Mother’s Day 2019

Everyone has one and this Sunday, we salute that special person we’ve come to know as mom.

Yes, dad was involved with bringing you into the world, but mom was seriously invested in the process. Remember, she probably had to give up smoking and drinking for 9 months, out of concern for the little monster she would be bringing into the world. That’s dedication.

In my case, I was the first one to come along, followed by two sisters. Dad was a mechanic out at United Airlines, while mom was a stay-at-home until the mid-1960s when women in the neighborhood began to start working outside the home.  First, she tried her hand at retail over at J.C. Penney’s and then, she worked for Home Savings, which eventually became Washington Mutual. Mom had a chance to become a manager, but opted not to, because it would have meant being sent to a God-forsaken branch somewhere around Los Angeles. She climbed the ranks to head teller and stayed there and in Torrance until she retired.

Mom has threatened to write her life story down over the years and has a few notes jotted down. A few years back, I video-taped her telling about how she ended up in California. She was raised on a farm in South Dakota and the story I remember most happened when she graduated from 8th grade. She told us she remembers crying when her parents said that she couldn’t go to high school because they needed her to work on the farm. Eventually, she moved to the big city of Aberdeen and worked there until she was 18. When her roommate and best friend headed out to California, she went out to visit for her wedding. She was the maid of honor, and my dad, was the best man. That’s where they met which eventually resulted in me.

It’s so funny, but if you ask me to remember mom stories from growing up, I could bring up the fact she was a Cub Scout den mother or some nice memory, but what always comes to mind is sitting in back seat of our Ford Fairlane after being picked up at school and how she got pulled over just down from our house by a motorcycle cop for failing to use her blinker when she turned into our neighborhood.  She was mortified. I’ve often thought of writing to the governor to ask for clemency.

Oh and another story I remember. Mom was determined to graduate from high school, so she went back and got her G.E.D. from Torrance High School, the same high school me and my sisters graduated from.

I’ve always been a big fan of everyone getting their life stories written down for future generations to enjoy. I’d love to hear all those details about the big decisions they had to make or the setbacks along the way. It’s an assurance that we all somehow manage to pull through; that as much as we think we’ve got it either tougher or easier, we all go through our own versions of life.

Last weekend, my sister Debbie and my mom came up for a visit. It’s been years since she’s been up here and we were able to do one of those bucket list things for her–catching the Skagit Valley tulips in bloom. She was blown away.

Mom is 90 and turns 91 in August. We threw her a big party last year and, if you never saw it, I put together a fun video to salute her, which I’ll stick in here, in case you haven’t seen it.

 

 

So, as we approach another Mother’s Day, I have to express my gratitude to the powers that be that allow me to still chat with my mom on a daily basis. She’s in Torrance, but all three kids give her a call once a day, just to check in. In the meantime, she continues to enjoy life–gardening in her yard, hitting the Dollar Store for deals, reading her newspapers and continually trying to get caught up with all the shows on her DVR.

It’s a good life and knowing what all she had to go through in raising me, a well-deserved one.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma!

Tim Hunter

Opening Day of Boating Season

 

Here it comes again–another notch in the spring belt, the Opening Day of Boating Season.

While the rest of the country goes bonkers over a horse race in Kentucky, we’re all about the 106th annual celebration of all things nautical in Seattle, when crowds line the Mortlake Cut next to the University of Washington to first watch a series of crew races, followed by the traditional parade of boats with all the yacht clubs from the area showing off their finest.

It’s free and for a lot of people, an annual tradition. Bring the lawn chairs and set up camp as you watch yachts, steamboats, vintage craft, sailboats and more float by to the cheers of the crowd.

We won’t make it this year, but I have to admit I have quite a few of these under my belt.

Back when I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO radio in the early 1980s, KOMO was “your Husky station” and part of that honor included broadcasting the crew races. I remember the voice of the Huskies, Bob Rondeau and the Husky Crew Coach Dick Erickson, doing the play-by-play as the KOMO 4 helicopter flew overhead.

