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

Heapin’ on the Help

Each week we gather here to read the latest thoughts that have oozed out of the gray matter in my skull. We will continue that tradition, not only talking in the third person, but also, this week, with a purpose.

These days are challenging for everyone, on so many levels. Suddenly finding yourself in a home work routine, trying not to leave the house anymore than you have to and when you do actually venture outside, you’re masked and gloved up and practically bathing in hand sanitizer when you return. As you can tell, I’m speaking to the people that are taking this all seriously, and plan to be here when we arrive at the other side of this pandemic.

Every day, I witness how easy it would be to spiral down along with the deluge of the day’s bad news–the latest totals, the newest death count, the next big event that’s been canceled.  I’ve adopted a ‘heads ‘n tails’ approach to following the virus, with a morning check-in of news while I work on my contributions to Radio-Online, and then I get lost in my busy days, wrap it up at some point, watch the 5 o’clock KOMO news and the national ABC newscast that follows, and my curiosity is satisfied. That’s what is going on out there, I know what’s going on right here at home.

Throughout my career, positive attitude has always worked for me and it continues now. I do my morning radio show, keeping it positive–with a combination of silliness, useful information and a musical escape for the masses wanting to get away from the COVID-mania going on.  I even put a video together this weekend to help explain how to listen to KRKO.  I swear, if you’re a day over 40, you’ll love the upbeat music.

So now that you know all the ways there are to listen, I sure hope you’ll give us a try. Put it on in the background while you work at home. I promise, you’ll find it habit forming.

Now, about today’s theme, helping. Well, I’ve already assisted you in how to listen to a great radio station. Days before our state’s Stay at Home order went into effect, I was able to shoot some very fun virtual wine tastings with the women of Goose Ridge Vineyards. I’m very proud of how they came out, and encourage you to visit their YouTube channel to enjoy all 8 of them. By the way, they’re now also making some awesome hand-sanitizer if you’d like to stock up.

At Alexa’s Café in Bothell, Leigh Henderson is doing something very cool. Monday through Friday from 11:30am-1:30pm, she’s putting out jars of soup. As in FREE for the taking. It’s her homemade tomato basil and all she asks is that when all this is over, you pop into the restaurant and say hi sometime.

Up in Arlington, Ryan Berg, the owner of The Shop of Arlington Tire Pros is doing a lot of good up in his community. He already works on several civic projects, he’s buying lunch for his crew every day from one of the local restaurants, he brings in a shower unit each week for the area homeless and since he’s been ruled an essential business, he gets to stay open and work on the local police and fire vehicles, if they need it. How do you top all that?  He’s announced that The Shop of Arlington Tire Pros will provide FREE service to any first-responder who needs work done on their car.  And going even further, he’s including all grocery store workers as part of that crowd. If you know someone in the North Sound, be sure and make them aware of this special offer.

And keep your eyes on the Facebook page of Lyle Ronglien. A very talented musician who has performed all over the Northwest and when he’s not performing, he drives a bus for the Northshore School District.  Well, you do the math–a performer with no place to perform and with the schools shut down, he’s got a whole lot of spare time on his hands. What he has been doing is what a lot of musicians are doing–creating virtual happy hours at a local restaurant. Recently, we watched him perform from The Cottage in Bothell for a couple of hours, which helps promote their ‘to go’ menu, we get to enjoy live music and then he has a tip jar for people to toss a couple of bucks in online. You can also find out where and when he’s going to be performing next at www.lyleronglien.com 

Oh, and one other suggestion. You can do this thing–put together a Zoom meeting with friends or family you haven’t seen in a long time. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve virtually gathered with former co-workers I’ve missed, some great friends I don’t want to lose touch with and enjoyed a couple of family gatherings for a birthday and Easter. It appears to be the way of the future and how we’ll be getting together, so you might as well start having fun with it.

All this to say, there is good going on out there in the chaos. I’d like to sneak in a quick thank you to my sister Terri, who sent us some homemade masks she put together. A quite fashionable look, I must say.

By the way, if you know of some good going on out there that you’d like to share, please drop me a note or respond to this blog. It’s up to us to support each other and focus on the positive, since we’re surrounded by the negative.

Be safe and I’ll dig up some more good by next week.

Tim Hunter

 

Social Distancing Myself

Yep, I’m doing it. For just the length of this blog, I’m going to separate myself from the seriousness of the whole coronavirus pandemic and pass along all the lines I’ve heard and seen over the past couple of weeks.

