Space-Age Radio” KOL Challenges KJR – 1965-66

It was May of 1965 — when American music charts were overrun by the British invasion — and
Kolorful KOL jumped headlong into the rock radio wars. With new Program Director Buzz Barr leading the way, KOL had an eye toward knocking off kingpin KJR. It was the real beginning of a fierce head-to-head battle of two Seattle broadcasting greats which went on for 10 years.

Here’s a composite audio of KOL’s summer and fall on-air talents starting with J.J. “Mighty Mouth” Valley and continuing with British import Tommy Vance. Along the way, various spot and promotion snippets by Buzz Barr and Rhett Hamilton Walker I and a newscast gem by Ray Hutchinson. KOL was doing a big Suzuki giveaway promotion, and romping all over the term “hullabalooers” in efforts to make hay on a hit teen TV show. Local band sensation The Dynamics with Jimmy Hanna are included with a quick segment of their Parker’s Ballroom/Seafair Bolo Records hit “Leaving Here.” And KOL’s summer jock lineup — called the “Magnificent Seven” — is also identified, just before a rare clip of Dex Allen, who came on board in September. At 2:56 there’s a radio dial change to KJR, and a composite montage of what KJR sounded like, first in ’65 and then ’66. Lan Roberts, Dick Curtis, Larry Lujack, Pat O’Day, Chuck Bolland and Jerry Kay are all included. Five–almost six–of the 12 heard here worked for both KOL and KJR at one time or another (Barr, Valley, Roberts, Curtis and Kay.) Vance reportedly agreed to leave KOL for KJR, but instead sprinted off to KHJ in Los Angeles in late summer of ’65, despite legal efforts by KOL to prevent him from going. This is a great memory-jogging flashback with a total running time of about 5:49.

KOL Challenges KJR 1965-66

Dex Allen – Flying high during his KOL days, ’65 & ’66

By the end of ’65 KOL continued trailing KJR’s larger listener numbers, but was quickly mounting another attempt to take the lead. After hiring Dave McCormick from Fresno, CA in December, Barr left KOL (for KISN, Portland) in early ’66, but returned six months later before moving over to KJR in the spring of ’67.

Dave McCormick – 1966

McCormick programmed KOL for 11 or 12 months with a fake-Drake flavor that seemed to strengthen the station’s competitive position. The on-air crew with McCormick in ’66: Barr, Rhett Walker, Les Beigel, Danny Holiday, Dex Allen, Dick Burch, Bob Watson, Jim Martin and news guys Bill Munson, Don Hughes and Logan Stewart (Ray Hutchinson moved on to California.) In the spring of ’67 McCormick went back to California before later returning to his Canadian roots and radio jobs in the Vancouver, B.C. area.
As this two-station battle was heating up, there were more changes to come. The listeners were in for a sustained treat as the KOL-KJR battle was in full force.

Author: Ronald DeHart

Ron DeHart is a former newspaper and broadcast journalist and a retired Public Affairs Officer from both the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Navy/Naval Reserve. His historical accounts of Pacific Northwest broadcasting are published by Puget Sound Media. View more articles by Ron DeHart  

2 thoughts on “Space-Age Radio” KOL Challenges KJR – 1965-66

    1. I remember one late night when Robert O played a censored copy of Phil Oakes song ‘small circle of friends ” where they bleeped out “smoking marijuana is more fun then drinking beer’ and Robert O was really mad. Ironicically the song was followed by a beer add. Robert O used the KOL time tone to bleep out the word beer telling listeners the word beer offends me. Then he played “son of a preacher man ” using the KOL time tone to bleep out the word “preacher”

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