The day didn’t end there. KOMO’s Traffic Reporter Ted Garlatz invited everyone on his boat to go out on the water and hop from yacht club to yacht club. To be honest, I’m surprised we didn’t crash into anything along the way. Or, maybe we did and just kept going. Yes, alcohol was involved.

Years later, I went on a sentimental trip there was a previous father-in-law, who had been a coxswain for the UW back in the late 40s. He loved being back there again, as he had done his fair share of opening day regattas. I’m convince that he’s the guy yelling instructions at the rowers in the blown-up picture on the wall of the Northgate Ram Restaurant.

Then, when I first got together with Victoria, we were regularly invited guests aboard the Oberg’s boat for opening day.  First, going out with the rest of the yachts that were tied up and then, eventually, just partying from shore and walking over to catch the parade.

Yes, that first Saturday in May means a lot of things to lots of people. To some, it’s the Kentucky Derby, while others look forward to the annual free pancake breakfast at McLendon’s Hardware. No matter how you celebrate it, it’s a special day. This year, we won’t be going to the cut, but instead are heading up to catch the tulips that made it this far. Oh, and it’s my wife’s birthday.

As I said, it’s a very special day.

Tim Hunter

Stop and Smell the Tulips

I could have gone a lot of directions this week in this little therapeutic corner of the Internet.  Last week, a client’s Facebook page was just taken down without warning. A generic message from Facebook said that there had been hate speech or something like that. With this week’s posts having to do with the Mariners, tulips and Hyundai’s, I had no explanation as to how this could have happen. I was unable to reach a human entity at Facebook and even wrote up a report that Mark Zuckerberg was harassing me, just to get their attention.

The page remains down.

But then you have things like the fire at Notre Dame, the insanity of the presidential campaign already heating up and, I’ve made a decision: I’m dropping a flying water tanker on it all and going back to those tulips.

Yes, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is off and running up north once again. I’ve actually talked to several people this week who have lived here all their lives that have never been. With this weekend looking on the sunny side, it would the perfect occasion for that first trip, so here are my suggestions for a great time in the tulips.

  • First, get a brochure. They’re free to download at the festival site. If you can’t make it this year, you can have them mail a printed version you one so you can plan for next year.
  • When we went last weekend, the forecast was for rain. That actually turned into a blessing, as the crowds were WAY down and we just drove right in, hit Tulip Town, and even managed to get out by the fields in-between rainstorms. While it was gray, the colors in the fields were still beautiful.
  • I mentioned Tulip Town. We like it because it’s an all-in-one experience. Free parking (which can be hard to come by this time of year) and for $10, you can hang inside their festive barn, see displays, do some shopping and then, head out to the fields. When it’s not rainy and muddy, they have wagons you can ride in that take you around the fields. Otherwise, like last weekend, we had to walk it and it was really muddy. Like walking on ice.
  • There are other farms and fields. That’s when you’ll need the map that’s included in that brochure.
  • And Skagit County has finally spoken up. Apparently, when the lines get long and the cars get backed up, so do people. They’ve had a problem with people going to the bathroom in the Tulip Fields. It’s so much of a problem, they had to create PoopSmart.org. Plan ahead.

While you’re up in the area, swing through La Conner. An artsy little town on the river with a bunch of fun shops, restaurants and a brewery. It doesn’t get much better.

If this weekend is more dedicated to Easter or Passover, I get it. But we probably have a couple of more weekends of blooms for you to catch and by then, the crowds should have died down a little. We live here, it’s a rare treat right in our own backyard and something you really need to experience, if you haven’t already.

With all the craziness in the world around us, it would be good to stop and smell the tulips. Yeah, it’s time.

