Tim St. Martin, 74, remembered by friends

This is Rick Myers.   Tim St. Martin (1945-2020) was our friend.  It was my pleasure to compile these tributes.  My comments appear in regular-face type.   The rest of Tim’s friends’ comments are in bold-face type.   Let us begin.

Tim hired me 52 years ago.   I was crazy young, but so was Tim.    I was 19; he was 23.   Already he was Program Director of KFIV, a fun Top-40 radio station.  We were both left handed, both born on September 1st, both had sisters named Jill.   Those were good enough omens for Tim; I got the job.   I wasn’t his best hire, but I was a good hire; I stayed 45 years. . . . 

K-5 Gang
1968, Tim and the K-5 Gang

Another first-meeting memory comes from Greg Edwards:     

The first time I met Tim he dragged me to Scenic Drive-in  explaining I couldn’t be “A Modesto Person” until I ate at least one Knockout Burger including fries and a shake.  A Knockout Burger is about the size of a manhole cover.   It’s not “lunch for four,” it’s “lunch for four days!”  It gave Tim time to tutor me about Modesto’s past. I learned that day about Graffiti Days, Cruising, and what it was like to grow up around here.   If you’re on the air talking to the locals, you better sound local.

 I belong to the Central Valley Broadcasters, and got to see Tim at our get togethers.  In fact, I saw Tim for the last time just a couple of months ago at lunch. It had been years but some KFIV/KJSN staff got together with our old General Manager, Gary Halladay and his wife, Sharon.  Yes, we all told the same stories for the hundredth time, and we agreed to get together and to do it again…..but for Tim, it was our last time. RIP, Tim.


Tim in his office at KFIV

There was a gentle helpfulness about Tim.   Decades in radio produced a veteran’s perspective, and he had a sense about the right moments  to share these well-learned insights to broadcasting.    Kara Franklyn shared some of those insights: 

Tim was my co worker, my mentor. 15 plus years. We weren’t social outside of work, but I spent many a day with him. I have so many great memories.  I can still hear his laugh.  When I got a genuine belly laugh, not the polite one, I felt like I won the lottery.  Loud and infectious, it was like a warm blanket. When I was first hired at Sunny-102, I did overnights. I would run Tim’s board for his first newscast at 5:30. There were many a conversation with Tim guiding me on what to say, how to say it. He was very particular about not dropping your G’s when speaking.   It stuck with me and even to this day when I hear someone do it on or off air, I think of him. He was grumpy in the best way—never at me—and he’d make me laugh when he talked about what was getting to him that day. Not once did I encounter an ego with Tim. He was solid, kind and willing to help me as I started my news career. A good guy does not seem to encompass Tim. Tim was fair: if you messed up, own it and then move along. Every office should have a Tim St Martin. He made me laugh, think, and I treasure the time spent with him and the knowledge I learned from him.

Tim loved telling stories full of warmth and with funny conclusions.  We have a few “Timmy Stories”  of our own.   We’ll start with his close friend Dave Nelson:

Ron Posey and Dave Nelson, Graffiti Night, ’78. Al Golub Photography.

Tim was a good friend of mine for over 40 years.  We scuba dived together…did a radio show together…I lived with him and his late wife Kathy for over a year….rode motorcycles together…went to Mexico with some other guys and had one of the best times EVER…I doubt that Tim and I could have laughed or partied any harder …and for years Tim and I golfed with Gary Halladay and Mike Hogan just about every weekend …every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner you could find Tim seated with my family…Tim was probably the easiest person to spend time with…he expected nothing and liked to just chill…pretentiousness was an unappealing trait he found annoying…I have a lot of stories but one that I still laugh about concerned the Oakdale Rodeo…I had won the DJ calf-tying competition in La Grange…still have the belt buckle…now it was Oakdale’s turn.  I was living with Tim and Kathy at the time and Tim decided I needed a hat…not just any hat but his $100+ straw cowboy hat…nice…that was a lot of money back in the late 70s.  So with an admonishment not to wreck it, off I went…it went terribly wrong..FAST…as I was wrestling my calf to the ground a Rodeo Clown stole Tim’s very nice hat…walked over a few feet, put a cherry bomb under it and BLEW IT UP!!  Never cared for clowns….It was a sad sad day when I gave THE BRIM OF THE HAT back to Tim!  Damn, it sure was funny as I look back.  RIP MY FRIEND, I’ll check in with Cari once in a while to see how that grandson is doing.

 

Bob Lang was Tim’s broadcast partner at KTRB.  Bob and Tim had years of On-Air magic:
 
Bob Lang early into his radio days.

I spent the happiest professional years of my life as a member of the broadcast industry, especially those first years fresh out of college.   I joined  KTRB radio in Modesto as a fledgling disc jockey.  A few months later in the fall of 1969, Tim, then employed by our competitor KFIV, was hired from “across the street” and became our News Director.

