Saying Goodbye To The Pool Guy

One of the kindest, nicest, most sincere people ever to make a career out of broadcasting, Steve Pool, has retired. There have been specials and interviews and articles written this past week and from all that, you would think Mother Teresa had been at KOMO-TV all these years. Well, I never knew Mother Teresa, but I did get to know Steve and all this praise is well-deserved. Frankly, everybody got to know Steve.

Because the guy that was doing the weather forecasts all those years with modest confidence was exactly who you would have met if you bumped into him on the street.  How long have I known Steve?

I have to drag you back to the early 1980’s, when I was hired to come over the mountains from my radio life in Yakima and become Larry Nelson’s producer on KOMO radio. That was back in the days when KOMO radio and TV blurred together, although when you work the 4am-noon shift, you would miss a lot of those TV folks who didn’t wander in until the afternoon because they would be there until almost midnight.

Every morning on the Larry Nelson morning show, Steve’s predecessor, Ray Ramsey, would check in and do the forecast from his home studio. The two of them created some legendary radio and had so much fun, it would drive management upstairs crazy.  They’d get gonged for having too much fun, and then slowly work the silliness back in. Ray was a quick-witted silver fox, who had been known as ‘Hay Head Ray’ back in his Spokane radio days. Somehow, he had made the transition from radio to television and often wore extremely loud plaid sports coats to work which I’m sure had viewers adjusting the color on their TV sets.

In time, management became less fond of Ray and as you’ve seen in local news around here in 2019, it was time to move on to the next generation. Enter Steve Pool. He wasn’t Ray and I’ll be honest, at first I was a bit resentful. But there was no way I could watch Steve’s performance and hold him accountable. He simply inherited the position. If it wasn’t him, it would have been someone else. And Steve was good.

In time, I found myself over at KLSY and Steve Pool was our “TV weather guy”.  That relationship lasted several years, enough that we could arrange Steve “the Husky” Pool playing against Kathi “The Coug” Goertzen for several years. Each edition was a blast. They replicated my relationship with several really good Coug friends where we’d flip each other flack, but in the end, it was just a game. The really drunk fans from each side take it way too seriously.

I even had the fortune of going down to Los Angeles once to represent Seattle radio as part of a charity “Family Feud”, with host Ray Combs emceeing a matchup between Seattle radio folks and the KOMO-TV news team.

 

Truth is, Steve and I were never best friends. But he was a solid friend. The kind, when you saw them after several years, it was like time had never passed. I’ve noticed that about me. I don’t really have any good buddies or friends, aside from my wife. Probably, KRKO’s “Maury the Movie Guy” would come close, but we only see each other once a week and we spend most of our time together doing a podcast. But when you’re one of my friends, there is no time involved. I could see you a week ago or five years ago, but the next time we connect, we just pick up where we left off. And if that is the definition of a friend, Steve Pool definitely falls into that category.

He’s a Facebook friend (as probably most of you reading this are) but I didn’t want to play that to get an interview with him before he retired. I did reach out to Dan Lewis last week–we connected over the years and after he retired–but I just wanted to chat with Steve if only he was up for it. So, I went through the proper channels and emailed the KOMO press relations office, just as anyone else would seeking an interview.

Monday morning, my phone rang and, when I didn’t recognize the number, I just let it go to voicemail. Once it had reached that mark, I listened. It was Steve, saying, “Yes, let’s do this thing.”  I called him back and this is the interview I had with him, which I chopped into bits for my KRKO morning show. (Hey, it’s a morning music show–3 minutes max and I have to be done)  However, if you’d like to hear our entire conversation, it’s right here.

It’s like when Frederick & Nelson closed, or Pay ‘n Pak went away, or when Stan Boreson left us, another chunk of the Seattle we all knew over the past 40 years faded away just a little bit more. Sure, we could be all sad about it, but I choose to remember all those great times, including ones I didn’t even bring up in this little roundup of memories. A really good guy just beat cancer, which reminded him of just how precious life is, and he decided to make every day count.

