FM Station Tackles Personality Radio

March 24, 1985
Jack Morton returned to the air the last week, as if nothing had happened since July 4, 1984, when the sparklers were snuffed at KVI.
And Ken Speck, from Indianapolis and four times nominated for Billboard Magazine’s “Country Personality of the Year,” has joined him.

Both are now on KRPM, an aggressive country-music station that made a complete turnaround last week. Instead of a five-in-a-row music format, the station has stomped boldly into the country-personality business.

Morton, famed “super commuter” of Northwest airwaves for more than two decades, is host of the 3-to-7 p.m. show on KRPM. Speck is the station’s new morning personality, 6-to-10 a.m.

At the announcement of the programming turnaround, Morton stood outside the carpeted meeting room, hiding a cigarette behind a cupped hand. In dapper maritime attire including deck shoes, he described his enthusiasm at returning to the air. His sentence structure was casual but clear: “Frien’ o’ mine waz lisnen the other day. Likes the music.”

Speck jumped in: “Country music is universal. It’s like the Beatles. If you count the songs you hear on a beautiful-music station, eight out of 10 have country roots.”

Morton said he’d play a lot of music.

“You take the same idea as five-in-a-row, and you expand it, like a balloon. Then you let it out a little at a time. You gotta be careful you don’t let the balloon go brzzzzzzrpp.” Morton stopped his series of swooping hand gestures, realizing he had nowhere to go with the story.

“I think I’ve just described the broken-balloon theory of broadcasting,” he muttered.

Speck is described as a friendly, involved broadcaster. He said he wouldn’t mind a baseball tryout with the Mariners; he wants someone to take him fishing; he loses one sock every time he does the laundry.

Friendly he might be, but also brutal. “Lots of so-called radio personalities,” Speck said, “just read jokes _ `plastic puke.’ They read get their jokes from tip sheets. They read liner notes.”

The meeting also introduced a new KRPM program director, John Marks, with service at such cities as Chicago, Beaumont, Texas, and Little Rock, Ark. There were others, including Karen Key, also from Indianapolis, who does news during Speck’s morning show. There wasn’t a cowboy boot in the bunch.

Marks said Seattle is a “supreme example” of a city being “musicked to death.” He said music is certainly an important element, but only one element, in radio success. Marks’ other elements are research, music selection, technical aspects and personality.

“We intend to serve regular KRPM listeners, but we’re willing to build an environment for adventure,” Marks said.

Making book on O’Day’s departure

It’s sweet salve for the ego when a disc jockey is able to score in the ratings, even as his boss says he’s finished.

That’s the case for Pat O’Day, released March 15 by KKMI. The new owners apparently want to make a clean sweep of the station before introducing new call letters and another contemporary-music format April 29.

O’Day borrowed a rating book from KUBE; KKMI couldn’t afford one.

O’Day says a January-February monthly survey by the Burch Ratings Co. shows that KKMI is so-so in the morning _ No. 10 if you counted all listeners age 12-plus. Counting women age 25-54, O’Day is No. 9; and if you are counting women 18-34, old Pat is No. 3.

Michael O’Shea, KUBE general manager, confirms the figures but, adds boastfully that KUBE’s Charlie Brown is No. 1 with those women 18-34, with an amazing 26.0 share; O’Day’s No. 3 comes from a 6.6 share.

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times. --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke
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2 thoughts on “FM Station Tackles Personality Radio

  1. John Marks didn’t stick around too long. Sometimes at an interview, you…just know. And that’s when I went back to Minneapolis…

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