Tim St. Martin and I were in our early twenties and were teamed as on-air partners during what was called “morning drive.”  One of the nice things about KTRB is that, as young out-of-the-box radio guys, we were allowed to make mistakes, and we made plenty.  But we each had a lot of enthusiasm and always an abundance of creative energy.  Our General Manager, Sam Horrel, would greet us each as “Tiger.”  Tim and I took to calling each other “Timmy Tiger” and “Bobby Tiger.”

A Museum treat:   A Tim St. Martin newscast from 1973:

The announce booth where I broadcast my shows was situated in the center of the building among large studios once used for live broadcasts.  These studios had lots of dual-paned windows.  My room was perhaps eight-feet square and equipped with the audio board, two turntables, a couple of Sparta cartridge machines, a reel-to-reel tape deck, a clock, a temperature gauge, and a Playboy calendar with a naked lady.  At the other end of an oblong hallway was Tim’s news booth, next to his office and the AP machine teletype room.  Tim was a self-described rip-and-read news guy and every morning on the half hour, he’d deliver the news.  He was also in charge of a segment called Community Calendar which allowed us to banter back and forth about various timely topics.

Bob Lang at KTRB

In the pre-dawn hours, especially during winter months, the only illumination was from the two small rooms one or the other of us occupied.  The rest of the building, including that hallway, was dark.  One morning, Tim and I were in a casual on-air exchange and I happened to look down at my program log.  It was at that moment when Tim bolted from his news booth and raced toward me through the darkened hallway.  When I looked up to see what the commotion was about, all I saw was the light in his empty.  Where was Tim??  Suddenly my studio door was thrown open and there was Tim all excited and in full ear-shot of our listening audience.  He threw a cigar at me and just as quickly ran back in the other direction.  His daughter, Amy, had been born the day before!

Tim at KTRB

Tim and I shared a similar sense of humor—more important, we had an innate ability to amuse ourselves!  We each had a knack for writing.    I was the Production Manager and the two of us wrote commercials for local advertisers, many times creating spots that were two-voicers and in character.  The ones that were most fun were those we attempted to ad lib—we’d decide on what the scene would be and would run through the important dialogue.  One was for Fargo Distributing, a tire store that received co-op funding from Cooper Tires.  Tim hit on the idea that we’d play the parts of a couple of old sod-busting cow pokes.  He’d be Farley and I was Eugene—where the names came from, I’m not certain.  We referred to the staff as the Fargo Boys—Dangerous Del, Steel-Eyed Stan, Bronco Bruce, and others—and said they were wanted for shootin’ down tire prices.

To replicate the horses’ hooves, we each took a pair of plastic coffee cup inserts and “galloped” across the desk in front of us toward the microphone.  If the take wasn’t what we anticipated, we’d gallop away from the mic, regroup, and try it again!  We’d add other sound effects like gunshots or the sound of spurs.  But as much as these old cowboys thought the fictitious Fargo Boys offered great deals on Cooper Tires, Farley and Eugene themselves had no idea what tires were intended for.  At one point, they tried putting a set of tires on a stagecoach.  Farley got a tire close enough to install on the axle and told Eugene to hold up the stage.  Eugene yelled, “Reach for the sky, you sidewinder!”  They even tied a rope around a tire, hung it from a tree branch, and created the first tire swing!

Bob Lang in 2008

Tim and I also played a couple of dogs named Spotty and Prince advertising a pet store.  We were Fred and Bernie, two Christmas turkeys who hadn’t seen their pal Murray since Thanksgiving.  We did a take-off on Edward G. Robinson and a bunch of thugs for Little Caesar’s Deli.  We were Kirk and Spock, Dino and Jerry, and two Germans named Hans und Feetz.

In December 1970, Tim and I provided live color commentary from the Third Annual Riverbank Christmas parade—no doubt one of the last such broadcasts echoing a bygone era of radio.  We described everything from the gown and tiara worn by Miss Riverbank to the dalmatian on top of the Riverbank hook and ladder and all marching bands in between.  When I was in college, I drove a Model A, so I described the vintage cars in the parade while Tim described the horses.

Four radio legends from KTRB: Bob Lang, Bob DeLeon, Tim St. Martin, and Derek Waring

After five years, I left KTRB just as it was moving from a music format to talk radio and I took another radio position in Sacramento.  By now Tim was hosting a talk show and one afternoon it was Talent Day on his program where listeners would call in and display a particular expertise.  So, I pranked him!

Tim and I had shared particularly filthy limericks in our various fits of juvenile diversion.  On this day, I called the studio and told him I was “Fred” and that I wrote poetry.  I asked if I could recite one of my recent creations and he said that I could.  I began, “There was an old hermit named Dave…” and he quickly said, “You’re not gonna do that!”  But he still hadn’t grasped the fact that I, not Fred, was on the other end of the line.  When Tim finally got it, he collapsed in a fit of laughter on the air and yelled, “I’ve been had!”

