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

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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

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.

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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