of Development at Volunteers and if you’ve got a couple of minutes, listen to my interview with her on Tuesday morning to hear about all the good they do in Snohomish County.

This year, more than ever, our extra help is really needed. Like I said, if you’ve got a local food bank or a favorite charity, take a moment to visit their website and give them even just a small dose of love. If you’d like to donate to the VOAWW, I promise you they’ll put your $13.80 to work and help the most people possible. Click here to donate.

Thanks for reading this and if you’re uncomfortable about me using this platform to ask you to donate to this incredible organization, remember my trick: just pretend you didn’t see this.

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

It’s Christmastime again

Well, here we are once more.

The calendars are running out of days, we’re about to shift from fall to winter, and the various forms of Christmas surround us.

Some might say there is only one Christmas, but look around at what we go through every year. It’s an annual blend of “Awesome! Isn’t this great!” and “Oh, my God. How am I ever going to get all this done?” Add in, “No, we’re going to do it THIS way” or, “No, we were with your family last year” and there are unlimited combinations of ways for it to go wrong.

Christmas has become a blend of joyous events, parties, Santa pictures, holiday treats and gatherings, paired with deadlines, stress, expectations and hardline requirements on what makes a perfect Christmas.

Oh, I have a perfect Christmas in mind. It would be me and my kids and their kids all gathered at the house, with grandma getting a chance to see her descendants in person instead of just on Facebook. But grandma lives in California and these days, traveling is just not an option. Both my kids and their families are playing it safe and minimizing their holiday celebrations, out of concern for the safety of themselves and the family. I get it. Perfection will have to wait for another year.

Over the years, very, very few Christmas celebrations have ever been perfect. But if you look for the good, think of all those great moments you did get to experience. I start with those days as a child, when I was the one so anxious to see what Santa had brought me. Then suddenly, you find yourself a parent and get a front-row view as a dad. I remember driving one night in the Bothell area on our way home from somewhere when I saw the flashing red light on a tower at the Country Village Shopping Center. The kids were in the back seat and I pointed out the light, saying, “Look! It’s Rudolph’s nose! That means Santa is on his way. We better get home and get you to bed!”

What a great, great moment.

This year, even more than in previous years, there are ample ways for things to go south. Some families want to still get together regardless of the threat of COVID, while others are hunkering down, hopeful that playing it safe will keep them safe.

I think what a lot of people are missing is that every year, a great Christmas and a complete disaster are both there for our choosing. We can expect holiday perfection and be disappointed, or focus on just the good things that occur during this time of year.

I’m all about the latter. I’m doing everything in my power to cherish the festive lights, the great wine, the movies we watch again, the music that churns up the memories. Folks, it’s Christmas and if you need a little mental attitude adjustment, may I recommend listening to my holiday blend of music and fun this year, called Ho Ho Brother 20. It’s the 20th year I’ve put together one of these collections, and I feel it’s my best one yet. But then again, I say that every year.

Here’s to a healthy & happy holiday season. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my imagination to work so I can spend a few minutes at that perfect Christmas I told you about earlier.

Yeah, that’s nice.

Tim Hunter

My 2020 Christmas Season Adventure

I did it.

That first weekend of December for me is always a busy one, but this year’s edition was a mega challenge.
However, as you can see by this blog, I’m still here.
The cause of my early-December holiday stress overload was stepping up to help the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce pull off a Julebord. Normally, we’d all gather at the Seattle Golf Club for a festive holiday meal, I’d get up and do my goofball stuff, sing a silly song, and exorcise my extrovert demons.

However, as you know, it’s 2020 when we have no concept of what ‘normal’ is like. So, when the organization decided to try and put on a virtual Julebord. I said, “Sure, no problem. I can do that!” and I found myself into one of the biggest media projects I’ve ever taken on.

I love challenges. My daily routine is pretty much a reflection of that. I seriously pack way too much into every day, and when Monday rolls around, I wonder how the heck I’m going to get it all done. Yet, by Thursday, the bulk of those projects are done and Friday becomes a loosey-goosey play day. Or, could be. I usually use it to wedge in even more projects or to get a jump on next week’s over-commitments.

There were three major segments to the NACC Seattle virtual Julebord broadcast.

First, there was the pre-event countdown. A collection of songs and greetings along with a countdown clock so that people could find the NACC YouTube channel and know they were in the right place. The result was something you could actually put on in the background to enjoy the various performances. It includes songs by the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle, a duet named Kari & Daniel, local musician Lyle Ronglien and my brother-in-law, Kris Templin. (who is a regular performer at the in-person celebration) Plus, there’s a bunch of beautiful Norwegian scenery to enjoy. Here’s that first segment for your spare time viewing.

The next item was the really complicated one–the main program. There were multiple parts that needed to be recorded and collected, intros to the various segments to be produced and, of course, my contribution–writing a monologue and a traditional silly song to inject into the celebration.