Tim Hunter

A Penney Not Saved

Oh, it’s official–the J.C. Penney store at my nearest mall is going away. The Northgate Shopping Center, which opened in 1950 as one of the country’s first post-war shopping centers, is going through a massive renovation that has no room for the big anchor stores that every successful mall needed. Penney’s is going through the closing process and Macy’s will be right behind it this July. In a few years, the shopping center will be transformed into a mixed-use center with hotels, housing, offices and the headquarters and practice facility for our new N.H.L. expansion team.

The going-out-of-business signs went up a week ago. There are those guys on the street corners, holding up the 50-70% off signs. We decided to go take a look and it was sad. Yes, times change, things come and go, and yes, we scored some great deals. But what we saw when we got there really drove home the point it was going away. You can’t access the downstairs. Where the men’s department and housewares used to be is now where all the shelves and racks are being stored. All the merchandise has been moved upstairs with ‘All Sales Final’ posted prominently everywhere.

I’ve always joked that the two places I only buy clothes are Costco and Penney’s.  That joke has now been cut in half. Penney’s is where my mom went to work, back in the 1960s when women dared to start working outside the home. Since my parents had one vehicle, I remember dad and us kids all piling into the car around 9:30 in our pajamas and then head over and wait outside the employee entrance for when mom got off.

Victoria’s dad was a school teacher, but started working at Penney’s to help supplement the family budget and was one of the first hires of that new Penney’s when it opened in Northgate many years ago. As a retired Penney’s employee, I believe he gets the employee discount for life, as long as he can find a Penney’s store still open.

But now, like so many things of his generation and now, my generation, it’s going away. I have to say, it’s very strange to see things that have been around your entire life just fade off into history. Perhaps it’s just another reminder to appreciate the day and all that is around us. I’m going with that.

Tim Hunter

The Art of the Podcast

It takes a lot to impress this guy when it comes to media. I’ve known some pretty talented people in both radio and TV over the years, and for something to grab my attention, it has to be extremely remarkable.

Now, in the arena of podcasting, I seriously don’t have a lot of experience. Then again, I never felt the need. I’ve got the thousands of channels on my cable TV system, along with everything Prime and Netflix has to offer. I stay up on local radio, subscribe to Sirius XM and have my phone loaded with some pretty good songs. I’ve got media aimed at me from all directions, so the last thing in the world I needed was one more medium to become familiar with–the podcast.

Not to say I’m completely unaware of that world. For the longest time, I felt it was “an Apple thing” and being a die-hard Windows Phone/Android guy, I figured I would leave them to the nerds and hipsters. I heard that Adam Carolla, when his radio career went away, launched a fairly successful podcast and continues with it to this day.  Respecting the category, I actually produced a 10-20 minute podcast–the Wacky Week Podcast–for 167 episodes before my stalled radio career was revived. Sort of an Adam Carolla with .005% of the audience. For me, this was more like audio-scrapbooking, as I wanted to preserve some of my radio moments of the past. Seemed like a good way to use the podcast technology.

But one day, I was listening to KIRO in the afternoons when the now-departed (from radio, not the world) Ron & Don were interviewing a guy from a Salt Lake City radio station about their podcast, called, “Cold.” The topic was one of those morbid, “I can’t believe this happened” subjects where a guy undoubtedly made his wife disappeared and then, blew up the house he was in along with his two young sons. Sort of the “if I can’t have them, no one can” mentality.

I had followed the case from afar and, after listening to the host on the radio, decided to embark on my very first podcast experience (outside of my own).

Oh, my God.

What the team at KSL did with their “Cold Podcast” was a detailed explanation of what happened and how it all went down. How the couple met, what went on in their lives and all the details about how Susan disappeared and what happened when the boys were dropped off at their father’s house on their last day in this world.

There were not only interviews with the police, family and friends who were anxious to tell this story, but also audio recordings of both Josh Powell and his dad, who both kept audio journals. Add in some actor reenactments for the rest of the characters is this tragic story and for 18 episodes, I was completely mesmerized. In fact, I want more.

