Don James And Me

That would be my fantasy headline. You’d see it and say, “Oh, wow, Tim knew Don James, the legendary football coach of the University of Washington Huskies! The guy they just unveiled a statue of, out in front of Husky Stadium.”

I actually DID know Coach Don James, on a professional level.  Our paths crossed dozens of times, as I’m sure it did with so many other people who wanted to have a couple of minutes with the coach. Let’s face it, he was not only a nice guy, but a very talented football coach that left Kent State–a school more famous for its ’60s student shooting than its football program–to head for the University of Washington. There, he rescued a floundering program, taking it to unprecedented heights and even a national championship.

I worked at KOMO AM-1000 back in the early 1980s. I had gotten a low-voiced call from Seattle while I worked at KMWX in Yakima, went over for a job interview, accepted it and two weeks later, headed to the wet side of the mountains to be Larry Nelson’s morning show producer.

Going from a small market to Market 13 in the U.S. meant a lot of learning and growing was yet to come. That was back in the time when KOMO embraced their history as being one of the first radio stations in Seattle. The wall in front of the office I shared with Larry had cartoon drawings of the radio greats from the ’30s and ’40s.  W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Jack Benny, Fred Allen and more.

That was a different era at KOMO. During my tenure there, they were a Full-Service AM station with music, news and up to 30 minutes of commercials per hour. Years prior, Fisher Broadcasting gave away the frequency that KUOW now occupies because, in the words of one general manager, “FM radio will never amount to anything.”  KOMO had also let the Sonics slip away, but that allowed them to seriously go after the University of Washington sports broadcasts.

At that time, if you had the broadcast rights to a school, you got it all. What did you want to cover? Football, basketball, maybe some crew races? KOMO had access to everything purple and gold. Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies, was the radio station sports director and did the morning sports reports during the week. On the weekends, he climbed into the broadcast booth. Because of that, it wasn’t unusual for the likes of Mike Lude (the Athletic Director) or even Don James to be seen around the building.

Between those occasions, a Rose Bowl trip in ’81, and even being involved somewhat in “The Don James Show” on KLSY years later, I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with the coach. Mostly chit-chat, but enough I could tell this was a seriously good guy. Oh, I heard he could be really intense on the football field. That’s what great coaches do. But off the field and one-on-one, he could turn it off and be just a guy named Don.

One year after I had moved on to KLSY and the Huskies were in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, I remembered that New Year’s Eve was the coach’s birthday. So, we called the hotel where he was staying and had breakfast delivered to his room. Of course, we gave our studio backline number with the order and sure enough, Coach James called up to say thanks. That was awesome. That was Don James.

The last time I was fortunate enough to see him was at one of the Husky Spring Football games.  He was in the Tyee section (the hoity-toity reserved section) and he was near the edge talking to someone and so I figured when that conversation was over, I’d sneak over and grab a selfie with him. For all the years I was around him, I had never bothered to get a picture taken with him.  What a hallowed spot I would have on my Husky wall if I had only taken the time to get up there and say hi one more time.  I looked away to watch the spring game, but when I turned around, he was gone.

We lost Don James way too early. Not only as a head coach, but also in this world. He was just 80 years old when he passed in 2014. It’s been 25 years since he last coached the Huskies. But when I look back, it’s not with sadness, but instead, with massive appreciation for being able to be alive during his era. I was there in the stands as a student when he first took over and not too much later, be fortunate enough to actually get to know the guy a little bit. I really wanted to be at Husky Stadium last week for the dedication of his statue out front, but work prevented it.

However, that statue is not going anywhere and eventually, I’ll get back to Husky Stadium for that long overdue photo with the coach.

Go Dawgs!

Tim Hunter

My New Voting Technique

My Voter’s Guide

Yeah, it’s been a year since we threw our federal government into complete chaos.  It finally caught up to our Seattle City government, which has been dysfunctional, inept, non-achieving and over-taxing for years.

I don’t know if I’m a conservative progressive or a liberal conservative. I have opinions and thoughts on everything, but it seems to be my own brand of politics that is sometimes Democrat, while other times Republican.

Most Seattle voters pride themselves on being progressive–formerly known as liberal, left wing or socialist. Take a look at most of the council races and you get to choose between uber-progressive and really-uber-progressive.  I’m waiting for the day that the city council changes all the streets to left-turns only.

I want to truly help homeless people and all those in need, but I don’t want to enable them. I don’t believe allowing camping on sidewalks and city parks, and dumbing-down heroin addiction to the point Seattle is trying to make it a lifestyle is demonstrating compassion. You’re addict?  Here, let us set up a safe injection site. That way you’ll be healthy enough to hit those neighborhoods and steal more to fuel your habit. And now we feel better about ourselves and didn’t have to make any hard decisions.

Yeah, that’s helping.

