May 1986: First you buy a radio station. Then you do some research. Then you change the format. Then you make a bundle. Hey, there’s nothing to this broadcast business!

Victor Stredicke – May 11, 1986

Those first steps, again: Thunderbay Communications took control of KIXI-AM-FM this month, and placed Gordon Stenback as managing partner and general manager of the two radio stations. Stenback hired Mike Dirkx, from KGW, Portland, as operations manager and program director. For research, the stations paid “a bundle,” Stenback said, and it showed there was a gap in the marketplace. KIXI-FM was perceived, the research showed, as a foreground adult contemporary station. But Seattle listeners didn’t need it. So Stenback not only modified the format, he changed the station name. The old “KIXI-Light” is now K-LITE, after its official call-letter name, KLTX, on 95.7 mHz. The changes include music for an older demographic group, some added morning traffic and a new newsman, Alan Ray. (Mapping out niches is not always easy to do, and the term “LITE” seems to be the best Stenback can do to describe the music. While it’s not quite fair either to the new format nor to the stations used for comparison, the new KLTX format seems to be somewhere between KMGI and KSEA.) KIXI-AM, the big-band and nostalgia station at 880 kHz., remains intact, both in name and format.

Olympia’s KTOL has been sold to a company headed by Matthew Clapp Jr. Transfer is subject to the approval of the Federal Communications Commission. The Thurston County stereo-AM station was brought on-air in September 1983 by John R. DiMeo Sr. DiMeo, once a general manager of KAYO, Seattle, said he was looking forward to retirement after 40 years in broadcasting. Clapp is also majority owner of radio stations in Aberdeen, Mount Vernon and Anchorage, Alaska.

Ric Austin is gone from the KQKT morning show, and his near-namesake Rick Austin is gone from KTAC’s afternoon slot. Ric (no k) is said to have returned to Dallas, Texas, his home turf, for family reasons. Rick (with the k) is said to have left the business.

“Duck’s Breath Home Made Radio,” a series of 90-second humor, is airing three times daily, somewhere within the 8 o’clock hour, the noon hour and the 4 o’clock hour on KTOY, 91.7 mHz.

Bob Robertson has begun a nightly one-hour sports-interview program on KAMT, in Tacoma, in addition to his regular duties broadcasting play-by-play for the Tacoma Tigers on KAMT, 1360 kHz., and sports reporting on KJR, 950 kHz.

Time for a penny flip: Penny Tucker, morning news and traffic reporter at KRPM, has left to become station manager at KENE-KHRK, Yakima. In 1982 she managed a Wally Nelskog station in the Tri-Cities. At the same time, the station has hired a new general sales manager, Penny Taylor, from KSTW-TV. . . . Dana Horner, general manager of KLSY-AM-FM, left May 1 to enter a radio-related business in Dallas. . .. The new general manager of KLSY-AM-FM is Tim Davidson, former station manager, sequentially, at KING-FM and KING-AM. . . . New nighttime disc jockey on KZOK, 102.5 mHz., is T.J. Killorin. He’s from Boulder, Colo., by way of Albuquerque, N.M., and Steamboat Springs, Colo. . . .Joe Abel, vice president and general manager of KIRO Newsradio, has been promoted to executive vice president. Abel joined KIRO-KSEA in 1976. . . . “Lights Out” will celebrate “Marriage,” at 9 p.m.Thursday on KLSY, 92.5 mHz., with songs and readings dealing with matrimony. . . . With a little shuffle in air times, George Lindsay has become the new morning personality at KQKT, 96.5 mHz. . . .“Seattle After Noon” will include an original radio production honoring the poet Emily Dickinson, at 3 p.m. Thursday on KUOW, 94.9 mHz.

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times. --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke
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5 thoughts on “May 1986: First you buy a radio station. Then you do some research. Then you change the format. Then you make a bundle. Hey, there’s nothing to this broadcast business!

  1. Mike…I am pretty sure that is correct. In the short time I was around KIXI about 1972, Wally would come in several times a week. He seemed fascinated with his IGM automation system. It was operator assist. Announcers were there and operated the automation. In that they knew what had played and they would back announce. Wally himself had a great deep voice and did the IDs. The story I heard, which I cannot verify, is Wally’s wife came from wealth and her money funded his radio ventures. That said, KIXI was very successful when Wally had it. So it is not like he was squandering her money. In the last couple years I communicated with Steve Schilling who was the afternoon announcer at KIXI in those days. He had come to KIXI by way of KBRO in Bremerton.

  2. There are a ton of snippets of KIXI (at least the late evening shift) from 1974-1976 at the CBS Radio Mystery Theater archive. Most of the recordings were made in the Seattle area and this was during KIXI’s brief time as the CBS Radio affiliate.

    Whoever rolled tape would typically start a few minutes before the top of the hour. There’d be the tail end of some of that “bright and beautiful” KIXI music, the CBS TOH newscast, and then some local announcements usually of weather and sports scores. Rudy Perez is heard on some of the recordings, but there’s someone else with a distinctive voice that usually had the nighttime shift. Hopefully Steven can identify him.

    After the Mystery Theater ended, they usually let the tape run out, so there is up to several minutes of local KIXI material at the end.

    Initially they only broadcast the Mystery Theater on the AM side with an FM simulcast one night a week. They frequently ran a spot read by Perez saying that they received many letters begging them to put it on the FM every night. The response was they had applied to increase the AM power to 50,000 watts (which wouldn’t happen for almost a decade) and to please send us more letters complaining about the nighttime signal so we can use them in our application process.

    Eventually they did do a nightly simulcast and the person recording often taped it from the FM side after that. At the end of those, you can hear the transition out of the simulcast and back to the FM automation, which they pulled off quite cleanly.

    In case Steven missed it when I posted the comment to a different page, this site has a 1974 aircheck of Steve Schilling on KBRO, after his stint at KIXI:

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