KING For A Day

I got to relive a part of my youth this past week. They don’t come often enough, but when they do, I embrace them with everything I’ve got.

I was invited to attend a KING Radio reunion earlier this week, across from the new location of KING-TV, at Henry’s Tavern, in the shadow of Safeco Field.

I’m wondering where to start this tale, where to begin setting up this story. Let’s head to my senior year of college at the University of Washington.

Crap, I’ve got to go back a little further. You see, when I arrived in Seattle to attend college, I was doing it because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I wasn’t sure what I was going to study or what my major would be. All I knew is that I had a girl back home that, once I finished college, I was going to marry and then grab a job somewhere doing something. Maybe work for the airlines.

However, late my sophomore year, I got a phone call from that girl, who let me know she had a sign from God to break up with me. Funny, God hadn’t said a thing to me about it. Anyway, two months later, she married the minister that helped her realize that sign from God and I had a clean slate as to where my future would take me.

Thanks to a fellow down the hall in the dorms, I found out that you could actually major in Communications and study radio & TV. Awesome!  So, off I went. While I gained experience in both, I was attracted to the control you had over the entire project on the radio side, and headed excitedly down that path.

During my final two quarters at the UW, I grabbed an internship at a Top 40 radio station in town called KING. My first quarter there, I interned under the Public Affairs Director and primarily wrote PSA’s for the jocks to read. While not the most exciting work, it did give me the opportunity to see the inside of a real radio station–how it worked, what the people were like, and connecting me with some real radio pro’s. I got to know the air talent of that time–Rob Conrad, Dan Foley, Andy Barber, Rick Scott, Joe Cooper and Big Jim Martin. Eventually, Bruce Murdock came up from Portland and took over the morning show. I met a weekender named Dave Christianson. The sales staff included the likes of Dana Horner, Ralph Heyward, Don Cannon and others.

The second quarter I interned there, I was under the direction of Steve Lawson. Steve was the production director at KING radio and the voice of KING-TV.  Believe me, you’ve heard his voice.  After KING, he went on to buy the Kaye-Smith studio and launched Bad Animal, where Heart, Steve Miller and so many other legendary Northwest bands recorded their hits.

All of the people didn’t need to take the time to mentor me, but they did. And over the next several years, most played a part in the direction my radio career took me.

Of course, Bruce Murdock and I were paired together at KLSY. In the early days of my time at Classy, Rob Conrad and Ralph Heyward wanted me to come and work for them at a new station called, “Magic”, but I stuck with KLSY.  When I arrived at KLSY, Dana Horner was the General Manager. Don Cannon was a good friend of Larry Nelson’s, so during my KOMO tenure, our paths would cross often.

My KING experience taught me a lot and forced me to cut my radio teeth. After I graduated from college, I hung around working for minimum wage, hoping a job opening would eventually pop up. I did odd jobs like music surveys over the phone, running mail, answering request lines, going to promotional events. I remember standing on the stage at the Seattle Center’s Center House at a KING Teen Dance, watching a flood of high schoolers moving away to “Dancing Queen” by Abba. This was the big time.

The KING Broadcasting empire was run by Dorothy Bullitt, one of the most powerful women in Seattle. One week, when her regular driver went on vacation, they trusted me to be her personal driver. I would arrive at KING in the morning, get the keys to her Volvo, drive to her Capitol Hill mansion, pick her up, and then take her where ever she wanted. Lunch at the club, down to inspect how the work was coming along on her boat, whatever Mrs. Bullitt wanted, her wish was my command.

But even though they liked me, they just couldn’t justify hiring someone so green. When I lost out on a radio copywriting job to someone who had been a writer for Planned Parenthood with zero radio experience, I hit the road and headed east to Yakima. The rest is the beginning of my radio history.

On Monday, for two hours at a bar in downtown Seattle, I reconnected with some much-older, yet still familiar faces. Some of them I hadn’t seen in 40 years. People I had gotten to know early in my career, in a building that has since been torn down. I bounced from conversation to conversation, getting caught up on what we were all up to these days. While I was pretty much “just the intern” during my time there, you could feel the camaraderie of this group of people and how thrilled everyone was to get together one more time.

