Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 137

Got a star-studded Apple Cup version of the Wacky Week Podcast for you this week, including guest appearances from Larry Nelson, Bob Rondeau, Kathi Goertzen, Steve Pool and Ray Ramsey, just to name a few. Just a little of the radio madness I helped contribute to over the years.

Keeping The Thanks Coming

Well, here comes one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Minimum decorating, no gifts to buy and its centered around eating. Bob Thanksgiving or whoever it was that invented that holiday, we thank you.

I’m grabbing a few minutes and doing a quick parade through my brain of all the people and events I have to be thankful for, knowing darn well I’ll probably miss an important one along the way, but here goes:

Mom & Dad–How do you skip past them? Having done the great parent experiment myself, I look back and admire what they did for us. Not so much for the”things.” God knows as kids my sisters and I would complain that we never got to experience real Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, we got the Springfield brand. Springfield soda, Springfield popcorn. It was the lesser-cost version of all the popular foods. But like I said, it wasn’t about  the things, it was the environment. They gave us an abundance of guidance, stability, faith, and allowed us to be kids while growing up during those turbulent 1960s. Even when dad was out of work because of a strike or we were dangerously close to nuclear war with Cuba, my world was made up of school friends, Cub Scouts, Little League, Dodger baseball and the kids in the neighborhood.

Mr. Ray and Mr. Maxwell–two of the teachers I had along the way, both with clever, dry senses of humor. I credit them for helping shape my comical thinking.

Gary Owens–This Los Angeles radio legend and eventually, the announcer on “Laugh In” was nothing short of brilliant. While other kids were listening to Boss Radio KHJ (and that’s where I went after Gary was on the air) I couldn’t wait to tune in KMPC, wade through another Ray Conniff song, only to hear his witty banter and bits like The Story Lady. Blame him for me heading into a 30-year radio career.

Getting Fired–Yes, it wasn’t just people, it was events. Having your career pulled out from under you either destroys you or makes you stronger.  Twice, my life plans were thrown into chaos and uncertainty, but each time I emerged better off than I was before. This helped brand in my brain to keep focused on what’s really important–your life. Lose a job? You’ll be fine.  Getting honorary mention is deciding to quit a job and go out on my own 3 years ago.  A step I never would have taken if I hadn’t been fired. I basically fired myself, which put me into the dream situation I enjoy now.

Family–My incredible wife who showed me that people can be kind and caring as a way of life. My mom & sisters, my kids and step-kids, the grandkids, the assorted nieces and nephews. Oh and all those aunts and cousins throughout the greater United States. Quite the collection of characters. Love you all!

My Radio Brothers & Sisters–I made some life-long friends during that 30-year stretch of my life, most of whom I still stay in touch with today. It’s not a constant-contact kind of thing, but put us together anywhere and we can pick up right where we last left off.

My Memories–In the amusement park that is my mind, there’s a wonderful place called Yesterday. It’s where I go and reflect on my dad, my radio mentor Larry Nelson and my former morning show co-host Alice Porter. One of my high school classmates Dr. Jon Lemler is there, too. The class of ’73 will remember him playing “Suwanne River” with his hands at the senior talent show. I’ll be forever grateful to him for talking with my wife at one of our reunions where she told him about her kidney disease. Jon helped us with some alternative medicine that we are convinced helped Victoria’s disease go into remission. A couple of years ago, Jon was walking in Las Vegas when he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack.

You see, I’ve had the incredible fortune of meeting some amazing people along the way.

Star Boreson–I had incredible timing and, even though I didn’t grow up with him here in Seattle, during my days at KOMO, he came in as the revered former TV show host and I got to know him. Enough that he invited me over to his and Barbara’s house for a couple of afternoons, where we wrote parody songs for his next Christmas album. Read the fine print on the cover, there I am. Buried in our basement are the original hand-written lyrics to a lot of those songs on the album.  It was a college-level course on how to create a comedy, which I used many, many times throughout my career. And still do, to this day.

Matt Riedy & Frank King–It’s all about opportunity. Back when radio brother-turned-actor Matt was working over at Smooth Jazz, he connected me to a comedian he had worked with, Frank King. Frank used to do stand-up comedy with Jay Leno and had remained connected to him, faxing him jokes each day. Frank invited me to join his White Collar Comedy submission sheet and for most of a decade, I was lucky enough to be able to sell jokes to Jay. The thrill of having him tell a joke that I wrote, word for word, was about the biggest high a comedy writer could experience.

Dwight Perry–This Seattle Times’ lighter side of sports writer has dropped in some of my Wacky Week lines over the years and given me exposure that I wouldn’t otherwise receive, being off the air. As recently as last Sunday, a friend said, “Hey, I saw you in the sports page again today!” Thanks for the plugs, Dwight!

Jean Godden & Sherry Grindeland–When both were back in their day writing newspaper columns, they gave me quite a few mentions and let me show off my comedy writing skills to their readership.

