Posted by: Tim Hunter | October 16, 2014

My Favorite Season

I have to say, since giving up the steady 9-5 grind and going out on my own October 1st, it has really been a dream come true.

There’s less stress in my life, I can greet each day as something to look forward to and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of potential out there (by the way, if I actually do scratch my Surface, I bought the extended warranty, so I’ll be fine)

It’s with this unlimited menu of opportunity that I’ve found myself reflecting on some of the more basics things about day-to-day life.  The other day, I just randomly passed along this thought to my wife, Victoria:  Just in case anyone ever asks or it comes up on a game show, my favorite season is fall.

While giving my reflection muscle a work out, it seems the reason is because it’s a season of change.  Winter is when things lie in wait….spring is when promises of a better future are made….summer is when we savor the present….and fall signals change.  I’ve always been big on change.  While it makes a lot of people uncomfortable, change is so refreshingly good for you and presents you with possibilities you didn’t even know existed.

So, it’s not surprising that I chose fall to launch this latest phase of my career.  Aside from the hair falling like leaves from my head, this was the perfect launching time for something new.  So far, it’s been a cornucopia of projects and, over the upcoming weeks, I hope to launch a weekly newsletter–just a brief one–to pass along that week’s golden moment.

Since that newsletter doesn’t exist yet, let me offer up this little tidbit.

Part of my wanting to focus more on the things I do is to give me more time for writing comedy.  It’s a passion and I was finding myself wedging it in when I had “spare time”, which by definition is the hours most people set aside for sleep.

Years ago, a comic friend of mine, Frank King, connected me with another funny fellow named Steve Kelley.  The guy is not only a political cartoon genius, but also manages to create a daily cartoon strip called “Dustin.”  Steve is kind enough to accept my jokes on a daily basis and when he sees one he believes would be a good cartoon, he lets me know, purchases it and creates a visual version of the joke.

Just this week, he grabbed this one from my collection of daily one-liners and turned it into this.

Kelly Cartoon BrokerI will always remember October as the month of my biggest  personal growth ever.   So, when you combine Husky and Seahawks football, baseball playoffs and the World Series, all the leaves turning and the beautiful fall colors, those great wind storms and thunderstorms, a cozy fire in the fireplace and all-new episodes of my favorite TV shows, toss in Halloween and Thanksgiving–the holiday where no gifts are involved and it’s all about food–and what’s not to love about fall!

Oh, did I mention that night we get to turn the clocks back and get an extra hour of sleep?

It’s the season that just keeps on giving.  Happy fall, everyone!

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | October 9, 2014

BEHOLD: The Deacons

The band takes the stage

The band takes the stage

Last weekend, we got to travel back in time.

My wife, Victoria’s mom’s cousin—you still with me?—John Sandvig, invited us to come down to PLU for a very special homecoming dance.

Neither of us were PLU alums, but there was a special reason for the invite. The band that was playing. The band John Sandvig performed with, as the lead singer, back in the 1960s: The Deacons.

That was a decade when it seems like everybody was in a band. Dick Foley and some of his frat brothers formed The Brothers Four. My old broadcast buddy, Larry Nelson, was in a doo-wop band, The Shades. He loved to tell the story of how he would stand out on the Ave in the U-District and they would pay kids to go in and buy their record, so they could get airplay on KJR. After all, sales equaled airplay.

But in this case, it wasn’t about record sales. Sure, they went into a studio or two and recorded some songs, but for the Deacons, it was all about the live performances. I believe the number John told me was over 350 dances in 3 years, mostly in the south Puget Sound. But they also performed at various venues from Vancouver to Vancouver.

But back to the special occasion of the Homecoming Dance at Pacific Lutheran University. Somehow, someone there thought it would be great to bring back the band that played at the very first co-ed dance ever held at the school in 1965: The Deacons.

Picking up where they left off

Picking up where they left off

The members were contacted, weekend and long-distance rehearsals were planned and the next thing you know, the big night had arrived. John’s wife, Bunny, even sewed some blazers similar to what the band wore back in the day.

Yes, 49 years later, they were back. Older, yes. Grayer, absolutely. Needed the words written down on a music stand, you bet. But for just under 3 hours, the boys were back and a very appreciative crowd of all ages, ate it up.

The night’s special guest—the Tacoma News Tribune’s Larry LaRue, who had previously written this cool article about the band and personally remembered their glory days.

It was a night of northwest music history and I was fortunate enough to have been there.

Behold: The Deacons

Tim Hunter

John & his family strike the pose

John & his family strike the pose

Posted by: Tim Hunter | October 6, 2014

They Just Don’t Get It

It’s been almost 11 years since I was informed of my retirement from radio.  Since then, I’ve watch group ownerships get bigger, consolidations followed by layoffs and all this, while local radio has devolved into an efficient-as-possible money-making machine.  Phase out the big-name shows, hire green talent to step in, and slowly but surely become less relevant to the audience that grew up with you.

My latest frustration with the world of radio came during the major league baseball playoffs, when I had to be on the road during one of the games.  I surfed up and down my AM and FM dial, past 5 different sports stations and not one was carrying the game.  Or any baseball playoff game for that matter.  Now, I would expect that in a smaller market, but in Seattle–a market with a major league baseball team.  Oh, we want you to be a fan, but ONLY if it’s us.

Radio basically came at me with the question, “So what are you going to do about it?”  What they fail to realize is that today, there ARE options.  I can download an app and play the game on my phone.  Or, if nothing else, you’ve trained me to search for what else is out there.  And lookie-there….satellite!

For a $1.83 upgrade charge, I suddenly had all the games in my car, whenever I need to be on the road.

Yes, I already had satellite in the car.  Got one of those free 3-month trials and fell in love with the static-free, commercial-free offerings.

I had a lot of fun in my radio days, but this incident is another reminder of why it was probably a good thing I got out when I did.  I’m a big believer of “things happen for a reason.”  Sadly, the people running radio these days are doing nothing more than cashing out, and trying to make as much as they can while they can.

Just passing along my latest experience and further proof that they just don’t it.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | September 30, 2014

A LONG TIME COMING

And thar he goes!!!

And thar he goes!!!

It finally happened. After just shy of 10 years at Destination Marketing, my work home for the past decade, I left the building for the final time. The next time I’m in the neighborhood, there will be a new door code. I could possibly see some new faces. It will be the site of my former job.

It would be only natural to second-guess myself. To ask, “Why would I give up a job where I get to do some of what I like to do, would start getting six weeks of paid vacation if I stayed a couple of more months, enjoy a good healthcare plan, steady income….?”

The key word in there is “some.”

Destination Marketing was where I eventually landed after my radio career imploded. It was a natural fit for the reinventing of myself as a writing-focused creative guy. Radio was the only thing I had known for 28 years, but advertising had always been a part of that. Talk to this client and write a spot, record this commercial before you go home and so on. As I made myself a new home at an advertising agency, that quickly expanded to TV, print and Internet ads.

DM, as the DM-ers call it, helped me grow into a more media and marketing savvy guy. I don’t know it all, but I’ve picked up a lot of useful information along the way and, what I don’t know, I’ve met people who do. To that end, it was the right time for me to head off and do my own thing.

What I had been doing was putting in my hours at Destination Marketing and then, before and after, doing the things I really love, like comedy, producing videos and voice work. Clients were usually an account director or an account manager away, so I didn’t often get to work with them directly. Having built up a few side clients that really appreciate what I do, I feel like I’m going to work for friends. And I am.

I’ve also had an ever-growing list of things I want to do, but just lacked the time. I have comedy to write, videos to produce and scripts to peddle!  Events to host!  Auctions to auctioneer at!

I have spent most of my life working for someone—Sears, United Airlines, the kitchen at the Terry Hall Dorms, radio stations and, finally, Destination Marketing. During my tenure at DM, I worked with 100 different people over those 10 years. Now, I’m working for me.

I’ve already lined up quite a few meetings, lunches and coffees and want to thank all of those base clients that allow me to get this thing going. It all just seems to be coming together. I don’t know where this path will take me, but since we all only get one shot at this, I’m just making sure to do it my way.

I also have to definitely thank Victoria, my family, all the friends and others who have encouraged me in taking this big step.

So…….Tim Hunter Creative Services, here we go!!!

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | September 24, 2014

Deal of the Decade

tim and car5_6094361441849985415_o

I’m cheap.

Call it ambitiously frugal, or a “true Scotsman”, whatever—I get a thrill when I score a big deal.

There have been several “great deal” moments over my life. The first that comes to mind is “the great Christmas tree score of ’12.” I had gone to Lowe’s to see if they had any after-Christmas killer deals and I came across a sign by their Christmas trees. “All trees $20.”   We’re not talking the little guys, ALL trees, $20. I asked several employees if the sign was right and they replied, “Yep!” So, I left the store with a 9-foot Westinghouse tree, pre-lit, the works, a $260 value….for $20 bucks.  I only wish I had grabbed several.

That particular exchange earned a spot in the Tim Hunter Great Deal Hall of Fame.

My latest entry came last weekend, while visiting my folks down in Los Angeles.

I had reserved a car at a rental place I’d never heard of before: SIXT. They claim they’ve been around since 1918. Whatever. I had gone online and reserved a sub-compact (the smallest thing you can get this side of a skateboard) and scored a smokin’ deal: 5 days for $99 (plus tax, etc.)

How do you beat that?

By showing up at the airport after several flight delays. It was after midnight, it came my turn to check in and the SIXT employee at the desk let me know they were all out of sub-compacts. So, I was going to get the car waiting for me out in spot 315.

Without looking at the paperwork, we headed straight to spot 315 and my wife Victoria and I just stopped and stared: “This must be a mistake.” Before my eyes, a beautiful 2014 Silver BMW 328i. I hit the open door button on the key chain they had given me and yep, for 5 days, we would be driving in luxury for just $99.

I’ve made a decision: this deal is not just going into the Tim Hunter Great Deal Hall of Fame, it might actually make it on to the poster.

SCORE!!!!

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | September 16, 2014

Oh and a P.S.

Hello?

Hello?

This would be on the dining portion of our evening last Friday at McCaw Hall.  So, being an after-work Friday evening Ian Anderson concert, we decided to make reservations at Prelude, inside the theater.  I used the OpenTable app, locked in a 7pm reservation and we were set.  The reviews on the web weren’t stunning, but how bad could it be?

We found out.  Got there at 6:50, seated at 6:58.  Waitress showed up and took drink orders…..delivered them around 7:10……we ordered the three course meal…..salad by 7:25…..main course by 7:40pm

Yes, and we had planned to leave for the show by 7:50pm, to make sure we were in our seats before it began.  After all, the tickets said “Show starts promptly at 8.”

All around us, I heard people complaining about the service.  The waitress told us they had scheduled only half the staff they really needed.  The food was good, slow to come and we had to leave early before dessert, so they told us to come back at intermission, which we did.

As we returned to our table during that intermission, we found our desserts waiting for us and the bill for our wine, since we had pre-paid for our dinner.  Wait a minute!  Since I hadn’t given her a credit card before, honesty forced me to track the waitress down after dessert and point out that we hadn’t  paid for that $35 a person 3-course meal.  She said I should have paid for it with my ticket price, that this was a private event for ticket holders and that she couldn’t do anything about it.

In other words, dinner was on them.

I’m still feeling guilty to a degree, but at the same time, whoever is running the Prelude: “This is your last call!”  You’re not going to in business very long with many more nights like last Friday.

 

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | September 16, 2014

It Was a Nice Place To Visit

He stills plays a mean flute

He stills plays a mean flute

 

The late 1960s and early 1970s were my formative years. I had emerged from a small private Lutheran school, survived 7th & 8th grades at my first-ever public school and then went off to Torrance High, followed by the University of Washington.

Along with me for the ride was a rock group called Jethro Tull.  They were less pop than the big groups of their day and their music found itself more on the new FM radio stations that began popping up.  Hard to believe there was a time when FM was new, but I was around to see it.

There were a lot of groups around those days, trying to impress the rebellious youth of that era.  Ian Anderson, the lead singer of Jethro Tull was this long-haired, almost homeless-looking bearded wonder, who sang with a distinctive voice AND played the flute.  Throw in lyrics like, “Snot is running down his nose” and how could a junior high boy turn that down?

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t aware of most of their music.  I knew of “Aqualung” because of a friend’s older brother.  “Locomotive breath” and “Thick as a brick” made it to Top 40 and some of those new FM stations, but other than that, me and their sound were casual friends at best.

But I always had a high appreciation of Ian’s musical talents—I mean, a flute in a rock band?  He made it work.  Their albums broke the mold, with story-telling, poetry and you just didn’t know what you’d be getting when you took one for a ride.

Last Friday evening, a packed house at McCaw Hall enjoyed the present and the past of Jethro Tull.  Ian Anderson led a very talented group of musicians, playing music from their album.  Then, because they couldn’t call themselves Jethro Tull, they “played the music of Jethro Tull.”  With Ian’s voice, it was them.

How are they doing? Well, time has taken its toll.  Ian and his flute are still a power combination, although his voice started strong and then faded as the night moved along.  That’s why he has with him a second vocalist, who alternatives lines throughout the performance, to keep it strong.

One thing they did as well as anyone I’ve ever seen in concert: they connected video on the screen behind them to the performance.  As Ian sang in real life, video of him singing that same song many years and lost follicles ago played on the screen.  It was a solid night of entertainment.

I felt like we were lucky enough to catch Ian and the band on their near-to-last call.  I enjoyed some of the new songs, but I’ll also be downloading some of those classics for some personal flashbacks of my own in the years to come.