Which is a reminder that we should all be doing that, whether we’re retired or not.

Steve Pool, you’ve enjoyed a career well-lived. Now, let’s focus on that real-life thing.

Congratulations on the promotion.

Tim Hunter

HO HO BROTHER 19–Quid Pro Ho

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s this year’s lineup:

HO HO BROTHER 2019—Quid Pro Ho

1) Dr. Phil’s Opening Big (Fred Bugg)

2) “Sugar & Booze” Ana Gasteyer

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

4) “Christmas Tree” Meg & Dia

5) “Frosty the Snowman” Shannon & Keast

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

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

8) “Christmas Cookies” Oak Ridge Boys

9) “Finally it’s Christmas!”   Hanson

10) “Colgate Tooth Powder Commercial”

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

12) “I Love Christmas” Tommy James

14) “Little Drummer Boy”   Pink Martini

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

16) “Merry Merry Christmas” John Legend

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

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

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

20) “Jingle Bells” The Ray Conniff Singers

21) “Some Day At Christmas” Alana Baxter

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

23) “Mele Kalikimaka”   Chris Isaak

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

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

 

My Soccer Evolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Sounders!

Tim Hunter

You Just Never Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can almost smell the cigarette smoke.

Rest well, Mr. Reed.

Tim Hunter

Chris Settle pointing out to Mitch

what we were doing next

Time IS Marching By…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as your ride continues….make it count.

Tim Hunter

       I still remember posing for that picture

Spending the Week Surrounded By My Past

I’ve gotten on a recent kick of being sure to make every day count. Alex Trebek is the latest reminder in the news that our time here has its limits and we’ve got to make the most of that precious commodity.

This week has been chock full of little reminders of just how fast it’s all flying by:

Rip Taylor: This crazy funny man who made a living out of wearing a bad toupee and throwing confetti came into KOMO radio twice during my 4-1/2 years there in the early 80s. Back then, as Larry Nelson’s producer, Lar was on the air while I was down the hall interviewing guests and then cutting up the interviews to make it sound like Larry had talked with them. I didn’t mind because he was the star and I got to meet the celebrities passing through promoting their book or theater show or movie. Rip passed away over the weekend at the age of 84, so he had two decades on me. But it seems just like yesterday he was choking me in the KOMO hallways.

Peter Frampton: We’re going to see Mr. Frampton on Wednesday night at the Paramount. Hearing that this was going to be his last tour (yeah, they all say that but he offered up some health news that backed it up)  I felt I had to catch him one more time. We let Elton John get by recently because we just weren’t up to a late night on a work night and driving back & forth to Tacoma. Our justification on that one was that Elton will probably do a residency in the near future down in Las Vegas and we’d catch him then.  I saw Peter a couple of times back in college at the peak of “Frampton Comes Alive” and he put on a great show. We’re talking over 40 years ago and that just doesn’t seem possible.

Linda Botts: Linda has been a longtime friend, going back to my early KLSY days. We were on board the Victoria Clipper watching when they blew up the Kingdome. She was our “Royal Expert” on the Murdock, Hunter & Alice show, who would offer thoughts and opinions on all the royal goings-on in the Princess Diana era. In the small world of things, I knew Linda forever and so did my wife Victoria. When Victoria and Linda got together for lunch, she let it be known she was marrying a disc jockey, and Linda yelled out, “I know him!” Wednesday night, we’ll all be enjoying Mr. Frampton together.