Every Wednesday meant a new episode and I couldn’t wait for the day. It never disappointed and was always done with the idea that this really happened and stories just like it are continuing to happen every day.
If only someone had spoken up sooner.

If you’re into the podcast technology, it’s called The Cold Podcast and I highly recommend it. Or, you can listen to all of the episodes via the website they set up, which is the preferred method of my 90-year-old mother. She absolutely loves it. They give you details that are disturbing, but done factually and not for shock value.

It’s heart-breaking to hear the story and you get this overwhelming feeling like you want to help but know you can’t. While I was aware of the news-story side of it, after hearing The Cold Podcast I am very much planning one day to visit the graves of those two young boys, Charlie and Braden, down in Puyallup’s Woodbine Cemetery. I feel it’s the least I could do out of respect for their memory and for those two souls who never had the chance to grow up.

Kudos to the KSL team that put in all the time and effort to make this audio achievement happen. It really is a must-listen–If not now, soon, or on your next road trip. It’s one of the highest forms of a podcast, with each episode inspiring you to hug your loved ones the next time you see them.

Tim Hunter

What a Great Week!

Weeks come and go. There are those that drag on forever while others blur by and the next thing you know it’s Friday.

I’m doing my absolute best to savor this one. This is a great week!

Sunday, while most people were celebrating the day with green beer, we found ourselves sitting out on the deck of my step-son’s home in Kirkland, sipping DeLille wine and playing with their new pup, Ollie. The dog couldn’t have been cuter, the wine crisp and chilled, the skies the bluest we’ve seen in months. I don’t know how many times I  commented on them, but it was the kind of day you dream about when you’re battling through one of the high-stress varieties.

Meet Ollie

And that was just Day 1 of this awesome week.

Monday and Tuesday were more sun-drenched days and I believe both set records for all-time winter highs! Oh, sure, we could shift the conversation to global warming and our impending doom, but this is just what we needed after getting all that late winter snow just a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, I get to go hang with my KRKO gang for a weekly meeting and talk about what silliness we have planned for April 1st. Be sure to tune in, I think you’ll enjoy it.  It’s also when the baseball season kicks off at 2:35am, with the Mariners and A’s opening up the season in Japan. Spring also officially arrives that day, at 2:58pm. A perfect time for an at-work welcome party, which I think will be a popular concept this year. People are ready.

Yeah, the work things has hit a nice stride, where I’m feeling a doable balance. I’m working on a couple of video projects, was grabbed to emcee an auction in June for the Bothell Boosters, shot several scenes for my upcoming “National Gullible Day” video for this year. There’s just a lot of good things happening.

Thursday, March Madness kicks into high gear and Friday evening, I go to the Silvertips playoff game and during the first period, get to go out on the ice and give away a boat on behalf of KRKO. Dang!

That doesn’t mean that the week is perfect, by any means. But it’s illustrating even more that our good weeks and bad weeks are basically determined by what we focus on. The good or the bad. I know I could pull out a couple of bad things going on right now–oh, they’re there–but all that is good has been distracting me. And it’s working.

So, if this has been a rough one for you, give it a try. If you need to, write down a list of what’s been good and what’s been bad about the week.  Then, tear off the bad part and throw it away. Realize what’s good and remember, good attracts more good.

And another thing–I filled out my March Madness Brackets and at this point of the week, I haven’t gotten one wrong. I know that’ll change next week. Or, as soon as Thursday. But no matter—I’ll just write that down on the right side of the page and tear it off when I’m done.

That’s enough for now. Gotta get back to my great week.

Tim Hunter

You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are

I was doing one of my many multi-tasking days last weekend, where I went there, decided while I was there to go there, and so on…and next thing you know, I was grabbing a freeway on-ramp to go south on I-5 and head home.

As I approached the on-ramp, the flashing ramp-metering flashing yellow light was on–meaning, I was going to have to slow down and come to a stop, to a point where the ramp-metering gods would decide it was OK for me to merge on the freeway.

