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

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,322 other followers