So, the other day, I found myself at a place where you could pick up the copy of The Stranger, which I did. (after all, it’s free)  I didn’t even realize at the time, in spite of the cover, that it was the Election Issue with their recommendations for our off-year election. Coincidentally, my ballot showed up in the mail around the same time. I had started to fill it out based on some of the main races, but then I hit a point where it was going to take some digging through the voter’s pamphlet to figure out the rest of the candidates.

As I skimmed through The Stranger and came across their endorsements, I realized that they were 6-for-6 in endorsing the opposite candidate I supported. That gave me an idea.

For the first time ever, I used The Stranger’s recommendations to choose who I was voting for.  They recommended A, I voted for B. They said Yes, I said No. Since they pride themselves on extremism to the radical left, I figure the candidate they didn’t support might at least be a little towards the middle.

That was it. I finished the rest of my ballot in less than a minute, put on the stamp and ran it out to the mailbox.

And a new way to vote was born.

Election Day, as of this writing, is still two weeks ago. So lots of time left to get your copy of The Stranger.

Tim Hunter

No More Secrets

What happened?

What finally happened that it was suddenly OK to out a powerful person like Harvey Weinstein and expose his abuse of power and the sexual depravity that so many women have to endure silence?

It doesn’t matter. This is a great thing.

Unbelievable behavior has been going on for decades. There have been payoffs. There were threats. Careers were ruined. Others, spared for favors.

But that’s Hollywood, right? The home of the casting couch. Where sexual harassment and assault are “just part of the process.”

No more.

It’s with heartbreak I read story after story of what actresses and models have endured for the sake of not having their careers crushed by powerful men. But now, they’re finally fighting back and I’m cheering them on.

The current “let’s put an end to sexual harassment and abuse” campaign has spread outside of Hollywood and has become a powerful wake-up call to me and hopefully millions of men.

Last Sunday, the #metoo campaign was given a boost by Alyssa Milano and it spread like wildfire. Sadly, for good reason. If a woman had been victims of sexual harassment or abuse in their lifetimes, they were encouraged to post #metoo. Practically every woman I have as a friend on Facebook joined in. Some hesitated, because they didn’t want people to know or didn’t want to relive it. Others have used it as a light to show us it’s far from OK. In fact, it hasn’t been for a long time. Hopefully, this is where we finally start to change things.

If you know me, you know I’m a goofball. I keep it light and have a hard time being serious. (apparently, except when I blog) I have this deep-rooted need to make people smile or laugh. Looking back over the years, I never, ever intentionally sexually harassed anyone. At least, in my mind.  I’m playful, flirty at times, but only with people I felt close to.

The #metoo campaign has me re-thinking and that’s when change begins. It has shed light on something that wasn’t said before to the masses–that being sexually harassed or assaulted has been more the rule, than the exception.

My hat is off to the women who have bravely stepped forward to tell their story with the hope that things will change and that, hopefully, others won’t have to go through it.

KING 5 News Anchor Amity Addrissi bravely told her story.

A Facebook post by a former co-worker was the real tipping point for me. I mean, for God’s sake, I never knew that had happened to her. I felt incredible sadness and anger as I read her story while realizing that she had been living with this all the time I’ve known her. She is one of the brightest, nicest, just deep-down people I know. Here’s her story:

#Metoo.

When I was in high school, I was held down and raped by two drunk/high boys from school. To complicate matters, one of them was actually my boyfriend. For YEARS afterwards, I was in denial that this was even rape — that’s how brainwashed our culture is. Since I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs, since I didn’t bite and punch and kick, since I didn’t physically fight back with ALL MY FORCE, this was clearly my fault, right?

I did try to shove them off, I repeatedly asked them to stop, I cried, I tried to squirm out of their grip as the pinned me down. But, again, I didn’t fight back with all my force, so it wasn’t REALLY rape, right? (SMH)

I kept dating that boy for a long time afterward, mainly due to feelings of low self-worth. This incident had a long-lasting impact on my life. An impact that is still very much felt. It kicked off a long-lasting bout of depression, decreased my belief in my value as anything more than an object, fostered an ambivalence toward life, and worst of all, gave me intimacy issues that continue to this day.

Now I wonder, how I ever could have thought this wasn’t even rape. I was A CHILD. I was raped. I never said anything. What is WRONG with this world?

I’m not glad to have had this experience, but I am happy to add to the growing #metoo lexicon.

And one last thing. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve grown past it. But do join me in my outrage.

Story after story, #metoo after #metoo, from friends and relatives, knocked the wind out of me. That we’ve been silent as a society as long as we have been seems inconceivable. How could we have side-stepped this issue all the way until 2017?

The New York Post put a brighter spotlight on Hollywood’s past, which was notorious. Give this a read and you’ll see what I mean. Harassment and assault were not publicly accepted, but even worse: they were privately ignored. Power corrupts and Harvey Weinstein used his power in the most corrupt way. His attacks on women were widely known, but remained a poorly kept secret.

