Don’t Weep For J. Michael; He’ll Find Something

March 13, 1988 – What’s next for J Michael Kenyon, after walking off in mid-program earlier this month at KING-AM?
“I pulled a Hardwick,” Kenyon, ex-afternoon talk-show host, said, somewhat sheepishly, because, he continued, he couldn’t stand management gibberish.

“I do gibberish!” Kenyon said, adamantly. “That’s my strength!”

In mass communications, there is an eternal war between creative free spirit and rational reigns on the bizarre.

In Kenyon’s case it was a note sent as a joke saying “You’re boring” from a KING boss who Kenyon always refers to as “the esteemed program director Greg Tantum.” At the time, Kenyon was adlibbing high-school basketball without a guest or topic.

But the elemental confrontation reflected flashes of past loggerheads: Don’t talk sports, ’cause KIRO has sports . . . can’t have an opera singer on, because you had one last month . . .

“The esteemed program director also wouldn’t let me reinstitute the “Kenyon College of Knowledge,” Kenyon said. The college was a continuing bit, developed four years ago on KVI, involving trivia and useless information.

Right or wrong, it’s always interesting to hear Kenyon’s side of ANYTHING.

“Station management came back from a retreat with a marketing fix: Program to the listener age 37.5,” Kenyon said.

“What does this Mr. 37.5 want,” the devil’s advocate challenged, “4.2 guests each show? How much time does 37.5 spend listening? 10.8 minutes? What if Mr. 37.5 doesn’t have time to listen to the radio at all? Would Mr. 55.2 have time to listen for 2.4 hours?”

From his home, Kenyon mumbled, muttered and mused just as if he were still on the radio, demolishing subjects that few others articulate.

– “Sure, they offered me a contract. A lucrative contract, I might add. But I couldn’t see any advantage. Those things are written by lawyers, to the station’s advantage. For instance, it holds them to keep me only one year, but it binds me to two years.

– “Bondage, that’s what it is,” probably waving both extremities to emphasize his point. “Serfs vs. the feudal land barons, that’s what it is . . .

– “Imagine, I worked for more than a year for King Broadcasting! I never thought I’d work for KING.” Kenyon suddenly mellowed. “They gave me a job when I needed a job.

– “Surprisingly, radio is hard work. Talking into a microphone is work! And when it’s done, you are never sure you have accomplished anything. I’d rather dig a ditch. Really! When you have dug a hole, you know you have done something.”

Kenyon continues as a sports columnist for the Morning (Tacoma) News-Tribune and expects to resume TV appearances during football season.

“Don’t weep for J Michael,” Kenyon said, putting the whole world on notice. “I’ll find some way to make a buck.”

KING COMMENTS

“We learned more about J Michael’s mindset from the papers than we did from direct discussions,” Bob Gallucci, station manager of KING-AM-FM, said, as he explained that Bob Parker and other newsmen will fill the afternoon talk-show slot on 1090 kHz for a while.

“We will look for a replacement every bit as distinctive as Kenyon,” Greg Tantum, program director, said, “one who will relate to Pacific Northwest interests.”

Tantum said he was surprised there was a disagreement on content: “I tried to stay out of the way, in fact, offering less direction on the afternoon shift than in any other day part.”

In a week or so, Chris Brecher, morning co-host, will switch with afternoon newsperson Deb Henry. She and Chuck Meyer, morning co-host, explored a personality approach to morning news several years ago.

“Deb and Chuck are comfortable together,” Tantum said. “The new afternoon vacancy will give Chris a chance to make a real signature on the afternoon program.”

Gallucci said the station has defined a target audience, 35-44 _ “younger than most talk-shows.” Conventional wisdom is that younger listeners stay with music stations, only older listeners seek out the spoken word.

AIRING OF THE GREEN

For St. Patrick’s Day: KXRX, 96.5 mHz, will broadcast from Pier 70 restaurant, 6-10 a.m. . . . Charlie and Ty will broadcast from Jake O’Shaughnessey’s, on Mercer Street, 6-10 a.m. on KUBE, 93.3 mHz. . . .

Wendy Christopher also will broadcast a KUBE station birthday party from Parker’s, the Aurora nightspot from 6-11 p.m. (admission by ticket only) . . . KISW, 99.9 mHz, also will broadcast from Jake’s, but from 2-6 p.m. . . . KRPM-AM-FM, 770 and 106.1, will broadcast from 3-7 p.m. at Rifflestein’s in Renton . . . KPLZ will broadcast from Houlihan’s in Bellevue from 6-10 a.m., on 102.5 mHz. . . KVI, 570 kHz., will broadcast from Honan’s, in Tacoma, from 2-8 p.m. . . KZOK, 102.5 mHz., will be at Jake O’Shaughnessey’s in Bellevue from 3-7 p.m. . . . KIRO, 710 kHz., will have intermittent reports from a listener breakfast at F.X. McRory’s.

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Author: Victor Stredicke

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