Les Parsons – Trailblazing from KISN to KJR

During KJR’s glory years, Les Parsons outlasted just about everybody. Although a news and production guy, his unmistakable style and delivery placed him among the most familiar of all Channel 95 voices.  He logged about 15 years at KJR, from 1966 into the early ’80s.

Les Parsons, early ’60s

Parsons was among a group of 1950s radio guys who started with and later escaped  from Don Burden’s Star Broadcasting tribulations.  Burden was a flamboyant but maverick radio owner who took KOIL Omaha, KISN Vancouver and WIFE Indianapolis to the top of their respective markets in the 1960s.  His broadcasting practices led to more than 30 broadcasting violations  in the eyes of the FCC which, after an eight-year investigation, jerked all three licenses in late 1976. (See Don Burden – Radio Stardom, Stormy End.)

Les Parsons had worked for the Burden organization as announcer and production specialist at KWIK radio in Pocatello, ID.  In late 1961 Parsons followed Burden’s success train to the Portland area  where KISN’s rock’ n roll fortunes began skyrocketing two years earlier.

Parsons was hired as the production and program director, replacing Hal Raymond who moved up to KAYO in Seattle.  (Coincidentally, Tiger Tom Murphy was one of the original KISN plank owner jocks.) But as the Burden shenanigans attracted more FCC attention, Murphy moved to KJR in late ’65.  Parsons followed within a few months.

Here’s an audio montage reflecting the serious and lighter sides of Les Parsons.  > Time 6:16

’64  –  2 KISN voicers (during the Don Steele show)

’66  –  At KJR, Les introducing Chuck Bolland

’67  –  2 newscasts during Tom Murphy program

’68  –  Parsons news, Safeway spot and KJR traffic ‘copter intro (and Pat O’Day )

’70  –  3 spot snippets from Tom Murphy, Norm Gregory shows

’75  –  levity with Charlie Brown, news tip award promo

’76  –  another news segment during Charlie Brown show

’77  –  2 news segments, March (with Ichabod Caine) and Sept (Debbie Boone #1 song)

’79  –  Charlie Brown high-jinx, news items: grounded DC-10s (June) & Gov. Dixie Lee (Oct)

’80 –  Les correcting the political name-callers (Charlie & Clydie)

Parsons went from radio to retirement in Hawaii, where he’s enjoyed his live-aboard sailboat.

…by Ron DeHart


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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  

2 thoughts on “Les Parsons – Trailblazing from KISN to KJR

  1. I really appreciate these remembrances of Les. He was a true pro who I admired as a listener and as a budding broadcaster in the ’70s.

    I was lucky enough to work with him at KJR in the early 80s, and see what a perfectionist he was in the way he prepared copy and delivered it. Pat O’Day always considered the news department to be an integral part of the radio station, and in many ways Les Parsons was one of the great voices of KJR.

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