Oh, this covid-19 is serious stuff and I’m viewing this all as a student of these historic times. Our world has changed forever and all this, with us not knowing how this concludes or even if it concludes.

All that being said, for a couple of minutes, relax and laugh as much as you can with this compilation of nuggets. Some are mine, lots are borrowed from the pages of Facebook:

  • It’s now official. Due to the coronavirus, the beginning of spring is being delayed until September.
  • I mean, you look at the timing of this coronavirus outbreak. I think it’s pretty obvious to me—God likes football
  • My job is to help you avoid the harsh realities of the world and provide a little escape from it all. We’re like Calgon for the ears.
  • People are panicking and already trading sex for food. It’s crazy. Anyway, I got two tacos.
  • Have we tried unplugging 2020, waiting 10 seconds and then plugging it back in.
  • If you bought 30 rolls of toilet paper, you owe three to the church. Tithing is still in effect.
  • I need 25 friends to dress up like zombies and join me in walking around the neighborhood. Can’t let this quarantine go to waste.
  • Are tortillas flushable? Asking for a friend.
  • I honestly hadn’t planned on giving up this much for Lent
  • “Family Feud” has shut down production because of coronavirus. However, there still is no cure for Steve Harvey
  • The NFL has approved a 17-game season. If the season delays go on long enough, so might Major League Baseball.
  • So, the governor closed all the bars. Someone’s having a hard time giving up alcohol for Lent.
  • Thinking about it, the safest time in our recent history was when we moved the clocks ahead an hour. For 60 minutes, nothing happened.
  • A Seattle Starbucks worker was diagnosed with coronavirus. The store became suspicious of him when he spelled a customer’s name right.
  • I feel like I’m in season 5 of my life and the writers are just coming up with ridiculous stuff to keep it interesting.
  • I have a 24-pack of toilet paper I’d like to trade for a 3-bedroom house.
  • President Trump says he hasn’t been tested yet for the coronavirus and, if you think about it, if you were the virus, would you?
  • There’s now talk of extending the April 15th income tax deadline because of the coronavirus. In a related story, at H-and-R Block, H has been asked to stand six feet away from R.
  • In New York City, a conference on the coronavirus has been canceled because of the coronavirus. The announcement was made by the Department of Redundancy Department.
  • Wow, the NHL, the MLS and the NBA have all suspended their seasons. At this rate, pretty soon the only things left are going to Betty White, Keith Richards and the Hallmark Channel.
  • By the way, this hour’s rundown of the coronavirus cancellations is being canceled, due to the coronavirus.
  • ESPN is going to reverse the spelling of their name to NPSE (No Public Sporting Events)
  • The WHO has declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. But all those dogs that were quarantined can now be released, since it’s been proven they can’t carry the disease. Yes, WHO let the dogs out.
  • The hottest drink these days? The Quarantini-its just like a Martini, but you drink it at home all by yourself.
  • Back in my day, if you TP’d a house, you were getting back at someone. Today, you’re doing them a favor.
  • Day four of no sports. Found a woman sitting on my couch. Apparently, she’s my wife. She seems nice.
  • Day five of no sports. Just found out my wife’s favorite color is yellow. Who likes yellow?
  • Coronavirus tip-wear a Dallas Cowboys jersey. You won’t catch anything.
  • Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch. You can do this.
  • If everything gets canceled and you’re forced to stay at home and nothing happens-that was the idea!
  • What if they close the grocery stores and we have to hunt for food. I don’t even know where Doritos live.
  • Dr. Oz says that couples should have sex while quarantined. I can hear husbands everywhere saying, “Sorry, honey, but doctor’s orders!”
  • My thought: Soccer, baseball, the NBA, the Kentucky Derby, the Boston Marathon, all canceled or postponed until at least September when football begins. To me, that says that God loves football.
  • The federal government is talking about giving us all $1,000 in stimulus money to spark the economy. Well, it’s not like we’re going to go out and spend it all on toilet paper.
  • Casinos are asking for bailouts from the federal government. Shouldn’t they at least be required to roll 7’s?
  • Bethany Frankel says she is creating coronavirus kits. Oh, goodie. We’re saved!
  • Sorry to say that there is already a long list of scammers at work over this coronavirus. For the full list, please send $100 in unmarked bills to…
  • OK, so you went out and cleaned out the stores of toilet paper, bottled water and enough food to last several months. Now, the good news–I can finally quit bugging you about putting together an earthquake kit.