 

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | September 11, 2014

Like Yesterday

It was just another day.  A Tuesday.  The alarm clock went off at 2:17am.  I thought that particular setting gave me time to wake up, do some initial show prep, take a shower, then head into work so that we were on the air by 5:30am.

Another Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show was underway.  The day before we had interviewed the author of a new book, that was all about 9-1-1 calls.   I’m sure his publicist thought it would be a good idea to do a tour and let people promote it on the date, 9-11.

In order to get the maximum amount of payoff for our efforts, we would air interviews early—like around 5:45am….and then, give them a replay later in the day, when more people were in their cars on the way to work.  Our first commercial break happened around 5:35am. The three of us checked in, made small talk, mentioned we had this author coming up in a “pre-sell” and then hit the spots.

The spots finished, we played a song and then, after Alice gave her traffic update, we launched into the feature.  As it played, we started seeing news reports about a plane crashing into New York’s twin towers. At first, the thought was that it was a small plane, like a Cessna.  Then reports kept coming in.  By the time we got to the top of the house, as we followed events on TV, we knew it was more than that.

KLSY was a music station.  Whenever we did a break, if it went over four or five minutes, it had to be the greatest thing ever broadcast on radio.  That day, September 11th, 2001, we went wall to wall talk.  Following the events as they unfolded, passing along information from news sources, as well as listeners calling in.  It was my first real experience at a talk radio program and I would like to say I enjoyed it, but it was if being in a bad dream. During our entire time on the air, it didn’t seem real.  By the time I got it through my head that a commercial airliner had crashed into the building, another one came in.  There were reports of people hijacking jets and crashing them intentionally into buildings.  You’ve gotta realize, at the time, nothing like this had ever happened.  Now, not once, but twice.

No one event in my days on this earth has been so life-changing. Innocence was lost.  Days of greeting people out at the airport gate were gone.  Unthinkable things became reality.

I don’t look at this day as a day of sadness, but rather, as a reminder of vigilance.  We’ve cried and adjusted our lives to better defend ourselves.  When September 11th rolls around, it should be a reminder to us all.  To just pay better attention to what goes on around is. To remember that, as sad as it seems, there are people in this world who feel it is their job to destroy us.

We will never forget those we lost.  It’s our duty to remember as much of those events vividly and do everything in our power to make sure that something like it will never happen again.

God bless the U.S.A..

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | September 4, 2014

The Long Weekend in Long Beach

Occasionally, I slip into travel-writer mode. It’s because I’ve had a great experience and I’d just like to share, in the event you ever feel like trying something new.

Perhaps you’ve already discovered Long Beach.  For the Labor Day weekend, we made our second trip there and had an amazing time.  Part of the amazement came at the way the weather timed out–while it was pouring in Seattle, our rain was confined to overnight.  We’d wake up to fog and low clouds, it would clear and the sun would take over.

What to do in Long Beach?  Lots of things that you never seem to find the time to do at home. Fly a kite. Go for a bike ride along the board walk.  Walk the miles and miles of available beach (thus the name).  Or zip across the border and visit the beach towns of Astoria or Seaside, Oregon.  I managed to sneak in a round of golf at a fun course down there over looking the water.  $16.  Less than a dollar for every ball I lost!

In town, there’s a decent number of shops to peruse, including the museum/store that is home to “Jake the Alligator Man.”  There are quite a few collectibles worth seeing, it’s free and you can cross “seeing an alligatorman” off your bucket list.

 IMG_4387

The hotel we stayed at, the Adrift Inn, was OK.  Really thin walls resulted in Victoria asking if that was me that sneezed when I was in the bathroom…and in fact, it was the guy next door.  And every morning, we were awaked by the pitter patter of little feet from a three-year-old running back and forth across the floor above, obviously hoping someday to run a marathon.

I do have to say the restaurant at the hotel was incredible.  We ate breakfast there twice because was so good.  Fresh, organic, but not over-priced.  I recommend the Oyster omelet and the fresh-squeeze mimosas.

Adventures included almost running into a herd of elk as we approached town. It was not even 3pm and 7 of them decided to run over the highway just ahead of us.  There was the time I was in the men’s room, using the urinal when a blur to the side of my eye came in,  quickly turned around and then yelled “Sorry, sir!” as she darted out.  It was a cleaning person who forgot to knock.

Our main purpose for the trip there was to say goodbye to Mack Barnette, best described as my brother-in-law’s father-in-law, who passed away last year.  We were there to spread his ashes on the beach and have the tide carry him away.  His daughter, my sister-in-law Bev, did a great job of corralling family, assigning duties and making a very memorable event happen.  It was a nice sendoff.

The gang gathers to say goodbye to Mack

The gang gathers to say goodbye to Mack

It’s a long drive, but what else would you expect to get to Long Beach?  If you want a shorter trip, head for Short Pier, Washington, and remember to brake.  Everyone should have a little Long Beach in their life.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 28, 2014

Huh….

So, I did it.  I went to a local talent agency, prepared to wow them with my ability to ad lib, tell stories, hear my voice…..

And I bombed.

Well, I’ll admit, I was nervous.  You go into a room, sit in front of two people and perform.  The instructions were to do a monologue.  To me, Jay Leno, David Letterman, etc, those people open their shows with monologues.  It’s a comedy staple.  Well, strike one–when they said monologue, they meant an acting piece, around 3 minutes.

My bad.

I delivered a monologue about myself, including a couple of true stories that I always felt would belong in a standup bit.

But I could tell the second I was done, something was wrong. “Well, that was nice..but…”

The good news–I haven’t been banned from the place yet.  In fact, I was invited back to come in and do an actual theatrical monologue, which of course, now I have to figure that one out.  I looked at this as going outside of my comfort zone.  Not just doing what I have done throughout my life, but going out on the edge and taking a swing.

So, as a follow-up to my last blog, Spielberg hasn’t called yet.  I have no representation.  But I’m going to get back on that saddle and try it again.  Or, maybe I’ll just leave the saddle at home and stand there.

Wish me luck.  Oh and yes, I’ll let you know the end result.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 21, 2014

Well, Here Goes Something

I’m going in for an audition today.

Those who know me realize that I’m not exactly a wallflower. Combine a 30-year radio career with emceeing dozens of parades, events, Santa arrivals, concert intros, Julebords, even lutefisk eating contests, and the plain truth is, I get around. I don’t have to go up front and be a goofball, but when I do, I really enjoy it.

So, as I prepare to evolve to the next stage of my career, the one I want to ride out into the sunset upon, I plan to expand my exposure. Go in for a few auditions, record some audio, maybe do some TV and perhaps pick up some extra gluten-free beer money. (I’m not gluten intolerant, but just saying ‘beer money’ seemed boring)

All of those factors resulted in me booking an audition with the Topo Swope Talent Agency today in Seattle.

As the Creative Director of an ad agency, we’ve used them to find talent before. Now, I’d like to move to the other side. To go to a building for the first time, in front of strangers and put it all out there for rejection. Or acceptance.

My current scheme for the years ahead is to be even more diverse than I am now, but with a higher priority on my personal projects, as well as working closely with a small group of clients on their marketing, advertising, whatever. With four decades plus of marketing, broadcast and media experience, I’d like to put it to work, my way.

I don’t have a firm picture of what it will be like, but I know what some of the pieces will be.  So, today, I’m making a run at one of those pieces.

More to come. Details on the way. I’ll let you know how it goes. But in the meantime: do I have any broccoli in my teeth?

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 13, 2014

You’re The Reason, Gary

Hangin' With The Norwegians

Hangin’ With The Norwegians

My broadcast friend Gary Engard passed away this week.

Gary was an engineer during most of my days at KLSY, but in the times since I left that building, we would only occasionally touch base.  Every now and then, Gary and another former radio guy, Dick Cross, would meet me for lunch, we’d start talking …and an hour would just evaporate. I enjoyed those lunches so much—hearing about each of their radio adventures—that one Saturday, I went out and met them in Issaquah at Dick’s house to interview them and capture some of those great stories on tape. I had this hair-brained scheme at one time that it would make for a decent weekend radio show on KIRO or something. However, for now, it’s just been added to that long list I have of things I’d like to do IF I had more time.

But I didn’t want either of them getting away without preserving at least some of those great times. When I get a chance, I’ll dig that out and put together something you’ll love to hear.

After bumping into Gary and his wife Debbie at Bob & Kim Brooks’ Halloween party last year, we did a major reconnect. Especially after we realized they lived ust a couple of blocks away from my in-laws. When my father-in-law Ernie had some health challenges, the two of them volunteered to walk their dog for a couple of months, never asking for anything in return.

I invited Gary to a couple of the Norwegian events I attended and he loved it. It reminded him of his days up in Alaska, where he belonged to every Scandinavian organization up there EXCEPT the Sons of Norway. To make up for that, he joined the Leif Erikson lodge in Ballard. He, like I, really enjoyed the “small town feeling of it.”

We were seeing each other almost more than back in the radio days, when Gary had to fly back east to help take care of his wife’s dad. It wasn’t supposed to take as long as it did, but he ended up staying there almost half of this year. However, when he returned, it was his turn: his health took a turn for the worse. He had cancer. The cancer spread. Last Friday, he lost his battle, with his wife by his side, on their 38th wedding anniversary.

Gary wasn’t done living. His jovial laugh and good nature just made you feel at ease. When you went off the air and ran around screaming with your arms flailing, Gary would calmly say something like, “I’ll see what I can do.”

So, Gary is to blame for the way I feel about Robin Williams. Yes, Robin had demons, yes he had depression. But otherwise, he was healthy and had a good number of years to go. Yet, he threw his life away.  Gary didn’t get to vote.

I explained in a previous blog why I feel Robin Williams was selfish and I stand by that. Look, we don’t have to agree on the subject. For all of our modern medical advances, something can be done. Allowing depression to be a pass for doing the unthinkable—whether it’s drowning your kids, shooting a former Beatle or a president or taking your own life—it’s just simply not OK. When we make it OK or understandable, we plant the seed for other people to consider tossing away their life as an option, since society now views that as ‘understandable.’

Gary, I thank you for all your did over the years and your friendship.  Robin, you were a comedy god and one of the most unique talents I’ve ever witnessed.

But I will never understand suicide and, frankly, never want to.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 12, 2014

Sorry, But I’m More Mad Than Sad

No doubt, this blog will upset some people, anger others and cause yet more people to label me as insensitive.  I don’t care.

Robin Williams took the coward’s way out.

OK, you’re depressed, you think no one cares.  Robin, you were too smart to think  no one cared about you.  You had a wife and little kid, not to mention the grown ones.  You had an adoring public. You spent your lifetime making us care and we couldn’t get enough.  Mork & Mindy, the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin, the serious actor in Dead Poet’s Society or the Academy Award winner in “Goodwill Hunting.” One of my favorite roles was his portrayal in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

You were brilliant, or so I thought. You battled depression demons, that was no secret, but take your meds.  Or, go online and ask, “Hey, does anybody out there really like me?”  Within minutes, Robin, people would have reached out to you by the thousands.

Speaking as a fan, I just don’t get it. You went to rehab, had several marriages, your life had some incredible highs and disastrous lows. I would have gladly been your life coach.  I would have helped you realize just how much you meant to people.

I guess you live long enough, you rack up quite a count of people you know who commit suicide.  A former radio colleague, an uncle, one of my son’s classmates in junior high.  In all my years on this rock, if there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that suicide doesn’t make the pain disappear.  You just spread it around among those who care the most about you.

Are you really that selfish?  You know how dark you feel–do you really want other people to absorb your suffering, your pain?  There is no better word than selfish.

Robin’s life was full of extreme ups and downs.  I was just saying to someone today, as much as I would love to be a famous comedian, it seems as though the bulk of them are such tortured souls.  Perhaps being in the middle of the pack, with more moderate highs and lows, is a great place to be.

I think that almost everyone has, at one point, let their guard down enough to think, “Hmm, what if I were to just end it?”  Back in college, my high school sweetheart decided to break up with me to turn around and marry a junior minister two months later.  I remember driving along the I-5 express lanes one day and giving serious thought to driving into the cement pillars at the exit.  Quick, done, over.

Had I done that and left behind a legacy of pain, I also never would have had the kids and grandkids I enjoy today…have experience an amazing 30-year-old radio career….or met the woman I am lucky enough to call my wife.

Robin Williams was an amazing talent.  He could have stayed anonymous and just been the life of the party at his friends’ house.  But he chose to seek the limelight, to make us care and boy, did we.  He was brilliant, hilarious and sincere, but his last act was that of a complete coward.

Before yesterday, we’d watch any Robin Williams movie and, at the end, marvel at his talent.  Now, at the end of each film, our admiration will quickly turn to sadness as we think to ourselves, “That’s too bad about him.”

There are lots of ways to feel after someone you knows commits suicide. I’ll get to sadness, but right now I’m embracing anger, because I never want suicide to be OK, to be considered just something people do when they’re having a bad stretch of days.  You don’t know what up’s are unless you experience the down’s. Life is just the way.

I don’t mean to take away from Robin’s brilliant body of work, but that’s being pushed aside for a while so we can remind the rest of us that depression kills.  Talk to someone.  No matter how much you think the world doesn’t care, we really do.

Robin, that included you.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 7, 2014

An Old Love Returns

Back in the day, I played guitar. Somewhere in my teens, I had told my parents that I wanted a guitar and I ended up with a 12-string. Pretty darn fancy. I had it through college and, truth be told, it might be somewhere in the basement along with my baseball cards and stamp collection. But I haven’t really played anything since back in college, when I’d wander into the stairway of the dorms which added a reverb sound to every strum. I was never really any good and just learned enough chords and songs to make people think I knew how to play.