Our lives are a series of phases and special moments. We all get them. It’s up to us to recognize them, appreciate them and cherish them when they’re gone. I went through more than a half-dozen call letters during my radio career, but on this particular day, the others had to take a back seat for a few hours.

Monday, I was KING for a day. Thanks for including me.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Surrender

Surrender can mean all kinds of things:

A)  As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite Cheap Trick song

B)  It’s the title given to Ren Durr when knighted

C)  I just friggin’ give up!

For those of you playing the home version of our game, the correct answer is “C”.

Today, I arrived home the proud owner of a new iPhone XS.

This is big news in my electronics world. For years, while a proud owner of Apple stock purchased the week of the initial offering and a long-time fan of the company, their innovations and the quality of what they offer, I still went for the underdogs.

Oh, I’m still a PC guy when it comes to computers (for now). I love my Microsoft Surface and the only intention I have down the line is to get a larger one for those times I can spread out. But the way I use laptops, I’m usually scrunched on an airliner with the guy in front of me leaning back and the Surface is the perfect size for someone who likes to fly and be productive, without having to type with his tongue.

Now, back to phones.  Way back when, as the earth was cooling, the iPhone arrived. It cost more than the alternatives and, at the time, since they made Windows phones, I went with that. As I watched friends show me the latest cool apps out there on iPhones and and Androids, I was content knowing that I was using a Microsoft product. Supporting the home team. Admiring the high-quality of those three available apps.

After two Microsoft phones, I suffered way too much from app-envy and decided to go Android. I believe the Samsung Galaxy was the one that lured me over and eventually, I found myself the proud owner of a cutting-edge Samsung Galaxy S6. It was the bee’s knees as us hipsters like to say, had a cool screen, took pretty decent pictures and videos and I was quite content.

For a while.

I think I had that phone for at least three years (or 187 in phone years) and even though I had to replace a screen once and the battery, it still served it’s purpose. After all, this was about making phones calls, right? Keeping up with social media, checking your email, etc. You know, all those things that help you completely ignore what is going on in the world around you.

But the email program never really worked that well. I would send an email and it would take minutes to reach someone across the room. Someone would ask if I had received an email they had sent earlier in the morning, and I hadn’t yet. Or, something I received yesterday could no longer be found.

However, for Samsung and the Android nation, it was the battery life that ended this non-iPhone streak. If I didn’t keep a careful eye on it and continuously keep charging it, I could find myself with a dead phone by noon.  I had to carry a portable charger with me, to bail me out at events where I wanted to at least grab a couple of pictures. Or at least be reachable.

Last week, while driving home from an event, I wanted to call my wife and let her know I was running late. My phone had died, so I charged it up as fast as I could. After getting it up to 5%, I tried to make a call and after a couple of rings, the phone died. At her end, it was the husband she hadn’t heard from trying to reach her and then suddenly be gone. She called a couple of times but of course, I had a dead phone.

Victoria is the proud owner of two iPhones, one for work and one for personal. Both go an entire day without recharging.

So, I decided to see what my options were at the T-Mobile store. I could have gone the way of an iPhone 7, but then I was buying a dependable option from 2015. Or, since I don’t change them up every year, I could go with one of the latest and have it satisfy my technology urges for at least a couple of years.

I’m one of those who loves the new toys and, being electronics, I’m sure this is on the ragged edge of a business expense. (consult your tax professional) But I had reached the point of seriously wanting a phone that could consistently show signs of life. A phone that could get email and take pictures. Bottom line–that worked.

And so, sorry Samsung.  Nextel, you would have gone away anyway. I have joined the Apple nation and am excited about being able to take beautiful pictures, constantly check my social media and email accounts and completely ignore everyone around me.

I have officially surrendered to the Apple Army and am looking very forward to my new adventures.

