This is a guilty pleasure edition, with several episodes of “Confusing Theater”, as well as some KLSY Promo’s from the days of Radio Bingo. Enjoy!
The world really has changed so much in my lifetime. Not to date myself, but I grew up in the days of party lines, black & white TV and three TV networks.
However, even during the past couple of decades we’ve seen major changes in the way we do things and the way we live. The other day, I got to go back to the radio hey days of the 1980s and 1990s and had lunch with a guy who covered the medium for the Seattle Times, Victor Stredicke.
For 25 years, Victor was the TV listings editor for the Times. Remember, back in those days, you could cough up the money for a fancy TV Guide, or get the one that came in the newspaper for FREE (well, with your paid subscription)
When the newspaper found itself with some extra space in the guide, they suggested he write about the local radio scene and a radio tradition was born.
During those years, I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO, AM-1000 and, eventually, part of the Murdock , Hunter & Alice show at 92.5-KLSY. Every disc jockey in town did their best to get into his column. In the days before radio bulletin boards and websites, it was the way we all found out what the latest was about each other.
The funny part is, for as much as we communicated by email during those years and how he was aware of my career, we had never met in person. I believe I stumbled across his name recently, reached out to him, he responded and the next thing you know, we were going to lunch.
Just finding a location turned out to be an adventure. Since he was coming from the south end and I was going to dash out from my job in Mountlake Terrace, I suggested the Northgate area as a place to meet. That’s when he asked, “Is there a Denny’s there?” Denny’s, huh? While I was trying to come up with a response, he said, “Oh, there’s one just off the freeway by Northgate!” “Perfect!” I said, “I’ll meet you there.”
The day of the lunch, I arrived at the address only to find Victor in the parking lot, looking at his phone. The restaurant was no longer a Denny’s, but a Saphron Grill. Victor said he had gone in and asked when they made the switch and the manager told him, “Fifteen years ago.”
So, Victor looked up another on his phone, at 155th and Aurora. I said, “I know exactly where that’s at!” and led the way. Soon, we pulled up in front of a boarded up Denny’s. Strike two. I asked if Sherri’s across the street would work, he said “Yes” and we were off.
During our chatty lunch, we got caught up with each other’s careers, talked about mutual acquaintances and some of the “behind the scenes” dirt. I talked about the demise of our show, he gave me the low down on several famous names and even some from before my time that I didn’t recognize. I also found out that day that Victor had become very good friends with Delilah Rene and you have to give him at least partial credit for helping launch her into the mega career she enjoys now. Delilah will be the first to tell you that she owes him a lot and when I told her about the lunch, she asked how to reach him. They’re now reconnected.
A lot of years have passed since both Victor and I had any influence with the Seattle media and as we looked back, I am more convinced than ever that the time I was able to play in the northwest radio arena, those really were “the good old days!” The medium is quickly losing its relevance and is just a generation away from being the newspaper of electronic media.
I’ve always made it a point not to live in the past. Oldies stations bore me. “Really? That song AGAIN?” However, for an hour, it was fun to relive a couple of very fun decades and hang with the guy who was a big reason why radio still mattered. It could really use a writer like Victor today.
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.