BEING INSIDE MY MIND

I’m not sure when I first realized that I might be wired differently than most folks. I am grateful for the way it turned out, as my somewhat skewed view of events around me has allowed this kid from Torrance, California, to create jokes that, if nothing else, crack me up.

Example, I’m sitting on a jet heading for Florida a week ago. I could be thinking about a lot of things—the political conventions, the Olympics, Ken Griffey, Jr. going into baseball’s Hall of Fame. But NO!!! I look up and see this sign:

20160722_083700

Think of what might pop up in your brain. Got it?  My gray matter immediately asked the questions, “Why, in an emergency, would they make the English-speaking people exit on the left side of the jet, and force the Spanish-speaking people to use the right side? And what if I speak French? Just stay seated as everybody leaves?”

See what I mean.

Another thought popped into my brain, but I’ve learned that not everything is fit for public consumption. So, this one will require some background. I must make it very clear, this ISN’T a joke, but an observation. Ironic, but true.

So, we have this presidential race, featuring two very polarizing candidates. While there are die-hard party people on both sides (and I’m talking R’s and D’s, not beers and wines), the vast majority of us are counting down the days until November when we will have to pick the candidate who will do the least amount of damage, rather than who will be the better leader. I know more folks that are voting against someone, rather than for someone and that’s sad.  But here’s the delicate matter I hinted about earlier.

With those two candidates, locked in and representing their party, a judge has decided that now is the perfect time to release John Hinkley, Jr.–the guy who tried to impress Jodi Foster by shooting President Ronald Reagan back in 1981!

Seriously. We don’t have already enough wack-jobs out there on the streets with easy access to weapons?  So now, you’re going to release someone who shot an American president on TV? Oh, he’s got to stay on his meds and adhere to 130+ conditions in order to stay free. His mom is 90 and she’s supposed to take care of him. Yeah, I’m feeling good about this.

And of course, my brain wonders how he’s going to feel when he learns Jodi Foster is really not interested. I mean, really.

So, there you have it. Ladies & gentlemen, that concludes this little tour of the dark corner of Tim Hunter’s brain. Please head towards the exit and do visit our gift shop on the way out.

English-speaking people to the left, Spanish-speaking to the right.

French-speaking, just sit there for now and I’ll figure out what to do with you later.

Tim Hunter

Sometimes A Great Speech Deserves To Be Done Twice

First day into the Republican National Convention and there was already a big controversy.

Really?  Do you call Melania’s convention speech that borrowed a chunk from Michelle Obama’s speech several years ago “plagiarism?”  No, really, I’ll give you second chance to answer that.  Still stick by your feeling that using a speech word for word that’s been done before is plagiarism?  OK, if nothing else, misdemeanor plagiarism?

Then, what’s the next step?  Arrest them?  Not likely.  Think less of the person who repurposed the talking points?  You could.

Or you could take a step back from the partisanship that some folks embrace every election year and realize that this is the same game, just different players, doing the same thing they’ve always done.

How do you feel about someone who repurposes a speech a couple of years after its been made?

Watch this clip and let me know if you still hold the same opinion.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7a4_1203347783

This isn’t to defend one candidate or diss another. Both of our “choices” are just doing what American politicians have always done. They go back to the playback of a presidential candidate who came out on top and implement that strategy.  They reach back and borrow some words that were said before, with the hope of recreating that spark in today’s crowd.

I’m observing. We’ve got a long way between here and November, I’ve got two main candidates I don’t care for and I secretly hope that a third comes along that I can vote for and feel good about it. The concept of actually voting FOR someone rather than out of fear of the other is strongly appealing to me.

And, being the land of the free, that should still be possible, right?

Tim Hunter

The Wednesday Night Picnics

I know a lot of people.

As Walter Brennan said in his short-lived 1960’s TV series, The Guns of Will Sonnett, “No brag. Just fact.”

I’ve self-analyzed what caused me to be that way. My favorite theory is rooted in the small Lutheran grade school in southern California I attended that suddenly closed. I found my compact world grew quickly as I was tossed into public schools and became “the new kid.”  I wanted people to like me and I found that making them laugh accomplished that.  Then, it became an addiction, which evolved into a radio career. Of course, the more people you get to know, the more that can potentially like you. There’s also the bottom line that I just enjoy people. Everyone’s different, everyone has their own story.

Moving to Seattle and marrying into the Norwegian world, I’ve gotten to know even more people over the past 9 years. This past week, I got to know even more.

