4/3/88-Science Guy plugs in Saturday electronic circuit

VICTOR STREDICKE April 3, 1988 – Bill Nye, the Science Guy, became a Saturday-morning host on KJR, 950 kHz., in March, leading a lineup of unusual morning features beginning at 9 o’clock.
The diverse bloc reinforces a KJR premise that program content can be just as entertaining as a musical play list.

During his one-hour show, Nye answers listeners’ questions with quick wit and a flashy knowledge of the science world.

“Why people yawn seems to be of recurring interest,” Nye said. “And the vernal equinox _ now that’s a big thing to me!

“Why this should be regarded as funny, I don’t know. When you get to analyzing comedy, you are really in a mysterious area.”

In Seattle, Nye has developed a reputation as a comedy writer and performer on the “Almost Live” TV show, but he does have a degree in engineering. As an Ithica, N.Y., high-school student, he taught science with Mr. Wizard and as a Cornell University student counted billions and billions of things under Carl Sagan.

— From Nye’s esoteric talk of fixotropics, lymphatic nerves and methodology of donning safety glasses, KJR segues to the continuing Saturday non-science feature, “Future On the Line,” with Elizabeth Jenkins, a psychic, at 10 a.m. Saturdays. She dispenses insights on the future and answers questions about recurring dreams.

— At 11 a.m. the renamed “Magical Midday Tour With the Beatles” continues, with Bill Stanton, local Beatles expert, presenting an hour’s dose of Beatlefacts, trivia and music.

ALSO IN SPANISH

“Gifts to Spare” is a 90-minute radio special designed to mark the 100th birthday anniversary of Heitor Villa Lobos, Brazilian composer. The English version, hosted by NPR’s Fred Calland, airs at 8 p.m. Friday on KUOW, 94.9 mHz. A Spanish-language version, with Roland Massa Ferreira, airs next Sunday at 6 p.m.

The program presents a cross section of the prolific composer’s works, plus commentary.

NEW TOP-40 FORMAT

Because KNBQ gave up the ghost, the Clover Park non-commercial station KVTI has started rocking. With a catchy new nickname and an expanded 18-hour broadcast day ending at midnight, its 40,000 watts give it greater coverage than your standard campus station. But the signal obviously is destined only for Tacoma and parts of South King County.

John Mangan, radio instructor for the past six years, said educational radio serves parallel logics, but it must serve listeners effectively. “This is the first time in decades that Tacoma has not had a home-grown CHR station,” he said. “Actually, CHR is an industry term, contemporary hit radio. Listeners call it top-40. Only radio people talk about CHR.”

To mimic the contemporary stations which emphasize their Zs, the Qs or the Xs in their call letters, KVTI refers to itself as “I-91.”

Mangan said there was debate about whether it should be “I-90,” or “I-91,” since the frequency is 90.9 mHz. “But `I-91′ makes it clear it’s not a highway, and besides, I-90 isn’t a route to Tacoma.

“For years I’ve been telling broadcast students how competitive radio is, but we’d been trapped ourselves into a format that had little chance of audience success.

“We are not playing Whiffleball anymore,” Mangan said. “We might demonstrate some actual success.

“In our previous format, adult contemporary with educational features, we had a play list which included songs from Eric Carmen, Bruce Springsteen, Belinda Carlisle. From that list of 700 songs, only 30 survive in our present play list _ including the artists Tiffany, Rick Astley, Patrick Swayze.”

Students scour national trade publications, looking for hits.

And they are likely to introduce more new music than any other station.

— The station does not carry National Public Radio features nor does it qualify for Corporation for Public Broadcasting support. It is funded by the Clover Park School District with a few underwriting grants. It has made no listener appeals.

“We aren’t what you might call a traditional public station,” Mangan said. “We are not likely to have an affluent adult audience which can be cajoled into dropping a check in the mail.

“I don’t see how we can say `O.K., kids, send money.’ ”

TWISTING THE DIAL

— Marion Seymour debuts in the afternoon shift Monday on KING-AM, 1090 kHz. As she takes part of the midday duties, Jim Althoff’s time shuffles to 9-to-noon weekdays and Dr. Dean Edell, a syndicated show, moves to 7 p.m.

— In November, an all-star five-hour concert was produced and broadcast on some radio stations as a fund-raising event for World Hunger Year and Unicef. A two-hour version of that concert, including Crosby, Stills and Nash, will air at 6 p.m. today on KZOK, 102.5 mHz.

— “Same Time, Same Station,” syndicated weekly program of old-radio features at 11 p.m. Sunday on KING-AM, 1090, tonight looks at “the best of radio at its worst” with a program of slips, miscues and mistakes. These include Harry Von Zell’s introduction of “Hubert Heever,” Lowell Thomas in a giggling fit and Virginia Graham bellowing in laughter. The program intends to name a contemporary candidate for the Prodigal Tongue Award

Author: Victor Stredicke

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

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