As for the impact on my ground zero, this forced me to come to the realization that there were most likely several times in my life when I inadvertently harassed someone. Something I viewed as playful might have been very disturbing to a victim of previous harassment or assault. They had been wronged in their life and I was reminding them of that incident or incidents. For that, I hope they will accept my apology.

I have many, many female friends and acquaintances and to you, I’d like to humbly ask that if I ever do anything that goes beyond your comfort zone, you tell me, “Tim, you’re crossing a line.” Your friendship means too much to me. And it’s long, long overdue to establish a no toleration policy.

My wife and I have talked about her #metoo story. I know it still hurts because we tried watching “Mad Men” and the sexual harassment that was part of that era and part of that show still made her uncomfortable. She had lived it.

I have my own #metoo stories. There was the bar manager in Yakima who groped me one night out of the blue. I’m talking full-out grabbing-my-crotch, claiming he accidentally tripped into me.  Yeah, right. Close friends have heard me tell the tale of the famous singer who invited me to his hotel room, gave me wine and then asked if I would take a bath with him.  Now, I am NOT bringing this up to say, “I understand.” I don’t.  I really don’t know what you went through  and I don’t know how people can use power to harass or assault people and then sleep at night. What kind of human beings are they?

It’s my hope that all those who suffered in silence now feel empowered enough to either raise their voices or at least call out something when it happens. There can be no more Harvey Weinsteins. The problem isn’t anything new. But it’s time for it to go away.

We’ve hit the breaking point. We’ve had enough. We’re going to do something about it. All of us need to make this a priority, no exceptions, no excuses. This hidden tradition of sexual harassment and assault ends now.

It’s time to step up for our wives, our sisters, our daughters and generations to come.

No more secrets.

Tim Hunter

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 132

OK, still reeling from the UW Huskies loss last weekend in the desert to Arizona State University. I’m taking you back to the early 1980s, the last time we beat ASU down there, with Larry Nelson, Bob “the Voice of the Huskies” Rondeau and a cast of several. You’ll hear a KOMO Music promo and a couple of Halloween bits we did at 4th Avenue North.

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 131

Not afraid to bare my college soul on this week’s episode. Digging out some classic moments from my days at KCMU at the University of Washington. For a couple of quarters, I did a daily comedy bit called, “Return to Normalcy.”   Don’t remember why I called it that. Cameo’s from friends of long ago, including Gale Ensign and Steve Fimmel.  Basically, I’m putting this out there in the archives so that years from now, someone can ask the question, “Why didn’t they stop this?”

Hug ‘Em While You’ve Got ‘Em

You may have gotten up this morning and had a slightly stiff neck you’re going to have to deal with all day. Maybe later, you’ll accidentally spill coffee in your car, some jerk will open up his door into your car or your boss is in an uber-bad mood.

Life is loaded with ups and downs. We think things like the above-mentioned challenges are ‘downs’. Actually, they’re just part of life.

For every dropped glass there’s a beautiful sunset. For each time you do battle with a cold there’s the giggle of a baby that makes you smile. The key is to focus on the goods and just let the bads pass. At least, that’s always been my philosophy. Live is balance.

I look back on my high school days as jam-packed with lot of goods. I managed to win over the girl of my dreams (at the time, they were young dreams), played basketball, had some great friends, did the popularity thing–it was just all in all a great experience for me.

Among the good ones I met along the way was Mike Duarte. Mike was just a solid guy and while we didn’t hang around often, whenever he saw me, he’d say hi. We’d exchange pleasantries. He was a super-athlete. Mike was a 3-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball with intensity. I still remember that husky voice and chiseled good looks. You could just tell this guy was going places and had a bright and beautiful future ahead.

So it didn’t surprise me when I heard later at a reunion that he had gone into law and was taking on the L.A. gangs. These days, he’s the Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. I understand that he and his wife Barbara have a couple of kids: Mikey, who picked up dad’s athletic jeans and is now in the Chicago White Sox farm system, and a beautiful daughter, Christiana, who goes by the name Chrissy. She was a recent graduate of the University of Arizona and had just landed a job in the marketing department of the L.A. Kings.

Both kids, just like their father, seemed to have a tremendous future ahead. But Chrissy’s life will remain forever frozen in time. She will always be 22. Her incredible smile, the playful pictures she took, the singing voice some friends were lucky enough to hear was silenced. Chrissy was one of the 58 victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.

I haven’t spoken to Mike in decades but it’s just heart-breaking to see something so tragic happen to a family of really good people. It just eats me up that this tragedy will become the latest high-water mark for a deranged mind in the future who will feel the need to randomly shoot even more innocent people. The gun debate will be revived for a short time, it will fade away and nothing will be done to make our world safer. We’ll all just wait for the next event, which continue to get progressively worse, praying we won’t lose a family member in the process.

