Pat Cashman • Written February 2014
Pat Cashman has been unable to hold a job his entire life. As a consequence he has been an advertising writer, talk show host, TV weatherman, stand-up comedian, short story writer, TV sports reporter, newspaper columnist, radio and TV voice-over announcer, TV sketch writer and performer, magazine essayist---and character voice talent in cartoons and video magazines.
His career began in his bedroom in Bend, Oregon where he would host imaginary radio programs all by himself. His ratings were poor, but his share was 100.
He attended the University of Portland where he majored in communications, which ranks with philosophy and art history as a wonderfully useful degree. Once graduated, he sent out resumes and sample reels and waited for the offers to come streaming in. None did. So Cashman returned to his hometown and took a job as a radio D.J. making $400 a month. The program director of a rival station across town called and offered him a job there---paying $425 a month.
Money talks, and Cashman switched stations.
He took another radio job in Eugene, Oregon, but before he had even started he decided to pursue a TV station opening instead. He wrote and directed commercials for a few years, began a family---then moved to Boise for another TV station. He took his family along.
In 1980, he got a job as a writer/producer of commercials for KING TV. When the station created its own marketing department in the mid-80’s, he became KING’s creative director. He produced countless promos for the station---usually with a humorous bent---and won dozens of advertising awards including Addys, Emmys and gold medallions from the International Film and TV Festival of New York City.
When KING TV began a new sketch comedy show in the mid-80’s, Cashman began contributing to the production called “Almost Live.” While the show ended its production run in 1999 (after two seasons on Comedy Central, syndication and locally), “Almost Live” continued in re-runs---and has been on the air at KING for nearly 30 years.
Cashman was an announcer and character actor on Disney’s Emmy-winning “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” He has also been the much-honored, much-fired host of several Seattle radio shows---ironically winning newspaper readers polls as “Favorite Radio Personality.”
He is a frequent emcee, humorous/inspirational speaker---and auctioneer for corporate gatherings and charitable fundraisers here and around the country.
He has served on the boards of JDRF and Provail.
Currently, he is one of the hosts and creators of [the] 206, a new local comedy sketch show airing each week on KING 5. It has not yet been cancelled.
The best professional advice I was ever given is still indelible in my memory: “Clean out your desk and someone will escort you out of the building.”
During my TV and radio career---in which I was fired more times than a human cannonball---someone gave me (seriously) the best advice ever: “Never read your fan mail. It will give you a greatly skewed view of reality.” That really IS great advice---and it’s why I view my inclusion into the august group of Marketing Immortals with considerable skepticism, although gratitude.
I was a very poor student, but only in school. And then, miraculously during my senior year in high school, I got a four-point. Actually, I hit a deer driving to school---but it still made my dad proud.
But my one area of great interest was radio and TV. I created fantasy radio shows in my bedroom---staging fake interviews (with myself as various characters), playing records and doing fictitious commercials. No one ever heard those radio shows---setting the stage for my future broadcast career.
My hometown high school experimented with a scheduling system designed to resemble what a college curriculum would be like. It resulted in long periods of free time intended to give students plenty of opportunities to read and do homework. But for me---and a few of my pals---it became an avenue to goof off---and we would while away the hours in an empty classroom with a tape recorder---doing extemporaneous goofy radio talk shows and parodies.
Things went great until we were caught by the school librarian, who thought we should be studying. As a result, I learned the meaning of words like ‘detention’, ‘probation’, and ‘expulsion.’
All these years later, I’ve made a living doing exactly the same thing that used to get me into trouble. This fact is not popular with various school faculties when I am asked to speak at graduation commencements.
Somehow, I went to college and decided to major in journalism and communications. That’s akin to majoring in stamp collecting and puppetry.
I became the editor of the school newspaper in order to get free tuition. I steered away from writing anything controversial in order to continue getting free tuition.
However, I DID write an editorial opposing the war. The Russo-Crimean War.
With my diploma in hand, I finally landed a job as the morning man at my hometown radio station. The guy with the mid-day show was a high school dropout. Sure glad I got that degree.
My radio stops included major markets like Bend and Ontario, Oregon, Along the way, I noticed that a lot of other radio DJ’s were heavy drinking, smoking nomads. That nomad part didn’t sound good to me, so I began to concentrate less on my radio show and more on producing commercials. I figured it might lead to a career as a heavy drinking, smoking ad agency guy.
