One For Seattle Radio Record Books: Kent Phillips, 35 Years @ KPLZ

Alan Budwill, Gene Autry and Kent Phillips
December 2021 – Kent Phillips eases out of KPLZ after 35 years at that station. That is a record, for a radio personality in Seattle. For the first 33 years, Alan Budwill partnered with Phillips as the team of ‘Kent & Alan’. Budwill retired in January 2019, broadcasting from his San Juan Island home, rather than going into the studio each morning, for the final 2 years of the partnership. This is now a common method used by personalities, but it started long before Covid.

The record for longevity at one station by a Seattle radio personality had previously been held by Larry Nelson. Nelson was a popular KOMO 1000 personality, working other dayparts at the station before taking ownership of the morning show.

Larry Nelson had been the afternoon drive personality at Bellevue’s ‘middle of the road’ music station KFKF (92.5) along with Dick Stokke, Gene Larson, Tom Hood, Stas Loutas and Terry McManus. Nelson spent about 3 years at KFKF before automation took over, pushing the KFKF record-spinners out the door.

Kent Phillips

Larry Nelson
In December 1968, Jay Ward, KOMO 1000 Program Director, gave up the morning program to undertake the duties of KOMO radio General Manager. At that time, Buddy Webber was the afternoon drive personality at KOMO. Old-timers will remember that Buddy Webber also had a variety show on KOMO TV. Buddy sang and played the piano. He interviewed guests, local dignitaries and celebrities passing through town.

When Jay Ward gave up his morning drive shift, Larry Walker was brought in for mornings at KOMO 1000.

At about that time, (December 1968) an automation system replaced the personalities at KFKF. Larry Nelson moved over to KOMO radio as the 7pm-Midnight personality. In June 1969, Larry Nelson moved to the afternoon drive show, 3p-7p at KOMO. His replacement in the 7pm time slot was Charlie Burd. Charlie Burd’s time as a KOMO DJ lasted only weeks and Tracy Smith replaced Burd in July 1969. Tracy Smith later became Tracy Steele, entertaining at KVI and other area stations. In November, Tracy Smith was replaced by Lloyd Allan, who came to KOMO after two years at 770 KXA.

In September 1970, Larry Nelson was moved into the morning drive position at KOMO radio. Del Olney became the KOMO mid-day personality 10a-3pm, Don Cannon the 3pm afternoon drive-time guy, and Bill McDonnell 7pm-Midnight. Music All Night was the Midnight to 6 easy listening program on KOMO.

Larry Nelson remained as morning mayor at KOMO 1000 for the next 26 years. Nelson retired on November 1st 1996, after nearly 28 years with KOMO.

At the time Kent & Alan debuted at KPLZ, the station was co-owned with KVI-AM, by movie star/song-writer, Gene Autry. Autry owned several radio stations under the Golden West banner. Since then, through several ownership changes, KVI-AM, KOMO AM/FM and KPLZ FM are now owned by Lotus Communications.

Author: Jason Remington

Creator, Admin, & Editor of QZVX, former broadcaster at KTOY FM/Tacoma, KVAC/Forks , KDFL/Sumner, KTTX & KWHI FM/Brenham (TX), KONP/Port Angeles, KBAM/Longview, KJUN/Puyallup, KRPM FM/Tacoma, KAMT/Tacoma, KASY/Auburn, KBRD FM/Tacoma, KTAC/Tacoma, KMTT FM/Tacoma, and KOOL FM/Phoenix. -- Airchecks
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10 thoughts on “One For Seattle Radio Record Books: Kent Phillips, 35 Years @ KPLZ

  1. Had the joy of knowing Kent’s work all the way back in high school radio days in the 70s (eventually broke into the biz myself with his brother Scott at the same HS station KASB FM in Bellevue). We eventually worked together at KOMO-KVI-KPLZ. What an amazing talent. And one of the good guys in the biz. Congrats on a truly remarkable run.

  2. Kent and Alan were a fierce duo that were one of the best morning teams in the country. With just one producer, and there were only two through the years, John Highfield and Lenoard Barokus, they were incredibly durable and loved by a very loyal audience. BTW, Kent told me that his first commercial job was at KFKF working for Jim Nelly who he followed to Walla Walls! It’s been an honor to be around Kent for all those years at Kplz, one of the finest human beings on this planet! For Kent, it’s not over, he’s just “Back in a different saddle again.”

  3. KOMO has had a rich history and has always been a trusted brand. KOMO and KJR were once a duopoly organized by NBC to carry both of the NBC networks, until that was broken up by the FCC in 1945. Both stations were owned by Fisher’s Blend. At the time of the breakup, KOMO and KJR swapped frequencies, allowing Fisher’s Blend to maintain the KOMO call letters, the NBC red network affiliation and the facility to increase power to 50,000 watts. Change is in the wind again, but with new call letters based on the agreement between Lotus and Sinclair.

  4. I love the history you’ve researched here, Jason! I remember being aware of Kent’s on-air work in Walla Walla in the late 1970’s, and putting in a good word for him with the Program Director at KJRB in Spokane where I got my first job. Kent has always graciously given me credit for that move up, but it was so obvious how talented he was. He returned the favor nearly 10 years ago when the KOMO morning job opened up and he recommended me for it. He’s a class act and one of the nicest guys I know.

  5. Thank you Jason for the excellent article! Kent is such a quality individual and an amazing talent. He made it look easy!

  6. I remember Kent from his days at KUJ, when he was going to Whitman and also was a debate partner with a friend of mine. The KUJ GM, the late Andy Harle, told me that Kent (at the time, a freshman), could work the Seattle market and he was right.
    The next time I saw Kent, it was The Restaurant, a small cafe near Alki in 1989
    I had just moved to the Seattle area and I talked with him about the Walla Walla days. Kent had just done a remote, he was there with his broadcast partner Alan and PD Casey Keating.
    By coincidence, Kent and Alan producer, Leonard and I have been good friends for year.

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