There will come a tipping point when people feel enough is enough. The gun debate is a war of extremes.  As more and more people lose their children, their family members and their futures to senseless gun violence, there will be a solution. I just wish we’d get there sooner than later. I would think that if you have loved ones, you’d have a pressing desire to make simple things like going to a country music concert non-life threatening.

I can’t imagine the horror of what the Duarte family is going through, but it’s amazingly easy to think of how many ways that tragedy could have been prevented.

Last Thursday, the LA Kings honored Chrissy by having all the players wear CD helmet stickers.

There is a GoFundMe campaign to help the Duartes with all the expenses involved in burying a daughter that was taken from them way too soon.

Another senseless act serving as a reminder: hug ’em while you’ve got ’em.

Tim Hunter

                                                                     

 

 

The Greatest Concert Ever

Everyone’s going to have an opinion on this one. What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever attended? Which concert set the standard as the one to beat for all future experiences?

Going into last Saturday night, I’d have to say the Paul McCartney show I caught at Safeco Field a couple of years ago was the high-water mark. It’s still up there. The 70+-year-old McCartney put his heart and soul into his performance, playing songs that covered most of my lifetime. It sounded like he was having fun, that he “still had it” and then, bringing out the two surviving members of Nirvana for an encore of Helter Skelter was the cherry on top.

Last weekend, my wife and I went to catch The Classic, as it was billed. An evening with the Doobie Brothers and The Eagles. I have to admit, during the weeks prior to the concert, my enthusiasm was fading. I had always wanted to see the Eagles, but now that Glenn Frey was gone, were they still The Eagles? Or, like so many touring bands out there, a few original members augmented by a bunch of studio musicians.

It didn’t help that I started seeing Groupon offers of tickets for $35 for this event, after I had ponied up $125 plus screw-you fees for each of our seats. The weather was starting to get fall-like, so that meant we could be outside, being cold, a million miles away from the stage and we could spend an evening regretting we had committed to this night.  Besides, we had caught the Doobies a couple of summers back and while they were pleasantly surprising, energetic and fun, we probably were going to see just the same old thing.

Add to that, we had caught a Don Henley concert and a Joe Walsh concert at the winery in recent years. I like to say we saw the Eagles, just in pieces. All to say, my expectations were pretty low.

And then, the show began.

It ended up being one of the greatest concerts ever. From any standpoint. Now, to explain why they may have knocked Sir Paul out of my number one spot:

The Doobie Brothers–They came to play, they did the hits, had some fun with some deep album cuts and rocked us all down Memory Lane. They showed up on the music scene during my high school years and I played their music on the radio in the earlier years of my broadcast career.  Tom Johnston, founding member and one of the two main voices of the group, delivered big-time. The Doobie Brothers were pretty much with me throughout the 70s and 80s, and they were back tonight in great form. Yes, no Michael McDonald, but he was later-Doobies. They had other members cover his hit songs and it was just fine. The sing-along version of “Listen to the Music” at the end was a great way to wrap it up.  GRADE: A

The Eagles–There are so many ways this could have been disappointing. Like I said, with Glenn Frey gone, would some of the songs just be cover versions of his hits? That was the big question and it was answered right away, when Joe Walsh introduced Deacon Frey, Glenn’s son, to sing of those songs. You could see Glenn in his face and could hear him in his voice.

But the Eagles doubled-down and brought along country legend Vince Gill to tackle some of those Frey vocals and he nailed it. So now, I’m watching the friggin’ Eagles, but it’s like the Eagles on steroids. They played around with some of the songs, slightly tweaking the melody, keeping it fresh, not just regurgitating. But I noticed, after introducing the young Frey, Joe Walsh kind of laid back. He offered harmonizing vocals, but mostly hung out on the right side of the stage, and just blended in. Being a solo act, I was impressed he could be a team player like that.

It was all part of the plan, because at one point, the band started playing “Life’s been good.” That’s Joe’s song, not the Eagles. But like he was helping round out the Eagles, they returned the favor. Then another Joe Walsh song. And another. It was a concert, within a concert, with psychedelic video and all kinds of fun thrown in. The crowd was loving it.

They went back to Eagles songs, wrapped it up, came out and did an encore, wrapped it up again and gave us one more encore. Wow. From the time the music started (and, on time, at 7pm–when was the last time you remember that happening) the groups took us all the way until 11pm. Most of four hours of great music, great memories and feeling like I had shared a very special experience with a bunch of other fans. GRADE: A++

Those are my reasons for putting this event in serious contention for the Greatest Concert Ever. I’ve got a few more years of reviews to get in, but this one has already secured a spot in my Final Three.

Tim Hunter