I eventually landed a job with a radio station in Eugene (Oregon), but the very day I was to start, I got another gig at a TV station called KEZI. (Easy on the eye---get it?)
I wrote and produced TV commercials---and somehow won a bunch of awards for them. My milieu was funny ads---and I believed there was no category that wasn’t ripe for humor. As a result, I created TV ads for everything from car dealerships to funeral homes. I even did a series of political campaign ads. Sure, the candidate got creamed at the polls---but the ads played well.
I also moonlighted as the station’s TV weatherman. I knew nothing about weather, but I used the opportunity to shamelessly do shtick every chance I got. I would mention that the state of Oregon was shaped like a piece of toast---and I’d point to the coast and warn of ‘rough bar conditions.’ “In fact,” I said, “A friend of mine got hit over the head with a pool stick just last night.” But even with killer material like that, I only lasted six weeks.
During that time, I got married---to another person. My wife and I produced two terrific offspring---and a third that is just so-so. Our young family moved on to Boise where I hooked on with a TV station, KTVB---this time as the production director.
I won a boatload of Idaho TV advertising awards---along with a boat. I also started a late night show called Peculiar Playhouse. I was the host---a lame-brained character named Professor Jasper T. Farndark---and we featured the worst horror and sci-fi movies we could find. For some reason, the show was an unqualified hit---garnering a crazy 90 share. That sounds good until you realize that all of Boise’s other TV stations had signed off by that time of night---meaning that 10% of viewers preferred to watch color bars or snow.
I desperately wanted to move to a larger market---preferably one near Humptulips---and so visited Seattle during a vacation. I met a wonderful guy named John Barry at KIRO TV, who said that while he didn’t have an opening, he’d heard they were looking for a commercial producer across town at KING. I made contact and eventually was hired by then-TV sales manager, Sturges Dorrance. He changed my life---and I stayed at KING in various capacities for twenty years (taking time off occasionally for meals).
One of my first tasks was writing and producing TV commercials for the Seattle Mariners. KING was the flagship station in those days, carrying a whopping 15 games! I produced a series of humor-based spots, featuring actual players---the Stone Age precursors to the great funny ads Jim Compacino’s group produces today.
One day, I got a call from Hal Riney---a legendary San Francisco ad guy. He had seen my Mariners commercials and wanted to hire me at his agency to produce funny spots for his new account: the Oakland A’s. I balked and stayed put. Later, the great John Brown asked me about joining his Seattle agency. Again, I got cold feet. Charlie Watts approached me. I wouldn’t budge.
My guess was that I wouldn’t be happy just being a copywriter. The great thing about working at my TV station was that I got to do it all: Writing, directing, producing, editing---and even sometimes being on-camera talent. As a result, I probably never got particularly accomplished in any one thing, but I had much more fun.
Some years later, when I was appearing on the local sketch comedy show, “Almost Live!”---I received overtures to move to Hollywood. It was flattering, but a no go for me. Later, somebody at Saturday Night Live wanted to audition me in New York. Yes, THAT Saturday Night Live. To the befuddlement of many, I wasn’t ever so inclined. I loved my life and work right here---and so did my family. Easy decision.
Robert Frost wrote about “…the road not taken.” What did he know? He was a poet. Besides, I have always been aware of those many forks in the road of life. I will always wonder which ones might have been best for me---but I DO know that the smaller fork is the one you should use for salad.
Along the way, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have so many swings at the plate. I’ve fanned a lot, but nonetheless have been a radio host, TV guy, sports reporter, weatherman, author, newspaper columnist, commercial actor, writer and producer, essayist, TV screenwriter, musical theater performer, keynote speaker, emcee, magazine humor writer, talk show host, video and cartoon character voice-over artist---and auctioneer.
I have not been a mime, rodeo clown or sword swallower. So far.
I currently do a couple of things that are worth mentioning---and several that are not. One is that I am the co-creator, writer and performer on the sketch comedy TV show seen locally, [the] 206 (airing on KING TV following SNL.) The best part is working alongside my very own son, Chris---although he’s a little too good for my liking.
I also partner with my one-time radio sidekick, Lisa Foster, on a weekly effort called Peculiar Podcast---I do seem to like that word ‘peculiar.’
It is enormously flattering---if a bit ridiculous---to be named an Immortal. However, it has made it possible for me to cancel my life insurance.
Marketing publisher Larry Coffman advised me that it would be nice if I closed my remarks here with something profound or meaningful.