9/22/88-10/06/88–Former KJET makes ‘Cool’ debut with history of the roots of rock; Summit meeting silences Freddy Mertz

VICTOR STREDICKE – September 22, 1988 – A new radio format will roll into town this weekend, after a raucus three-day dose of rock nostalgia. The weekend radio special,“The Roots of Rock and Roll,” will begin at 3 p.m. on KJET, 1590 kHz. Even before new owners take over the station, KJET will dump its alternative-rock format and take a new name. When FCC approval comes, the call letters will become KQUL, to be pronounced “cool.”

Adams Communications Corp., based in Clearwater, Fla., recently announced purchase of several Sterling Broadcasting stations, including KZOK and KJET. The sale is awaiting approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

Dan Holiday, host of KZOK’s weekend feature “Rock ‘n’ Roll Time Machine” and who is involved in planning KJET’s new format, said KJET’s syndicated “The Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” is the best audio history he has ever heard.

Each song or series of songs is followed by an information bite. Performers featured in the first evening of the special are quite diverse, including Robin Luke, Preston Epps, Wilson Picket, Eddie Cochran, the Eldorados and the Halos.

Bob Powers, station manager, said the “cool gold” format will be distinctive, with up to 80 per cent of the material not being played on other stations.

More rock history

The oft-repeated “History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” will begin at 6 p.m. Friday on KJR, 950 kHz., ending at midnight Sunday. The marathon feature ranges through such familiar artists as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Chicago and Elvis in one-hour increments, not necessarily in chronological order. The Nancy Keith, first hour tackles the ’50s, with selections by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Coasters.

Stereo for the auto

The Chrysler Corp. has announced that all Chrysler cars and trucks model year 1989 will feature AM-Stereo/FM-Stereo radios. Ford has a factory option AM stereo for Thunderbird, Bronco II and Cougar.

AM stereo has been available in General Motors cars and trucks.

Twisting the dial

— Nancy Keith has been named broadcast director of the Jack Straw Memorial Foundation station, KSER, planned for Everett. Keith, a former volunteer and program director at KRAB, and has served on the Jack Straw board for 15 years. She was on the faculty at Western Washington University.

— Ruth Fratt, 82, is retiring from radio after a career including 41 years as Katherine Wise on KOMO-Radio-TV. Bonnie Lauby, a dietician and gourmet cook with degrees in nutrition and science, will be the new Katherine Wise.

— A new syndicated talk show, the “Rush Limbaugh Show,” has begun on KING-AM, 1090 kHz., from 4-8 p.m. Saturday repeated 11 p.m. to 2 a.m, and 6 to 8 a.m. Sunday repeated 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

— Also added at KING-AM, is a Sunday-morning version of “Lawn and Garden,” with Scott Conner. Ed Hume’s version continues Saturday mornings. Weekend features eliminated include “Comedy Show, “Northwest Computing” and “Same Time, Same Station.”

— Seahawk safety Paul Moyer is sports director for KISW, 99.9 mhz. His comments are heard at 4:20 p.m. Monday and Friday.

— Murray Morgan begins a weekly theater review as a Thursday feature within “P.M. Tacoma,” today at 6 p.m. on KTAC, 850 kHz.

VICTOR STREDICKE -September 29, 1988 – Tom Bodett’s essays on National Public Radio have spun off more great adventures for him than it’s possible to shake a stick at.
The Michigan State University dropout has become a radio cult figure, has spun his radio essays into two books, and now has his own one-hour radio show from his home in Homer, Alaska. Bodett’s show is a folksy blend of drawled-out storytelling, dime-store wisdom and as many musicians and guests as you might expect to come through the town of Homer, population 2,200. Still developing themes, Bodett generally relates the news in Homer, the nation and the world at large. Hot news in Homer includes Sunday get-togethers at the garbage dump and early-morning moose sightings. His program, “End of the Road,” airs in Seattle at 8 p.m. Sundays on KEZX-AM-FM, 1150 kHz. and 98.9 mHz.

Bodett sounds Southern, but he grew up in Sturgis, Mich. – “the curtain-rod capital of the world,” as he calls it. He left Michigan State University to hit the road, with stops in San Francisco and Petersburg, a tiny fishing village in Southeastern Alaska. There he worked as a logger and deckhand until he had enough money to buy out a local contractor. In 1982 he married his high-school sweetheart and moved inland to Homer. It was there he wrote a humorous essay on quitting smoking – h e did it so often “it seemed more like a hobby.” It was printed in the Alaska Daily News; the local station asked him to write more essays, and read them on the radio. That led to being a regular contributor to “All Things Considered,” the nationwide afternoon news program from National Public Radio.

