Don Courtnay – Big Voice at KJR

You didn’t know his name, but, oh, that voice will certainly stay with you: the golden-throated announcer. One of the big features of radio in the ‘60s and 70s was having that extra big voice – someone who could boom out those important station IDs, news intros and other voice-over productions. That was the case with KJR, which heavily relied on Don Courtnay, one of their sales guys who’s golden tones were unknown to listeners of the regular on-air lineup. Courtnay was well-known in Seattle radio circles during stints at several stations through portions of three decades.

Up next is Don Courtnay in a January 1964 KJR aircheck. First you’ll hear a few of his well-remembered station IDs, followed by a news intro for a Lan Roberts’ newscast. This audio track provides a full taste of that eerie news background sounder KJR used on-air in late 1963 and ‘64. This aircheck captured a portion of the Mike Phillips show, which becomes evident at the end.

Don Courtnay, 1964 (Running time 1:30)

Another of Courtnay’s big voiceover roles was being the 19-year voice for Safeway stores commercials: “Shop Safeway — you’ll see!” Another well-known Seattle voice man — Dean Smith — had kind words for Courtnay after his passing in 2008, calling him the freelance voice in town, the quintessential big, warm-voiced guy who over- shadowed many.

KJR was a real powerhouse at that time, ruling the market and without a serious competitive challenge until KOL cranked it up 16 months later. 1964 also was the year Larry Lujack and Chuck Bolland arrived at KJR.

The KJR  jock lineup in early ’64:

Lan Roberts 6-9

Lee Perkins 9-noon

Mike Phillips  noon-3

Pat O’Day 3-6

Dick Curtis 6-9

Jerry Kay 9-midnight

J J Valley midnight to 6

Thanks to Duane Smart for locating those classic Courtnay-produced KJR IDs

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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  
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