Fast-forward a few decades and my wife’s cousin and her husband came out for a vacation. Among the places they wanted to see: the Experience Music Project. I’ve been before, but to take it in with someone as passionate as my cousin-in-law Donnie, was a whole new experience. Each of the various guitars inspired a story from him—“I used to have that one” or “I remember borrowing one like that from..” and so on. It made me remember how important my guitar was to me all those years ago.

But the lesson I learned from the 12-string—it gives you twice as many strings to try to keep in tune. So I asked Donnie about a good, basic 6-string guitar. Without missing a beat, he told me about a Gibson that he bought at Best Buy. Really? The guy who has played ‘em all, who was once the guitarist for Chicago and who has several extremely valuable guitars in his collection: YOU bought one from Best Buy?

For $89. Including shipping.

My new guitar arrived the other day and my adventure begins. It’s one more thing that I’d like to get good at, to be able to add to my arsenal of abilities, so we’ll see how this goes. So far, all I’ve been able to find time for is to tune it and stumble around some of the songs I used to know—“It don’t come easy”, “Proud Mary”, “I’d love to change the world.” But for less than the price of admission to Disneyland, why the heck not?

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | August 1, 2014

The View From Retired Headphones

The Day of Our Last Show

The Day of Our Last Show

 

I’m not sure if I know too much or don’t know a thing.

It’s been interesting to listen to the Bob Rivers Show the past couple of mornings.  This past Monday, he announced that he was going to hang up his headphones and end the morning radio show portion of his career.

When that final show airs August 8th, it will cap off an amazing 42-year-run, with the last 25 of those years right here in Seattle. Bob has a first grandchild on the way.  He’s got bees to tend, a music career, his passion for World Vision and so many things to occupy his time that not having to get up in the middle of the night and sleeping in until 6am probably has got to be pretty appealing.

Was it Bob’s idea to step down?  I doubt it.  What probably happened was his latest contract came to an end and the minds of Clear Channel decided that now would be a good time to reboot the radio station. This is the part they don’t want you to know.  As unplanned as it may sound, a decision this major has been given lots of thought. Here’s one theory on what’s about to happen. The rumored replacement is a show out of Sacramento that will be syndicated here in Seattle. As we all know, that works so well.

I have so many directions to go here.

As I read the Facebook posts and hear loyal listeners saying that they’ll stop the listening to KJR if they’re dropping this show and changing format, guess what:  that’s exactly what they want you to do that.  You see, the money is in the under 35 crowd and this is where radio is heading down a dead end road.  The under 35’s have found other places to get their music and entertainment: phones, streaming internet stations, satellite with no commercials, to name a few.  The over 35’s don’t want to leave, but are being pushed out the door as they try to figure out why such a popular show is coming to an end.  The industry, meanwhile, continues to ignore the trends and where technology is going and chases an audience that doesn’t want them.

I have to admit, I would have preferred to have my radio career wrap up the way Bob and the gang are going out.  They’re getting the chance to say goodbye and are going out on top. The Bob Rivers Show is a finely-tuned ensemble that commands attention and is, on a daily basis, as fresh as the day’s news.  Over 17 years together, the Murdock, Hunter & Alice show had also achieved a loyal following.  I still have people come up to me today and remember things from back in those days.  But in 2003, we were doing a live Christmas show one day and out the door the next.  I still have a good number of the supportive emails that were sent my way and, yes, threats to never listen to KLSY ever again.

But that short-sighted decision by management sent my career in a new direction and I’m grateful for everything that’s happened along the way.  I’ve picked up skills and have had opportunities I never would have experienced had I stayed in radio.  I’ve thought about doing the radio thing again because I’ve never really lost the desire to sneak back into the madness.  However, the “radio” I want to return to no longer exists.

Which brings us back to the Rivers Show.  They experienced ratings and a large following that we never reached.  Yet, despite their strong fan base, Clear Channel is still deciding to sweep them all to the side and, along with them, their fans.

Spike, Joe, Jodi, Erik, Luciana and Pedro are talented and have lots to offer.  I hope that some station will seize this opportunity, bring them on board and allow them to demonstrate that this show had a lot of life left in it.  Radio listeners over 35 increasingly have more disposable income and tend to be a loyal audience. They also still embrace the fast-fading technology of radio. If you want to see loyalty, show up at any of the 25 concerts Spike & The Impalers or Heart by Heart perform during the remainder of the year. Bob performs in both and Spike’s Impalers include appearances by the rest of the show.

I had hoped to attend my radio brother Larry Nelson’s last show at KOMO, but I had my own show at the time and couldn’t be there.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I wasn’t lucky enough to listen to Bob and the gang until my radio gig blew up.  Now, like a lot of people, I’m trying to figure out a way to get by and see them in action just one time before they wrap it up.  I have become a fan.

I know better than to write the station, to stand outside and protest, to try to convince the corporate minds they’re making a mistake.  And so does Bob.

It’s funny, but something inside told me that Murdock, Hunter & Alice probably wouldn’t make it to a 25th anniversary show, so I put one together and we did it on our 17th anniversary of being on the air together.  I’m going to have to dig that out sometime.

For now, I’ll get up for another week and enjoy one of the greatest little collections of personalities this market has ever seen. It’s so refreshing to hear radio done right.  It’s a dying art.  I need to get it while I can.

Tim Hunter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | July 29, 2014

A Rivers’ Run Through

I'm the one on the left

I’m the one on the left

Bob Rivers announced this week that he’s stepping down from behind the microphone after 42 years on the radio, the last 25 here in Seattle.  In fact, it will be exactly 25 years a week from Friday, when Bob utters his final words on the radio.

While a brother in radio, Bob and my career paths ran parallel to each other.  As I think back on the years, I remember the big deal about  his coming to town.  At the time, I was part of a radio show of my own–Murdock, Hunter & Alice–and he popped on my radar because of all the hoopla that came with his arrival.  However, being on the air at the same time, I rarely had the occasion to  hear him.  And, after all, he was on one of the rock stations in town.  With us being a female-targeted Adult Contemporary station, I didn’t really consider us to be competing.

I remember one time when our program director took for a limo ride one more to have us listen to what else was out there.  There was Ryan & Ryan on KBSG.  The Rich Brothers on Magic 108.  Kent & Alan.  What I remember about The Bob Rivers Show was that it was so slow-paced.  It was conversational before I realized the value of conversational.  We were a tight, never talk more than 4 minutes, get at least four songs in an hour, morning show.  It’s how I imagined a morning show was supposed to be.  What I realize now is that our conciseness made us more easily forgettable.  Again, radio is that free thing in your car that you listen to on your way to work or heading home.  If it’s not working,, you just press another button.

With the Bob Rivers format, you talked about relevant topics, as fresh as the day, and let everyone star.  I wish we had realized that at the time.

Over the years, Bob’s influence in the market was unavoidable.  I had a couple a couple of parody songs that I produced and entered into the Soundies (the local radio awards) in the song parody category.  I offered them up as lambs to the slaughter, because that became known as the “Bob Rivers Category.”  Bob would take what I tried to do in my spare time and jack it up to the perfection level.  I never thought I would win knowing he had an entry, but even having a couple of my songs being nominated was honor enough.

When the Murdock, Hunter & Alice adventure blew up after 17 years, I found myself not getting up at 2:17am. (yeah, that was the magic time)  When I married my wife, Victoria, she had been a Kent & Alan fan (yeah, that hurt).  But then she became restless.  I encouraged her to try Marty & Jodi over on The Mountain and she liked ‘em…until one day, they both turned on American Idol.  That didn’t work.  So, she was open to another show, so around the time Bob Rivers and the crew checked in to KJR, I said, “Let’s give them a try.”

We never looked back.

Bob & the gang have been a part of our wake-ups for as long as they’ve been at 95.7.  In another one of those close crosses, The Bob Rivers Show was among those rumored to be offered the KLSY morning show when we were in our final months.

I remember the time visiting a friend who was in the hospital and this quirky guy walked by the room, then backed up and came in to say ‘hi’. He had taken time out of his long day to visit a sick friend.  They had apparently met years ago when both were in the hospital for a procedure.

What’s also been exciting to see is how Pedro and Luciana have excelled and become a part of that show.  I remember both haunting the halls of KLSY, working on one of the other Sandusky stations, while students at Green River Community College.

I was also fortunate to “direct” Bob and Spike in an iHeartRadio video plug for Car Toys.  Again, consummate pros.

We’ve been to two Spike and the Impalers concerts and I have this feeling we’re going to be going to a lot more. I cannot express how much admiration I have for this team and for the consistently entertaining mornings they’ve provided to the Seattle radio audience. If you have not gotten on board, please, do give them a listen for the next two weeks while you can.  It all goes away Friday, August 8th.

I worked with Pedro and Luciana.  Never met Erik.  Got to meet Joe and Jodi on Facebook.  Worked with Spike several times.

Bob, I just want to say it was an honor to semi-know you and you have my ultimate respect.  Congrats on a job well-done and savor every second of your time away from the 5am microphone. If anyone deserved it, it’s you.

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | July 28, 2014

Can’t Figure This One Out

Manhattan Transfer BEFORE we left

Manhattan Transfer BEFORE we left

We went with some of my wife’s cousins and family to the Smooth Jazz festival last Saturday.  It was an amazing day, but a bit on the unusual side.

It all started well, with a decent place in line, perfect weather and a strong line-up ahead:  an up and coming jazz talent, Lee Ritenour with special guest Dave Grusin  (can you believe he’s 80!?) , Spyro Gyra and to cap it off, Manhattan Transfer!  Chateau Ste. Michelle wine is in a league of its own and we had plenty to choose from.  Started with Chardonnay, moved to Cabernet.   Life was good.

Temperatures eventually were in the 80s and everyone there was just basking in the sunshine.  We had brought snacks, but managed to sneak in some food from a couple of the booths, including chicken shish-kabob and blackened salmon Caesar salad.

Of the acts that performed, Lee and Dave stole the show.  They easily could have played the entire afternoon and they left to a standing ovation.  Check out Dave Grusin  on Wikipedia and you’ll be amazed how many songs he’s done that you’re familiar with.

The biggest disappointment: Manhattan Transfer.  In their defense, they had mixing problems.  The smooth blend we hear on the studio songs just wasn’t there.  Now, here’s where it gets weird—people started leaving.  I don’t mean a few, I mean in droves.  That would include us.  The bulk of our group was done with them and we decided to go with the crowd.  Had we stayed, it would have been to tough it out, but after being there 10 hours already, we decided it was just time to go.

The biggest learning curve for me was making sure we have clip-on umbrella’s for the chairs on the next hot day concert we attend.  They ask you to take them down during the music, but with this day a steady 80-degrees, it would have been great to have them.

A tremendous day overall, but so odd to see so many people–including ourselves–walk out on the headliner of a concert.  I’m reminded of the old saying, “It wasn’t just the heat—it was the humility.”

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | July 25, 2014

My Cousin-In-Law Donnie

That's Donnie back in his Badfinger days on the far right

That’s Donnie back in his Badfinger days on the far right

We’re wrapping up a week of a staycation, where you actually stay put in the beautiful place you live rather than spending a bunch of money to fly somewhere.  Joining us in our exploration of our hometown were my wife’s cousin and her husband, Donnie Dacus.
I already knew quite a bit about Donnie going into this–a former guitar player for Chicago and a principal character in the movie version of the musical, “Hair.”  Needless to say, the guy has a million stories in him and, if you ask, he’ll tell.  And I do.

If you read the Wikipedia link above, you’ll see some of his other musical achievements, such as being among the backup singers on Billy Joel’s “My Life.”  While we explored the San Juans, Pike Place Market and Snoqualmie Falls, he was totally open to questions like, “What about Joe Walsh?” or “What was the deal with Badfinger?” (a Beatles-eque group from the 1960s that seemed cursed–two of their lead singers committed suicide.  Donnie played with a latter version of the group)

Every question I asked sent him off into a different direction of music history.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to him, “Man, we should be recording this!”  He’s got enough for a book full of music industry stories and he’s told me that he’s working on one.  It would be a shame for these stories to simply disappear one day.

But that’s not my decision, not my call, so in the meantime I’ll just keep enjoying them as they’re told. All it takes is putting on some music from the 1970s and then asking, “So, did you play with them?”  And we’ll begin another stroll down Music History Lane.

And now you know a little bit more about my cousin-in-law, Donnie.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | July 16, 2014

Once Again, I’m a Jerk and Didn’t Realize It

OK, I’ll tackle it. The race thing.

The reason this comes up as the topic of this week’s blog is that a Seattle Times writer decided to take on the Gilbert & Sullivan musical, Mikado. Go ahead, read the review, I’ll wait. In fact, while I’ve got you distracted, here’s what radio guy Dave Ross–one of the performers in the local production–had to say about it.

Because the actors in the show were white (Anglo-Saxon) and wore makeup traditional to the role, the writer claimed that it was a case of “yellow-face.” Think “black-face.”

Yeah, looking back, the whole Al Jolson thing was a bad idea, I get it. Of course, it was before my time and long gone before I was even a thought. Yet, believe it or not, in the year 2012, someone I know actually thought it would be OK to do a video that included a white person wearing black-face make up. No, seriously.

But, I digress.

The writer in the Seattle Times was Chinese, but she was taking offense at a white person putting on the white makeup and pretending to be a Japanese person. I’m sorry, but that escapes me.