Tim Hunter

Thanks, Mr. Allen

My phone lit up like a Christmas tree today when the news came out that Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, had finally lost his battle with cancer.

Celebrities and well-known figures pass all the time.  After John McCain’s recent passing, we experienced a huge national send-off, with praise coming from both sides of the aisle. We were reminded about what a great man he was. Paul was equally great, but in different ways and his departure has hit home with me for a lot of reasons.

I’ll rattle off a few–he helped co-create Microsoft, which is a part of my every day life. He was a Northwest guy who did things to make his home town a better place. He developed the South Lake Union area of Seattle with more on the way.  He was the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers. His love of music and pop culture resulted in “the Blob” at the Seattle Center, formerly the Music Experience Project, now a museum known as MoPop. The resident radio station, KEXP, is the frequency he bought from the University of Washington after I graduated from there. Back in my day, it was 90.5-KCMU, which is where I first began my decades-long love affair with radio.

I knew someone that played in his rock band. This friend would get a phone call and it would be Paul, asking, “You wanna fly down to Portland tonight and catch the Blazers game?”  We heard about his yacht, his toys, his companies, his passions. But on top of it all, he loved his music.

Paul Allen’s passing hits me particularly hard because he’s just two years older than yours truly. That’s just too young. It seems like a lot of the conversations I’m having lately with my friends and family have to do with retirement. How do you know when to pull the trigger? What’s the smartest thing to do to be prepared for it? Do you wait and work longer or call it quits at 65 and enjoy whatever you have left of this life?

We had heard about Paul Allen’s battle with cancer before. It went into remission and then, it returned. When you think about it, if there was anyone who would be able to have access to the latest science and technology at any price, it would have been him. He was recently ranked as the 46th richest person in the world, with a worth of $20.3-billion.

I never met Paul Allen. From friends who did know him, he was a very private person. He did what he had to publicly, but preferred privately living his life. The time we are allotted on this rock is all we get and, as I’ve said before, 65 years just doesn’t seem long enough.

But if that’s all he was going to be given, he really made his time count. If there’s one thing I have to express my appreciation for is bringing a Super Bowl winning team to this town.

Mr. Allen, you will be remembered. Thank you for all you did for your home town and the Pacific Northwest.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Here’s to a Successful Failure

I was chatting with a Millennial the other day, the much-maligned generation that some say feel entitled or simply expect everything to just go their way. And when it doesn’t, it’s “not fair.”

Now, while you’ll see that sentiment a lot online, I actually know of several very hard-working M’s that demonstrate a lot of the driven qualities I possessed at that age. However, in my conversation the other day, I was encouraging a certain person to pursue their dream. Not adjusting your dream to increase your odds of doing something, but taking a few chances, risking enough that you could fail. And they would have nothing of it.

When I suggested that they pursue one of the career paths they were interested in, this 20-something said, “Oh, that probably won’t happen. I want to concentrate on the sure things that I know will happen.” Translation–I’ll settle for certainty, even if it means minimum wage from now until I retire.

Unacceptable.

My head almost exploded with thoughts Not just what came to mind regarding my philosophy on the topic, but also the experiences I’ve had over the years.  From the 50,000-foot level, you could think, “Boy, that Tim is one lucky guy! He is actually living his dream, doing what he wants to do, the way he wants to do it.”

I would agree, but with a caveat.

I made it to this level of my life thanks to one thing: failures. Things that didn’t happen, that didn’t turn out the way I wanted, or things that were going well that just blew up.

I remembered being asked to be the featured speaker at Canyon Park Junior High School a long time ago. I wanted to say something to these kids that would actually matter. So, I did an entire speech about failure and not being afraid to try for what you believe in. My own kids probably heard my Ken Griffey, Jr. analogy a million times while they were growing up. “You know that amazing catch he just made? Oh, he could have thought that there was no way he’d ever catch that ball as it almost made it over the fence, but he tried and he succeeded.  How many times before that did he try to catch a home run ball and miss it? Every single time. But eventually, trying succeeded.”

