12/8/1988 – KOMO team keeps top commute audience for Larry Nelson

VICTOR STREDICKE – December 8, 1988 Publication – In a chess match, the king needs his bishops, rooks and pawns. Larry Nelson is king at KOMO radio, and he, too, has a staff dedicated to insure his survival. Nelson has been morning personality at KOMO since 1968 and is most likely the highest paid disc jockey in the city. He’s clearly the area’s most familiar morning voice going into his 20th year at the station.

Nelson’s tranquil delivery belies the dedication behind the microphone. Radio is a game KOMO doesn’t want to lose and Nelson clearly is KOMO’s strongest link to stability.

Through all the emphasis on youth, the station unashamedly targets people 35 and older – sometimes much older. Nelson has those listeners pegged. He can be nostalgic, solicitous and sickeningly sweet.

In one segment, “Lar’s Lookers,” Nelson asks listeners to help find odd objects – frequently some utensil like you used to find in grandma’s kitchen.

He loves to salute listener-nominated “good sons,” “super dads” and “wonder moms.” He parrots folksy bromides, reads goopy poetry. And he’s not above declaring in a series of TV commercials that KOMO has news, traffic reports, weather, music and “friendly people .

. . Like me.”

Nelson was KOMO program director himself, from 1970 to 1978.

But now he concentrates on the morning show, a segment from which KOMO gets full measure, running from 5:30 to 10 a.m.

Nelson draws from a variety of character voices and recorded bits by Peggy Platt, Eric McKaigh, Bill Swartz and others.

Lately, he’s been participating in a daily “debriefing,” post-show analysis. Michael Pettelli, program director, leads the discussion, which includes news and promotion people. Transactions during a recent meeting detail the dedication.

— Mary Kay Olson, new producer for the morning show, described a promotion. “This is a heavy espresso month,” she said.

“They want Larry to drink some on the air, maybe talk about unusual blends.” Nelson balanced her enthusiasm with a rhetorical question: “How many listeners have espresso machines at home?”

— Nelson detailed “the neatest letter” from a family in Stehekin, “We listen to KOMO every night and morning. We listen to traffic reports, as we look at our dead-end road . . .”

“I don’t even know where Stehekin is,” Nelson confessed. He quickly was counseled about the Chelan County resort area, along with a reminder. If he was to do anything with the letter it should be done before 8 a.m., because the signal changes then.

— An agency is suggesting an adopt-a-pet feature for the morning show. “Can I ask something, without everybody getting mad at me?” Nelson asked. “Why doesn’t Jim French do it anymore?” “Maybe his house is full of adopted kitties and dogs,” mused Stan Orchard, news director.

— Olson praised improvements in air work by the KOMO Road Rangers, three tow-truck drivers who rescue commuters. They are mechanics, asked to be radio personalities. One is particularly promising. Arlen is quoted as filing a report: “I’ll be at the scene in just a minute.”

“He’s the only guy we’ve got who can tease himself,” Nelson chuckled, belying nervous energy as he wraps a rubber band around his finger.

The daily meetings sort out the tender relationship between news and personality, particularly in the 7:30 and 8 o’clock half hours – the commuter traffic peak, where there is little time for Nelson’s voice.

Big sales package

Nick Lacey, salesman at KOMO, arranged the first sale of Husky football when broadcast rights return to KOMO next fall – the largest sale in history of KOMO Radio, “over $1 million” through five years.

One of the two Husky “major sponsorships” will be by Rainier Brewing Co.

Teaching will continue

Longtime radio preacher J. Vernon McGee died last Thursday at 84 after a long illness. His Bible-teaching radio program, “Through the Bible,” has been on the air for nearly 50 years. In a tape prepared to air after his death (and broadcast Tuesday on KBLE and KGNW), McGee said that he has several years’ worth of studies on tape, ensuring the program’s continuation. A memorial service is planned next month in California.

Twisting the dial

A special on John Lennon is on tap at 8 o’clock this evening on KZOK, 102.5 mHz. . . Karyl Levinson, KPLU reporter, has left to become a freelance National Public Radio reporter in the Northwest. . .

Delilah-Rene, KJR midday personality, reports she will be married Saturday . . . Dan Murphy, former KIXI-KLTX announcer, is new morning announcer at KSEA. The station says morning personality Jim Dai left broadcasting. .

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times (1964-1989). --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke
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4 thoughts on “12/8/1988 – KOMO team keeps top commute audience for Larry Nelson

  1. Norm Gregory’s old website had a couple of Larry Nelson airchecks. Archive.org saved one of them, from September 1990: https://tinyurl.com/3bz8b4ax. The spots for minivans and fax machines sum up the KOMO audience pretty well. And I can’t help but hear “W-L-S” when I hear the traffic sounder… it was from that station’s final jingle package before going all-talk.

    He also posted some videos to YouTube including this one that has a clip at the very end of Nelson behind the mic: https://youtu.be/G39ezt5bbgY.

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