July 22, 1984 – Solid gold music begins tomorrow on KVI, as the station introduces a new lineup of radio personalities and jingles announcing “the new KVI.“
The format will feature rock hits of all time, with primary emphasis on tunes from the 1960s and early 1970s. The new morning disc jockey is Tom Hutyler, previously with KUBE. From 10 AM to 3 PM it’s Mike Webb, from KPLZ. Working 3 to 7 PM is Jay Green, previously KVI’s production manager and former weekend announcer. Paul Thompson, from KTAC Tacoma is on from 7 PM to midnight. Mutual’s Larry King show will continue weeknights from midnight to 5 AM. Although the Mariners contract expires in October, the station is negotiating to continue those baseball broadcasts. In the fall, KVI will resume Washington State University football and high school football. Cliff Murphy will continue aerial traffic reports.
Shannon Sweatte, KVI general manager, announced the format change two weeks after the July 3 consolidation, which affected veteran personalities and support staff. By one calculation, 14 people were let go. Sweatte said sincere efforts had been made to recapture “the spirit of the old KVI.“ The pioneer station, once a dominant force in the market, scrambled into a talk format in 1980 but soon reverted to a personality music format. Sweatte insisted that the format decision was not dictated from the home office. Despite the return of Bob Hardwick in 1982, the addition of Bobby Ryan and Gary Ryan last year and the shuffling last month of Jack Morton, KVI did not have enough going to compete in today’s radio market, Sweatte said.
The new format is designed to position the AM station in a “support role“ to its FM sister station, KPLZ, which has a “contemporary hit radio“ format. Sweatte said KPLZ is winning the attention of young people, primarily teenagers, within a target range including ages 12 to 25. KVI will be aimed at listeners 25 to 40. Sweatte said primary interest for advertisers will be KPLZ; KVI would be supplementary.
Sweat said all AM radio stations are facing adjustments: “this is not just Seattle, not just KVI.“ He said the things you see AM radio stations doing, switching to talk, dabbling with AM stereo – are attempts to solve the problem. What KVI hopes to get is an edge in competing against radio stations that do not have sister stations or have formats which attract diverse audiences.
Sweatte said the disc jockey terminations were announced early because “listeners deserved to know what was going on.“ Unfortunately, KVI did not let its listeners know what was going on: no managers message, no on-air announcements. It let other media tell the story, and disc jockeys could react only with humorous references to “lame-duck disc jockeys”. Scott Burton, a program director with a reputation for knowing his music and having a flair for promotion, was surprised at the interest shown in the KVI change. “Five reports, two days in a row, on KING Tv news”, he said, “I couldn’t believe it.”
WHERE WILL THEY GO?
J. Michael Kenyon intends to develop a “fun promotion” service from a booth at Setebello’s, a downtown restaurant. “If it’s fun, we’ll do it.” Kenyon’s “we” includes Lady Pamela, whom he describes as his fifth and only “true love”…Jack Morton left town for a month of vacation. He said he’d begin looking at new opportunities when he gets back…Bob Hardwick predicted that he would resurface “in an ownership position” at a radio station sometime soon. “Actually, working at KVI these past two years had been hindering my vision, and I didn’t know it,” he said…Ryan & Ryan intend to continue as a team. They have a diet-spoof book about to be published and probably will revitalize a small advertising agency they operate.