In my speech to the grads, I brought up some of the greatest failures in history, as well as their generation. Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney and others were major failures…until they succeeded. Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and so many others starred in horrible TV series, some that were canceled after only one episode. But they got back out there and kept going.

I can’t even begin to tell you about the many, many projects that I was involved with over the years, that I thought for sure would be my big success story. There was an audio tape tour of Edmonds that I recorded; an Inspector Gadget computer game, where I was a cheaper alternative to Don Adams who didn’t charge $1-million; project after project that I did with the hope this would be the big payoff, which never happened.

Truth be told, you can do anything you want in this world. You can achieve whatever it is you desire. What most of the Millennials (and really, everyone, for that matter) don’t realize is that the biggest obstacle in the way of you being hugely successful is one person: you.

I do a great variety of things, not for monetary gain, but because I believe they are positive contributions to this swirling rock.  And I know that, for every one of me, there’s another person strictly focused on the monetary gain that determines if they come out the winner.

Once you decide which side of that fence you’re going to reside on, the rest is easy. If you try something beyond your comfort zone and fail, you will grow and, you’ll have at least tried. I can’t believe I’m bringing this up again (for like the third time in the past couple of days) but I hear that what people think about most on their deathbed is not what they did, but what they didn’t do.

So, take a swing. Believe in yourself. If you fail, congratulations. You’ve just gained a valuable education without racking up any college debt as a result. Your biggest growth will occur once you’ve gotten past the fear of failure.

Get out there and fail at something, would ya?

Tim Hunter

100 MPH

 

Yep, I knew it was going to be challenging and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

First off, seriously, if you have not checked out my newest radio station yet, you have to do that. Now, I’m going to assume the bulk of you reading this right now are outside of the Everett area.  If so, there are so many ways for you to listen to KRKO.

Let’s start with Alexa. If you have one of those Amazon devices, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to listen. Just say, “Alexa, play KRKO” and you’ll start getting the music.

To listen on any device–computer, tablet, or phone–just go to KRKO.com and click LISTEN LIVE. It’s that easy.

Just a reminder, I’m on from 6-9am, Monday through Friday and not a lot. Top of the hour ID and three times an hour for a couple of minutes each break. But that allows us to get in more of the songs.  So many of these songs were abandoned by the Seattle stations and we’re actually playing them and a lot. I was just chatting with the consultant, Terry Patrick (the voice you hear identifying each of the songs) and I had to tell him I’m still hearing songs for the first time. That is, ones I haven’t heard anywhere else for eons.

Hey, we’re small-town radio. We feature the High School game of the week on Friday nights and carry minor-league baseball and hockey games, but that’s what really appealed to me. This is sincere radio,  the way we all expected the medium to be when we got into this business.  The staff has been very welcoming to me and is doing everything they can to help me make this work. I wanted to play in radioland again, but not put my current career on hold. So, I’ve added one more thing to my crazy schedule, all in the name of fun.

So, I’ll ask–if you would like to play, if you’d be up for me to call you up some day and drag you into a conversation just let me know. Drop me a note and the best time you’re available for calling to tim.hunter@krko.com and I’ll definitely take you up on the offer.

The first couple of weeks have been challenging. My main computer crashed last Saturday, so I ordered a new one while I turned the old one over to the Geek Squad folks at Best Buy. Amazon failed me, saying they would deliver it on Sunday by 8pm…then 9pm….then promising it no later than TUESDAY!  Fortunately, the folks at Best Buy came through and got my existing computer up and running in time to record Tuesday’s show.

If stress shaves a few seconds off your life, I could go at any minute. I will say, it’s a bit of an adjustment to go from a fairly stress-free routine to a daily high-anxiety setting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Again, KRKO is on 1380AM and 95.3-FM, but mainly only in the Everett area. You can get a scratchy AM signal in Seattle, but I’d highly recommend streaming via KRKO.com  It’s the new way of listening to the radio, without all the static that comes with FM.

