The Drill of a Lifetime

      Ready to Report

I went on a bit of an adventure last Thursday.

Knowing a lot of folks up in Bothell, including at City Hall, I was invited to be a ‘persistent reporter’ for a simulated emergency drill. Not just the city would take part, but also folks from the UW-Bothell and Cascadia College, to prepare for a “what if” scenario to see how well they would all work together.

We were supposed to meet and talk about the exercise, what they’d like me to do, read over questions to ask the crisis center and city leaders at the mock press conference, enjoy a little lunch, etc.

When I arrived at exactly noon, Bothell City Hall was packed. City workers buzzed around in their orange vests, there were police officers, even people who appeared to be part of a jury, wearing name tags like, “Juror #1.”  It was impressive and gave you the feeling that something wrong was really going on. I asked for my contact and quickly found myself in an elevator heading up with all 12 jurors.  I couldn’t resist saying to one of them, “You know he’s guilty.” Another juror gave me the International sign for, “Shush!”

Finding my contact, we then returned back down to the main floor and headed into a room where we were informed that the drill would have to wait, maybe even be post-poned. The reason? An actual bomb threat had been made at the Bothell Courthouse not even a block away.

So, some of the police and fire folks who were supposed to be part of the drill had some real-life drama to deal with. That also meant that the juror I told “he was guilty” was actually real. Oops.

90 minutes later, the bomb squad checked out the suspicious device, it turned out to be nothing and the drill commenced. It was interesting to play a part in the drill (I was Harley from KOMO TV)  and watch the teamwork that was born from this exercise that you hope you never have to do in real life. But you have to be ready.

It also gave me an idea for a screenplay that I will never have time to write, but if you take it on, I want partial screen credit.  So, someone is terrorizing the city. A while into this terror, a police officer says this all seems so familiar and looks for similar sprees in the past, but comes up empty. Then, he remembers that this is going the exact same way as a city drill held several years before. It turns out that the culprit is an angry ex-city employee who felt his opinion was ignored and wants to prove the city wrong. Of course, knowing what his next step will be allows the policeman to foil the plan and the bad guy gets captured.

It could have been just another day but it ended up being quite the adventurous Thursday. Because it was on the edge of over-achieving, I think I’m going to take it real easy this week on Thursday. Maybe I’ll go for a walk. Or, visit that guy up in Bothell if they really did find him guilty.

Oops.

Tim Hunter

 

The Second One

I’m sure there will come a time when I don’t know how many Father’s Days its been since my dad left this earth. But with this being only the second one where I wasn’t conspiring with my sisters on what he would like or picking out a goofy card to send to him, (which usually arrived late) I’m still counting them.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up to his smiling face by my keyboard as I begin my daily writing duties. And I’ve made it a habit to be a positive reflection, rather than a mournful feeling of loss. I got lucky. Not only because of the man and everything he taught me by example, but also for how long he stuck around. He was the last of his siblings to go when he died just three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.

I remember at his wake how a childhood friend reminded me just how lucky I was. His dad had already been gone for 20+ years.

I can easily hop into the memory jalopy and flash back to those camping trips, the Little League games, going to church in our Sunday best, playing basketball with him in the driveway, hearing about the guys “at the field”, which was mechanic-talk for the gang he worked with at United Airlines. It seemed like he would always be there, but eventually, the years took a toll on his body.

I’m one of those people who have fully embraced the Amazon Echo (named Alexa) and it’s partially due to my dad. Towards the end of his life, his hearing was failing and if he didn’t understand you, instead of saying, “What?” he would just say, “OK.”  That became his default go-to expression.

Now, when I ask our Alexa to turn the living room light on, the lamp clicks on and she says, “OK.”  Time to turn it off, and after the instruction she replies, “OK.”

That’s fine, but just remember Alexa, that was Dad’s word first.

If your dad is still around, I’ll echo the words of Kelly Toman who reminded me just how lucky you are. You know what to do from here.

Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

Tim Hunter

Facebook 101

I’ve become quite an expert when it comes to Facebook. For quite a few years. How many? I can’t figure out how to tell.

OK, almost an expert.