I awaited my turn and then, the golden moment arrived. OK, the green moment. It was my turn to go. As I gave it the gas, I head off to the sound of a horn honking behind me. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw a young 20-something with an angry look on her face, hitting the brakes and laying her hand on the horn.

As I drove away, I realized what had happened. She was pissed. Pissed that I had stopped on the freeway on-ramp (as required by law) because of the on-ramp metering system. (A quick side-note–my college roommate’s brother actually helped design the ramp-metering system. You may cheer or boo as you wish) 

As I merged on to the freeway, I glanced occasionally in my rear-view mirror to see if she had joined the rest of us on the freeway. As I suspected. she had laid on the horn honking in anger. But as I pulled away, she realized she had screwed up and vented when she should have been humble.

She had screwed up.

Maybe she was looking down, distracted by a text or a phone call. No matter. She came around the curve of that on-ramp and barely braked in time to avoid rear-ending me, giving me a nice case of whiplash and giving her insurance rates that would make Antonio Brown sweat.

In other words, she dodged a HUGE bullet.

My hope is that she accepted all that came her way. The realization that she avoided a mistake that would have followed her for life, if nothing else, for a couple of years. Young lady, you may not realize how close you came to really screwing up your life. And mine, for that matter.

But the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was hitting acceleration and avoiding the collision as she was realizing that she needed to stop and barely pulled it off. It was one of those rare life moments where everyone got out of it unscathed.

Young lady, whoever you are: you don’t realize how lucky you are!

Tim Hunter

My World

I’m a staff writer for Radio-Online, a radio show prep service with subscribers all over the world. I’ve been getting up at 4am for over a dozen years (too lazy to count right now) and putting together a collection of things that disc jockeys could say to their audiences, without having to think of them.

I write jokes, come up with topics to talk about, and create games to play with their listeners. One of the games involves giving you the slogan a company uses and then, you have to identify the company. So while I’m out and about living my life, if I hear or see a slogan, I turn to my iPhone and text the message to myself so I can use it when that quiz rolls around again.

The other day, I saw a commercial for Microsoft and noted their slogan, “Empowering us all!” I grabbed my phone, dictated the message and hit send. As I did, the words that voice-recognition heard caught my eye. It said, “Microsoft. Empowering asshole.”

Well, close enough.

Tim Hunter

Oh, the Flashbacks You’re Missing Out On

As you know, I’ve got a new radio home, 1380-AM, 95.3FM KRKO. For most of you reading this, the best way to hear it is to stream the station over your phone, your computer or tablet at KRKO.com or to simply tell your Smart Speaker, “Alexa, Play KRKO, Everett’s Greatest Hits.”

I will admit, for most of my adult life, I followed contemporary music. I wanted to keep up with the younger generation, to hear what’s new and fresh and innovative. I always felt that people who listened to “oldies” never progressed and were stuck in their past. However, after decades of a general decline in the quality of pop music, I’m finding incredible comfort in revisiting all those songs I grew up with, or that I played on the radio when they were new.

It’s not like there isn’t brilliant stuff going on out there, but it’s become the exception, rather than the rule. I hear most of the songs today and wonder if this generation is really going to look back on this music as fondly as I look back on mine.

With KRKO’s musical range, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s,  I’m hearing songs that I used to listen to on KHJ “Boss Radio” in Los Angeles while growing up and hitting the beaches. Or, there’s a song from my Yakima radio days from the 70’s. And next thing you know, we’re playing something from the early 1980s that I eventually played during my early years on KLSY.

The big payoff has been knocking loose some long-lost memories that were buried pretty deep in my mind. The other morning, after playing “Twist & Shout”, I remembered back to growing up on 226th Street and that group of neighbor kids I spent so much time with. The Beatles reminded me of Kenny Vaughn, who came from a family of 7 down the street. The best I can do is Penny, Lori, Kenny, Sandy and Tina. Not bad. But what I remember about the Vaughn family is that Kenny had a cool mom who loved the Beatles. At a time when their mop-head haircuts alarmed the more conservative parents, Kenny’s mom actually kept her kids out of school to go see a Beatles movie when it came out.