It’s that small town radio station I thought I would work at one day again, with occasional glitches here and there….but I’m loving it.

Tim Hunter

It’s Actually Happening

Four years ago, I rolled the dice big-time, gave up a nice-paying but not rewarding job to pursue my professional dreams. I could have easily crashed and burned and found myself working with former Cosby cast members at Trader Joe’s, but the crazy plan actually worked.

My goal was to create a working situation where–

  • I was doing what I wanted to be doing with people I liked
  • Earning enough to cover the bills, with a little left over
  • Create a balance of all the things I love, so I’d be able to keep doing it until I retired

Later this month, I crack the 63-year-old mark, so retirement is within sight. However, my definition of retirement is probably different than most. That will probably just mean thinning out the list of the many things I do, eliminating the less-rewarding and focusing my efforts on just the fun stuff.

Right now, I have my own creative services company, work for Create Impulse as their Chief Creative Officer, emcee events like this week’s Lutefisk Eating Contest at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival (I believe this is the 15th Lutefisk eating competition I’ve emceed), write for Radio-Online every morning, aim jokes at my various comedy clients and produce videos. I churn out a weekly Ima Norwegian cartoon, a podcast, write a blog and consult several clients. Then pile on top of all those things the duties and activities that come with being involved with ten or so clubs and organizations, and you could say I’m one busy person. But I like busy and when my schedule is mostly made up of things I love, what else would I rather be doing?

But underneath it all, I’ve had this need to do one thing that has been missing from my life for 15 years. Radio.

Seriously, I was thinking that one day, we’d move to a smaller town somewhere and I would latch on to the local small-town station just to satisfy my craving. Remember, I spent over 30 years of my life in the biz, and when it decided to push me away, I embraced developing new skills and pursuing other goals. That I have done.

I can now direct, shoot and edit videos and commercials, thus adding a nice collection of abilities to my skillset. But here’s the crossroads I came to: Radio is and has always been fairly unstable. Formats change, program directors love you or hate you, it’s entirely possible to come off a great show and be told that you’re done. I know. It’s happened.

Which begs the question, “Why would I risk all that I’ve developed to plunge back into the unstable world of radio?” I’d welcome the return, but not by risking everything I’ve built up. After all, been there, done that. So if I were to venture back on the airwaves, it would have to be a perfect fit and be able to be piled on to everything else I’m already doing. Are there enough hours in the day? I believe so, for the right situation.

Over the years, I’ve reached out and talked with Andy Skotdal who own’s Everett’s KRKO. He knew me from my Seattle work and was always interested in connecting. But I didn’t want to start something there, only to realize a month or two later, this isn’t what I really wanted to do. At one time, he was thinking a news station with me doing mornings. Not really my thing. I’m a goofball, you know that. Then, they went into the Sports Radio arena and, again, not for me.

Then, earlier this summer, they flipped to a music station. And not just a regular music station, but what they call “Everett’s Greatest Hits” which amounted to the songs I used to play on the radio. A few 60s, mostly 70s and some 80s. Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John. And, with an up-tempo feel.

Chuck Maylin, formerly of KBSG (the great Seattle oldies station that is no more) and veteran consultant Terry Patrick have created one fine-sounding station that, for now, didn’t have a morning personality.

Today, that changes.

I initially reached out to them to maybe track out an afternoon shift or weekend, just to satisfy my radio Jones. (not to be confused with Jones radio)  They were interested, but had someone internally for mornings and if they were to add an afternoon voice, it would be a “down the line” thing.

Then, the guy who was to host mornings parted ways with the station. So they had a need.

We talked and agreed to make this happen, but not until after my recent Norway trip. It just wouldn’t make sense to start on the air, and then disappear for a couple of weeks.

So, today, Monday, September 10th, I begin a new chapter in my broadcasting career. I’ll be hanging out at 1380-AM and 95.3-FM from 6-9am Monday through Friday. I would highly recommend streaming the station, which you can do easily with one click at KRKO.com.

