Thursday, October 16, 2008
590 MIGHTY MEMORY #578
PHOTO INDEX: THE LATE TIM KARLSON CIRCA 21rst and 20th CENTURY.
I've told this story before but it bears repeating. I met Tim Karlson in the summer of 1971. A WPTS Radio disc jockey named Bob Serfafin had a contest called "Disc Jockey For A Day." Two guys showed up, me, a 17 year old high school student and Tim Kidwell, a 20 year old from Scranton who was a recent graduate of Career Academy of Broadcasting. Serafin let us run the board and had us do the news and weather. He then let us talk up a record. I did Beverly Bremer's "Don't Say You Don't Remember" and Tim did Carole King's "It's Too Late". I was horrible, Tim was magnificent. The next day I came in and Serafin told me that I'd be flying solo with him. It turns out WSCR hired Tim the next day. From WSCR, (which was a launching pad for many local jocks headed to WARM) Tim landed at the Mighty 590 after the 7 to midnight shift was vacated by T.J. Lambert III. By this time, Tim had a full blown mass of cascading red hair that looked a lot like Arlo Guthrie's do. Tim Kidwell was now Tim Karlson and he was known as "The Crazy Redhead" on WARM. His show was a hit with the youth audience which at that time was migrating over to FM. But Karlson held on to them and things seemed well. But he was restless. He knew there was more to life than just spinning records. In the winter of 1976, I saw Tim sitting in the WARM lobby waiting for a meeting with George Gilbert and one of the suits from Susquehanna. He was set to quit. On the way out the door, I heard newswoman Kitch Loftus playfully tell him "Never say never". I never knew what transpired in that meeting but Tim stayed on at WARM and actually branched out into helping with the Ron Allen Sportsline. In the eighties he made the move to TV and found a home as the sportscaster for WNEP TV after and before Joe Zone left numerous times as well as a few others who used WNEP as a stepping stone. WNEP was more than a job to Tim, it was Northeastern Pennsylvania. When the Red Barons started as a franchise, there wasn't a bigger booster from the video side than Tim who made certain the Barons were a must see destination for sports fans. In the 90s, Tim had a bout with brain cancer and in characteristic style, he made lemons into lemonade. Every night he wore a hat during his sportscast promoting a local charity or concern that was helping his friends and neighbors here in our section of the world. Tim was a generous guy with his time, his infectious smile and well, at times, his crazy redhead personality. The news of his death comes as a shock even though we had reports he was not doing well. My first thought was when I got the e mail from Tommy Woods was, "Heaven must need some Orioles fans." (Ron Allen was of course an Oriole fan). Tim however was born in Baltimore and we shared stories about the Babe Ruth birth place when I saw him in the Barons press box in the 90s at Lackawanna County Stadium. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his extended friends and clan from WNEP TV. From 1971, here's Carole King with her biggest hit, "It's Too Late" Imagine with me if you will, a young, cleanly coifed red headed preacher's son from Scranton talking up the post on a warm summer July day in a musty old radio station control room. It was the start of a great broadcasting career that we were grateful to hear and see. Rest in peace Tim.