I just find it hard to imagine to plan waking up tomorrow and dedicating my purpose for being as figuring out something that offends me. Oh, look—there’s something over 120 years old! Let’s target that!

Look, I get being sensitive. I don’t think any less of you because you’re (insert your ethnicity here). I also don’t think any more of you. I was pretty color-blind growing up in Torrance, California. I had friends with the last names of Ishibashi and Ikemoto.   I also had pals with the last name of Rico, Duarte and Espinoza. That was just their last names. So what?

We were a bit shy on our African-American count (I’ll bet we had three in the whole high school), but when I eventually had co-workers and friends who happened to be black, I never gave it a second thought.

There are the rules with race. Not overly sure I get all those, either. If you want the n-word to go away, stop using it. But it becomes a territory and you can say it, but I can’t. Never even thought about using it, makes me uncomfortable hearing it or reading it, but whatever.

I understand that people get offended. Tell a Norwegian and Swede joke and depending on how you insert the ethnicities, one will get offended.

OK, this has gone on long enough. Here’s the deal—I don’t hate you. I don’t want to make fun of you any more than I want you to make fun of me. I understand that people of almost every non-white heritage have undergone discrimination (see the Jews).

Yeah, it’s a topic people don’t like to talk about, but I want you to know that there are a lot of us out in the world who don’t mean to offend, who aren’t out to get you, who spend most of our time thinking about our own future and the bills and everything else going on in our own lives that we don’t have time to make being bigots a pastime. Oh, racist a**holes exist, I’m just not one of them.

Seriously, I don’t mean for your life to be difficult. But here’s a suggestion: don’t focus on what’s wrong with the things around you. Zoom in on the good things because, until you do, you’re missing out on a hell of a lot.

Oh, and sorry about what really bothered you when you woke up this morning, but I honestly didn’t mean it.

By the way, I’m not a fan of opera so I won’t be going to Mikado, so I’ll never know what you are talking about or how “unfair” it is. Then again, you wrote your review before you even saw this production, so I guess we’re even.

Which is,  ironically, how I’ve felt about you all along.

 

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | July 9, 2014

CURSE OF THE PRIUS

This looks like it.  Uh, no.....

This looks like it. Uh, no…..

 

Let me start by saying that my Toyota Prius does exactly what it was hired to do—saves me a bunch of money on gas.  I like that.

Now, you don’t get a Prius to live the life of luxury.  The road noise is a bit much.  I don’t have a luxury version of the car.  Like so many things in my life, I tend to stay in the middle.  So, I’ve got some cool features like satellite radio, GPS, etc. but for the most part, it’s your standard, run of the mill Prius.

This is my second one.  My first Prius was silver, so fairly easy to keep clean. However, there was the Costco challenge: coming out of the store, pushing your cart full of goodies and making a beeline to the first silver Prius you saw, which usually wasn’t the only one in the lot.  I remember once pulling up, hitting my keys, the door not opening and then after a moment, realizing I was standing next to the wrong one.

To make matters worse, a guy pulled up in his car, rolled his window down and yelled, “I saw that! HA!  I did that the other day with HER car!”  As his wife embarrassingly slunk down into her passenger seat.

So, when the time came to get a new Prius (or “re-up” as they call it in the lease business) I decided to go with a more unique color. Behold, a dark, smoky gray…almost black.   It had more bells and whistles and, most important, it wasn’t silver.

Last week, I left Costco with just a couple of photos I had picked up, approached my car, hit the key chain, heard the beeps, opened up the back door and tossed in my pictures.  Just as I was closing the door, I noticed something odd: there were peanuts on the floor.  I didn’t have peanuts in my car.  I took a step back.  And sure enough, it was another black Prius.  In what must have been overwhelming odds, someone else walking to their car hit their open-door beeper at the same time I hit mine. I just assumed it was to my car.  This Prius owner had left his doors unlocked and I had almost hopped into the wrong vehicle.  Again.

So you know, if you own a Prius, you can never relax.  The second you don’t think about it, you could end up in the wrong car.

But all I have to do is keep remembering—I’m averaging 50 miles to the gallon.  My Prius makes it all worth it.

Oh, wait. No, not this one.  That one over there.  Oh, whatever….

 

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | July 3, 2014

The Tradition Continues

Lilly has a new younger brother to share the parade with this year!

Lilly has a new younger brother to share the parade with this year!

We all have our various traditions.

Some we share, like holidays, or going up to see the tulips when they bloom, the opening of fishing season and so on.  In fact, next weekend, an unlikely tradition for me continues:  I’ll be emceeing my 7th Lutefisk Eating Contest at Ballard Seafoodfest.

However, one of my favorite traditions is tomorrow, the 4th of July, when Bothell holds it’s annual Freedom Festival Parade and, for something like 10 years in a row, I’ll be the emcee for coverage of the parade on the Bothell City Cable Channel.  Yes, for the next couple of months, they’ll be replaying the parade over and over, with me doing the play-by-play.  Tim Smith and his crew will do their camera magic and everything in their power to make me look good.

The benefits are many. While some people have been locking up lawn chairs along the parade route for over a week to secure their spots, I’ll be able to wander up at 10:30am to a secure where my wife, along with my daughter & her family join us to watch the kiddies parade at 11, followed by the Grand Parade at noon.

Kids as far as the eye can see

Kids as far as the eye can see

It’s nothing fancy. Mostly the people who live and work and play in Bothell and the Northshore area coming out for a sun-drenched celebration of our country’s birthday.  The mayor, city council and other politicians will be there, along with any opponents if it’s an election year.  I’ll get to say hi to Tom Bainter and the football coaches from Bothell High, some former neighbors and friends.  There will be churches, dentist offices, even the Waste Management trucks will be there and, with any luck, the Seafair Pirates will wrap things up.

If you’re in the neighborhood, come by and say hi.  We’re usually set up across from Alexa’s Café, right there on Main Street, and I always look forward to it.

Happy birthday, America!

Tim Hunter

Hey, they gotta do something in the off-season!

Hey, they gotta do something in the off-season!

Posted by: Tim Hunter | June 26, 2014

Louie’s! Louie’s! They Gotta Go!

20140625_181109

Word is spreading slowly in the Ballard community, but Louie’s of China closes forever this Sunday.  Here’s a very nice note from the owner.

I can’t say this was a long-time favorite spot because I’ve driven by it for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually went to Louie’s for the first time.  And, it was awesome.  It became one of those places that everybody knew about, but would forget to go.

Oh, there are the regulars and the folks who make it to the happy hours and the occasional dinners.  But had Louie’s been as busy as it has been this last week of operations, they might have considered staying open a little long. Maybe.

Then again, $2.49-million to retire is a pretty tempting offer.

Yep, the place has been sold and is most likely destined to be a future condo complex in Ballard.  There are rumblings about the owners or at least involved parties re-opening somewhere else in town.

Louie’s has been around for three generations.  No doubt, the building needed some serious work.  As 15th became busier and busier, it has become more difficult to get there from the north end of town.

After making my initial visit a couple of months ago, the moment I heard about it was closing, I felt compelled to work in one more dinner.  It was only my second time at the place and it did not disappoint.  The place was hopping, with a crowd of people waiting to be seated when we arrived, but fortunately they take reservations. (you can even do it on Open Table)

The Ballard version of The Last Supper

The Ballard version of The Last Supper

However, I wouldn’t wait.  If you’re after one more Louie’s of China experience, make it quick.  After Sunday, it joins the long list of all those other places that used to be in Ballard.

Sorry to see it go, but glad we met.

20140625_185906

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | June 18, 2014

THE BIG BREAKOUT

Read the label and you'll find my name there!

Read the label and you’ll find my name there!

The other day, I was thinking about those “almost big deals.”  Projects that I got involved with and thought, if nothing else, for a little while—this is going to be the big one.

When you flitter about professionally, as I do, you have the chance to get involved in a diverse collection of projects or events. I’ve emceed 7 lutefisk eating contests, been the host for a Mr. Bothell Pageant, wrote one liners for Bill Gate’s Salute to Warren Buffett on his 75th birthday and so on.  Unique experiences that were pretty much one-offs.  Fun and done.

But then there were those special projects that you thought might pave the way to a life of leisure and a lasting reputation as being “that guy!”

I was fortunate enough to spend many an afternoon with Stan Boreson one summer, helping him write silly Christmas songs for an album that was released in the 1980s.  I thought it would be the beginning of a long string of albums, but it was at the time when he was beginning to wind down his career and the recording industry was doing a complete makeover.

I somehow got hooked up with a company that was making an Inspector Gadget computer game.  Again, in the 1980s, in the infancy of that industry.  When the actual voice of Inspector Gadget asked for a million dollars to do it, they settled for my mediocre impersonation to provide the soundtrack for their game.  It was the most fun $10 an hour gig I ever had.  The game was produced, but didn’t work that well on computers.  The company went bankrupt and I have a copy of the game.

Another entrepreneur hired me to be the voice of his “Travel Around Edmonds” tapes.  Yep, we’re talking cassettes.  You’d get a map, drive to that location, then press play on your car’s cassette machine and then a friendly voice would tell you about the touristy aspects of this part of town. I’ve got some of those cassettes at home, too.

One of the more interesting ventures I partnered in was creating audiobooks of the Wizard of Oz series.  I believe we recorded three of the books with narrator Debbie Deutsch and a young girl named Alexandria.  Man, we spent a lot of time in the studio doing those.  I was every other voice in the book—the Wizard, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, the Lion, the Winkies, etc.  A guy named Bill Wright was a major Oz fan and wanted to create a franchise.  Again, on cassettes and technology soon made them obsolete.

Probably the most disappointing attempt at greatness was pursuing a career as a screenwriter.  Oh, scripts have been written and I’m pretty proud of them.  Several were carried around by an agent for three years, hoping to find that crack in Hollywood’s door.  Alas, we came up empty.

But I tell you what—a couple of those movies WILL be made.  As my skill-set increases, I’ve been learning more and more about what goes into filming and my plans are, to some day just do the darn movies myself.

Especially if the market for cassettes of Inspector Gadget giving you a guided tour through the land of Oz takes off.

 

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | June 10, 2014

Watch Me Scatter the Crowd

Jeff Koterba cartoon for January 10, 2013 "Guns"

It’s easy. All I have to do is say, “So, how do you feel about guns?”

Immediately, everyone will scurry over to their corner of the argument. The anti-gun crowd will say we need more restrictions or to outright ban them.

The pro gun crowd will remind you that Nazi Germany did their best to take guns away from private citizens.

The anti-gun folks will say that our current gun laws don’t work.

The pro gun folks respond by saying that the laws on the books just aren’t being enforced.

The anti-gun people say that there’s a mental illness factor and that people with such conditions shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns.

The pro gun people say if you prevent them from getting weapons, you’re infringing on their God-given right to have a firearm. And that just possibly might cut into their rights.

There’s talk of doing something. Chests are thumped. Fingers are pointed. Accusations are made. Holier than thou’s are anointed.

And then, it goes quiet. We mourn. We try to move on. We’re thankful that it wasn’t one of our loved ones wasn’t killed or injured. For a good day or two.

Then, a few days later, it happens again.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Albert Einstein gets the credit for that one, even though there’s no proof he ever said it. But, no matter.

I have friends that are on both sides of the argument. Here’s my stand.

I was raised a Ronald Reagan Republican, campaigned for Richard Nixon and remember going back to visit cousins in South Dakota where kids could earn some money in the summer by shooting gophers. You’d see them poke their heads up, fire and miss, and they’d continue looking until you got a second shot. For every tail, you’d get a nickel.

Kids on the farm grew up with guns. For generations, guns were a part of the world that you really didn’t give much thought to. When we were kids, we played “war.” I remember a note going home from the schools, suggesting to parents that kids probably shouldn’t be watching that “Combat” show on TV. All that violence.

Then, the next day, we’d be out with our pop rifles that you cocked and made a shooting sound as you played war. It was the next step after the GI Joe doll thing, which I never really got into.

Even in my younger years, I remember having one of those Roy Rogers trick hats, that you took off, squeeze the brim and a Derringer pistol would spring up and fire a cap.

Guns were there, a part of life, but I never, ever imagined gunning people down in real life. Wasn’t even on the radar.

Over the years, I’ve seen guns do their damage. JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, and so many others. A lot of neighborhood kids that played War got a chance to live it during Viet Nam. Fortunately, the one year I was eligible for the draft, my number was up in the 200’s and things were winding down.

Yes, it’s a different world and I don’t know how many of these blogs before I’ve used to tell the story of when my position on guns changed. But it happened when a classmate of my son came home from school one day. The 7th grader got off the same bus Ty was on, he walked home, took a rifle out of his parents’ unlocked gun cabinet and did the unthinkable.

That was when I cleared things out. I owned two rifles and I took them both down to the Bothell police station for meltdown or whatever they wanted to do with them. Just didn’t want them around.

For those who feel they need to have their guns, prove you deserve the opportunity and lock them up, or be completely responsible for anything done with them. We’ve just experienced our second school shooting in a week by people who wanted to punish innocent people and enjoy a little bit of instant fame. The nut job that did last week’s shooting in Seattle had visited Columbine, like it was a shrine of how to do that kind of thing.

It’s time to risk infringing on the gun-owning rights of the mentally disturbed people who stand behind the second amendment to say they have the right to shoot a bunch of innocent people and then kill themselves.

I’m pretty tired of it.