You–A writer is nothing without readers. If no one bothers reading it, then I would be just entertaining myself. (which I do anyway. I’m a great audience) I’ve managed to write over 800 blogs these past 15 years, with 42,543 views the last time I checked. I am humbled.

I’m just a guy going along for the ride who believes everyone should be doing what they love to do. It truly makes all the difference in the world. I wish you peace, hope and happiness as we gather again to give thanks for all we’ve got.

It’s a shame we really only do this once a year. If nothing else, the holiday serves as that annual reminder that we truly are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

Not a Flippin’ Good Idea

On paper, I’m sure members of the Seafair Committee thought this would be a brilliant way to call attention to Seattle’s long-standing summer celebration.  I can hear it in the brainstorm meeting:  “We’ll have celebrity racers, get into aluminum boats with motors and have them do their own version of the hydro races!  Brilliant!”

So, when KOMO Radio’s Larry Nelson was asked if he wanted to participate, he said he would, as long as his partner was his faithful producer, Tim Hunter.

It was a gray, overcast Seattle summer Sunday (Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!).  The rules were simple.  One celebrity in the boat, the other at a start line.  A start gun would fire, I would run down, push the boat into the water, hop in and Larry would man the motor.  We had a simple course–just out and around a couple of buoys and back.

In the first heat, we smoked the competition.  I pushed Larry and the boat out, hopped in and Larry cranked that little as we flew across Lake Washington and back to the finish line.

That amazing performance put us in the finals and we could smell victory.  I wondered if we had impressed hydroplane racing legend Bill Muncey with our performance.  No matter.  It was time to really dig deep, to show our stuff, to show the small gathered crowd who the real champions were.

Everyone was set.  I stood at the start line, Larry was in the boat, the gun sounded and the championship heat was underway.  In my eagerness to win, I pushed the boat out hard and just did a backflop in the boat so I could get in quickly and Larry could give it the gas.  Unfortunately, my plan wasn’t perfect, because as I flopped in, the boat tilted; the boat tilted, Larry lost his balance.  The only thing he was holding on to was the throttle, which he cranked as we tilted. That sent it directly into a collision course with KOMO TV’s Ruth Walsh and Harry Sloan.

You can see my foot sticking out!

You can see my foot sticking out!

I don’t remember much about it, because it happened so fast.  There was the clunking of aluminum colliding, the rev of the motors and then silence.  As I looked around, I found myself in water, underneath an overturned boat.  I had air to breathe, and knowing that there were spinning props out there somewhere, I was in no hurry to poke my head out.

Of course, by that time, everyone else had come up and was walking to shore when they realized I was nowhere to be seen.  After a couple of minutes where I was relieved but the crowd panicked, I left the safety of the boat and came up to see the others.  We walked to shore to the applause of the crowd, soaking wet and not really fully realizing yet what exactly had happened.

If you're wondering why they didn't do this again, blame us!

If you’re wondering why they didn’t do this again, blame us!

I believe it was a guy named Dennis Law who took these pictures and mailed them to us.  Larry’s widow, Gina, came across them the other day and thought I might enjoy having them.  Thanks, Gina!  Amazingly, not a single person was injured in that mishap.  It was the first and only year Seafair did that event and I can say I was there.  Better yet, I can say, “I survived it!”

Tim Hunter

October 16th

Probably one of the most significant dates on the calendar for me.
Sure, it’s my nephew Matthew’s birthday. This year, it falls on a Friday and those are always good days.
But the particular October 16th that resulted in making that date significant for me actually occurred a couple of decades before I was born.
It was October 16th, 1937, when Larry Bryan Nelson entered the world. Our paths crossed for almost five years in the early 80s: Larry at the peak of his radio career, me, in the “just starting out of the gate” days.
For four and half years, we had amazing times in the world of radio and as friends. Some day, I’ll go into as much detail as I can remember. The increasingly smaller circle of friends I met through him still reflect on this date on one great guy. Not perfect, none of us were. But his command of communication, of taking a fun moment and becoming the biggest kid in the room, of being able to play the corporate game to the tee…I was proud to call him a friend. Although, I like to tease him by saying that he was always like a great-great-great grandfather to me.
When I think of how many different paths our two lives could have taken, I have to realize that we were destined to have become friends.
He could have easily gotten into his dad’s trucking business or followed the path he was on to join the police. He could have hit the big time with his Doowop group, “The Shades”.
The morning guy who got drunk on the air and was fired could have stayed sober that morning…but he didn’t…and Larry found himself thrust into doing mornings for KOMO radio.
Larry had the pipes for radio, but he had the heart for so much more. Seattle was lucky to have him haunting the airwaves for all those years, with Katherine Wise (“The Happy Cooker”), The Teds doing traffic (Garlatz Sr. and Jr. and Potter) and a long list of characters, reporters and personalities.
I was fortunate enough to have been a part of that stretch of Seattle radio history and for that, I will always be greatful to Lar.
Happy Birthday Larry.

Tim HunterLarry Nelson