Experience has taught me a lot of things about this social media platform, so I thought I’d just put them all down into a handy collection for people to review occasionally and check to see if they’re doing it right.  There are some definite do’s and don’ts:

  • The Games  Seriously, I think it’s wonderful that you have enough spare time to play the slot machines or another version of Candy Crush on Facebook but I’m begging you, PLEASE don’t invite me to play. At first, I figured we must not know each other very well. But the invites just kept coming. I have since developed a “three strikes and you’re out” rule, just in case you’re wondering how you thought we were connected and now, are no longer.
  • Political Posts  You wouldn’t think this is necessary, but a request–give thought to what you’re going to put up on Facebook.  I don’t know about you, but I go there to keep up with friends, share a laugh, update the family, etc.  It amazes me that people think if they put up something that supports their political agenda that people opposed to it are going to want to see it? You don’t care?  I’ve gotten that impression. So, another three strikes rule went into effect. First, I click that little triangle in the upper right corner of your post and it gives me the option of “Hiding all posts from _________.”  You posted something from AngryWhackJobs.com?  I click on that triangle and it allows me to hide all future posts from that website. See?  Isn’t that easy? So, if you thought I was checking my Facebook to find the latest instructions from you on how to think, you’re actually just posting that for yourself.  Tell you what, if you take all that time you’re wasting on posting things people don’t actually read and put that towards your cause, you just might create some change.
  • Personal Information The phrase TMI was created for a reason. Look, I care about you and your well-being and if you have a health issue, concern or want to request a prayer, bring it on. Send me a PERSONAL note. One-on-one. Do you really think that everyone wants to see pictures of your toe fungus or that new scar?  Think of Facebook like being on a train with a friend. There’s an easel where you can post pictures. That friend may care about it or at least, pretend to…but all the others? Take a guess.
  • Blindly Reposting Things Somewhere along the line, people adopted the belief that, “Well, if it’s on Facebook, it must be true!”  Rather than trying to set the world speed record for reposting something from the first second you read it, do a little vetting. Yes, the war continues on “fake news”, but I see it daily. And depending on the day, if I see a friend fall into that trap, I’ll carve out five minutes to find the site that disproves it and then forward that information along to the person who posted it. It happens at least once a week. I’m not right or left, I’m in the middle and proudly like to think for myself. That’s why facts are so important to me, and political slant ticks me off. Sadly, politics today is basically cranking out negative stuff about the other side to the faithful, so that they know you’re going to buy into it and keep perpetuating it. And that’s too bad.

The key thought here: think before you post. There is a wealth of negative things out there right now. Why bring them to Facebook? Positive feeds on positive. I think you can figure out what negative feeds on.

For all of this country’s faults, for all the problems going on in the world, for everything not going your way if you were the global ruler, we’re all doing pretty well. Appreciate it.

And if you don’t, why drag it out into the social media arena for all to see?  Well, that is, until you become my next un-follow.

Tim Hunter

Comedy Is Tough

Being funny has never been easy.

I’m not talking about me, but in general. We all love to laugh, but what cracks us up is as different as our individual lives. That’s why, over the years, I’ve paid attention and taken mental notes about what’s funny and what makes people laugh. Heck, I even put together a pamphlet (hardly a book) about how to write funny jokes that’s available for your Kindle on Amazon.

To save you the free download (and seriously, I can’t even remember when I wrote that) it’s based on the two golden rules of comedy–know your audience and go for the common experiences. I’ve spent my career going for the quick kill. Do a brief setup and while people are nodding their heads in agreement, you zing ’em with the punchline.

If you’re standing up there on the stage and setting up a joke by saying, “You know how you go the leper colony because they’ve got a great cigar bar in the back,” you’ve already lost the people who have never been to a leper colony, or don’t care that they have a cigar bar. If you go for the quicker, “President Trump met with the Pope today,” with those seven words, you’ve created a picture in the audiences’ mind of Trump, the Pontiff and the stereotypes that come with each of them. Where I went with it was “Their conversation began with one saying, “So what’s with that big thing on your head?” and the other replying, “Back at ya!”

Donald’s hair, the Pope’s hat, ha-ha, let’s all go home.

This week, Kathy Griffin (who I’ve always felt was a needy comic) thought it would be hilarious to do a photo shoot that included her holding onto a bloody Donald Trump head.  For the science of comedy, I would have loved to have been in that meeting where that concept turned into “a funny idea.”

You thought the leper colony set up didn’t work?  If your audience was the U.S., then you’re already heading down the path where 50% of the people who see the photo not only won’t think it’s funny, it would be viewed as offensive. Now, do you really want to instantly piss off half of your audience, some of whom might even have liked you as a comic until now? Next, let’s whittle down the prospective hysterical laughter even further by reducing it to just the part of the audience that thinks ISIS beheadings are funnier than Benny Hill. In a world where innocent kids are blown up at a pop concert, where reporters have their heads cut off live on the Internet, regardless of how you feel about the president (who, is still the president, by the way), holding a bloody Trump head is shocking, disturbing, and a lot of things, but not funny.

