KJR Seattle, Channel 95: Big Jim Martin & House of Blue Lights

When Allen Goldblatt, Bill Stroum and I were in ZBT at the University of Washington, Allen and I shared a room on the third floor. Bill wisely lived at home on Mercer Island.  Allen and I would stay up late listening to Big Jim Martin on 95 KJR.  We would call up and request "House of Blue Lights," and Big Jim would always play it.  I started going out to KJR in the middle of the night, and Big Jim would (in violation of the "rules") let me in. I would watch him play the hits. The secret of a good all-night radio show, he said, was one amphetamine and a bottle of hard liquor. Jim had a clever trick. He would record his show between 1am and 2am, and play it back between 4am and 5am. In that hour, we would leave the station and go down to the Blue Eagle for breakfast. We would make it back before the top of the hour, and he would do 5-6am live and well fed.  

Within a year, I was working with Big Jim, Tom Murphy , Pat O'day and the rest of my radio heroes at the Mighty 95. Yes, I only did weekends at first, but even weekends at KJR was more than most jocks in the Northwest would ever achieve.  I did midnight -6am Friday and Saturday.  I worked the Trolly Club those same nights, leaving the nightclub at 11:30 pm to be to KJR on time.  One night as I got into my car, my pal Bill was about to enjoy a joint outside the club "Hey," I said, "don't stand and smoke it under the street light. You're liable to get busted!"   Yep — busted. I remember getting the call from the Seattle City Jail about twenty minutes after midnight on the KJR hotline.

I recall those days, crises and all, with fondness — and most especially the kindness of Big Jim Martin on those long nights where we sat and yakked and he played Paul Butterfield's EAST'/WEST about 3am.  When they moved Jim to mid-days, they made him wear a white shirt and tie. Jim never seemed the white shirt and tie kind of guy to me, but damn he had a voice and delivery perfect for any time slot. This guy was smooth, clever, and was an exemplary communicator.  He's gone now. Yep. One more radio hero passes away.  
Big Jim (1)

This picture is what Big Jim looked like when I was 18 years old, and just starting at KJR.  I'm not 18 anymore, Allen and I are not living at ZBT, and Bill Stroum isn't at his folk's house on Mercer Island. Allen, Bill and I are all still alive. Haven't seen Bill in several years, but I saw Allen for New Years, and he officiated my daughter's wedding.

Earlier this June, Robert O. Smith passed away.He was another great talent I worked with at both KJR and KOL.

In August of each year, those of us who worked together in the Seattle market get together for lunch. Every year there are fewer of us, and I didn't make the last couple lunches.  This year I plan on being there — you never know when you won't see a friend again, share a laugh, and recycle old memories.  

I suggest that you, even if  young and vibrant, consider the fact that no one knows how much time they have, or when that time is up. If there are those for whom you care, those whom you admire, or those whose lives touched yours, make sure you treasure the opportunity to have one more laugh, one more lunch.  And maybe play "House of Blue Lights."


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