We received an invitation from friends to attend a “Wednesday Night Picnic” at a private estate up on Capitol Hill, an area east of downtown Seattle full of old, brick mansions. That’s about as much as I knew going in. Basically, we would be picnicking along with other people having their own picnics in the yard of a huge estate.

I felt very privileged to have been included in this long-time Seattle tradition. How long have these Wednesday nights in July picnics been going on? Would you believe 58 years?  As you can read in this article from the Seattle Times, the estate’s owner, Kay Bullitt, has done a lot of things for this city, very quietly. Not for show, but for the love of Seattle. And people.

She has used her estate to host all kinds of events including these neighborhood picnics. Her daughter Dorothy told me that back in the 60’s, her mom held a integrated camp for kids. There was also a “Peace Camp” for Jewish and Arab kids. And when Kay’s days on this earth are done, she has designed that the entire property will go to the city and be turned into a public park. Initially, there was talk of tearing down the mid-century home on the premises, but it now looks as though they’ll keep it around for a possible meeting facility.

First-timers to this Wednesday Night Picnic were asked to NOT take pictures of the neighbors and other people attending, but I was able to snap a few shots of the grounds and our little party.

Peace & Tranquility

Peace & Tranquility

A small playground

A small playground

Oh and from this vantage point.....

Oh and walk to the edge of the property over here…

And you can see the house across the street, towards Seattle, currently being remodeled before it’s new owner moves in.

Maybe Macklemore will invite us over sometime...

Maybe Macklemore will invite us over sometime

It was a very relaxed gathering of Seattleites, all just enjoying a perfect summer evening and the beautiful grounds thanks to our generous host. And now, I know even more people.

As one neighbor and his wife prepared to walk home, he came over, introduced himself and then invited us to come back next month for an afternoon of opera on the lawn.  Just bring a picnic, some chairs and enjoy. It should make for a splendid day of relaxing music. As long as that new neighbor doesn’t crank up the tunes.

The Wednesday Night Summer Picnics weren’t on my bucket list. But now I’m going to write it on the list just so I can cross it off.

Thank you, Kay, for everything you’ve done.

Tim Hunter

Saying Goodbye To The King

KING LOGO

There was another shift in the Seattle landscape this past week. The wrecking ball began to erase what had been the home of KING Broadcasting–Channel 5, KING AM and KING FM.

We knew the day was coming.  We heard about the sale, witnessed The Home Team move into their new studios down by the stadiums, heard about several “Goodbye to the building” parties (I missed both of them) and even enjoyed a little behind-the-scenes tour from the recently retired Jean Enerson, who shared some of the building’s secrets.

And then, the demolition began.

KING 5

There are many, many people who have a lot more extensive stories from their days in that building. My time there covered just a school year. It was my senior year at the University of Washington and I was trying to get some real-life working experience in before heading out into the world of broadcasting. My first internship was under the direction of a woman named Diane Clark. She was short, had a curly mop of hair and the nickname, “Roadrunner.”  Under her direction, I helped with the Public Affairs programing at KING radio.  Then, the following quarter, I got a dream internship under one of the finest audio production guys you’ll ever meet, Steve Lawson. This was at the time when Steve was the station voice of KING 5, as well as the production director at KING Radio. (Strangely, that’s where I first met my future radio co-host Bruce Murdock, pretty much a decade before we were teamed up over at KLSY) 

I’d have to say that my experience under Steve really cemented my interest in audio production. KING had one of those cutting-edge 4-track recorders. While most of my time with Steve was spent observing, after he was done for the day, I was allowed to use the 4-track recorder to produce a comedy series “Return to Normalcy” for KCMU, the U.W.’s student-run station. (now, KEXP, after Paul Allen bought it and moved it to the Experience Music Project at the Seattle Center)

Besides the hands-on Public Affairs and Production experience, the internships also gave me exposure to other areas of interest in that building:

When it came time to graduate, I had hoped KING would offer me a job. Hey, they liked me, they let me keep coming back after the internships were over. They even hired me for several odd jobs:

  • Doing Music Research–that’s calling up numbers out of the phone book, asking people if they’d be willing to take part in a music survey and then play 50 or so 7-second clips of music and have them rate the songs.  I’m pretty sure “Afternoon Delight” was among ’em.
  • Driving Miss Dorothy–I tell you, they trusted me.  So much that when Frank, Dorothy Bullit’s regular driver went on vacation, I was asked to fill in for a couple of weeks.  I would come to KING, pick up the keys to her Volvo, then drive to her home and take her where ever she would like to go.
  • Answer Phones on the Request Line–Yep, people would call, and request the songs, I would forward the list along to the DJ.

