Discovered Sound: Reeling in classic audio from “Out of doors Line”

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Earlier this year, KIRO Newsradio called for tapes of the station’s old “Outdoor Line” show – which was produced and hosted by the late Bill Davis – because Bill’s family didn’t have recordings of the show themselves. Not long after the story aired, a man from Whidbey Island came forward to share some old tapes.

“Outdoor Line” was a two-hour Sunday night call-in show about fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation that aired on KIRO Newsradio for two decades, from 1977 to 1997. The presenter was local outdoorsman Bill Davis, who died away 20 years ago in his early 60’s. Bill’s grandson Josh Linke contacted the station because her family doesn’t have tapes of the old show and Josh wanted to hear his grandfather again and wanted his children – Bill Davis’ great-grandchildren – to hear it too.

A link to the August story (with a call for old tapes) was shared on a Facebook page called Seattle Vintage. This is where Craig Holman comes in. However, if you fish Puget Sound – particularly near Bush Point on Whidbey Island where Craig Holman ran a fishing resort, and if you happened to have a CB radio on your fishing boat at the time – you may know it better as ‘Windmill.’

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‘Windmill’ is the name of a popular fishing spot off Whidbey Island near Bush Point where for many years there was an old windmill used to pump well water.

The nickname also made sense for Craig.

“Since I’ve been up there since I was knee-high to a Dungeness crab, a friend of mine said, ‘You’re the windmill,'” Holman told KIRO Newsradio. “And at that time we used CBs in our boats, and so we always called everyone by their nicknames — you know, or our CB handles.”

“There are people who have known me for years,” Holman said, “and they’re like, ‘I never knew your first name was Craig.'”

Craig – sorry, ‘Windmill’ – clicked on the story link and then read about KIRO Newsradio’s search for “Outdoor Line” audio.

“When I read that, I was like, ‘Wow, I was on this show. I wonder if I still have the tape,'” Holman said. “And I had answered that [KIRO] said: “Yes, I was on the show. I should have ribbons. I have to look for her.”

Fortunately, Holman says, the search didn’t take very long.

“I didn’t have to snoop very far because where I keep all my videotapes and cassettes is in a drawer,” Holman continued. “And I opened it up and it said ‘Outdoor Line’.”

The words “Outdoor Line” were scrawled on the labels of several old tapes in Holman’s treasury drawer. The recordings were made as a favor (in those pre-podcast days) to friends and neighbors who knew Holman would be appearing as a guest on “Outdoor Line,” which Holman did several times about 30 years ago.

After reaching out via email, Holman quickly mailed his old tapes to the radio station.

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Two had audio from “Outdoor Line” when he spoke to Bill Davis about Bush Point in March 1992 and September 1992. The tapes don’t contain full shows and the audio quality isn’t great – they sound like they were recorded with, maybe a boom box next to a radio – but they’re good enough to get a sense of the folksy and soothing quality of Bill Davis’ voice and “Outdoor Line” – even if you haven’t hunted or fished.

For example, in the opening moments of the March 1992 recording, Davis jokes with Craig Holman about the Clinton Ferry. When Holman answers and isn’t quite audible, Davis gently suggests that Holman move a little closer to the mic. Then, at the end of the show, Davis gives a low-key promo for the next week’s guests: a group of local anglers known informally as “The Walleye Gang.”

KIRO Newsradio meticulously cleaned Holman’s tapes and then transferred them to digital, and the files then underwent minor digital audio cleanup. After that, they were shared with Josh Linke, Bill Davis’ grandson.

Earlier this week, Josh Linke and Craig Holman spoke over the phone.

Josh said it made his mother and uncle cry when they heard their father die 20 years after his death. He said it was very special to hear his grandfather’s voice again.

“It was like an instant feeling as soon as I turned it on, sort of a listening like reassuring calm because he just had that way of speaking,” said Josh Linke. “It was from this calming feeling.”

“Yes,” said Craig Holman. “He was very quiet.”

“And my kids, I played it for them,” Linke continued. “My oldest is 14. So [my grandfather] had long passed at the time of his birth, and so that he could hear that [and] For my other kids, it was very special for me to hear it and then for them to just connect with their great-grandfather.”

“Yeah. Very cool,” Holman said. “Very cool.”

Josh Linke thanked KIRO Newsradio for searching and Craig Holman for passing on his tapes. Linke says he will create a “digital scrapbook” for the family to keep the audio files for his children and future generations.

Thanks to Windmill, those who remember Bill Davis and Outdoor Line can relive those Sunday nights long gone, and those too young to remember — or who haven’t lived in the Pacific Northwest — can catch a little audio -Get a glimpse of a very different time and a very different kind of live and local radio show.

Do you have old, local radio cassettes?

KIRO Newsradio would love to get more “Outdoor Line” tapes, or any old KIRO Newsradio tapes that our listeners might be willing to share. If you have tapes, please email KIRO Newsradio resident historian Feliks Banel using the contact information below.

You can hear Feliks on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien every Wednesday and Friday morning, read more about him here, and subscribe to the Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have an idea for a story, please email Feliks here.

Follow @https://twitter.com/feliksbanel