I received video greetings from each of the NACC board members, as well as Norway’s Ambassador to the U.S. and the local Honorary Consul. The NACC president needed to do multiple segments. Kris needed to record his “O Holy Night” and then lip-sync for the video. We had to go to the home of the NACC Person of the Year and surprise him with an award, Publisher’s Clearinghouse style, and THEN, I needed to put all those pieces together.

There is no way I put in less than 40 hours on this effort, but it was all done with a passion to make it shine. I look at how perfectly it turned out in spite of all the things that could have gone wrong, and I couldn’t help but realize that my lifetime of experiences (including the failures) all came into play into making this happen.

With that said, here’s how the main program came out.

And, of course, I could have stopped there. But not me.

I added one more section to the project on my own–a Julebord “After Party.” Knowing that alcohol would be consumed during the event, when it wrapped, I was betting that people would be up for some of my comedy and things that I find funny. Maybe toss in some memories from Christmas’s long ago. And dig out some holiday home movies of that time we had Stan Boreson join the KLSY Morning Show for “the World’s Shortest Christmas Parade” in Bothell.

Something just for the fun of it. Set aside 20 minutes for this collection.

Yep, I did it.

I remember an earlier virtual event this year that we watched that turned into a major disaster. People couldn’t get in or on camera. As I worked on Julebord 2020, I was determined this sucker was going to be perfect.

Because we were drawing the door prizes the night before, that meant I couldn’t finalize the broadcast until a dozen hours before it was supposed to be broadcast to the world. I don’t know how much you know about video editing, but a video has to “render” which takes a long, long, long time. I had three lengthy pieces to render, and then I had to render all three of those together. By the time I rendered the entire program it was Friday morning at 2am. Then, I had to upload it to the NACC Seattle YouTube channel and set it to broadcast at 3:30pm.

Oh yeah, and to work in a little sleep.

Yet, it just all worked. I couldn’t wait for launch time to get here, because once it did and the broadcast had begun, I could relax. Frankly, it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle for me. We had 160+ viewers on Youtube, with a couple of dozen mores watching it through our Zoom feed of the event. Even so, that’s 160 logins plus a couple of people at each site, from Seattle to Norway, enjoy a virtual Julebord. A safe guess would be that 300 people have enjoyed the broadcast, double the normal audience at the live event.

I’m going to apologize now to my grandkids and great grandkids for the multiple times I’ll probably retell this story in my fledgling years. But here’s a tip: Just don’t get me started by saying, “Tell us again about the great Julebord adventure of 2020.”

Now you know how my December started. From here, the holiday season this year is going to be really easy.

Eggnog time.

Tim Hunter

Here Come The Holidays

I’m writing this on the final day of November. December arrives tomorrow and, as is tradition, the first week is the one to survive.

I want to say that in years past, I was even busier. However, these days, I took the remaining items on that first weekend list and intensified them.

You see, in “the old days”, the first weekend of December included emceeing Julebord–a Norwegian Christmas dinner at the Seattle Golf Club. Saturday would involve being the town crier at the Country Village Shopping Center, where I would run around, ring a bell, and announce the arrival of Santa. Then, on the Sunday of that first weekend of December, the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle would have their annual Christmas concert. A pretty darn packed three days of the weekend.

Well, Country Village is gone and soon to be townhouses. The Ladies Chorus has moved their concert to a virtual one on December 18th. (and all I used to do was videotape the concert. Not happening this year) On paper, this has all the makings of me being days away from an easy weekend, right? Pffft!

Because we can’t gather this year for Julebord, it has become a virtual event. And I have gone from saying a few jokes and singing a silly song to producing a YouTube event, complete with 30-minute countdown, the main show and an “after party.”

Oh and did I mention (and I know I didn’t) that vacant Saturday night has been filled with the Bothell Kenmore Chamber Annual Auction, during which I’ll be auctioneering from my home. There’s something else planned for Sunday, I’m just choosing to not remember what it is at the moment.

So, for me, I’ll begin to relax this weekend when I put the finishing touches on the video that will air on Friday for Julebord. I’ll be doing that Thursday night. By the way, this year because it’s virtual, the event will be open to anyone and will be broadcast on YouTube this Friday afternoon, starting at 3:30pm PST. This will really give you an idea of what goes on at the annual event, one that sells out every year and with a pretty pricey admission ($120 for non-members). But like I said, this year is free so if you can join us, just shoot me an email (tim@wackyweek.com) and I’ll make sure you get the YouTube address.

Then, after this week, I’ll get back to relaxing by putting together my annual Christmas CD and get those Christmas cards out.

Oh, and for those of you wondering, yes, there will be another song with the talented Alana Baxter. As a matter of fact, I’m dragging her into the whole Julebord thing, to combine efforts. For those unfamiliar with our annual holiday collaborations, here are the videos we’ve done over the years.

Basically, I like to do as much as I can while I can. I know the day is coming where someone will ask me, “Don’t you miss all that stuff you used to do during the holiday season?” and of course, my response will be, “I’m sorry. What was the question?”

Tim Hunter