Tim wrote letters to me while I was in the Air Force.      He addressed my letters:                                     

 Major General Rick C. Myers                                                                            Commandant, Minot Air Force Base                                                                          General Delivery (What else for a General?)                                                                Minot AFB, North Dakota 58701                                                                                 I was a sergeant.   I was not impersonating a General.  Honest.  Somehow the letters always arrived.   Is this a great country, or what?   

After the military I returned to KFIV.   Tim, in his office, instead of listening to my show would listen to Dan Sorkin on KSFO, San Francisco. He loved Sorkin who would ask listeners to phone in any question, and he would give a funny, instant reply (try doing that sometime).    Tim called in a lot to “Ask Mr. Answer Person.”  After a while, Sorkin started using Tim to set up questions.  He’d say, “Hang on the line, and when the commercials end, ask THIS QUESTION…”    Tim would hang on, then play the straight man.    This merriment went on until management started noticing the long-distance phone bills.               

Our last comments come from one of Tim’s closest friends, Ken McCall:

Great friends for decades, Tim and Ken McCall.

For the last 35 years, and probably more, Timmy and I talked on the phone at least every other day.  Once a week he came to have dinner with Dina and me.  There are a flood of memories and I can’t get him off my mind.  Most recently he was helping me on a building project at the beach house.  Finishing it without him will be emotionally difficult. He loved sitting and watching the waves roll in.  Now he is gone.  I don’t feel badly for him because he died peacefully in his sleep.  It was his time to go………..and life for us goes on.

Each time he came to the house for dinner, we would go to the pool house and have a beer.  As we would walk out the back door, I would always say “Timmy, walk this way” and he would always reply “if I could walk that way I wouldn’t need the talcum powder, I would still be a dance instructor” His health faded over the last year, but his sense of humor was always sharp.  The night he died, he was talking on the phone to Warren Groschell, we were planning a golf trip for whenever Covid 19 ended.  As Warren was talking to him, Timmy feel asleep and started snoring…..he never woke up.

“Ride that microphone, Mr. Rodeo Announcer!”

In 1978 when Tim returned from Reno (and the rodeo circuit) to KFIV, he moved in with me for a while.  As we have learned, when Dave Nelson needed a place to stay he moved in with Tim.   Tim then spent the Holidays with the Nelsons, always welcomed.    Over the last few years, he enjoyed  weekly dinners with the McCalls.   With Tim, social graces were automatic.  Of course he could move in with you; of course he opened up his house to you; of course he was as welcomed  as the closest relative.

Many radio reunions!

Radio Reunion

Three weeks before he passed away, twelve of us radio guys had lunch.   All retired, we hadn’t been together as a group in years.   The memories were immediate, the stories non-stop.   Tim, a master story teller, kept us in stitches.    Reunions are like that; in an instant we were young again.  Tim and I walked out together and had a manly goodbye hug.  Maybe the clinch went a second or two too long, maybe not.    We didn’t care; it was a 50-year hug.   And then, he was gone.

Tim, with Rick Myers and Bob Mohr. Combined, 130 years of broadcasting, all sharing the same birthday

These tributes and memories came in quickly after Tim’s passing.    They were wonderful to read, genuine fondness was the resonance.   It’s like we were  nominating him to be canonized.  No need for that; his name tells us he was born a saint.

 

4 thoughts on “Tim St. Martin, 74, remembered by friends”

  1. Tim, it’s Tammy Lynn. As Mel Freedman would say, Tammykins. One of the many radio kids awed by the talent that you possesed. Who thoroughly enjoyed working with you, Carol, Gene, the iconic News people. The poor farm kid from a broken home who could not belive her luck at getting into the radio biz with no formal training. It was so good to see you, Rick, Bob, Derek, Jerry, Kenny, John and others at the DJ getogethers before I moved away. I have fond memories of you all and hope to work with you again, maintaining the studios in that superstation in the sky. God’s peace to your family.

  2. Although I never had the opportunity to work with Tim, he was already at KTRB, by the time I arrived at KFIV. However, before I “jumped” into the world of Radio Broadcasting (pre-1973), I had met Tim through Bob Lang! At the time I was going to College, I was interested in purchasing 16mm prints and/or checking out films at the audio-visual department of the Stanislaus County Library. Henceforth, there were several occasions at Bob’s house, “screening” Laurel & Hardy and other related media. Saturday nights were fun as there were two times(that I can remember) that Tim showed up, one for films… the other music.. (still play Guitar and Piano…the films have long been sold). But it was Bob and Tim along with former K-5 personalities…and old school buddies (Bob Malik & Chuck Hale), that influenced me to pursue a career in Radio. It wasn’t until the CVBA (luncheons) came about, that I had the opportunity of getting reacquainted with Tim. Precious memories of Radio were then traded back and forth, along with other radio personalities! R.I.P. Tim and say hello to Cal, when you see him.

    1. That was very heartfelt and nicely written. You all had a great comraderie, and with a base passion like music?? Can’t lose.
      Ron’s sister,Anna

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