Remember that pursuit of shared experiences? OK, so if you think a bloody Trump head is funny, then we should probably do it with a Hillary head, too, right?  I mean, that’s a funny gag!  And while we’re at it, let’s grab the heads of two more former presidents, bloody them up and have an upside-down Mount Rushmore!

Can you imagine the outrage if someone had done this with an Obama head?  We’d be hearing how wrong it was and that it could only have come from the mind of someone who is a right-wing, white supremacist racist scumbag.

So, to summarize:

Kathy has now entered the Gilbert Gottfried zone, where one day, she might get to open for Michael Richards in a comedy club that offers a Groupon for two drinks and some laughs for $17.

I know that comedians who constantly reach for that edge have to keep stretching for the outer limits, but someone with Kathy’s experience should have seen at least a small warning light going off.  The same is true for Gilbert and Richards. Jokes about Tsunami victims days after the tragedy or thinking the N-word is funny when spoken by a white guy defies logic. I don’t get it, nor do I want to.

Oh, I’ve had my dark humor moments. I’ve thought of some pretty sick stuff over the years. It’s part of the spectrum. But then you go back to the “know your audience” part of the comedy formula and  make sure those jokes never see the light of day.

Even if you share Ms. Griffin’s contempt for the president, do you really want to live in a society where something like the above photo is considered mainstream funny?

Freedom of speech? Absolutely. Knock yourself out. Want to be a comedian?  Try being funny.

Tim Hunter

 

 

I’m Asking For A Buck

I’ve been involved in a fund-raiser or two over the years, but I’ve tried my best not to bug people that I know. I mean, seriously, how many friends do you have that would like you to pledge some money towards a very good cause so they can walk, climb, bike, yoga, whatever? I’ve done the “Beat the Bridge”, the Bleeding Disorder Foundation of Washington walk, countless auctions and of course, those “Make a Wish Marathons” when I stayed on the radio for 28 straight hours. I think we did three of them.

But, fair warning, if you keep reading this, I’m going to ask you for a buck. One dollar.  It’s to help a situation that is no doubt going on all over the U.S. right now, but the folks at the Northshore Schools Foundation are actually doing something about it.

With a week to go in May, I thought I’d call special attention to the N.S.F.’s annual “Milk Money Campaign.”  I remember when I first heard about this, I thought, “Well, yeah, kids need milk. Calcium for their bones, etc.”  But M.I.L.K. is actually an acronym for Making an Impact on Learning & Kids.  To play on the theme, milk bottles (generously donated by a northwest dairy) have been labeled and placed all over the Northshore School District–meaning Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville. In businesses, in churches, where ever someone might toss in their pocket change to help the cause.

What exactly is the cause?  Homeless students.  We’re talking kids that, through no fault of their own, cringe when some of the fun things about being a kid come up, because they just don’t have the money.  They could be living in a shelter, a relative or friend’s home, because these important years have been far from smooth.

The folks at the Northshore Schools Foundation reached out to me this year and asked if I would produce a video that helps tell their story. So, if you’re up for it and have three minutes, I’d like to invite you to watch it.

If you skipped down to here because you’re too busy, I get it. I’m right there with you.  Let me introduce you to this fact–there are 200 homeless kids attending school right now in the Northshore School District. That’s where my kids went and where I’m still quite connected.  It’s not a poor community by any means, so it’s hard for me to imagine that homelessness even exists up there.

I figure I know enough people that if I put out the plea and you could spare a dollar, we could really make a big difference in this campaign that wraps up at the end of the month.  All the money raised is distributed to principals in the district that have asked teachers to let them know when they discover a kid in need.  Maybe its money for a field trip or a book from the book fair, or fees to take a college entrance exam or even some kind of a nice dress so they could attend the prom.

This is a soft ask.  I won’t know who kicks in and who doesn’t. If you’re thinking, “Well, those kids are up there. I’d rather help someone in our area.” Do it! Make it happen.  We are all so incredibly blessed and lucky for all that we have that this seems like a pretty small way to make a big difference in some young lives.

If you’d like to donate $1 to the M.I.L.K. campaign, just click here.

Yeah, just one dollar.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Tim Hunter

P.S. Oh, for Pete’s sake!  So, apparently the online donation software can only accept a minimum of $10 donations. So, if you see a jar this week, drop a buck in.  Just wanted to pass along some kudos and congratulate all the worker bees behind this cool program.

A Wine Wonderland

This past Sunday, we ended up having an incredibly good time as my two step-kids decided to treat their mom to a Mother’s Day adventure. Of course, I tagged along. We first went to the new Revolve restaurant in Bothell, made a quick trip to Country Village and then headed off to Woodinville Wine Country.

