KTAC-Tacoma’s Big 85

Through much of the 1970s KTAC-AM gave Tacoma something it probably never had before: a station that strongly competed with Seattle’s big boys. The big 85’s Top 40 format went head-to-head in the late ’60s with KJR and KOL, and later KING as well.
KTAC’s success continued on with a talented KTAC’s success continued on with a talented on-air crew which included a lot of big names with prior or later Seattle credentials. Guys like Bobby Simon (three KTAC stints), Steve West, Bob Hardwick, Danny Holiday, Lee Perkins, Robert O. Smith, Don Wade, Tom Connors, Ric Hansen (and Bill Taylor and Chuck Bolland). A complete list — if it exists –would be pretty impressive. (Some quick research below turns up the names of 80 on-air talents from the late 60s into the 80s. Apologies to any others I’ve missed.) KTAC rode its success into the 80’s when, like many of the AMs, it faltered to the rise of the FMs, specifically KNBQ. Here’s an audio compilation of KTAC-AM, starting with Bruce Cannon, the guy many felt was the station’s heart and soul in its hey-day. The Cannon composite includes clips from ’73, ’75 and ’77, with news/other jock voices and commercial blurbs that should echo some great memories. Then you’ll hear some of the finer samples of Robert O. Smith’s multiple voice antics from ’72 and ’74. And finally, Don Wade — another big KTAC fav — with a great syndication promotion clip that likely helped boost his career to a number of big-market gigs (including WLS). Unfortunately, none of these three superb talents are any longer with us. Unfortunately, none of these three superb talents are any longer with us. > Composite run time about 5:36

The most knowledgeable KTAC guy I know is this blog site’s master Jason Remington who logged lots of KTAC time as Lou Robbins from ’89 and into the ‘90s when the station was overtaken by changing times. But in the 70s it was fun to watch the big boys like KJR squirm as KTAC was eating into their listener numbers.
Here’s that On Air Talent Roll Call – (in no particular order) Gary Crow, Chuck Ellsworth, John Welsh, Danny Holiday, Steve Lloyd, Paul Thompson, Dick Haugan, Ken Cooper, Nick Diamond, Bob Cochran, Steve Blackburn, Peter McLaine, Dan Walker, Tom Reddick, Lee Perkins, Ed Isenhart, Derek Shannon, Lee Askervold, Bruce McMichael, Bill Taylor, Ric Hansen, Bruce Cannon, Steve Davidson, Tom Jeffries, Bobby Simon, Steve West, Bobby McAllister, Scott McKay, Bill Dudley, Robert O. Smith, J.J. Valley, Michael O’Brien, Marsh Terry, Dave Allen, Don Wade, Doug Klippert, Sean Carter, Paul Jakeman, Jaynie Dillon, Todd Mitchell, John Nelson, Rob Sherwood, Kacie Sommers, John Williams, Jeff Rynard, Dan Moore, Kirk Russell, Don Patrick, Rick Donovan, Paul Chambers, Steve Michaels, Vic Orlando, Greg Cook, Ron Erickson, Dick Jenkins, Scott Norman, Bob Case, Randy Rowland, Steve Walker, Don Oliver, Gary Franklin, Dave Christianson, Ron Norris, J.J. Reagan, Paul Miller, Ron Harris, Bob Hardwick, Tom Connors, Lou Robbins, Jack Allen, Lee Knudsen, Mike Garland, Dick Roth, Joe Fiala, Chuck Bolland, Ken Mattler, Bill Ogden, Ann D’Angelo

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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  

1 thought on “KTAC-Tacoma’s Big 85

  1. During the early 70’s slow pitch softball was well attended when there was an event beyond the game.
    This was the case in or around 1972/3 when the KTAC DJ’s played The Pizza Pete’s Girls Softball Team at Peck Field. A great promo that was well attended. Lots of laughs and gaffs and who’d a thunk it, the girls team won.
    It wasn’t a blow out. They scored a late run to win the game.
    Fortunately, I was in Bates broadcasting school at the time and was playing with a local team, so I knew some of the people in the industry and that made it easy to organize the affair.
    A blast from the past. Whenever in Tacoma this event comes to mind. It was a great town and KTAC was a great station. W/O question it garnered much of the crowd that used to listen to Pat O’s KJR.

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