Wayne Newton: I heard a radio commercial that he’s coming up here to perform at a Northwest casino and boy did that bring back memories. Flashback to my days at KOMO where I was Larry Nelson’s producer and we were welcoming Wayne to the Paramount for an appearance. It was such a big deal at that time. We were broadcasting live backstage and Larry was scheduled to chat briefly with Wayne.  Before we get to that, Wayne’s “manager” who looked like he was a stunt double for the cast of Goodfellas told me that Larry was NOT to bring up the recent debacle involving the 4th of July celebration in Washington, D.C.  You see, at that time, the Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, felt the Beach Boys were too hippy-like and so he replaced them with America’s entertainer, Wayne Newton.  So, I went to Larry, told him NOT to bring that up and sure enough, moments later, we were live on the air–with Larry asking Wayne about the incident. The manager looked at me with cold threatening eyes and I thought for sure I was going to be fit with cement shoes.  Somehow, I’m still around to tell that story.

Shirley Thom: Back in my KOMO radio days, there was a young go-getter named Shirley Thom who eventually ascended to Sales Manager at KOMO, AM-1000. This past week, they had an 80th birthday party for her at the Nickerson Street Saloon. More flashbacks to a time that seems like a handful of years ago and all the fun we had at “Your Husky Station.”

That’s Shirley on the far right (not politically)

All these ancient memories flushed to the top of my consciousness in the span of a week. The good news is I remember them all like they were yesterday and hope to hang on to them as long as humanly possible.

Oh, sure, this is just another busy, non-stop week in the life of you-know-who as I create even more memories for that little brain of mine to absorb. But while I live in the present, I equally enjoy looking off into the distance and being reminded of some other really good times in my life.

Living in the present while being surrounded by the past. Basically, the best of both worlds. I am friggin’ lucky.

Tim Hunter

 

A Significant Date

Well, lookee there—it’s already October!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I laugh and over-schedule in your face.

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

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

I’m making that list shorter every day.

Tim Hunter

 

Can Everybody Just Calm The BLEEP Down?

So, last Sunday was going to be epic. We didn’t have any plans to speak of, were going to spend the day putzing around the house and maybe run a few errands, all after the Seahawks finished their early game.

I got up, turned on the TV and the screen was blue. I was able to switch to Netflix or Prime, no problem and the cheap digital antenna I hooked up worked. So, there was something wrong with the cable.

I did a couple of resets of the system without any luck. I got a Xfinity/Comcast person on the phone, we tried a couple of his tricks and still, nothing. So, I booked the soonest service appointment they had available which was Monday afternoon. Go without cable for over 24 hours? Unthinkable. My plan was to run over to the Comcast store when it opened at 10am, swap boxes and if that ended up being the problem, I’d just cancel the repair appointment. This should work.

In the meantime, a bunch of panicky emails started circulating from my KRKO & KXA radio brethren up north.  Apparently, a staff member had posted a picture of some teens and several of our Facebook followers were pointing out that they were allegedly flashing “White Gang Signs.”  The immediate response by one of those in our group was to take it all down, which they did.

But what’s this White Gang sign thing? I apparently operate in different circles and I’m not doubting there is such a thing, but how did several of our listeners become such great experts in this field?  Well, let’s start with the controversial picture:

 

OK, I’ll give you that they’re white. There’s three of them, so technically, it could be a gang. A small gang, but a gang none the less.  But before we start making accusations about some teens in Snohomish County, why would you immediately go to the darkest place possible? Do you know these kids and what they are into?  My God, how many times did I mug the camera when I was in my teens, doing goofy things.

So, are they “White Gang” signs?  Well, you be the judge–here’s a website that identifies all of the possible White Gang signs.

Not really a lot of matches, unless you’re considering the classic “OK” sign to be a gang sign. Are you willing to go there and think the worst of these kids because of the OK sign they’re flashing?  Then I’d just like to quickly point several other White Gang members of whom you may not be familiar.

 

Yeah, I always knew they were up to something

 

You tell ’em, T-Pain

 

Such a young age to be a racist

 

No, Johnny, No!

 

Paul, how could you?

 

Hermione, say it isn’t so!!!

 

I should have known by the gang hoodie.

I think that’s a hoodie.

All this to say, just calm the BLEEP down. Like I said, if you know those kids are White Gang members, SAY SOMETHING TO THE POLICE. But if you’re just trying to troll from the confines of your parents’ basement, get a life. Or go after some of these other, more well-known targets above, Mr. or Mrs. Gang Sign Expert.

