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1 thought on “Ron DeHart: KBFW’s Bellingham Beginnings”
Steven Smith says:
February 10, 2017 10:09 pm at
Great article. These airchecks are interesting in that it was the early pop, soft rock format. I remember that. I was in high school then. But I had been expecting country, since most of the SRO years it was country format. And that is the format we kept for all the time we owned it. This recording of yours had to be close to the time they switched, because Rollie was PD at the change to country format. I went to work at KBFW in the summer of 1972 and about two weeks later the station moved out of the towers to the second floor of SRO’s Samish Drive-in theater. So the tower lease did not last the five years quoted by the Herald. Also, different from the Herald piece, it was much harder to get that 24 hour license than Fred had thought. He tried a couple times and it was denied. When Reagan was President, followed by Bush, some changes were made to make it easier for daytime station’s to obtain night and full- time service. So full-time hours did not come to KBFW until 1988/89. We remained 1kw non-directional day and added 500 watts directional at night. At one point we looked into higher daytime power. P.E. engineering whiz George Frese, who got us the night hours, calculated that we could go to something like 5.8kw days, but we were holding off on that. Before we ever did anything we sold to Saga. We told them they could probably boost power, but they said they would rather operate it at 1kw. They did not identify a benefit in higher daytime power.
Bruce Scholten says:
February 11, 2017 12:54 am at
Excellent history of KBFW. Much enjoyed that. I would like to know how the music playlists evolved over the years.
February 11, 2017 3:39 pm at
excellent posting Ron & Steven, thanks for the additional comments. I too was surprised when KBFW signed on with an adult contemporary format, expecting country as previous occupant KENY had been. I still haven’t located my clip of KBFW’s sign-on one winter at 8am using the instrumental “Buckaroo” as a music bed for the sign-on announcements. Only Tom Cline & Don Patricks’ names I remember from listening. Regarding the daytime power possibilities, I’ve noted via KARI’s History Card that their initial application in the mid-50’s was for 5 kW daytime only on 930, so this must have been deemed possible many years before George Frese’s calculations. Later on when JR Country signed on, there were still us Canadian die-hards who preferred KBFW with it’s funky ‘small-town’ feel & much more varied playlist (and NO Canadian content requirements!) in spite of sunset sign-off + a not-always-stellar signal here in the islands
December 31, 2017 9:26 am at
Mike, thanks for your insight. Any information about the Puget Sounds radio industry during this time period is fascinating to me.
You mention that you remember listening to Don Patrick. Would you mind telling me a little bit more about what you remember him doing and/or your impression of him at the time?
The reason I ask is that Don Patrick was my father and he passed away last month from a very aggressive form of lung cancer at only 70 years young.
He was not one to brag on himself and I’ve since been fascinated by his life’s accomplishments. He wasn’t in the radio business by the time I was born so I never really knew much about that stage of his life. But after Bellingham must have been when he moved to Syracuse for grad school and then a brief stint writing comedy in Los Angeles where he was involved in a horrific auto accident that prompted his return to Seattle where he landed at KJR with his jaw still wired shut.
Anyway, have a blessed day. It just brings a smile knowing people remember my father.
January 11, 2018 5:48 pm at
Don Patrick was one of my favorites. He left KTAC, later landing at KJR. I looked forward to his first show at KJR and was listening, when on his first break he said the call letters KTAC, rather than KJR. He caught the mistake and covered it well. Saw him at a LIVE remote at the Tacoma Mall (some event there, maybe a store opening) and I believe Joe Fiala (news) was with him there.
January 11, 2018 5:51 pm at
Don Patrick newscast heard on Bruce Cannon aircheck on our KTAC Audio page http://www.qzvx.com/ktac-audio/
Steven Smith says:
February 12, 2017 8:59 am at
Mike, that is probably true of the 5kw possibility. But the power increase was low priority compared to the nighttime hours so prior owners, myself included, probably did not know that change could be made without the consultant’s study.. Until the modern age we did not have FCC records online for instant access. And it is amusing that to determine the potential for a station at 930 khz you have to look at records for a station at 550 khz.
February 13, 2017 3:26 pm at
Steven-I quite agree that the daytime increase to 5-5.8 kW would be a wasted investment with little return. There’s never been anything wrong with the daytime signal & this comes from a listener who NEVER listened to KBFW within it’s licensed contours! A quick look at the KBAI/KBFW engineering data (gotta love that Internet!) would even suggest the likelihood of requiring THREE towers to achieve a much tighter & less desirable daytime radiation pattern. With that goes more construction costs, more ground radials & a new tuning unit to divvy up all that extra juice into multiple towers…money, money, money, money!!! The 2-stick night pattern is aimed right at me – due west in the islands. While trying to listen to 930 mobile through all the hills, tight corners etc here is a little sketchy, the 500 watts puts a booming signal into my high-end communications receiver & lengthy wire antennas.
Until Jason posted the History Cards, I had no idea KARI initially applied for 930 @ 5 kW. I think you said you got to talk to Don Bevilacqua who mentioned it to you many years later.
I too have had the pleasure of constructing a brand-new FM signal in the pre-Internet days & indeed, much of the info we take for granted accessing the web would have one time required contacting an engineering firm. The constant delays waiting for hard-copy paperwork, engineering data etc etc just added more time & delay when traversing from freshly-stamped license to on-air launch day!
Tom Cline says:
February 13, 2017 4:55 pm at
This article really sends me back with you, J J Brown, John Hayden and the others. What a great view from the board everyday.
This the first time I’ve heard a KBFW air check in 50 years.
Thanks for the memories.