As has happened every time I go wine tasting there, I ask myself–why don’t we do this more often???

For readers outside the area, Woodinville is a suburb around a 25-minute drive northeast of Seattle. There’s a city surrounded by neighborhoods, but there’s also acreage where the Washington State Wine industry thankfully decided to invade and set up shop.  As of this writing (and it seems like the number changes a lot) there are over 130 wineries with tasting rooms in and around Woodinville.

The way it works—you pay $10 to sample some of their wines, spend $XX on wine and you can use that $10 towards your purchase. Or, should you decide to join their wine club, there’s usually no fee, but you are expected to buy several bottles twice a year or quarterly. Another benefit, as a wine club member, you get to go in and enjoy free tastings whenever you like and you get invited to special member-only events. Plus, when you buy wine as a member, you get a membership discount.

A couple of examples of that membership bennie thing–

I went to one winery on a Tuesday to pick up our club wine. Of course, while there, I did a tasting. One particularly tickled my palate, so I bought a bottle.  I got the special Tuesday discount they were offering PLUS my membership discount, so I saved 25%. Score!

During that Mother’s Day tour, we visited one of the more upscale wineries and our tasting including the big finale` of a Cabernet that clocked in at $180 a bottle. With one of us belonging to their wine club, the tasting was free. And, after we had tasted our allotment, the wine server asked if we wanted any repeat tastes. We all went for that expensive Cab again.

I tell ya, it ruins you. But it a wonderful way.

We’ve joined a total of four wine clubs in the area: Efeste, Dusted Valley, Refuge & Prospect and Martedi. Each has it’s own unique style and all are doing amazing things when it comes to wine. Plus, there are some great stories to be heard while tasting. The family operation handed down, the fun names they’ve come up for their varieties, the winemaker who went through a divorce and took every penny left to go for his dream.  But there are literally over 100 others that are also produce amazing wines, with stories to match. Washington is now the number 2 wine producing state in our country and we can all be very proud of the quality being produced.

There are wine tours where you climb on a bus, or you could Uber or Lyft your way around. If you’re driving, force yourself to taste and maybe not finish every pour to the bottom of the glass and limit yourself to three wineries at most.

I joked online when I posted a picture of our group on Mother’s Day with the comment, “So glad no one else thought of going wine-tasting with mom.” The truth was, it was packed.  We are very lucky to have such a great attraction so close to home. If you even remotely enjoy wine tasting, Woodinville is calling.

Tim Hunter

A Handy Little Test

First off, those of you who know me understand I like the middle. I don’t have a D or an R by my name and proudly choose the better of the two candidates when there is one.

You also have most likely noticed that our country has taken a drastic turn towards polarization. Us versus Them. If you don’t think like me, then you’re a bigot or a racist or just a downright evil person. And that’s sad.  We’re the same people we were before the most recent presidential election, yet we’ve allowed the major parties to shape how we think. Right now, the only game being played is how to villainize the other guy.

For a brief while, I noticed a push to try and talk out our differences. To be civil and to discuss politics. It gave me hope, because it’s through discussion and comparing points of view that we can move towards a compromise and work together as Americans.

If you insist on being caustic, bitter and angry and view that as a solution to our country’s problems, you have the absolute right to do so. However, if you’d like to begin the journey out of this cesspool and start the slow climb back to being civil to one another, may I suggest this little test?

Every time there’s a slam on Donald Trump, would you have laughed as hard if we were to substitute in the name of Hillary Clinton?  My guess is, probably not.  It’s a simple little filter I put to most of the stories that come out about our current president.  For example, if Bill Maher had made an incest joke about Bill Clinton and his daughter, or if Martha Stewart was photographed flipping off a portrait of Hillary, would that have been equally as funny?  I can beat the 5-second timer on that response. It comes down to basic decency and respect.

Don’t respect the office or this president?  Good for you. Take a craft class at the senior center, create a gold medal out of construction paper and put it on your coat and wear it proudly.

On the reality side of the world, this is the time to come up with better candidates, better ideas, ways to fix things, to make things better.  The problem with whining and complaining is that, eventually, people just quit listening.

And now more than ever, we need to listen to each other.

Tim Hunter

 

One Special Person

It’s weird how life works out.

In the 1970s, I was roaming the University of Washington at the same time as a girl from Ballard. But we were on different paths. We each headed off into the world to experience all kinds of adventures, in completely different directions.

Upon graduation, I went east of the mountains for that first radio job, ended up getting married, moving back to this side of the state and raising a family.

Victoria graduated from the U and stuck around town, having a family as well. It wasn’t long until she found herself a single mom and life was far from easy.

