A Heartfelt Thank You Note to the Tri-Cities and Yakima
Well kids, it's getting close to the moment for me to say one final time "Keep 'er in the Holster," then ride off into a ridiculously hot sunset, if I don't die of heat stroke between now and then. I'm beginning a new chapter in my life without radio beginning July 1st. My last on-air day will be Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
I've had the privilege to work 97 Rock on and off since its inception, personally logging 18 of the 27 years KXRX has been the Columbia Basin's Rock Station. I was born and raised in Yakima and I've also had the privilege to work my hometown rock stick 94.5 KATS since 2015. I will be saying aloha to the Yakima faithful as well at the end of the month.
This is, literally, the closet from where 97 Rock started and what it looked like in 1994.
If you'll notice, the black square box in the middle-left side of the picture has a plastic cup taped over the top of the device, because the room was so small, if you walked in and brushed the front of that machine, THE ON-AIR MACHINE, you'd hit the reset button and accidentally take us down. So, Sparky the Engineer safely macgyvered the hard drive with a plastic cup to keep the "We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By" message from coming up on a continuous loop.
There really are way too many memories to track and share, but some occasions tend to stick out more than others with the 97 Rock extended family members like all of the LIVE party buses we booked and sold out wherever the huge shows were going down, usually across the mountains in Seattle or Tacoma or the Gorge @ George gigs. I loved hanging out with Hoser, the 97 Rock Firetruck yearly at the Boat Races and the BFFR (loved the 97 Rock Boxer Shorts) where we'd douse everyone gathered with water from our fully functioning firehose and of course, on the course, the early days of inexpensive golf.
Can you believe Canyon Lakes Golf Course allowed us hackers and whackers to play that track for years, 9 holes, just $9.70? The 1st Hack & Whack soiree eventually morphed into many, many yearly loopings of the Grip n Rip golf outings where we'd play three sweet courses over three days. Good times. FORE!
The million dollar vault promotion in 1995 and 1996 was the talk of the town back in the day especially when the winner in year two, above in 1996, took our owners at the time, Deschutes River Broadcasting, for more than $21,000 as we (me, I) failed to properly set the contest parameters to minimize huge blocks of cut, but unseparated pieces of paper representing one dollar bills, to be grabbed in hunks and tossed into the winning bin within :20 seconds. One paper brick that made it in at the buzzer had over $7500 in it when it was separated and counted. I can't believe I wasn't shown the door on that one.
Uh, Halloween? (I hope)
The most gratifying on-air experiences of my 97 Rock career was working with my wife at the time, Shannon, between 1996 and 2003. We were 'Married in the Morning, Mired in Mediocrity' but the 'riff with whiff' segments always made my day, especially when I got to cut her off, which she just detested because she had plenty of material someone else had written to pass off as her own to share, and I just couldn't, wouldn't, have any more of that. Like most couples we had our share of cringe-worthy moments, happening in the moment, without a net, some instances admittedly awkward to listen to (The Bickersons) but it was never phony, it was always real.
And reality changed the way we all looked at things as I'll never forget the morning of 9-11-01 when we were on-air and shared the shock of a nation with Tri-Citians as the attacks on America were unfolding. September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday morning. The previous night I got into a minor traffic accident with the firetruck at a Monday Night Football promotion at Jacksons Sports Bar in Richland. I purposely didn't share the story with her when I got home that night, as I wanted to get her true reaction when I told her the news the following broadcast day on-air. As you might imagine, that next morning, it didn't come up.
Prior to that, we were obsessed with having a millennium baby. We had been married six years at the time and we figured why not share our experiences with the audience. We worked a deal with the birthing center at Our Lady of Lourdes in Pasco to have them cover the cost of us having our child in their hospital if we talked about it on the air. Yes, we traded out the cost of the birth of our first child. We are terrible people.
Cannon William Cartier was born January 24, 2000 and was a part of the show from the get-go, we'd drop a microphone in front of his face as he slept, still strapped in his car seat, as we'd do the morning shift. Some of his coos and burps found some awesome timing marks.
Cannon loved rock n' roll, especially his favorite band Alice in Chains. I was grateful to be able to take him to a number of shows including Heart, Foo Fighters, Theory of a Deadman, Three Days Grace, Guns n Roses, Pearl Jam and Shinedown where he got to meet the band.
He also loved scaring the bejesus out of people when he participated as a cast member in Town Square Media's 'Terror Behind the Screen' and 'Scaregrounds'.
My son Cannon died on April 27, 2021 from a drug overdose in Westminster, Colorado where he was working as a technician for Primus Aerospace. And then my beloved mother Carol died 27 days later of natural causes. And 97 Rock is in its 27th year serving the Columbia Basin. My own unique 27 Club that I'll get to ponder the timing of for the rest of my days.
After the passing of my son and my mom, I didn't think I had it in me to come back to work on-air. It was just too painful. But at my son's memorial in Pasco, I had a lightbulb moment from a listener whom I had just met, who made me realize coming back to 97 Rock, for at least a little while, was the right thing to do. It was what Cannon would have wanted. By golly, he was spot on, it was the right move, but now just a few weeks later, saying so long for good feels like the right move too.
If at any time over the past 27 years of 97 Rock you've tuned in even for a little bit, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my broadcast career that I have cherished all the working days I've been gifted to share with you.
May God Bless you all, and for you and your families I pray for peace and health.
Keep 'er in the holster.