There, I’ve said my piece. Others will chime in. Chests will be thumped, fingers will be pointed, and accusations will be made.

Then it will go quiet again. Until the next time.

At the current rate, sometime before the weekend.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 30, 2014

SCHRAM THE LUCK

Ken Schram

I don’t even know where to begin in talking about Ken Schram.

Of course, everyone’s supposed to pile on when someone passes and say wonderful things about them. I’ve got a few of those things, but I also want to share the view I had of Ken and our short time together in the KOMO building. I was lucky enough to be around when he first started at KOMO when I was Larry Nelson’s producer on the radio side. That brief connection was enough to last for years. Whenever our paths would cross, the first thing he would do is yell out, “Timmy!” For all the commentaries and Town Meetings I watched him do over the years, Ken saying that word is how I can hear his voice.

Of course, with it came a big Schram smile and a great example of his complexity. There was Ken Schram, the serious commentator. Ken Schram the Town Hall host. Ken, the radio personality. He loved to make a point and do whatever he could to persuade you to his side of the issue.

Then there was Ken, the 7th grade boy. He was a prankster. He was known for things like turning off the lights while you were reading a newscast or disrupting a live report. He behaved as a professional on the air, but people who worked with him and knew him were not surprised when “son of a bitch” or “bastard” would just pop out of his mouth.

When I first heard last week that Ken was in hospice, I reached out to a few KOMO friends who got me in the loop and kept me updated. At first, I hoped he was just suffering a setback because, knowing Ken, he would out-stubborn it. But it was not to be.

I sent a Facebook note to his wife Sandi, who I may have met at a KOMO picnic 40 years ago at Vasa Park. I told her the “Timmy” story and she wrote back this awesome note:

The stories mean everything right now. As Ken lies here beside me, I talk to him throughout the night and feel certain he hears. He will smile inside about the 7th grade boy. Much love and gratitude to you.

I haven’t dug through my photo album yet for any pictures with Ken, but the second I heard he was ill, I immediately recalled a recording of him being that 7th grade boy that I thought I would share with you. It’s a little raunchy, but when you’re among friends, that kind of stuff happens.

The scene is a taping for an upcoming KOMO Radio Tailgate Party with Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies, and Captain Radio, Larry Nelson. The two would pre-record this featured called “Special Times” and just banter back and forth about the day’s big game, often getting pretty silly. This particular day, it wasn’t happening without a lot of effort. They’d start….derail…..start again…..and then, just as a good take was starting to take off, the inner 7th grader came by and said something you wouldn’t want heard on the radio.  (Just as a warning, he says something a bit on the raunchy side, so use your own judgement)

Listen here

He could look you in the eye and convince you that his opinion should probably be yours. He spent over three decades in the Seattle market, most of those at KOMO. As a broadcaster, he did great things on both radio and TV. As person, he did even greater things as a husband, a dad and a friend.

My theory is that a few days ago, St. Peter got his first-ever Schrammie.

Rest well, Ken, and thanks for being you.

Tim Hunter

St. Peter, this one's for you!

St. Peter, this one’s for you!

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 27, 2014

That’s Not Funny! It’s Sickle!

By the time you’ve reached my age, the list of things you’d be doing for the very first time is extremely short.  There are those things you did once, but you know you probably shouldn’t do again.  There are those you took for a spin and then found it hard to stop.  There are things you tried and now do all the time.

The other day, I did something for the very first time.  I may never do it again, but in a way, was glad to have had the experience.

I used a sickle to cut down weeds.

While staying at the family cabin Memorial Day weekend, I offered to help my father-in-law with any outdoor projects he was taking on.  It seems the weeds were getting a little too close to the deck and so he decided it was time to cut them back.  In my mind, that meant firing up a weed-wacker, mowing ‘em down and calling it a day.

Instead, he handed me a sickle and a file.

Really?  I’ve seen these in museums and on Soviet flags but I was supposed to cut down the weeds with an actual sickle?

I did my best to look like I knew what I was doing and replied with a simple, “OK!”  But this was first-time territory for me.  I used the file to sharpen it, then began slashing grass like I knew what I was doing.  To be honest, I was a natural.

I was amazed at how easy it just cut down the grass.  All the while, I had two thoughts running through my head.  The first: I could hear my grandfather Emil’s voice saying, “Yeah, that’s it.  Keep swinging.  You know, I used to do this for hours at a time!”  Grandpa was a farmer in the Dakotas back in the days when a sickle was standard farm equipment.

The other thought—OK, where’s Ernie?  I’m slashing this thing around like a madman and I don’t want anyone walking up behind me and having this turn into a “Friday the 13th” movie.

It was a first for me.  Wouldn’t mind if it was my last time, but not opposed to giving it another spin in the future.  I found it remarkably efficient.

But it was actually something I did for the first time after 58 years on this earth.  I wonder what the next “first” will be?

Tim Hunter

Oh yeah, that's normal-looking!

Oh yeah, that’s normal-looking!

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 22, 2014

Curse of the Seattle Supersonics

How do you really feel?

How do you really feel?

That’s a working title, but if we stick with it, I’m good.

Let us go back to the early 1900s, when the Boston Red Sox traded away one of their most promising players to the New York Yankees. A pitcher named Babe Ruth.  Babe was eventually taken off the mound and moved to right field because of his bat and the rest was history.  What was left behind in Boston was the legendary “Curse of the Bambino.”  After trading the Babe, Boston would not win a World Series for 86 years!

In 2008, new owner Clay Bennett packed up the Seattle Supersonics and moved them to Oklahoma City.  Clay, if you’re keeping track, only 80 years to go!

Hmmmm, let’s see.  The previous owner of the Sonics was Starbucks founder Howard Schultz.  Some still place the blame on him for selling the team to Bennett. Maybe it should be “Curse of the Frappuccino?”

By the way:  last night, the former Sonics lost to the San Antonio Spurs 112-77 and trail in that best of seven series 2-0?

Oh, sure, letting it go and moving on with our lives would be the mature thing to do.  What’s your point?

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 21, 2014

Betrayed By A Yellow Shirt

I loved that yellow shirt.

It was bright, comfortable, spring-ee….

It was everything one could hope for when digging through their closet in those half-awaken hours, trying to figure out what you were going to wear.

Everyone’s got their own system.  There are The Planners, who figure it all out the night before and have it separated from the herd.  Then there’s the What’s Clean crowd, which bases their decision solely on what isn’t in the hamper.  I tend to be a Routine Dressers.  I have my stable of favorite shirts that I pair with jeans most days.  “Have I worn that this week?  No?  Good!”  Earning a spot in the starting lineup was a yellow shirt.

Not a soft yellow, mind you, but a vibrant one.  A shirt that produced smiles, that showed I wasn’t neutral.  A shirt that I was very proud to have found on sale at JC Penney for an amazing price.

Until last week.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when my wife, Victoria, said those fateful words: “There’s something wrong with your shirt!”

How could that be?  Not THIS shirt?  What….what was wrong?

“It looks like it’s on inside out.”

I made a beeline to the nearest bathroom, turned on the light and approached the mirror.  I looked at the side she had pointed out.  Then at the other side.  They didn’t match.

One had a flap around the seam of the arm, the other didn’t.

It became apparent that the manufacturer had sewn together two halves of a shirt—one the right way and the other inside out. And I had been wearing this for months.  Inspector #71, I hate you!

So, goodbye favorite yellow shirt.  I had trusted you.  For just a moment, I thought about donating you to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, to allow you to take one more person on this adventure.  But instead, you’ll be spending the rest of your days in a landfill.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be reincarnated as a perfectly sewn-together Tommy Bahama.

I’ll look for you at the discount rack.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 15, 2014

Syttende Mai to you, too!

MJ & Me

MJ & Me

It’s Syttende Mai Eve.  Do you open your aquavit on Syttende Mai Eve or Syttende Mai morning?

For the non-Nordic types reading this, the world in which I find myself these days is heavy on the Norwegian side and every 17th of May is a big deal. It’s Syttende Mai, or for those of us without Google translator handy, Norwegian Constitution Day.

And so?

Well, in Seattle, in the Nordic suburb of Ballard, Norwegians near and far gather to celebrate day.  This year, being on a Saturday, promises to be quite the celebration.

What makes the 2014 edition even more special is that it’s the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution and the 125th year of the parade in Seattle!  In fact, our Syttende Mai parade is the largest in the U.S. and second only to one held in Norway.  The size of the parade actually rivals the annual Seafair Torchlight Parade.

However, while there are marching bands and drill teams, V.I.P.’s and such the bulk of the parade is filled with Norwegians and their various groups from all over the area.  Sons of Norway lodges, Daughters of Norway, the chorus groups, the clubs…they’ll be there marching through Ballard, rain or shine, starting at 6pm.  For the third year in a row, I have the honor of being one of the parade announcers, along with Ballard resident and Q13 weather goddess, M.J. McDermott.

The day begins with Mayor Ed Murray making an appearance at Bergen Place Park at 10am to kick off the day.  There’s a sold-out lunch with VIP’s at the Leif Erikson Lodge and then various happy hours throughout Ballard to get the marchers ready for the big event.

So, if see people running around on Saturday dressed up in their Norwegian outfits, now you’ll know why.  If you want to blend in, say something like, “Nice bunad!” (BOO-nod) or, “Hurrah for Syttende Mai!” (sitten-de-MY) and you’ll probably be asked to join one of their organizations!

Remember, all the Norwegians are IN the parade, so if you’d like to help make up the crowd, it steps off at 6pm.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 7, 2014

When Will It End?

Computer Crash

Dear Microsoft,

It happened again.  This morning. From 4am-5am, while you slept.

Let me backtrack a bit.

You see, I have a regular job with normal hours.  But every day, my alarm clock goes off at 4am so that can still keep a toe in the world of radio, but getting up at an ungodly hour (I know that for a fact–he doesn’t get up before 5) and go through my morning ritual of scouring the Internet for interesting tidbits and joke fodder that I, in turn, post for subscribers of Radio Online’s “Daily Show Prep.”  I’m not getting rich, it’s more of a passion project.

But make no mistake–I’m tired.  Oh, sure, 4am is much later than the 2:19am I had my alarm clock set for back in the days of morning show radio.  But you just suck the life out of me when I get up, try to use my computer and it’s doing one of those legendary updates.

Sometimes they happen and I’m back up and running in no time.  However, this morning was another one of the “Slap in the Face” (SITF) varieties.  I stared at a screen that had updated, then rebooted…only to see the arrow from the mouse and nothing else.  A black screen, with a function arrow point that I could wave around the screen, but that was it.  So, I rebooted the system, hoping that it might help.  It didn’t.  Three restarts later and I was still waiting.  So, after an hour of this exercise in futility, I went upstairs to get my laptop, the backup plan.

By the time I came back down, there was screen.  And I went to work.

But, as I said, that was an hour later than normal.  An hour of precious time I lost simply because you chose to update something.  Maybe a short note, explaining what the update is and how long I should expect this to take.  That would give me the option to do my work, then perform the update when I’m gone for the day and don’t need my machine.

Just an out-of-the-box thought.

Oh and by the way, this isn’t the first time this has happened.  Oh, no.

Thanks for your consideration.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | May 1, 2014

A Great ID

If nothing else, after roaming through the blogs on this site, if you have good nugget to take along with you, I’ve reached my goal.

I picked this one up from the owner of Destination Marketing, Dan Voetmann, so he gets full credit. You know that spot on the back of your credit or debit card where you are supposed to sign?  Instead of your signature, print the words, “Please Ask For ID.”

That does a couple of things.  For starters, should you ever lose your card and someone tries to use it, they may not have planned on it saying that.  The other thing that will amaze you is the number of times people don’t ask for your ID and just ring things up.

Over the weekend, while up in the San Juan Islands, I purchased something and the clerk asked for my ID, right on cue. You’d think people would want to be asked, but she told the story of one shopper who presented a card, was asked for her ID and then angrily replied, “Really?  You don’t remember me from last summer?”

It takes all kinds.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | April 24, 2014

Marquis Mark

City Cinema 500th sign

There are probably a lot of things that you had no idea that I do.

For example, flew down to Phoenix Monday afternoon, and spent all day Tuesday directing a commercial shoot for a mattress store client. Telling extras where to stand or walk, helping the talent deliver their lines, etc.  Wrapped up, flew home to Seattle and my head hit the pillow at home shortly before 1am.

If we’ve ever chatted about my daily routine, you know that every weekday morning, I get up at 4am to write “show prep” for RadioOnline, a subscription service for disc jockeys so they can skim what I and several other writes put together each day, and sound brilliant.  Sometimes, even funny.

One of my contributions each week is a silly little produced video piece I call simply “City Cinema.”  It’s a mock of what you would hear if you called a small town movie theater and listened to their recorded message of what’s playing.  Except, of course, packed with puns and quick comedic jabs.

This was an occasional bit back in the Murdock, Hunter and Alice days, that we would hit on Friday mornings–the day new movies come out and when most people would give serious thought to going to a movie.  I easily did a hundred or so of those during my reign at KLSY.  But when that blew up, I continued the tradition as part of every Thursday’s feed to RadioOnline.   While available to over 1,000 stations around the world, I don’t know exactly how many play this bit.  But they haven’t told me to stop doing it.  And within the next couple of weeks, I will have created 500 of these for ROL.

Here’s the one airing this week.

As you can hear, it’s pretty much good for one day.  I’ve done a few generic ones over the years, but for the most part, they burn the week they’re played and that’s it.

How I know at least one radio station in the middle of Nowhere, Oregon, is playing them is that a friend reported one night, they were driving along and all of a sudden, there I was on their radio.  Nice to know it’s not just me laughing.