And a couple of my Top Five Lists:

TOP FIVE THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD NOT DO BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS

  1. Go to a Face-Touching party
  2. Practice your deep-breathing exercises in a crowd
  3. Keep putting off getting tested because you haven’t studied
  4. While eating out, shake the hand of a different stranger between bites
  5. Accept a challenge to a Cough-Off

TOP FIVE SIGNS YOU’RE GOING A LITTLE STIR-CRAZY AT HOME

  1. Yes, it’s wrong, but you’ve used relatives’ names to create March Illness Brackets
  2. You can’t wait for the next robocall
  3. Named the dust bunny under the fridge, “Herman”
  4. Organized the macaroni by size
  5. You’ve developed a home version of curling, with a robo-vacuum and a Swiffer broom

All this to say, whatever happens, don’t lose your sense of humor. It’s the only thing that will keep us going. Stay home, stay vigilant and let’s all look forward to the day in the near future when we can reduce our social distancing by at least half.

And if you know of someone having a tough time right now that could use a little pickup, please pass this along.

Tim Hunter

Roger Murtaugh Really Said It All

As fans of the “Lethal Weapon” movies, my wife and I occasionally find ourselves re-watching those fun films. We’re also excited to hear that the boys have at least one more movie coming our way.

And when we sit down to watch the next “Weapon”, we know that at some point in the film, Danny Glover’s character, Roger Murtaugh, is going to utter his famous catch phrase, “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.”

Truer words were never spoken and as I continue staying heavily involved in the world around me, including social media, I know there’s a time coming where I’m going to just flat be too old.

And it’s getting closer.

The other morning, while multi-tasking my brains out as I often do, I came across an article in the New York Post about Jasmin Bleeth. It was basically a “here she is now” and I found it fascinating. It showed her in the 1980s during her Baywatch hey day, side-by-side with a phot of her walking her dog recently. Not thinking anything beyond, “Wow, that’s interesting!” I thought others might want to see this, too, so I posted it on Facebook. The only word I added to the picture was, “Huh.”

In fact, here’s the photo.

Boy, remember when Baywatch was THE show on TV?  Those slow-motion jogging scenes, Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff and yes, Jasmine Bleeth. To me, the photo was a reminder of just how ago that was–it first debuted in 1989. Using a calculator and doing some quick math, that’s 31 friggin’ years ago. Wow.

I expected to see some entertaining comments, so I kept working while occasionally checking back on the post. I worked on my contribution to Daily Show Prep (that I write every morning), chatted with my wife during our morning hangout, listened to my tracks play on KRKO, even chatted with my son about one of their dogs and how it ate a bunch of rocks.

Eventually, I returned to the post and realized that I’m just not woke enough.

The responses ranged from “apparently its wrong for women to age” to “WTAF”.  I PM’d some of the respondents that appeared offended by this photo. One had a sister with a weight gain problem, and so it reminded it of her. My intent was never to be mean or offend or irritate anyone, I just thought it was interesting. The phrase “fat shaming” came up. OK, I’m done and so I deleted the post.

I know people who have gladly given up Facebook and this experience definitely pushed me a step closer. I suppose as long as I have a public persona to keep out there, I need to use it, but there will come a day when I will definitely disappear. Or, at least cut back to a very small club.

They way I understand Facebook is that it’s supposed to bring us all together. When I post something to my FB friends, it’s supposed to be like they were sitting next to me and I was just showing them something. It is and has never been my intent to offend, tick off or mislead anyone. Maybe its my fault for accepting too many borderline Facebook connections who are more acquaintances than friends.

I’m a big fan of hiding posts and ‘friends’ who put up stupid stuff, especially in the political arena.  I swear, every six months, this one shows up.

When this first showed up in my feed a couple of years ago because my cousin posted it, I took the time to inform him that Trump never said that. It was a hoax, fake news, whatever you want to call. And his response was, “Well, it’s like something he would say.”

So, rather than letting people know it was fake, it was passed on to other Facebookers, who most likely reposted it, assuming it was true.  If you’d like to read the story of that post, here you go.

And for the record, I’m not a President Trump fan. I’m following our political process and anxious to see if a viable candidate can emerge from the other side.

But look at those two examples. The Jasmin Bleeth was factual, the Trump story a hoax, and yet the Trump story is Facebook re-post gold.