No need to go into details on either side, but it took an incredible timing pattern for us to be in the spaces we were in when we were introduced ten years ago.  Yes, it was on a second attempt for a blind date that this woman came flying into the Mill Creek Boston’s pizza after a hectic drive from Ballard. I can replay that scene in my brain any time I want. I felt a click, but proceeded with caution.

There are so many ways we could have never met.  I had an uncle who told me to look him up after I graduated from college and he’d do what he could to get me a radio job back east.  Victoria went to school in Norway for a year, fell in love with it, and didn’t really want to come back. It was at her family’s insistence.

I really don’t know how I was lucky enough to find someone as kind, pretty and caring as Victoria Arlene Templin Sangrey Hunter.  Any more names and we’d need two t-shirts, but I digress. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at her and feel grateful for how this whole crazy ride of life worked out.

It’s her birthday this week. Victoria-fest, as I call it. The years are passing by too quickly, which is why I continue to be on a mission to make every moment of every day count. It’s so easy to push through life and suddenly look back on a big old blur. We’re here now. I’m here with her and am truly grateful to have found her.

That’s enough gushing for now. Happy birthday, Victoria. I love you as much as humanly possible! Stay exactly the way you are.

Tim Hunter

Hollywood Writers Strike

Well, good news. The threatened writers strike has been avoided. In the wee hours of this past Tuesday, both sides came to a tentative agreement on a three year deal, which means all the late night shows and the series starting to shoot episodes for this fall can keep going.

However, not all of the writers approve of this deal that still has yet to be voted on.  Since this is my little space on the internet, I’d like to share some space and post his thoughts about still going out on strike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I’m not surprised he didn’t sign it, either. Pretty controversial stuff.

Thanks for reading!

Tim Hunter

Bow Down To Bob

This next season of University of Washington Football is going to be a special one.

Coming off last year where they were part of the top 4 teams in the nation, that’s a tall order. But what’s going to make this year incredibly special, regardless of the Dawg’s record, is that it will be the final season for the “Voice of the Huskies”, Bob Rondeau.

I am and will always be so grateful for the path life has taken me. One of the more scenic detours was getting a phone call from a low voice over in Seattle, wanting to know if I had an interest in being his producer. KOMO radio news guy Bob Gillespie was over in Yakima visiting his in-laws one day, heard enough of me one day to suggest to KOMO morning guy Larry Nelson that we should talk, and the rest was history.

As Larry used to always tell me, if you want to make God laugh, just tell him the plans you have for your life.

Two weeks away from being married, I accepted a job that started the Monday after the honeymoon.  That meant getting hitched in 10-below weather, going over to Seattle to find a place to live in a 3-hour search, going on the honeymoon, coming back and then moving over through the snow-covered passes in a truck with bald tires.

But it was so worth it.

Among the personalities and friends I got to know during my  4-1/2 year stint at AM-1000 was the KOMO Sports Director, Bob Rondeau.  Bob was the morning sports guy, while a fellow named Gary Johnson was the afternoon sports anchor.  Years before, in the Midwest, their roles had been reversed. Gary was the main guy, and Bob was his second.

To this day, if I bump into Bob Rondeau, it’s mere seconds before a pair of dueling Nixon impressions breaks out.  For a while (until management forced us to stop–they felt it was disrespectful. Yeah, to a guy who resigned in disgrace), I would call up Larry in the morning and chat with him as “Mr. Former”, as if Richard Nixon was a fan of the show.  Man, did we have fun. Our GM fought mildly for us, then brought out the white flag and the cease-and-desist went into effect.

While Bob enjoyed the big-time job of calling all the Husky football and eventually, basketball games, KOMO wanted to expand their reputation as “Your Husky Station.” So, to pad our part, we developed the whole “Tailgate Party” show concept, with Lar having fun, playing the Husky Fight song or Tequila over and over, while I produced bits to play in-between all that.  One of the recurring features we did was something called, “Special Times”, where Larry and Bob would talk about the game, what it all meant, all the while walking as close as they could to the silliness line.

Bob Rondeau was Bob ‘frickin’ Rondeau. He still is. But Bob always treated me as an equal, a friend and just another member of the KOMO family.

I attended the University of Washington from 1973-77 and have absolutely no clue who did the broadcasts back then. The only “Voice of the Huskies” I’ve ever known has been Bob Rondeau. It’s going to very strange to not have him up in that broadcast booth a year from now.  I have a feeling I’m going to be listening to radio broadcasts of the game a little bit more next season.

Go Dawgs!  Oh, and Bob, Mr. Former says ‘hi’.

Tim Hunter