Or, maybe it is?  I’ll have the voices in my head vote on it when I’m done here.

Enjoy the show and have yourself a snack!

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | April 17, 2014

The Benaroya Time Machine

Miller 1

Benaroya Hall opened up in Seattle in 1998, at a cost of $120-million. I can’t believe I had never been to a concert there.

And then, I went to two in 8 days.

The first was an amazing performance of music that included a knock0ut version of “El Fortuna.”   Now, I know classical music like the back of Morgan Freeman’s hand.  We had bought the tickets at an auction when no one else was bidding and I knew that Victoria and I would be treated to a live performance of the music that has found it’s way into more movie trailers than any other music.  Here’s what the music sounds like.  Recognize it?  Now imagine that performed live with an amazing symphony and live choruses.

Then I saw on Goldstar.com a chance to buy tickets to see the Glenn Miller orchestra play there for half price.  I grabbed four tickets, invited the in-laws and off we went to another night on the town.

One of the cool tricks to know about is that if you get there early enough, there’s a Wolfgang Puck restaurant right in the lobby of the performance hall, where you can get parked and then enjoy a very nice dinner for a reasonable price.  If the show starts at 7:30, I’d get there around 6.  That’ll usually get you into the connected parking garage as well.

Now, back to the Glenn Miller orchestra.  First off, while I was born over 20 years after Glenn died, his music defined a generation and was no stranger to the house where I grew up.  The orchestra, in their matching blazers, performed each of his hits for the next two hours (with a short break) and reminded me of just how many Glenn Miller songs I know.  If you never saw “The Glenn Miller Story” with Jimmy Stewart, it’s well worth the 90 minutes and will give you a better idea of why his music was so unique and forward for its time. Glenn innovated and took chances, leaving behind a sound.  Music is one thing, anyone can do that.  But to create a sound that six decades later defines the time, that’s pretty impressive.

A female soloist would occasionally come out, the animated band leader reminded me a bit of what I would have expected Glenn Miller to act like, and several members of the orchestra and the female singer teamed up to create a “Modernaires” sound for several of the songs. (Look it up on Wikipedia)

Before the show, the band leader asked all of the veterans in the audience to stand and there were a lot.  Again, this was their music, from their time.  I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like to be listening to these songs, while the world was at war and your future so uncertain.  As you’d hear about some guys who you went to high school not coming home.  The bobby sox, the saddle shoes, the hairstyles, the times…

The Glenn Miller Orchestra brought in all ages

The Glenn Miller Orchestra brought in all ages

The Benaroya time machine had taken me back to earlier times twice in a week.  Two tremendous experiences.  And the most encouraging thing, especially at the Glenn Miller show?  The large number of teens and twenty-somethings that came to hear “Moonlight Serenade” and “Pennsylvania 6-5000.”  It gave me a feeling of just a little more hope.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | April 7, 2014

YET ANOTHER REMINDER

jason

Our computers at work pretty much behave themselves.

Now, that wasn’t always the case. Over my tenure at Destination Marketing, we’ve have everything from home-grown I.T. people, to the condescending experts that seem annoyed that you’re asking, “Why is my keyboard on fire?”

So, for the past couple of years, we’ve been living large. We had an I.T. named Jason. Never really paid attention to his last name. We just knew, if there was trouble with a work PC or a Mac, Jason would swing by and make things right.

Sometimes you’d have to just get up and turn it over to him for a while. Other times, he’d handle things remotely. The long sit-down repairs didn’t happen often, but when they did, it gave you a chance to talk with him.

That’s how one time we got into a long-discussion about the TV show, “Lost.” Jason had fixed my computer problems and was now just hanging in the doorway of my office as we went back and forth on the various theories surrounding the show. Was it a dream? Were they all really dead? Did you think this character was evil? What about that character?

That was probably my longest sit-down chat with Jason that I was fortunate enough to enjoy. He was a 36-year-old bearded computer whiz, with a receding hairline and an intense look like his mind was going 100 miles an hour. Until you talked with him about things like “Lost.” Then, you’d be treated to his smile.

Sunday, he was riding his motorcycle when I understand a car turned in front of him. He was just 36-years-old and leaves behind a wife and three daughters, the youngest just 6-months-old.

I haven’t stopped thinking about the last tragic passing of a good friend, Bill Strothman, when now, I find myself witnessing another person’s life cut so ridiculously short. Here one moment, gone the next.

I have to take from it the oblivious lesson—that there are no guarantees, that each and every day we get on this rock is a bonus and that, if you’re planning to do something tomorrow, you just might seriously think about doing it today.

Tim Hunter

PS  Just found out donations can be made to his family here

Posted by: Tim Hunter | April 5, 2014

“Noah”: Quite the Sinker

noah

We just came from seeing the movie, “Noah.”  It’s the first movie in a long time that I actively disliked.

I remember at one point being anxious for the movie to end so I could start disliking it.

Starting with the positives–Russell Crowe is great, but they made the Noah character quite unlikeable.  Emma Watson also did a great job.  Nice special effects.

OK, that’s over with.  Now, to the “What the hell is that all about?” part.

I heard that some folks on the Christian right were upset about this movie.  Of course, they were upset before it even came out.  I imagine the leaders got together one day and said, “You know, we haven’t been upset about anything in a week.” “Hey, isn’t that new Noah movie coming out soon?”  “Great idea!  I’m upset!”  “Me, too!”

However, it’s one thing to take liberties with the story.  Sure, go ahead.  Make Noah’s wife a blonde instead of a brunette. Have the ark made out of balsa wood instead of gopher wood.  Have it rain 41 days and nights, just to toss in an extra day and make sure all those evil people in the world aren’t out there still treading water.

When I started talking about the movie with my wife on the way home, the “doesn’t like to hate anything” Victoria was urging me make sure I re-read the story before venting.  I did.  I told her that, growing up, these stories were drummed into me in great detail, but sure, it wouldn’t hurt to go look at it again.  However, all it’s going to do is make this blog even longer.

In the Bible, Noah is told by God to build an ark, round up all the animals, take his wife, their sons and their wives on board and go for a cruise.  Are you with me?  After re-reading the story, I had forgotten that Noah did all this when he was 600+ years old.  Sure, make me feel like an underachiever.

Again, it’s one thing to take minor liberties with the story.  Like, say, Ham always kicked Shem’s butt in shuffleboard. But here are just a few of the liberties that bothered me:  God had turned fallen angels into rock creatures that helped Noah build the ark.  Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, gave him a magic seed that turned the desert into a lush forest so they’d have the trees to build the ark.  Only Shem had a wife on board.  The other two sons were facing life as bachelors.  The main bad guy had snuck onto the ark and was a stowaway, which set up a battle between him and Noah.  He also painted a nude picture of Shem’s wife and at one time announced, “I’m king of the world.”

No, wait.  I think I’m getting confused.

Now, you may be saying, “Tim, you’re just being too sensitive because of your religious views.”  Not at all.

What they did was take a story that most of us know and threw in things (I guess) to make it more interesting.

The best analogy I can come up with would be a new version of the Wizard of Oz.  You know the story, right?  Well, in this one, Dorothy travels in a time machine and meets up with some interesting characters.  Unfortunately, while on their way to meet the wizard, the Cowardly lion is attacked and devoured by zombies.  Dorothy eventually makes it back home, telling her Auntie Em that she would like to become a man.

I can say I saw it.  But there’s something seriously wrong about a movie surrounding the story of Noah when you’re hoping the boat sinks.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | April 2, 2014

How I Saw How You Were Thinking

This week, the series finale of “How I Met Your Mother” aired.

The episode that was 9 years in the making wrapped up the series by identifying the mom was in the aforementioned title.  Now, I’ll be honest.  While I’ve seen some scenes from the show before, until Monday night, I had never watched a full episode before.  Ever.

To me, it was a fun way to wrap up a series.  I got a chance to meet the characters, see where their lives had gone and where they were heading.  It actually reminded me of parts of my life. When the final scene rolled around, I thought, “That was pretty good.”

Then I went to the Internet and saw that fans were up in arms!  They were mad about this, upset about that. The more I read their complaints, the more I realized that it was most likely the show’s younger viewers (and when you’re almost 60, pretty much everyone else is always younger) who just haven’t had very much life experience.  They had in their mind how they wanted the show should end, how it should be clean and conclusive.

This just handed me from the news desk–life just doesn’t work out the way you had in mind.

The show had actually filmed that last scene with the kids back in 2005, so that we’d get to see them in their younger days.  The way the show wrapped up was where the writers and creators had been taking it all along.

One millennial I talked with was saying, “I’m never going to watch the reruns because I didn’t like how it ended!”  Really?  You sound like a Denver Broncos fan that recorded this year’s Super Bowl.

I’m convinced that all the outrage, all the gnashing of teeth is due to lack of life experience.  Twenty, thirty or so years from now, a light bulb will go on and you will have a whole new appreciation for that episode.  A former radio buddy whose life was cut short by lung cancer (that wasn’t how we imagined it was going to end, either) once gave me an outlook that I think of often: “If you ever want to make God laugh, tell him the plans you have for your life.”

Remember, “How I Met Your Mother” was just a show.  Those were characters, not real people.  But the writers made you care, you got to know them, they were a part of your life and now they’re gone.  That’s how it happens.  Blog or tweet your outrage, then move on and get back to what’s really happening.

Your life.

Time is a wonderful teacher.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | April 1, 2014

Radio’s High Holy Day

Ladies & Gentlemen--the Marching Ito's!

Ladies & Gentlemen–the Marching Ito’s!

Another one came and went.

This past Tuesday was April 1st, one of my favorite days of the year when I was back in radio.

It’s one thing to kiddingly tell someone that Bruce Jenner’s sex change is complete or innocently ask, “Is that soup on your shirt?”  But when you can play a prank at hundreds of thousands of people at one time?  Now THAT’S the power of April Fool’s Day in the world of radio.

I’ve always done something on the air that day or it was done to me.  AT KQOT, my first professional radio gig, I did a switch one year with a guy where I took his shift and called myself by his name and visa versa.  A mild prank, but with lasting consequences.  That morning, I got a call from a woman who was thanking me for the night before.  It seems my fellow DJ had his way with her and she was following up the next morning.  It took me a while to realize what was going on  (I thought I was being pranked) she was embarrassed about the incident and then decided to stalk me for the next several years.  I mean, like on Superbowl Sunday when I had to work on the air, she brought me a steak dinner and a half-rack of beer.  Then, when I took part in a 5K fun run, she followed me the entire race IN HER CAR.  She began sending me gifts, calling on the request line all the time. After some intervention by another DJ’s wife, she agreed to leave me alone. Shortly afterwards, she married a guy and then mailed me the wedding ring he gave her, saying it should have been from me.  Word has it that one night, he was waiting outside my home with a gun so that he could get that ring back. Fortunately, it was one of those occasional nights I didn’t come home.  The DJ’s wife made sure the guy got his ring back, the marriage broke up and he left me alone.

All because of an April Fool’s joke.

Then there was the year I orchestrated a gag on KOMO radio.  I had put together a series of reports from the scene of the Seattle April Fool’s Day Parade, describing the ridiculous participants, complete with me being on the phone, the crowd cheering in the background, etc.  Larry Nelson and I had broken new ground for that conservatively run radio station.

And management didn’t find it the least bit funny.  When the CEO jumps down the throat of the station manager, who lets the Program Director bear the brunt, there was hell to pay.  What I remember most were the concerned words of John Behnke, the KOMO big guy, who asked the question, “Do you realize that people in Lynnwood might have heard this and drove all the way down to Seattle for a parade that doesn’t exist?”

Sorry about that, Lynnwood.

I had heard one Seattle DJ back in the 1960s spent the whole morning doing live coverage of Vashon Island breaking off and floating away. When you do something like that and when listeners realize it’s a gag and then call in and play along, (“Yeah, I saw it!  It was moving pretty fast!”) that my friends is radio gold.

Then there was the time that Bob Brooks pulled a classic on me when I worked the afternoon shift at 92.5 Classy FM.  I had started one of those Soft Rock favorites, turned down the monitor and then started answering phones.  While talking to someone, I saw people gathering outside the studio looking in.  I told the caller I had to go, turned up the music and for God know how long, a part of the Bill Withers song, “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone” had been made to loop.  So when it got to the part where he sang, “And I know, I know, I know, I know, etc”……Bob had made the endless “I knows” go on for like three minutes.  To help me realize the gag, he was now looking at me through the broadcast booth window.  I had been fooled.

During the KLSY Murdock, Hunter & Alice days, the gag I remember most is the morning of the cell phones.  We did a regular show, but I had previously recorded and looped a bunch of different cell phone rings.  Anytime we opened our microphones, you’d hear a cell phone randomly ring. Of course, back then, there were fewer ring tones and so most people listening to the radio checked their phone at least once to see if it was theirs.  We had compliments on the bit, but also a few angry calls from people who didn’t find it funny. They kept checking their phones over and over until they realized they’d been punk’d they were mad.  “You could have caused an accident!”

Of course, there was the year that KLSY had an entry for the Woodinville All Fool’s Day Parade.  It was during the O.J. Simpson trial and we talked some Bothell High drill team members to put on judges robes and fake beards, then recruited on the air for a Marcia Clark look-alike.  Our entry, “Marcia Clark and the Dancing Ito’s” (for Judge Ito who presided over the case) won best entry.  Ironically, the Marcia Clark look-alike took the trophy home and we never saw it again.