It’s becoming obvious to me that the first step in making a gradual withdrawal from Facebook is to cut down my ‘friends’ list to only include people I know and can actually remember talking with in the past decade. I’ve been accepting anyone who would ask (except for a Nigerian prince. He still owes me that money) and now have 1,482 FB friends.  With almost 1500 people seeing my posts, I guess the odds are pretty good that something I post could offend someone.

And that’s a game you never win. Post a picture of a dog and someone could write, “Oh, I see, you hate cats.”  Show a sunset and someone else could post, “Oh, sure, flaunt your good weather. Back here, we’ve got three feet of snow.”

Look, if you truly know me, I’m all about positive and fun and being happy. It’s finally starting to sink in that maybe Facebook and I have different goals and expectations. I just know if I don’t have the time or energy to get caught up in a debate about something I post being mean-spirited or ill-intended. I just don’t do that.

My frustration is probably rooted in the fact that I’m just getting too old for this shit.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Brothers in Comedy

I know I’m not the only one who can’t wait to think of the next one-liner and spends the majority of his life watching things go by, hoping for a good setup to a punchline.

Gosh, it goes back to my high school days when I started a notebook to collect jokes, those I had written, others I heard from friends or from comedians I admired on TV. Of course, I tried to write enough funnies to fill an air shift when I got into radio. As my involvement deepened, I’d write more jokes. Soon, I was putting out one-liners that went to Radio Online show prep for other disc jockeys to use and to be considered each night for Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” monologues. I sold quite a few over a 10-year run.

I know that Pedro Bartes over at the Jet was also a contributor to Jay. We both would “fax” in our jokes, along with some other comedy-writing pals of mine, and then keep our fingers crossed when watching the monologues to see if any of our material was used.

These days, of course, you’ll hear my jokes on my morning radio show on KRKO, and all are posted each week on my joke website, wackyweek.com.  I send out a weekly collection to a lot of people in a mass email (and, if you’d like to be added to that list, just shoot me an email), including Seattle Times‘ sportswriter, Dwight Perry.  Every now and then, Dwight will sneak one of my lines into his column and for a comedy writer, it’s just great to get some kind of verification that someone else found your joke humorous.

Another comedy writer Dwight frequently quotes is Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com.  Dwight’s column is where Jim caught my attention and so I visited his website and found out a few things about him. He’s a TV weather guy in Charleston, West Virginia, that loves to write jokes. He also lost his wife several years ago to cystic fibrosis. I loved that he described himself in his profile as “widower, dad.”

There was a part of me who saw all this and basically felt like this was me in a parallel universe, where life dealt him some blows, but the drive to keep funny kept him going. He likes to describe himself as “the most prolific joke writer on the planet.” I know, by quantity, he’s got me beat.

So, over time, I’ve occasionally dropped him a note about one of his jokes, or noticing a typo that he might want to fix and each time, he was gracious and appreciative. Then, on one of my recent visits to his site, I saw that he’s running for political office in the state of West Virginia.

Suddenly, the degrees of separation got smaller. You see, my dad was born in Scotland, but was raised in West Virginia. I wrote to Jim to report that connection and here’s what he wrote back:

I have read the Appalachian accent is basically Scottish in nature as a lot of Scots came over here early on to work the coal mines and then ended up settling here long term. Many thanks again!

Jim

Yes, my dad, his dad and brothers found their way to steel mills and other jobs, whatever they could get. At least, before they were drafted or enlisted.  By the way, what he was thanking me for was my donation to his political aspirations. I barely know the guy, but I know he’s a family man, that loved his wife and lives to write jokes. I think we need more of those kind of people in office these days.

Should you want to do something crazy and contribute to his political campaign, even just $5, I know that’ll freak people out as they wonder, “Why is all that Seattle money heading his way?” Donate here.

I give you laughs on a weekly basis. If you find yourself being unable to wait, always check out Jim’s blogspot.

My brother in comedy.

Tim Hunter

 

I was this close

I try to keep track of these outpourings of my thoughts and while I enjoy exploring what’s rolling around in my brain, I originally planned to try and keep these on the lighter side. But sometimes real life wins out.

Thinking ahead to this week, I was this close to talking about the solemn anniversary of the Space Shuttle disaster. It was one of those moments where you knew exactly what you were doing when you heard the news.

That particular day–in fact, 34 days ago today as I write this–I had slipped out of KLSY to join our news anchor, Karyl Levinson, in speaking to broadcasting students at Bellevue Community College. I remember we got started, telling stories about how we got into radio and the like when all of a sudden, a student came in and let us know the Space Shuttle had exploded during takeoff. We apologized to the students and then headed back to the radio station, with Karyl being the on-duty representative of our news department.