Now, back to my cable situation. Well, with the Seahawks playing at 10am, my game plan was to hop in the car and be at the Xfinity/Comcast store right when they open, swap out boxes and hopefully be back watching the game by the second quarter. It seemed crazy enough that it just might work.

Except, when I arrived, I found out that they don’t actually open until 11am. Well, rather than running back and forth from my house to the mall, I called my wife and said I was going to go hang out at The Ram, have a beer and watch the game until the cable store opened.  I pulled up to the Ram–and it was closed. They didn’t open until 11. So I headed over to Stanford’s and they also didn’t open until 11.  OK, that’s it, I surrender. I’ll burn up a little more fossil fuel and go home for 20 minutes and then head back.

My second trip proved more fruitful. Within 3 minutes, I had handed over the old box, grabbed the new one, and zipped home.  VICTORY! It was a defective cable box all along!  My big beautiful 70-inch television was once again filled with Seahawks football and my precious Sunday morning was back to normal. I was elated.

So much, I flashed myself the “OK” sign.

And all this left me with just one question: Can everybody just calm the BLEEP down?

Tim Hunter

PS  So now the move is on to make all of those people pictured above racists. Here’s the story

 

Sometimes, You Can Go Back

It seems completely bizarre that the year 1969 was 50 years ago. Half a century has passed since I was 14-years-old, growing up in my hometown of Torrance, California.

It was the year I graduated from 8th grade and made the transition to high school. I took a summer school class–P.E. of all things–so that I could spend some time on campus before going full-time in the fall.  The Beatles were still together, although they had gone all hippie and there were rumors of them not getting along. And while it was the year we finally made it to the moon, it had been a long decade. The Viet Nam War kept escalating,  a president, his brother and a civil rights leader were assassinated and people were anxious to get to a fresh new decade and move on.

 

The Levy Elementary School Class of 1969

 

While the major spotlight of the 50th anniversary of 1969 fell on the moon landing with a little bit left for Woodstock, for the 14-year-old kid growing up on 226th Street, when I recall 1969, I go straight to the Manson murders.

Remember how back in 2001 when those passenger jets crashed into the Twin Towers and it took your brain a long time to accept someone could actually do that intentionally? When Charles Manson and his followers went on their killing sprees–two separate nights, with stabbings and mutilations–it was unthinkable. That anyone could go in and butcher people like that. Who were these monsters? it resulted in news coverage that rivaled what you saw during the O.J. trial.  Being in the Los Angeles area, I remember a lot of people wondering, “Oh, my God, could we be next?”  We had made the transition from hippies representing peace and love to whacked-out psychopaths with crazed eyes that carved swastikas on their foreheads and killed people. The hippies they arrested said they were inspired by the Beatles song, “Helter Skelter.” They even left that written in blood at one of the slaughters.

In the months and years that followed, Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Squeaky Fromme, Patricia Krenwinkle, Linda Kasabian and Susan Atkins became household words. The Spahn Ranch, a former site where they filmed a lot of westerns, had been engraved in our minds as the home base of Manson and his followers.

 

All this to say, I was very aware of what happened that fateful summer and was curious how Quentin Tarantino was going to work it into his new movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I’m going to avoid spoilers as best I can because the strongest payoff for that movie is for you to be completely unaware of where it’s going.

For a teenager growing up in Southern California in 1969, this movie had a profound effect on me. I was two years away from a driver’s license, so if I went anywhere in a car in those days, I was a passenger. The same was true of Tarantino, so he intentionally included a lot of shots of vintage Southern California from the passengers’ point of view. To do that, he had to recreate streets, freeways, signs and traffic as it was 50 years ago. That’s where this movie became a time capsule for me. As the plot thickened, I was fixated on all the billboards, the now-defunct stores, and the bus stops with ads on them for things like TV Kids Show Host Hobo Kelly (who I had completely forgotten about) and L.A. news guy George Putnam. Everywhere I looked, I was back in the So Cal I grew up in, 50 years ago.