There were lots of other gems, but the main point is to have some fun with the day.  If you’re known to be a serious person, this is the perfect opportunity to toss something out there with a straight face and let them know you actually have a sense of humor.

Talk about your new dog that’s part Shih Tzu and part poodle.  They call it a Shits Poo. (remember the straight face is key)

The Internet is full of gags to pull.  This is your day to shine!  A new study claims that pulling April Fools’ Day pranks actually reduces stress and causes positive endorphins to be released and could contribute to a longer life.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Millard Fillmore (guest writing for Tim Hunter)

 

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | March 29, 2014

If I Could, This Is What I Would Say

Nora & Bill

Nora & Bill

It’s scheduled for 3pm Saturday afternoon.  Bothell First Lutheran will be packed with friends, family, church-members and more as we celebrate the life of Bill Strothman.

Since his life ended several weeks ago, I’ve thought about him often.

Bill and I were close in age. I think he had a one year lead.  To me, his passing is yet another reminder that we should take nothing for granted.  Each day, every day, is a gift.  It could all be gone tomorrow.  But you don’t think of it that way, not that it could be over.  That’s the negative side of the equation. It’s that you are blessed to have what you have now, to be where you are, with all of your life experiences intact.

I’ve thought about, “What happens when we’re at Bill’s service and they say, ‘Would anyone like to say something?'”  I know what I would say, I’m just not sure I’d get it out.

I’ve known Bill & Nora Strothman a lot of years.  We go back to the University of Washington days, when we all Communications majors cutting our teeth on mass media at the same time.  We worked together on a student TV show called, “Speakout.” When Fridays rolled around and we finished taping another show, we’d go celebrate on “The Ave” at a place called The Pitcher House, which had a Happy Hour that featured $1 pitchers.

Bill, Nora and I attended the same church for quite a few years, Bothell First Lutheran, where his service will be held tomorrow.  We chatted often, but I would give anything to be able to hear those conversations again.  I just remember thinking how cool it was that, one day we were college buddies, and here we are, years later, raising kids together in the same church.

When I left the Bothell area, I didn’t see the Strothmans very often.  I made to include them at an open house at my Bothell home in 2007.  Occasionally, we’d bump into each other at the Bothell Freedom Festival parade on the 4th of July, where I’ve been the parade announcer for decades.  Come to think of it, I have copies of those parades and I just might have to dig them out and look for Bill.

We stayed in touch, but didn’t see each other often in recent years.  When I think of Bill Strothman in the years to come, and I will, it will be the Bill from the UW days….and the Bill I imagine the way he would be today.  His legacy was how he told a story.   So, as the events of the Oso mudslide tragedy are reported, I just can’t help but wonder: how would Bill have told this story?

Those who knew him also know the magnitude of the person we lost.   But we were also fortunate enough to know the caliber of the person he was.

While we mourn his passing, there was also an incredible life that requires that we celebrate and remember. No worries, Bill.  We’ll remember.

And if I could say all that at his service, I would. But I’m pretty sure I will not even come close.

At least now you know what I was thinking.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | March 26, 2014

For Those Not Completely Familiar With My Daily Routine

The alarm clock goes off every weekday morning at 4am.  It has for 10 years.

Oh, sure, I don’t put on my creative director hat until 8:30 or so at Destination Marketing.  Why so early?

Well, shortly after my “retirement” from radio, Ron Chase, who operates RadioOnline, asked if I wanted to be a regular contributor to their Daily Show Prep feature.  This is a service that rounds up news, facts and fun for morning DJ’s, so it saves them from at least three strikes of their snooze bar.  I get up, browse through my usual websites and write up stories, jokes and games for DJ’s all over the world.  Nice gig.

And, considering I used to get up at 2:19am every morning when I was on the air, this is sleeping in!!!

Among the contributions I offer–a daily Top Five List, which I try to make as topical as I can.  Sometimes, they write themselves. Other times, I have to just sit back, let the mind go and strive for the ridiculous.

I realized this morning it had been a while since I wrote something that actually made me laugh out loud.  It could be the exhaustion or that this is just far enough out there to be funny.  You decide.

So, here you go:

TOP FIVE WORST IDEAS EVER FOR TV SHOWS

  1. “How I met your Proctologist”
  2. “C.S.I. LEGOLAND”
  3. “The Jay Walking Dead”
  4. “Breaking Wind”
  5. “Starsky & Biden”

Yeah, it was #1.

Tim Hunter

 

Posted by: Tim Hunter | March 21, 2014

The Honesty of a Child

It was going to be Evan’s big 3rd birthday.

So his mom asked what he would like to do on his day.  What would make it special?  Of all the things we do together, how would you like to celebrate your 3rd birthday?

He thought for a moment and then told his mom, “Albertsons!”

If you’re looking for a birthday gift idea for Evan, you might consider coupons.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | March 18, 2014

A Day of Sadness

I climbed in the car and began my short commute to work. It was a Tuesday, a day I usually swing by Starbucks and pick up something, but this morning I was running late.
As the car started, the reporter from KIRO was talking about Fisher Plaza. That was odd. It turned out that the channel 4 helicopter had crashed on Broad Street. Several cars passing by caught fire from the jet fuel that spilled, but the two occupants of the helicopter were dead.
Then I remembered that Dan Strothman worked there as a cameraman. Could he have been one of the two people on board?
Dan is the son of a college buddy, Bill Strothman, who wandered around the University of Washington in the mid-1970s along with me and the other Communications Majors.
Some of us concentrated on journalism, others on Radio & TV. Bill’s path and mine collided in the television side of things, back in the days when Channel 9 was on campus and once a week, students would produce a magazine-style show called, “Speakout!”
I probably should remember more details about the TV experience, but what I do recall are those Happy Hours after a shoot at the Pitcher House over on the Ave, with $1 pitchers. The perfect way to wrap up a Friday and head off into the weekend. The Speakout crew was made up of some very talented and determined folks who still run around Seattle today, including Bill and his girlfriend, eventually wife, Nora.
While our paths scattered and after graduation, I headed over to Yakima to play radio, Bill and his camera did quite well and became the go-to guy at KOMO TV. After a few decades of excellence, he decided to venture off and do his own thing as a freelance photographer. I had just exchanged a couple of emails with him a few months ago, hoping that some day we could work on a project together again.
To demonstrate that photographic skills can run in the family, Bill & Nora’s kid, Dan, grew up and followed his dad’s footsteps. There was even a time when Bill was still at KOMO, that Dan found himself working at a TV station in Montana, driving around the old KOMO 4 news truck that had been sold to that station.
Eventually, Dan found himself at his dad’s old stomping grounds, continuing the Strothman legacy. That’s why my heart sank when I first heard about the accident. I skipped the Starbucks run so I could get to work, check on Facebook and see if Dan had posted anything lately.
His Facebook page was a steady stream of “I’m so sorry” and “Our best to the KOMO family” and so I was relieved.  He was alive.  Dan was OK.
A short time later, I found out it was Bill on board.  Apparently, doing a little freelance work as he had hundreds of times before.  The regular KOMO chopper was in the shop, so they had a loaner from Boston.
Just like that. Here. Gone. No chance for a goodbye, other than the usual “See you tonight” as you head out the door.
Even though those days at the UW were 40 years ago, that special group of friends has remained in touch over the years. For a while, I attended Bothell First Lutheran Church with the Strothmans and other college friends, the Ensigns.
The last time I saw Bill? The last time I really had a chance to sit and chat would have been a summer barbecue at my new Bothell House in 2007. It was a perfect day and there were my college friends, just hanging out. The hair was a little grayer, there were more “character lines”, but it was that old gang of mine.
We should have had more of those get-togethers we always meant to organize. The longer you’re around, the reminders become more and more frequent.
Bill Strothman was a pro, a compassionate, caring father and husband and one of the greatest guys you’d ever have the chance to meet. You’ll hear that a lot over the next couple of days.  Anyone who knew Bill had only the best to say about him.
He was also a man of faith and I know that right now he’s experiencing his reward for a life well-lived. I look forward to the day I’ll see him again. Then maybe we’ll finally get around to working on that project together.
God’s peace to his wife Nora, and his kids, Dan and Heidi.

Tim Hunter

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Posted by: Tim Hunter | March 14, 2014

Wearing a Shirt is a Commitment

Lately, I’ve been reminded that those billboards we occasionally wear around still get noticed.
When I say billboards, of course, I meant t-shirts. So many plug a product or express a feeling, but wear something from a sport and it really resonates.
It happened when I was roaming around Disneyland one year, wearing my David Ortiz Boston Red Sox jersey. Red Sox Nation is out there and to find them, all you have to do is put on a cap with a “B” or a shirt such as mine. All day long, passersby would yell out, “Go Sox!” or “Boston!”
I’ve gotten a lot of reaction from my “You Mad Crab” t-shirt every time I’ve worn. Most recently, last Sunday when three people in the grocery store said, “Nice shirt!” and one kid came up and asked, “Where did you get that?” It’s actually a good story. I saw it online shortly after the San Francisco game that inspired the shirt, being sold on Facebook by Richard Sherman himself. I saw, I wanted, I ordered. That day they were $29. The following day, they jumped to $39 and soon thereafter, were sold out. No matter how worn out that thing gets, it will never leave this house (unless I’m wearing it).
But you do have to be careful what you wear and be ready to talk the talk. While visiting Vancouver this week, we went into a Vancouver Canucks team store. While I wouldn’t mind getting a jersey, they clocked in at $220. So, I opted for the more affordable t-shirt, a retro look designed after the original Vancouver hockey team, The Millionaires. Yep, that was their name. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Millionaires, and so for a couple of games, the Canucks are wearing retro uniforms. Apparently the t-shirts weren’t selling that well and so I picked one up for 30% off.
On the way home, stopping into the outlet mall, a couple came up to me and struck up a conversation about the Canucks—how it’s been a tough season, how they played last night, etc. It’s amazing how wearing a t-shirt makes you appear like an expert. A couple of “oh yeah’s”, a “that’s for sure” and “Well, there’s always next year” and we enjoyed a special bond.
So, today, which shirt will it be? Maybe I’ll confuse them all and wear a blank one.
Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | March 6, 2014

Radio Buzz

Taking a knee at the start line

Taking a knee at the start line

It’s now been over a decade since my last full-time gig on the air. I had some good times, even did some weekend and fill-in shifts at the Wolf shortly after it launched for about 9 months, but playing songs and being a music DJ just didn’t cut it for me. It’s being able to play in the morning show arena that works. That’s the full radio experience and I was able to enjoy that for most of two decades.
I’ve stayed in touch with the industry through my daily writings that I submit to Radio-Online, a show prep service for disc jockeys. Every day, somewhere in the world, there’s a sleep-deprived DJ saying one of my jokes, passing along one of my news items, or playing a quiz I wrote up. I get up at 4am (which is sleeping in for real morning show folks) and do all the prep for a shift, then have someone else perform it.
When my former producer and radio pal Bryon Mengle recently accepted a job on a station in Iowa, I have to say it’s been fun brain-storming with him about bits, being a planted call and offering up any of the sure-fire promotional hits we had over the years. The one he’s picking my brain on now is a silly thing we did for three years in Bothell called the Keeney to Keeney Fun Run. Back at that time, there was an office products store called Keeney’s located across the street from Pop Keeney Field, where the local high school football teams played. One day, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we held a Keeney to Keeney Fun Run, where everyone would have to run…oh….92.5 feet?” I went over there, measured out a course, put the idea out in my newspaper column in the reporter and took it to the listeners of 92.5-KLSY (see where I got the number from?)
It was a huge hit. Who didn’t come wished they had. My morning show partners and I “ran” the course with the listeners and readers who showed up. One guy from the newspaper came with his bride on their wedding day. Another guy brought an office chair and did the course, since it was all downhill. And there was a water station at the midway point, just in case anyone got hydrated.

Now THAT’S why I miss radio. Connecting with listeners, being silly, taking them where they never would have imagined themselves to go. Oh and we had commemorative t-shirts, too. Somewhere, out there, there have to be a couple still being used as oil rags.
Lately, it seems like there’s just been more buzz around me regarding radio. A friend who I worked with at KLSY, who had two previous tours of duty at Star 101.5, has gone back to Kent & Alan’s home for a third stint. Best of luck, Tarah. Add to that, I was contacted recently by a station to be their fill-in morning guy for a month, while their regular guy took a sabbatical. A tempting offer and I was flattered, but just couldn’t fit it into all the previous engagements. After doing something for thirty years, I was ready to do something new, to pick up new skills and I’ve done that. But there’s always that little tug, that little flashback to a pretty fun time in my life, that makes me wonder—will I find myself back in that world again some day.

Maybe.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | February 23, 2014

They’re Ba-a-a-a-ck!!

It’s happening again.

Like a ghost reappearing two years after you thought the house was no longer haunted, a shadowy figure appeared in the mail this past week.

To refresh everyone’s memory, here’s the more detailed look at what happen two years ago

Read the story here

Then, a friend at church, who had read my blog, took this on as a project and put Google to work, which resulted in this email:

Dear Tim AND Victoria –
I’m not sure if you want your mystery solved or not. Do you? Your very smart and Google literate friend found me, Erika Page. My family, Steve, Garrett and Landon live in Wisconsin. The kids grow every year, what a fun way to show it off than in a Christmas card to dear friends.   I indeed have a wonderful friend, Michelle Hunter married to Tim Hunter who lives in Seattle. Ironically, I’ve never met Michelle’s husband or you. Now I know that there are two of you out there. I hope you’re happy to have a Christmas mystery solved. Perhaps I’ll keep you on the ol’ Christmas list though, no one gets nearly enough snail mail these days.

