Submitted by Friday Harbor Tiny Radio
When Kirk Williamson and Sam Paul-Barrett sat down to announce the Friday Harbor High School girls basketball 2B regional on Feb. 24, the contrast could not have been more stark: Old school met new media star. Kirk Williamson is a broadcasting legend who got his start in 1965 — a mere 50 years before Sam Paul-Barrett sat down to do his first FHHS basketball game at Turnbull Gym in 2015.
Williamson grew up in a small town on the edge of the Columbia River in Goldendale, Washington. He remembers backing his way into a broadcasting career.
“I was a basketball manager, and my high school coach and I didn’t always see eye to eye,” Williamson remembers. “Goldendale is a small town. I wasn’t going to quit and the coach, Dick Ballard, wasn’t going to fire me.”
When Williamson was 16 a radio station came looking for a statistician that they could use for games and Coach Ballard found a way to solve two problems at once. At halftime of the first broadcast, the announcer went out for a smoke break…and handed him the mic. “The rest is history,” Williamson chuckled.
During the summers Williamson would buck bales of hay for gas money and bridge fare to drive to 30 miles to The Dalles KACI. “It was a weekend summer disc jockey job.” Williamson 50-year career saw him broadcast every level of athletics across the state of Washington and become the voice of the Tri-City Americans Hockey Club.
Flash forward to 2015: “The first time Sam sat down to do a Wolverines basketball game in Turnbull Gymnasium I started offering him some tips and he said, ‘Mike, I got this’,” Martin remembers. Martin figured that it would be a live audition and decided to let Paul-Barrett either sink or swim. “He swam…fast.”
Unlike Williamson’s mentor, Martin said that he stuck close by to throw Paul-Barrett a life ring if he hit some troubled waters. “But after a few minutes I realized that he was made for this.” Martin said, “To be honest, I’m pretty sure that I learned more from observing him than he ever learned from me.”
“It’s so much easier to do play-by-play when the announcer has a sidekick“ Martin decided to give Paul-Barrett a shot at color commentary on Tiny Radio’s next Wolverines’ game. Martin said, “It was same seat different day. There I was, trying to show him the ropes and, I’ll be honest, I probably learned more from watching him than he ever learned from me.”
Martin slid into the color commentary duties and, “like Williamson says ‘the rest is history.’”
While at WSU, Paul-Barrett has done the public address duties for basketball, swim and women’s soccer.
Friday Harbor Tiny Radio was courtside with Williamson and Paul-Barrett on Feb. 24 for the Friday Harbor girls basketball team’s chance for the state tournament. The girls lost to Tri-Cities Prep, 55-44, finishing a stellar season. Listen to Friday Harbor Tiny Radio at fhTinyRadio.com, 1650 AM in Friday Harbor or 188.8.131.52:6446/;stream.m3u8