1970’s Era KISM-FM

In doing some newspaper archive searches in the “Western Front” (student newspaper of Western Washington University), I found a couple interesting ads associated with KISM in Bellingham. KISM was originally the FM owned by radio innovator Rogan Jones, and it was sister station to KGMI-AM which, before becoming KGMI, was KVOS. The first clipping is from February 1972, right after KISM went with an oldies format. KISM was automated at that time and, in the early ’70s, most of the pop and rock oldies they played weren’t all that old!

Pat Rowe, 1977

A bit of history: KISM began as KGMI-FM in spring 1960. The KGMI call letters at the FM predated the now well-known KGMI-AM call letters. The AM went from KVOS to KGMI in summer 1961 (about a year after the FM had been founded) when Rogan Jones sold his Bellingham TV station KVOS. In fall 1961, KGMI-FM flipped to the call letters KVGM. Rogan Jones was the principal of International Good Music (IGM), a manufacturer of automation equipment and recorded programming. His call letters of choice in Bellingham reflected his business interests at IGM. KGMI translated to Good Music Incorporated and KVGM stood for Voice {of} Good Music. KVGM and its elevator music really never caught on so, in early 1972, as the Olde Golde format debuted on Stereo 93, the call letters were changed to KISM. Pat Rowe, a nice guy who knew everyone, became the manager of KISM in 1977. Prior to that he had been a radio station account executive. Later Pat ran an ad agency, worked at the chamber of commerce and was president of the Bellingham City Council.

There are no known airchecks of 1970’s era KISM. However, thanks to a tip from John Fortmeyer, who checks in at QZVX, we are able to provide an IGM demo recording that is characteristic of the ’70s sound of KISM and the Olde Golde format (less the local KISM jingles and liners).

Olde Golde Draper-Blore format (IGM), running time 11:21 

The final ad is from October 1978, right before Halloween. PD Mike Bettelli, in the photo, went on to KOMO in Seattle. And occasionally he pops in here at QZVX. Maybe someday he will fill us in on some more of KISM’s history.

Click on the names below to learn the history of these other popular Pacific NW broadcasters:

Danny Holiday (KPUG & KOL)
Gary “Taylor” Bruno (KPUG, KJR)
Dick Stark (KENY & KPUG) 
Kirk Wilde (KPUG)
Gary Shannon (KPUG &KJR)
Mike Forney (KPUG)
Jay Hamilton (KPUG & KBFW)
Bob O’Neil & Marc Taylor (KPUG)

John Christopher Kowsky (KPUG & KING)
Haines Faye & Rogan Jones (KVOS & KGMI)
Tom Haveman (KENY & KVOS)
Red Robinson (Vancouver B.C.)

Don Hedman (KJR & KAYO Seattle)
Pat O’Day (KJR & KYYX Seattle)


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Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with QZVX.COM in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions. View other articles by Steven Smith
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9 thoughts on “1970’s Era KISM-FM

    1. Chuck…that is confirmed.. I found an old Herald ad and under the KVGM logo it had Voice of Good Music. I know your dad was the manager…so you had good info. I was going to add some audio to this post and will update that too. Thanks!

  1. Steven, if you are able to find that KISM aircheck from the Olde Golde days and post it here, I’d love to hear it!

  2. But Jason, isn’t that what automated radio was all about — emphasizing the music and de-emphasizing the yak-yak? That was the philosophy behind the nationally popular Drake-Chenault “Hit Parade” and “Solid Gold” formats carried by KIRO-FM 100.7 and KFKF-FM 92.5 in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the TM Productions format carried by KOL-FM 94.1 in the mid-1970s and KNWR-FM 104.3 in Bellingham in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

    Examples of these and other automated formats can be found at

    1. John…you are correct…that is what they were playing. I recall all the old audio news clips mixed with the music. It is funny because back then some of the gold was only about 5 years old. Now the songs would be in their sixties. I will embed a copy of that aircheck into the post.

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