John Skinner, The Early Years, by Ann Klaiman
When KHEN went on the air in 2003, John composed amusing poems and jingles about the shows and the people on KHEN and the joys of having a community radio station. Special ones were done for holidays and for membership drives. He would set them to music and, accompanying himself on guitar, record them for on-air use. For some he pulled in other volunteers to sing, add percussion, whatever. Volunteers often found print copies of these offerings in their mailboxes. He continued this tradition for years.
John must hold the KHEN record for dead air-time with an open mic. He was careful with air-studio equipment, but, bless his heart, he didn't move with any speed. On his long-running "Swingtime" show, he would announce his next number, then turn away from the mic to the turntable on his left, gently lift the arm, and carefully set the needle on the chosen track of a 33 or 78 rpm record already spinning. Five seconds (an eternity in air-time) could elapse. The results, however, were undeniable: really good stuff. His library and knowledge of swing and big band music were excellent.
For years, John teamed with Jessica Saunders for "It's Showtime." Jessica's two-hour show would feature one Broadway musical every week -- some old, some new. Jessica, with her encyclopedic knowledge, did the musical numbers in sequence, with an introduction, plot summary and commentary setting up each one. John helped Jessica find soundtracks of musicals and engineered her show. Jessica's poor sight made it impossible for her to run the board herself.
From Barbara Ford, of Shavano Poets
John was a Shavano member for many years and a prolific poet.
From Maria Weber, Secretary of Shavano Poets
I can't tell you for certain how many years John Skinner was part of Shavano Poets. The Shavano Poets was founded in 1992 by Jessica Saunders (who died in 2012). John was probably part of that group pretty early on. He left the poet group after his son Jonathan died and John himself had been very ill in the same hospital with Jonathan for a while. So it would be safe to say John was a member of the poets group for 20 years. He wrote tons of poetry and kept it in notebooks. He was treasurer of the organization for at least 5 years if not longer. He occasionally substituted leading it when the president, Jessica Saunders, was absent. The Shavano Poets published a book of poetry, Parade of Poets, to commemorate its 20th anniversary in 2012. All then-current poets contributed two poems or two pages. John's two excellent poems, "Unabridged" and "The Very Idea" are published in that book, which has been for sale at The Book Haven. You might also obtain a copy from Jean Hanfelt, who still has a few copies at her house. (Jean's wonderful watercolor of Mt. Shavano graces the cover of that book.) There's also a copy of this book at the library in Salida.
John was also a member of Chaffee County Writers Exchange for a similar number of years. That was not a poetry group, however, and John found it difficult to concoct fictional stories off the top of his head. He was by nature, a poet.
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of former board member and fellow volunteer, John Skinner. What a wonderful man, who always had a story, a poem, or a joke to tell! He loved talking with visitors and most enjoyed talking about Sheriff Baxter Stingley.
He was always willing to help with anything that needed to be done, from painting the walls, moving exhibits, to raking the leaves out front. We will miss his smile, his laugh and great service to the Museum. Rest in peace, John.
For more, see his obituary.