9/13/87–New-age K-HITman sends disc jockeys packing

VICTOR STREDICKE – September 13, 1987
They blew away a bunch of disc jockeys at KHIT, to make way for the mostly-instrumental, new-age sound. The new KNUA, 106.9 mHz., promises “no disc jockeys.”
So Howard Hoffman is huddled with a lawyer, Dave Fuller is packing his bag for the trip back to Detroit. And Joe Dawson is looking for work. “You get on the phone, trade bits of information, plant seeds _ let folks know you’re available,” Dawson said. After the first 24 hours, his phone is ringing. He knows of three openings. But he’s going to choose carefully.“They toned me down for Seattle,” Dawson said. He was “Smokin’ Joe,” on KHIT from 3 to 7 p.m. daily. “I’m a good boss jock.”
The KHIT contingent (phase 1 of Gannett ownership) leaves reluctantly. “We were brought in together, housed together at the Executive Inn,” Dawson said. “We became a `family’ real fast.” Hoffman, with a trunkful of funny radio voices, was the morning linchpin. His characters included the hyperbolic “Mr. Stress.” Hoffman’s stress level must be up. He’s distressed over the short term of employment. KHIT’s contemporary-hit-music format, however, never drew more than one percent of the total listening audience. “You hear format-change rumors all the time,” Dawson said. “Based on the company’s background, it seemed likely they might play more albums, take a swing at adult-contemporary.” One of the original crew, John Frost left just before inklings of change. Frost was offered an afternoon shift at KTKS, a Gannett sister-station in Dallas, his home town. “I decided to just hang in,” Dawson said. “Besides, my contract said I couldn’t approach other radio stations.
“Every contract is different,” Dawson said. “I don’t want to talk about Seattle, but I’ll tell you about the contract I had in Chicago. “It was year-to-year, five-day week, specific shift, specific vacation time. And if they wanted to drop me, they owed me for the full year.” There, too, Dawson agreed not to look for work while at the station. But when Gannett representatives approached him, matched his salary, promised fun and adventure in the great Northwest, he accepted. “Seattle has been an interesting city to me. I loved all the listeners I met,” Dawson said over coffee, his attire including white running shoes and a linen jacket, sleeves crunched up to the elbows. “I found a great place in Bellevue, started going fishing morning and evening.”
“I’d never been here before,” Dawson interjected. He is not a broadcast floater. With 10 years in broadcasting, he has worked in only three cities, including five years in Chicago. And at age 31, add eight months in Seattle.

Author: Victor Stredicke

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Some comments may be held for moderation. (New users)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.