Also, being in the building, I got to know a lot of radio people, some of whom I worked with later in my career.  Folks like Dana Horner, Alan Mason, Rob Conrad, Dan Foley, Andy Barber, Rick Scott, Joe Cooper and, of course, Mr. Murdock.

However, that job offer from KING never came. And, when I was passed over for a copywriter position and lost that job to a woman with two years’ experience at Planned Parenthood, I knew I had to get in somewhere and start doing. And that’s when I went east of the mountains and began my radio career in Yakima.

But that’s a story for another time.

One other connection to that facility. For those who were around in the 1990s, you may recall that a former KING sales person flipped out and decided to drive his car through the front window of the building. He ended up on top of the older brother of a high school friend, Mike Oling, who had been a channel 5 reporter.  Mike eventually got out of the broadcast biz and now sells insurance in downtown Seattle. KING, as well as KOMO took immediate steps and put in cement barriers to prevent any future such attacks.

So now, the KING building becomes a part of Seattle’s broadcasting past. I was there at a time where Seattle’s top music stations were battling it out on the AM dial. Can you even imagine? It was a different era and now, just one more radio memory that eventually will fade away.

But until then, I’ll remember every moment of my time there fondly.

Tim Hunter

KING LOGO

Fred Hering

Fred Hering

Fred Hering

If you lived in the Seattle suburb of Bothell any time in the past 30 years, you knew Fred Hering.  If not the man himself, the real estate guy who had his office right there on 522.  Coming into Bothell, you’d see that sign, “Bothell–For a day or a lifetime” and then you’d pass the reader board out in front of Fred’s company, Hering & Associates.

I found out this morning that Fred passed away this week. The announcement was made yesterday at the Northshore Kiwanis breakfast, which he rarely missed.

Fred had his hands in many pies–he was President of the Northshore Schools Foundation and a member for 14 years, the Northshore Kiwanis (40 years), Northshore Schools Foundation (14 years), PTA, Boy Scouts, Northshore Senior Center, America Cancer Society, GOP District 1, and the Greater Bothell Downtown Association.  The retired Navy veteran was also father to three boys: Kevin, Tim & Dave.

Somewhere back in the days when I was Mr. Bothell, playing on the radio and writing a newspaper column for the Bothell Reporter (then known as The Citizen), Fred and I hooked up.  We didn’t see each other very often, but every seven years or so, he would graciously invite me to join the Northshore Kiwanis for breakfast and to be their guest speaker.

The last invitation and the final time I saw Fred was almost two years ago. I had decided to leave my job at a Seattle area advertising agency and set a departure date–October 1st, 2014. If you need me for anything, catch me by September 30th, because that would be the last time you’d see me working there.

During that farewell month, Fred gave me a call and invited me to come and speak to the Kiwanis gang again. “So, what date you looking at, Fred?”  He replied, “October 1st.” I quickly responded, “Funny, I have absolutely no plans for that day or the days after it! You’re my first commitment!”

While searching my email inbox for old previous exchanges with Fred, I realized he’s one of the people on my Wacky Week email list. Most likely, Fred was probably one of the original subscribers. I have to say, the guy was a fan and liked my style of comedy. I doubt he listened to me much on the radio, but he read my newspaper column religiously. Looking through my book, “Nosin’ Around Northshore: The First Five Years”, I found a great example of how Fred & I shared the same humor gene:

Last week, I told you about some of the more unusual signs spotted around town.

The gang at Hering & Associates Real Estate along Bothell Way decided to get into the spirit of obscure signage. Maybe you noticed it over the weekend. I know I did. On both sides of their reader board, just two words:  “Tim Hunter”.

I thought it was catchy and I sincerely appreciated the honor. But in no way am I going to allow their special attention to affect the high standards I have set for this column. Nice try, Hering & Associates, the home of thoroughly-trained real estate professionals who would love to help you find your next home.

It’s sad when you say goodbye to those characters that make up the fabric of your life. Four years or so from now, the phone won’t ring.  Fred won’t be at the other end, picking up where we last left off.  However, I prefer to look at things from the other side. I realize that I was so fortunate to have met Fred and honored he’d even remember my name. Fred Hering did a lot to make the community he called home a better place and his efforts and smile will be missed. We definitely need more Fred’s in this world.

Tim Hunter