One of Bodett’s essays sparked a Dallas advertising agency to hire him to do radio commercials for Motel 6, a low-budget motel chain with an identity problem. Bodett’s closing line became “We’ll leave the light on for you.” The campaign boosted occupancy, and Bodett was signed to a four-year contract. But Bodett would rather be known as a serious writer. His radio essays have been amplified into two books, “As Far as You Can Go Without a Passport” and “Small Comforts.” Now Bodett is host of a weekly one-hour variety show from the most unlikely place in the world. His best friend, singer-songwriter Johnny B. (nee Bushell), is featured, as are occasional Alaska newsmakers and characters. Stay home Sunday night and listen; there are no Motel 6’s in Alaska.

Prairie goes to Nashville

The next Prairie Home Companion special, “A Prairie Home Folk Song Show,” will be broadcast on a one-day delay at 10 a.m. Nov. 26 on KUOW, 94.9 mHz. That’s the regular time for “Prairie Home Companion” repeats. The new 90-minute show will come from Vanderbilt University, in Nashville.

Twisting the dial

— Billboard magazine has named the new program director of KISW, Sky Daniels, Radio Music Director of the Year in the major-market/album category. The Sept. 17 award was for Daniels’ term as music director at KFOG, San Francisco, before he moved to KISW in July.

— KLSY’s Teddy Bear Patrol promotion is scheduled to end Oct. 13. The station is seeking donations of teddy bears or cash to buy them, for distribution to the 70 police departments in the Puget Sound area. The bears are used by officers when dealing with children involved in car accidents, neglect or abuse. Key Bank of Puget Sound and the Bon Marche are co-sponsors of the bear drive.

— Michael J. Purdy is the new program director and operations manager of KRKO, Everett. Purdy has worked at stations in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla and done some work at KZOK and KVI in Seattle.

— For every pass caught by Seahawk wide receiver Steve Largent in a regular-season game, KING-AM and Chrysler Plymouth of Bellevue are giving $200 to the Washington Special Olympics. Largent is a KING-AM contributor, doing sports commentary at 7:15 and 8:15 a.m. Mondays and Fridays on KING-AM, 1090 kHz.


VICTOR STREDICKE – October 6, 1988 – When off the air, Freddy Mertz uses a lot of slang for body parts and body functions. Some he uses on the air. Or used to, that is. The KING-AM talk-show host was fired Monday, after a series of confrontations with station management. Mertz shared a message he got from his program director during his three-week employment:

“Don’t promote Mike Dukakis.

“Don’t use the phrase, `George Bush’s criminal mind.’

“Don’t refer to the Jewish/PLO situation . . .”

Mertz waved the message vigorously, accompanied with words of outrage. “That’s me!” he said. “I believe in confrontational radio. I want to stir people up, to make them so mad they call in.” Despite dozens of listeners objecting, daily, to Mertz’s manner, he said he loves Seattle. “It’s a strange city. I got a letter – the guy threatened harm to me . . . and he signed his name and address. I should go see him. To talk him out of it.”

It’s really no surprise that Mertz found himself “suspended” last Friday and scheduled for a tripartite executive meeting on Monday. Mertz said the executives at the meeting were the program director, the station manager and King Broadcasting’s chief executive officer. “Isn’t there anything you can learn from the people in this room?” Mertz said he was asked.

He pointed to his manager and said, “I could learn how to do my own taxes.” Bob Gallucci, the manager who hired Mertz from Denver, said Mertz was dismissed because of irreconcilable differences.

“I didn’t come here to be tutored,” Mertz said. He has 14 years in broadcasting, starting in a small station in New York state. He was a disc jockey, always talking a lot, so he switched to talk radio only a year ago.


KJR will produce a “classic” reunion next week, assembling disc jockeys who used to work at the station up to 20 years ago. That will include the likes of Tom Murphy, Emperor Smith and Lan Roberts, along with Bobby Simon, Jerry Kay and Gary Taylor. These boss jocks of yesteryear will no doubt resurrect some of their better entertainment bits, along with the hits and news reports from 1968. The segment will run from 6 a.m.to 10 p.m. Tuesday on KJR, 950 kHz. “This event will be a review of the enormous significance of what KJR did for national radio in the `60s,” said Pat O’Day, previously a KJR program director and manager and now a weekend KJR disc jockey.


— Susan Stamberg, host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” will recreate moments from a Marx Brothers radio show, “Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel.” Transcripts of the “lost” radio show were discovered recently and will be published soon as a book. Actors who previously have played Groucho and Chico in regional theater and Broadway productions will recreate about 15 minutes of the old radio material. “Weekend Edition” airs from 8 to 10 a.m. Sunday on KPLU, 88.5 mHz, and from 6 to 10 a.m. on KUOW, 94.9 mHz

Author: Victor Stredicke

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

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