I am incredibly blessed, because I’m going to get to enjoy playing radio again, on a small-town, local-owner radio station, while continuing to live my big-city life.  Here are a few of my fellow KRKO-kateers, excited to hear I was joining the team.

OK, well, mildly intrigued might be a better description.

Everett’s Greatest Hits, here I come.

Tim Hunter

 

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE #176

A virtual treasure trove of bits from the Murdock, Hunter & Alice days. An environment feature, we take you camping, you’ll hear a mash of the TV “Boot Camp” with Elmo from Sesame Street, and even what a MH&A PlayStation game sounds like. Sure.

They Really Were Some Pretty Good Old Days

Last Sunday, I got to enjoy a wonderful stroll down Memory Lane. I gathered with friends from my college days, when I was living in a dorm named Terry Hall that no longer exists at the University of Washington.
You’re saying, “Oh, Tim, they still have a Terry Hall at the University of Washington.” Different one. They tore down the building I lived in for three amazing years back in 2014. When the last of the students moved out in December of 2013, the Seattle Police actually used the building for SWAT Team training before the wrecking ball showed up to do its work.

Taking me back to my time at the original Terry Hall means going back over 40 years ago. That’s weird. Growing up, when my parents talked about 40 years ago, that would have been referring to the Great Depression and pre-World War II.  But here I am now, in this 60-year-old body with a mind that thinks he’s still 35, reminiscing about those days in the 1970s like they were yesterday.

Terry Hall was my first experience at living away from home. It’s where I learned that if you spend too much time being lovesick over a girl from your home town, you could end up with a $112 phone bill. Yes, kids, there was a time where long-distance calls actually cost money. I was attending school at the UW, but my social world was this building full of other kids who had left the nest and were reinventing themselves into the people they wanted to become.  I arrived in Seattle as a black-belt in goofball (no surprise to my high school friends) but being away at college allowed me to be a goofball on steroids. A few examples? Oh, sure.

Like I said, no surprises there.

These were the transition years. Going from a kid whose parents provided a safety net to being a semi-adult with full adult responsibility. There was so much learning going on, both in and out of school. The three years I lived in Terry Hall pretty much shaped my future. The high school girlfriend I was supposed to marry decided to set a new course. A guy down the hall, Bob Carey, gets full credit for telling me about the broadcasting program at the U-Dub. I remember thinking, “You could play on the radio and learn about television and call that a major? Done deal!”

Each of the people at the reunion triggered different memories. There was Erika, the girl from Germany, who once tried to teach me skiing. Jen and Abdoul, who both ended up working for a local city. My long-time pal, Steve, who knows more incriminating things about me than anyone should. Even my old roommate, Les showed up. That was a treat. Les and I ventured away from the dorms my senior year of college, to a funky house in the Fremont district of Seattle. That house still stands and is now actually a barbecue place. Seriously, this was our home.

We remembered classmates who weren’t there and wondered what they were up to. Who was still around? Who is about to retire? Who has already retired?

I got to meet spouses and hear about their kids. It was a small group, but with all the value of a big fancy class reunion.  These were people I saw every day, that became a part of my life. They were the folks I would look for, when sitting down in the cafeteria and with whom I worked with in the kitchen. That picture of me up above in the white hat? That was taken when I had the dorm kitchen job of milk runner, where it was my responsibility to make sure none of the milks ever ran out. I was also a fry cook and on egg days, I would cook around 1200 eggs or flip 1500 pancakes in the morning for breakfasts.

Get me going and there’s a movie’s worth of stories that, maybe, someday I’ll write down. In the meantime and for now, they’re alive and well up in my brain. A few of the forgotten ones were knocked loose again last weekend. We all agreed, we HAVE to do this again sometime soon. Those really were some good old days.

The hardest part about pulling off one of these mini-reunions? Yes, all those various schedules make it a challenge. But the most difficult part is admitting that everything we talk about happened over 40 years ago.

That’s hard.

Tim Hunter