And that flashback triggered another one on what had been designated “National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.”

I remembered a disc jockey and eventually the “Laugh In” announcer, Gary Owens, and his radio show on KMPC.  While I loved the “Boss Hits” KHJ was playing in my tween years, I still found myself twisting the radio dial over to Middle-of-The-Road KMPC every afternoon to catch Gary, hear his witty banter and enjoy those comedy features like, “How the West Was Won” and “The Story Lady.”

I had a lot of comedy influences while growing up—Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Red Skelton, Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges–but I have to say that Gary had a huge part in making me dream about being funny on the radio, with features like this:

While he’s no longer with us, a tip of the hat to Gary and his smooth yet silly style. He made me laugh, was a big inspiration to yours truly and left me with memories that have lasted a lifetime. Laughter is a wonderful emotion. It makes us feel good, lifts us up, and takes us to a positive place in a usually not-that-funny world.

It makes me that much more excited to see what other long-lost memories I’ll be able to shake loose during my next radio shift. I hope you can join me.

Tim Hunter

PS–Always pre-read your radio copy before reading it live on the air.

 

I Live in a Special Place

Look, that’s no secret. Ever since I slipped up here in 1973 to attend the University of Washington and fell in love with this state, I’ve known that this is one, special place.

I remember describing the northwest to friends as “somewhere you could live in the kind of place we used to go camping.” When you fly into Seattle and look out the window as you’re about to land in Seattle, you may find yourself thinking, “Oh, my God, we’re going to crash into a forest!”

When my fiancé Victoria and I were house-hunting back in 2007, we did a lot of looking around. I had a home in Bothell and worked in Edmonds. She had a house in Ballard and worked in downtown Seattle, so we were looking for a neutral corner. To be honest, I didn’t even know the Broadview area of Seattle existed. But our realtor, Bruce Fulton, found the house we’ve called home for the past 12 years in the heart of this north Seattle neighborhood.

During some of our get-to-know-the-neighbors gatherings, I found out that our little neighborhood was among the “Parade of Homes”, one of the earlier versions of the “Street of Dreams.” I believe 7 of the homes in our neighborhood came with swimming pools, although all but two have been filled-in. Between leaves dropping and our far-from-resort-weather, having a pool in the northwest really isn’t that great.
Tonight, while working on social media posts for a client, I was doing some research into Seattle history and I came across some nuggets that simply blew me away. The “Broadview” area of Seattle is up around the 125th-140th area of the N.W. streets.  Our home would have a spectacular view of the Puget Sound if it weren’t for all the trees and neighbors, but then again, that’s among the things we loved about this area.

One of the things I learned about this area of North Seattle is that they used to have a place called, Playland. An amusement park located on Bitter Lake that opened in 1930, at a cost of $750,000 to build. This was back in the time when that was a long way out-of-town. The area where we live now used to be where people would have their vacation or weekend homes. Playland opened in 1930 and made it all the way until 1961 before closing forever.

Now, add to that, they used to have an Aurora Race track out here, as well. No kidding.

 

Can you imagine?  Piling the family in the car and then heading out “to the country” to take in some auto racing while sitting in the giant wood bleachers?

And what area would be complete without a drive-in movie theater? It was a mile or so, due east of where we now live.

I’m sure you could get similar results with almost any neighborhood. Do a little digging, Google your neighborhood’s name and you just might some surprises about what went on before you got there. In my case, an amusement park, a race track and a drive-in theater, all made my neighborhood a destination for people to go and play almost a hundred years ago. All those places have been torn down, paved over and are now anything from SHAG housing to a car dealership or even a Dollar Tree store.

Thanks to those who took the time to capture those memories on film and everyone who helped preserve them along the way, so those of us around now can look back and marvel about how special this place is that we live.

It was special then. It’s special now.

Tim Hunter