Carson Hosts Radio Comedy Special

November 21, 1982 / Johnny Carson’s radio program? Now there’s something to laugh at. Which Seattle station would carry such an NBC feature? Not KING AM, the NBC affiliate; folks there are so serious about news they can’t afford a chuckle, even on a holiday. KIXI AM to the rescue. After all, KIXI listeners can take a big dose of music of the 40s and 50s, why not a dash of humor from those same areas? Carson, the star of NBC-TV’s tonight show will be host of the two hour NBC radio network special, from 1 PM to 3 PM today on 880 kHz with a repeat from noon to 2 PM Thanksgiving day. The retrospective will look only at comedians associated with the NBC radio and TV networks from vintage radio days to the present. But that’s a handful. Beginning in 1932 with Will Rogers, the program will review the work of such comedy veterans as Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor, Ed Wynne, WC Fields, Jack Benny, George Burns, Bob Hope, Abbot and Costello, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Red Skelton, Fred Allen, Milton Burle, Jimmy Durante, Bob & Ray, Martin and Lewis, Nichols and May, Steve Allen, Ernie Kovacs, Bill Cosby, Stan Freburg and Flip Wilson. Carson is quoted by the network’s press department as saying “I was fortunate to know most of the individuals whose work is highlighted. Some, like Jack Benny, Fred Allen and Groucho Marx, where my idols and I cherish many of the personal relationships with them. It’s a tribute to their unique and extraordinary talents that so much of the programs material is this fresh today as it was, in some cases, 50 years ago when first introduced.” Guy Ludwig is the executive producer of the feature, and the concepts originator.
To keep you up with the world, there’s a new musical distinction in contemporary radio formats. Industry observers seem close to settling on the word “wave” for the kind of music you hear on KYYX. It includes the already out of date new wave, dance music and elementary rhythm formula rock. What makes this important, you see, is that there’s enough interest and record sales that the most popular rock radio stations, trapped between format designations “contemporary hit” and “album rock” no longer can ignore the new music. To affirm, KISW which is number one in satisfying contemporary musical tastes, has introduced an hour of wave, at 10 PM weekdays. A related awareness of the definitive nature of the music changes also is responsible for the reassignment of Ryan and Ryan (they obviously are not wave) to KXA only weekday mornings, with Dr. rock (a wave if you ever saw one) reducing his time on KXA and taking over the morning slot on KYYX. Now listeners and jocks need not to be confused between hits of the past and hits of the present.

Rob Sherwood, with experience at KIOI, San Francisco, and stations in Minnesota, has been named program director of KTAC, replacing the 13 year veteran, Bruce Cannon. Sherwood’s first changes: a tighter playlist and a new morning disc jockey, Ken Copper who, not too surprisingly, previously was morning man at KIOI San Francisco. Gary Stewart has been promoted to the position of managing editor of KOMO radio news, replacing Lee Sommerstein who left the station recently to pursue other interests.

Governor John Spellman will be one time only host of the Sunday morning jazz show 8 AM to 11 AM next Sunday on KJJZ 1540 and KZAM 92.5… Ray McMakin, missing from action since he was dumped from the KING TV team, will return to Seattle radio as weekend host of KVI’s 7-11 Sports on December 11. McMakin has been doing high school sports for KBRO and KWWR Bremerton… KING FM previews the season of Metropolitan Opera broadcasts with Met Marathon at 11 AM Saturday.

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times (1964-1989). --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke

4 thoughts on “Carson Hosts Radio Comedy Special

  1. From the Internet Archive ( we reclaim some of our Lost Comments:

    Mike Cherry says:
    September 7, 2018 2:02 pm at
    from kjunfm via the mailbox:

    Subject: Ray McMackin mentioned in today’s Stredicke column

    By Terry Mosher, Kitsap Sun 4/1/14

    Ray McMackin doesn’t have much use of his legs, has prostate cancer and is far removed from those heady days when he competed for ratings with KOMO-TV’s sports anchor, the always smiling Bruce King, and was up against the Round Mound of Sound, Wayne Cody.
    In fact, it’s been 34 years since McMackin, the former King-TV sports director, was part of the nightly news coming out of downtown Seattle. His journey from there to senior living in east Bremerton, assisted with a cane, a walker and a motorized scooter, has been exciting and varied. He owned two Kitsap County taverns and for most of the following years made a living as a stand-in and extra on movie and TV sets in Hollywood.
    Months ago he was living halfway between Yuma, Ariz. and San Diego at Quartzite in heat that sometimes touched 120 degrees
    “There is nothing but desert and scorpions there,” McMackin quipped.
    It was 118 degrees when his daughter Cheri, who lives in Bremerton, visited, took in the scene and told him he couldn’t live in this like this.
    “I said, ‘You are right, where am I going to live?’” McMackin said.
    Long story short, the daughter filled out the necessary paperwork and McMackin got rid of possessions and moved in November back to home country where he once owned the Ruptured Duck Tavern in Poulsbo, Ray’s Tavern in Bremerton and did local sports play-by-play (basketball and football) on KRBO Radio.
    McMackin has always been his own man, unafraid to tell it like it is or to do things a little different. Which may be the reason after 10 years at King he got the news from a newspaper writer that he’d been fired. McMackin was in spring training for the station in Arizona at the time and was stunned. He had no comment on his firing until later, after he was finally told by a news director the station was going in a different direction.
    So did McMackin. He purchased the Ruptured Duck, sold out about a year later for twice what he paid for it, and then brought the tavern in Bremerton just off Sixth Street that he renamed Ray’s.
    During the time he was around here selling beer, he got into local radio. I remember one night at a local high school basketball game, and this was in the early 1980s, that Ray, who was on the mike alone for that game, backed up a row in the bleachers where I was sitting and whispered to me off-mike, “watch this.”
    McMackin began describing action that had no relationship to what was happening on the court. He was creating instant fiction. I could not help laugh at his audaciousness.
    But that is Ray.
    McMackin graduated in 1956 from Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, and after spending time in the Marine Corps went to Everett Community College and pitched for the school for two years. His claim to fame there is that he was the winning pitcher in a game against Yakima that had Mel Stottlemyre on the mound. Stottlemyre pitched 11 years with the New York Yankees and served as a pitching coach for various teams.
    Ray finished his education at the University of Washington with the intent of being a lawyer, but got a job with KTAC Radio in Tacoma. He worked there only a few months before accepting a radio job at KIRO in Seattle for $666 a month.
    “I thought I was rich,” said McMackin, who eventually worked his way to Los Angeles where he worked for CBS and witnessed the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968.
    “I was right behind Kennedy,” said McMackin, who insists what really happen has not been reported because it has been too dangerous to do so. He will someday, he says, reveal what he knows.
    He was hired at King-TV in 1970 and things went along well until pro sports arrived in the Emerald City and TV and radio voices were co-opted by the money involved in keeping on the favorable side of the pro franchises, the Seahawks, Sonics and Mariners.
    Not one to kiss up, McMackin soon found himself in Kitsap County, where he labored for a few years before taking a one-man band job with KVOS TV in Bellingham, where he stayed from 1984-88.
    In 1986, the first class A boys state basketball game in the state was televised because of the insistence of McMackin.
    McMackin then decided to go to Los Angeles and see if he could break into acting. He got his Screen Actors Guild card and made good money standing in for stars while things like blocking and lighting was checked. Every so often he got to speak a line, with some of them making the final film cut. But you have to know where to look to find him.
    It was while living in Hemet, Calif. near Riverside that he was first diagnosed with cancer. After treatment, he thought he was cured. Three years later it came back, and true to his stubborn nature, McMackin rejected treatment and decided to ride it out.
    When his daughter visited him, she knew he was not fit to live alone, so she brought him home.
    “I have made my peace,” McMackin said. “I did a lot of things, moved around and enjoyed it. So when the lid comes down on top of you, you can smile and say, like Frank (Sinatra), ‘I did it my way.’”
    Note: a Gary Ray McMackin died 8/14/14 in Lake Havasu City, AZ. a few months after this article appeared.

    Mike Cherry says:
    September 7, 2018 2:07 pm at
    Carson’s radio special seemed a better fit for adult nostalgia KIXI than news-talk KING.

    Victor’s explanation of format fragmenting is a good one & still applicable, considering how much more contemporary music continues to split into sub-genres & hybrids comprised of sometimes unrelated music genre types.

    1. I think our Ray McMackin of Seattle sports TV fame, among many other careers, is still very much alive and living in St. Cloud, MN. Don’t ask me how he ended up there, but that guy gets around.

  2. Network programs featuring Johnny Carson go back (at least on television) to 1955. Here is some rare footage of the very young, skinny, seemingly large eared Carson on “The Johnny Carson Show” on CBS, not NBC, (note the CBS-eye logo on the curtain) which ran primetime from June 30, 1955 to March 19, 1956 :

    He also had a network television quiz show from 1957 to ’63 called “Who Do You Trust” (originally titled: “Do You Trust Your Wife”) on ABC Television. It was said that the revised title outraged English teachers who preferred “Whom Do You Trust”. The original announcer on “Trust” was Bill Nimmo but was eventually replaced by Ed McMahon.

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