Merry Christmas from the Pages in Wisconsin.

So, mystery solved.  But that was two years ago.

This past week, we received another Christmas greeting from the Pages.

Image

Adding to the weirdness of all this:

Some long-time friends have a daughter who went to school in Wisconsin.  I thought she had possibly settled down there. She did not. Her name is Erika. She has a brother named Garrett.   The Erika who sends us cards has a son named Garrett.

In the annual family update, she just got a job at Redeemers Lutheran Church in Wisconsin.

Victoria and I were married at Our Redeemers Church in Seattle.

Just too weird.

No matter. Here it is, the final week in February and let us remember the most important thing: Merry Christmas from the Pages in Wisconsin.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | February 20, 2014

BRACING myself for a BIT of my world going away

Just like I remember it

Just like I remember it

I just wanted to drill a hole.  To hang a picture.

I had lent my rechargeable drill to my daughter-in-law, so that she could settle into her new home.  But there was a picture I wanted to hang.

So, while at Lowe’s, I went back to the tool section and looked around for a brace and bit.

For every boomer who grew up and took wood shop in junior high, a brace and bit was standard equipment.  You’d put in the drill bit and so that you didn’t drill a hole in your hand or head, you’d hand turn it to drill.  Pretty simple.  It’s a tool that had been around forever.  I thought I could just buy one and have it on hand in case I ever needed to drill a hole during a power outage.

So, I walked up to the Lowe’s guy in the red vest and asked: “Excuse me, where would I find a brace & bit?”

He gave me that smile that let me know I was in trouble.  “Oh, we haven’t carried those here in….probably 7 years.”

“Really?”, I replied. “They don’t even make them any more?”

“Nope!”

Huh.  So, my picture remains unhung and another part of my existence has been determined to be unnecessary.

No more brace and bit.   Which means I’ll be combing through every garage sale and second-hand store until I find one.

Sure it’s the hard way.  But it’s the “for-sure” way that some of us knew.

It was one of those things that you just expected would always be there.  And now it’s not.

But if I find one, I’ll help preserve a bit of my past.

And, finally hang that picture.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | February 11, 2014

I Saw Me Standing There

"Hey, Ed, do you validate parking?"

“Hey, Ed, do you validate parking?”

The after-Boomer crowd probably spent the past weekend going, “50 years since the Beatles arrived? Big deal!”

You have no idea how big it was.

The Beatles were the Perfect Storm of pop culture.  They were the leaders of a “British Invasion” that also included the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, the Troggs and so many others.  Now, it has been half a century since John, Paul, George and Ringo, along with their bowl-style haircuts launched nothing short of a phenomenon.

The Beatles couldn’t put out music fast enough.  Today, a singer might have a song or two in the top 100.  They would have 5-10 songs at a time.  If you were lucky enough to see the Beatles live, you had a moral obligation to scream your lungs out during the entire concert.

While the World War II generation didn’t understand the band or their music, people under 40 were excited about this new style.  I remember one of my neighbor kid buddies, Kenny Vaughn, who had a mom that loved the Beatles.  “Wow, your mom is cool!”  Then there was the time my mom returned home from a grocery shopping trip, where she had bought the Beatles new “Revolver” album for $1.99.   Yep, back then, you’d occasionally find albums in grocery stores.

Of course, teenage girls were the biggest fans, but even in grade school, I remember kids in elementary school wearing “I love Paul” buttons or, if you were in the other camp, an “I love John” button.  Americans like Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley broke ground with this new “rock and roll” stuff.  The Beatles were the icebreaker that tore open a wide hole in pop music and culture.

For younger Seattle Seahawks fans, think of how you couldn’t get away from stories about Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch and other team news.  Now, imagine that level of coverage on the Beatles going on for years without stopping.  There were Beatles lunch boxes and dolls and books and commemorative pins.  After that initial appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (basically, the “America’s Got Talent” of its time, but without a contest element, held in the place where David Letterman hosts his “Late Night” show), we couldn’t wait for the next one.  When it was announced, schedules were locked in and you knew you’d have to wait through several other acts—a guy balancing plates, a mouse puppet, a magician—to get to a performance by the Fab Four.  Remember, this is way before DVR’s, so you HAD to be watching.  If you missed it, you’d have to wait almost 20 years for the VHS to be invented.

I think I have a few souvenirs of that time, packed away in boxes. The fact that it’s been 50 years blows my mind (which is something we used to say a lot back then) because that reminds me I was just 9 years old when this all happened.  When I sat in front of a black and white TV and saw a sea of screaming girls going nuts over four guys wearing ties, with mops for hair, singing, “Yeah, yeah, yeah…..”

The group left me with an amazing collection of memories, including this joke.  “A guy walks into a barber and says ‘Make me look like Ringo Starr.’ So the bartender took his brush and broke the guy’s nose.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah….

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | February 7, 2014

Goodnight, Jay!

Leno

We knew it was coming and the day finally arrived.  After two decades of hosting “The Tonight Show”—with only a brief intermission—Jay Leno gave up his desk and the show will head off to New York, where Jimmy Fallon takes over.

Lots can be said about Jay, the history of the show, the Conan debacle, Letterman versus Leno, etc.  However, I find it sad that there are so many bitter people out there, who feel they need to take just one more jab at him before he heads off into the late night sunset.

I guess I don’t understand the hate.  So when exactly was it that you worked with him? Oh, your feelings are based on something you read or that was passed along on the Internet, where Abe Lincoln once warned us in a tweet never to believe everything you read.

Winners draw detractors.  A quick reminder about all the smack being said about the Seattle Seahawks before Sunday’s big game.  There was a large part of the country that believed the posts they read or the commentators who used Richard Sherman’s post-game rant as free license to paint villain all over the team.

Jay Leno may not be your cup of tea, your style of comedian, but he’s a funny guy. He’s paid some good writers over the years, present company included, to come up with timely, topical gags to use in his monologue.  For 10 years, I was lucky enough to be able to contribute to that opening segment of the show.  Each week, I would send out the week’s jokes which I also posted on my website.  One of the biggest personal rewards I’ve had over the years was having my sister in the Midwest letting me know that Jay had just done one of my jokes that she had read in my email earlier in the day.

That told me that if things had been a little different, I might have played in the big leagues as a writer.  When I started writing gags for Jay, it paid $50 a joke.  By the time it wrapped up ten years later, it was $75.  Do some digging on my website and every joke that you see posted in the color green, that was one of the ones Jay bought.  The last joke I sold him was around three years ago, when union writers apparently got miffed about how many jokes Jay was buying from a non-union person like me.

Jay gave me a chance to play the bigs.  I tried a couple of times to get into the Letterman room, but it’s a different beast.

The other night, when Russell Wilson appeared on “Late Night”, I watched a bit of the monologue and was reminded again of why Dave doesn’t work for me.  There were some clever lines sprinkled amongst mannerisms and general comments. I don’t know how it evolved, but the audience breaks out on applause whenever they recognize Dave just told a joke.  In my mind, I’m thinking, “Really?  It’s that much of a crowning achievement?”  With Leno, and most of the other late-night folks, there might be an occasional applause outburst, but it’s usually just laughs and the show keeps moving.

Sure, Jay’s old.  OK, older. He needs to be replaced, because….well, sure he’s been #1 in his time slot for a lot of years….and, uh….oh yeah, Jimmy Fallon will attract a younger audience.  There’s some truth there, but also a couple of factors to consider:

1)     The majority of your present-in-the-moment late-night audience is just plain older.  Younger viewers don’t stay up to watch a TV talk show, older viewers have older habits.

2)     The average age of Jimmy Fallon’s current audience is only a few years younger than Jay’s. Read about it here.

3)     Don’t get me wrong, Fallon is fresh and funny.  But there’s going to be a portion of Jay’s audience who will resent his departure and leave the show.  Where will they land?  Kimmel?  Letterman?  Conan?  And, as the viewership fragments, who will ascend to #1?

Jay-haters, you can now go back to leading a fulfilled life and find some other #1 person or show to criticize.  Jay has left NBC—again—and, most likely, for good this time.  Oh, how I would love to have him stroll into FOX when his non-compete clause is up and re-launch over there, to further fragment the late-night audience.  Then again, he might just stick to doing personal appearances, tinker with his car collection and enjoy life for as many years as he has left.  I hope it’s a lot Jay, because you deserve it.

Thanks for letting me play along.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | February 6, 2014

With Apologies to Denver Bronco Fans

"Here comes...uh, someone!"

“Here comes…uh, someone!”

Seattle celebrated this week.

Not because of what we did to your Broncos in front of the largest national TV audience of all.  It’s because our talent-packed Seattle Seahawks played their best game of the season in the one that really counts.  It’s been a lot of years since we’ve seen some professional sports madness take over the town, but this has been a steady build all season.

Now, to be clear, the majority of Seattle fans are confident, not cocky. If you were sitting in my living room during every Seahawks game, you might have heard a relative display a very traditional Seattle sports trait.  We’d fail to score in the red zone and out would come, “Oh, here we go!” or “Well, this is where the bubble bursts.”  It was if they were expecting us to fall short.

But this Seattle Seahawks team has taught us to believe.  We’ve spent a season witnessing what they can do. When they were down three scores to Houston and it looked like we were heading for our first loss of the season, we made an incredible comeback and won the game.  It was that game that convinced me, this team is very real.

Week after week they would demonstrate it.  Every Sunday game became must-sees. But, being tucked away here in Seattle, it’s hard to get the rest of the country to follow the magic that was going on here.  Back in the day, Seattle and Denver were AFC rivals and would always put on a good show.  I’m sure you remember those Elway days.  You won more often than we did.

This time around, we met in a neutral corner and you had American football royalty at your helm, coming off a record-setting season for scoring points.  The media had all but crowned Denver the winner.  Rumors had it that boxer Floyd Mayweather had bet $10-million on the Broncos winning.  You had a great team going into the Super Bowl game and were chosen the favorite in a squeaker.

In this blog a week ago, I went out and said, “Yep, they’re going to win.  Count on it!”  But I’m mad at myself for not going further and predicting a blowout.  This hard-hitting, charismatic collection of young athletes is a crowning achievement unlike Seattle has ever seen.  We knew that, but were hesitant to brag about it.  While there are always a few drunken exceptions, the bulk of us just aren’t that way.

This week, we celebrated the way any championship city salutes their victorious team after winning a national championship.  A parade, TWO stadiums packed with fans, all savoring the moment. Peyton Manning is still a great quarterback, you have a good team and no doubt, your turn will come again.  But the 2014 Super Bowl was our year.  It was in our sights the entire time and we wanted it.  Had it been a close game, you might have been tempted to think our win was a fluke, that you could have won if the refs hadn’t missed a key call, etc.   We’ve been there.

Unfortunately, the media didn’t pass along to you just how good this team was.

So, forgive us as over 700,000 of us take to the streets and go a little nuts.

We are the Champions!  Go Hawks!

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | February 2, 2014

Wait! This Could Work!

12

It was a special moment.

I had been thinking lately about getting a new Seahawks jersey.  Oh, I have one that is their older-style uniforms,  with the number 51 on it, from the days when Lofa Tatupu was playing for the Seahawks.

That was back in their last Super Bowl run, which was a very special year in my life.  There was a lot of change going on and that included a Seahawk team that was a serious contender.  Every Sunday, I’d get together with friends and we’d yell and scream at every play.  Man, that was fun.

But now, this is a whole new Seahawks.  These guys have World Champs written all over them and maybe, just maybe it’s time for a newer look jersey.

I was staring in the bathroom mirror, thinking about my dilemma, when it dawned on me.  My #51 jersey looked almost like a #12 in the mirror.

I considered it a sign.  For now, it’s what I’ll be wearing come Sunday, as I have for the past few weeks.  It’s only superstitious if it doesn’t work.

And in the mirror, it’s a #12 as in “the Twelth Man.”

Then again, it would also indicate I’m a fan of the Skwahaes.

Tim Hunter

Posted by: Tim Hunter | January 26, 2014

My Prediction

seahawks champs

The stage has been set.  The Seattle Seahawks will take on the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl game next Sunday.

And the Seahawks will win.

I usually go into these things HOPING for a win.  I believe this with everything I’ve got.

In 2006, Seattle fans got their hopes up high and went into a Super Bowl game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Looking back, we had a team that over-achieved, a network loving the storyline of Jerome Bettis and his final game and some referees that, in a few years, would admit they blew some important calls.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

This time, the Seahawks are solid. While their offense has been all over the board, the defense is as solid as you get.  We’re deep–if an injury takes out a key player, there’s a spare one on the bench waiting to show their talent.

Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, the offensive and defensive lines, Richard Sherman, Golden Tate…the list goes on and on.  Our talent is the cream the crop and assembling them all together to create this team is a once in a lifetime combination.  It feels like this is the team we’ll be talking about for years to come.

Oh, sure, you’ve got the extremely talented Peyton Manning leading the Broncos, but outside of a practice game, he has not seen this kind of pass rush and defense.  He’s going to have to hurry his throws, thread his passes and most likely scramble more than he’s had to all season.  Remember, just a couple of weeks ago, we held the very talented Drew Brees scoreless for three quarters.

This time around, I’m not hoping–I’m believing.  The Seahawks team has the talent, the will and the thirst for this city’s first championship in any sport for decades.

To paraphrase Russell Wilson’s father, “Why not us?”

Go Hawks!

Tim Hunter

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