Buzz Barr – The Compleat Broadcaster

BUZZ BARR One of the most familiar and influential voices during Puget Sound’s formative radio years was Buzz Barr. He parlayed an hourly pay DJ job (in 1958) to eventually became a respected broadcast executive. Barr was, in fact, three times a radio general manager, a broadcast President and part station owner, and finally owner/operator of his own advertising agency. As a jock his soft, warm and velvety style captured legions of faithful listeners. Perhaps more import was his ability to successfully program contemporary hit/pop music radio, which he demonstrated several times during his 50-year career. In 1965, he led KOL in a major challenge that nearly corralled KJR. Then in the early ’70s he programmed KING AM from doldrums to delights in a vaunted KJR sweepstakes run. He not only made high marks at KOL and KING, but Portland powerhouse rocker KISN, where, for a short while, he was also PD.

Here’s a series of Buzz Barr audio clips, starting with his Grays Harbor days and running through his last Seattle on-air job in 1975. Running time about 5:48. (Longer versions of some of these composite airchecks can be found on the Buzz Barr Tribute Page.) Barr passed in 2011, at age 74. It’s been said the oversight of radio program management by directing, via controlling and scheduling, is really the easy part. Greater success comes from developing and exhibiting the more difficult personal skills of coaching, mentoring and role modeling. Buzz Barr’s many broadcast friends, associates and competitors have said he successfully covered both sides of the control board.
Buzz Barr’s career track –
’58-’60 KAPA Raymond, KBKW Aberdeen, KITI Centralia
’61-’64 KMO Tacoma, KVI Seattle
late ’65-early ’66 KOL (hired Danny Holiday, Rhett Hamilton Walker, Dex Allen, B.R. Bradbury, Dave McCormick, others)
spring ’66-fall ’66 KISN Portland
late ’66-spring ’67 KOL Seattle
spring ’67-mid-’69 KJR Seattle
fall ’69-late ’71 KING Seattle (hired China Smith, Al Vanik, others)
late ’71-early ’72 KISN Portland
spring ’72-late ’74 KING Seattle (hired Gary Lockwood, Andy Barber, Rob Conrad, Phil Harper, Dan Foley, others)
’75 KUUU Seattle
’76-’81 KGHO Hoquiam (GM & Sales Mgr.)
’81-’83 KANC Anchorage
’82-’83 KYAK/KGOT Anchorage
’86-’91 KCSY Soldotna, AK (Pres., GM and part owner)
’95-’05 KXRO/KDUX Aberdeen (and owned/operated ad agency)

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  

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