To be clear, this movie is not for everybody. Tarantino loves his f-bombs and extreme graphic violence so I can’t recommend it to mom. But if you allow yourself to get past that stuff, you will be treated to one amazing movie. It’s not a documentary, it’s a fairy tale. It’s not how the story ended in real life, but rather, how you wished it could have ended.

DiCaprio, Pitt, the entire cast acted their rear ends off. I’ve only seen a couple of Tarantino pictures because the cartoonish violence is often too much. But in this case, I had to restrain myself from breaking out into a standing ovation. It was that feeling you get when watching the coyote get crushed by something he intended for the roadrunner…times a hundred.

One probably shouldn’t make Oscar predictions in my current emotional state, but Leo and Brad are very deserving and I think a little gold statue is due to Mr. Tarantino, if nothing else for the fantastic time machine he created. He took me back to that unsettling summer of 1969 and made it all better.

Then again, isn’t that what fairy tales are supposed to do?

Tim Hunter

You Can Have My Spot

Some weeks I can’t wait to see what comes out of this keyboard and others, I fight the urge to pile on to the latest political unrest. It seems like there’s a new one every week and while I have thoughts on each fresh, disturbing topic, I attempt to keep most of those opinions to myself, or discuss them verbally with open-thinking people.

Oh, the occasional politically-themed blog sneaks out, but I prefer that this little corner of the Internet be more positive and uplifting. Even when I break down and dive into a politically sensitive topic, my hope is to contribute  some balance to the topic.

Not a whole lot of possible balance this week, so I’m heading to space.

Actually, I’m not.

You see, there’s been a lot of talk about going back to the moon with the 50th anniversary of the first time we were there rolling around this week.

That was an amazing time in our country. Even with a war raging on in Viet Nam, a decade-long pursuit of safely landing Americans on the lunar surface happened when I was 14-years-old. I had graduated 8th grade and was bracing myself for entering the world of high school. During the summer, I took a cross country running class to get in better shape to try out for the basketball team in the fall. I remember buying a bottle of salt tablets because that’s what the coach said would help me retain water. God knows what my blood pressure went up to.

I do remember all the hoopla surrounding the moon landing. I’m pretty sure I have the front pages of several newspapers tucked away in boxes under the house. The Law and Order candidate, Richard Nixon, was president and so much was going in the world to compete for my attention from other things like, oh, girls.

Seriously, when you’re talking 1969, you’re talking about the Manson murders, Woodstock, the first Pontiac Trans Am came out, the “Miracle Mets” and gas was 35-cents a gallon. It was a completely different world.

Receiving my 8th grad diploma from Sam Levy Elementary.

Yes, I was a proud Levy Llama.

Years later, I’ve naturally aged like a Facebook app and hear today’s explorers saying that they’re looking forward to going to the moon. If we somehow manage to make commercial travel to the moon possible in my lifetime, I think I’ll pass.

I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing, first-hand, what it’s like up there.  But there are already so many things down here that I haven’t seen or experienced yet. I only made it to Yellowstone National Park for the first time a couple of years ago thanks to my son’s wedding. They booked a venue in Montana and I was able to cross that off my bucket list.

Next month, I’ll be heading to Scotland for the very first time and among our stops, visiting the town of Wishaw where my dad was born.

You see, as far as places I’d like to visit in my lifetime, the moon probably is #2,589 on the list.

Think the flight to Australia is long? And then, to fly all the way up there just so I could look out at a bunch of rocks and craters and tell the old joke about, ‘That’s why they don’t have a restaurant up here–it lacks atmosphere.” And what happens when you’re in that space suit and you fart?  I definitely need an answer before I put one on.

Moon, I can see you just fine from here. A few of us might come your way for a visit, but I’ll pass.

To the explorer who can’t to fly there, you can have my seat.

Tim Hunter