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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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