As television went non-stop in their coverage of the disaster and President Reagan gave his “slipped the surly bonds of earth” speech, the country remained in shock and disbelief. As I look back at that day, I realize that my lifetime has collected quite a collection of those moments. As you know, just when you think you can’t be shocked, something like 9-11 happens and raises the bar of shock all over again.

My lifespan has included the assassination of a president, a presidential candidate, and several civil rights leaders. Celebrities have been taken way too early and when it’s not drug-related, it’s due to a car, plane or helicopter crash. You start listing them and its mind-numbing to think about how many of the famous and legendary had their time cut so short.

Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Mama Cass, Jim Croce, John Lennon, Heath Ledger, Marvin Gaye, Corey Monteith, Paul Walker, Roberto Clemente, Amy Winehouse…and Judy Garland. I was 14 years old when she passed away at the age of 47. And at my age now, 47 seems so young.

Now the week where I would reflect on the Shuttle disaster has been taken over by the Kobe Bryant tragedy.

It became the latest incident where I will always remember where I was when I heard the news. We had just sat down to a brunch at my son and daughter-in-law’s home, along with her parents, when my son’s iWatch vibrated. He said, “Oh, no. I hope this isn’t true. It’s saying Kobe Bryant had died.”

Those with their phones began searching for the story and it wasn’t hard to find. By that time, an hour after the crash, there was plenty on-line to read about what happened and the additionally sad news that his second-oldest daughter was on board.

Kobe was no more important than the above-mentioned celebrities or the passengers who were also aboard that ill-fated helicopter. As they investigate the crash site, experts are reviewing everything they can and doing whatever it takes to find out what happened and what caused the crash.

But it won’t bring any of them back.

Now, I wasn’t a Kobe Bryant fan. That’s not to say I don’t completely respect his talents, his five N.B.A. championships, two Olympic gold medals and his amazing scoring ability. All this from a kid out of Philadelphia who went straight from high school to the N.B.A..  You see, I’ve been living in the Pacific Northwest since 1973, so when you say “The Lakers” that’s where I think of Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Mel Counts and Wilt Chamberlain, those guys.  Kobe was part of the new Lakers who were west coast rivals of my adopted team, the Seattle Supersonics.

But he was a hard guy to not know about. As a comedy writer, he was a punchline for anything that had to do with not passing or hogging the ball. Then, there was the time he allegedly cheated on his wife and he bought her a HUGE diamond ring to apologize. That was followed by a rape charge, which was eventually dropped. One young Washington Post writer found out that you’ve got to treat a popular legend with a little more respect, rather than speaking ill about him hours after his demise.

Like I said, I didn’t follow Kobe, I only saw what I saw. In recent years, I was hearing that he was really big about spending time with his family and encouraging his daughter’s basketball dreams. He was a fan of WNBA basketball, because he believed, in time, she would be playing at that level. Just a few weeks ago, Kobe spent a weekend in the Pacific Northwest, visiting a girls’ tournament in the central Washington town of Cashmere.

I know that he used that helicopter as a way to enable him to do more. To spend less time on the freeway in traffic and be able to get to meetings or basketball games. Kobe was an over-achiever and I can understand that more than you’ll ever know. If you have that disease, you just can’t resist accomplishing even more than what you’ve already done if it’s possible.

This past Sunday morning, Kobe and his daughter went to a Catholic mass at 7 a.m. and had communion. They then returned home and boarded the helicopter to head to a game that they never reached.

I don’t know where Kobe’s head was at. Was this the new and improved “Family Man” Kobe, who had finally shaken the Playboy mentality that evolves when you’re young and suddenly rich?  Maybe. I want to believe that he had grown up, found peace and that he was thoroughly enjoying his time spending time with his kids and coaching them as I did. For me, it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and if opportunity allows, I’d love to do it again.

So now, January 26th has an incredibly sad time stamp on it every year that it passes around. It’ll be a reminder that there are no guarantees, that everything doesn’t have to make sense. We have what is right in front of us right now, so make it all count. Hug the ones you love and don’t waste a single opportunity to do good whenever you can and always do what’s right.

To me, this isn’t about an NBA superstar and his untimely death. This is about a dad and his daughter on their way to her basketball game that had a sudden, tragic ending.

God’s peace to the families of everyone lost that day.

Tim Hunter

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