John Thomas adds pizazz to KLSY’s Wakeup team

VICTOR STREDICKE / January 12, 1989 – Have you heard Frank Sinatra croaking his way through songs from the 1989 hit list? Not the smooth, sexy Sinatra, but a garbled, muttering Sinatra.
The creaky crooner is John Thomas, new co-host with Bruce Murdock of KLSY’s “Breakfast Club,” 6-10 a.m. weekdays on KLSY-AM-FM, 1540 and 92.5 mHz.
Song parodies and celebrity impersonations are among Thomas’ talents. He’s worked as a production aide for Lohman & Barkley, Los Angeles comedy duo, and for the scandalous Howard Stern, back in his D.C. days.
Thomas has been a morning-show host, in Oklahoma, but he feels more comfortable as a sidekick or production man.
Thus, Seattle has another funny-guy morning team. Morning team is too generic, so we have “The Breakfast Club.” The folks at KLSY woke up one morning, determined to resolve a dip in the ratings.
At the risk of giving Thomas a straight line, a dip in the morning usually means you loose listeners all day. Mornings traditionally draw the largest number of listeners because almost everyone gets up.
During the day, music stations can compete by calculating “9 in a row,” “12 in a row,” even “14 in a row.” But you can’t win with music in the morning, says Chris Mays, KLSY program director. She claims morning listeners want entertainment and information ahead of the music.
There are great demands on a morning host. Murdock, as host of “Murdock in the Morning” for five years, has been doing yeoman work, blending news, sports, bridge reports.
But it’s too much to ask him to be a stand-up comic. So Mays began a secretive search for a co-host, someone to add spice and comedy to the segment. She advertised for funny guys, using a box number in Los Angeles so nobody would know what she was up to. She made furtive phone calls to radio headhunters – people who get commissions for placing jocks in jobs. She said she listened to 200 tapes, narrowed applicants to 10, then flew them to Seattle.
“I’ll meet your plane at Sea-Tac,” she promised, but to reinforce the seriousness of her mission, added, “I’ll be the woman with the Arbitron in her hand.”
Mays said research had determined that Murdock was a quiet, fuzzy conservative person – a Republican, if you will. It was predestined that KLSY wanted a raucous liberal – a Democrat, even, as his foil.
Over a series of tense dinner meetings, program director and station manager attacked applicants who had the funniest air checks – “Who you going to vote for . . . . and why?” And those who lapsed into Dan Quayle jokes were made to justify them.
“It was like being interrogated by a South American dictator,” Thomas recalled.
With some skills honed in improvisation studies and as a traffic reporter, Thomas stood out. With his talents in multi-track production and celebrity impersonations, he’s the person to help wipe the sleep from KLSY listeners’ eyes.

No time for comedy

John Candy, the movie star and “SCTV” comic, has begun a provocative-sounding syndicated radio program. The two-hour music and comedy feature, “Radio Kandi,” however, has not been placed on a Seattle station.
Comedy features are difficult to place. Seattle also does not hear “Dr. Demento,” “The Comedy Show” or dozens of other nationally syndicated features. (Why, we don’t even get the radio-version of the TV quiz show “Jeopardy,” which is supposed to be available.) This does, however, give us time to plug three comedy features that do come to mind: “Duck’s Breath Homemade Comedy,” at 10:30 p.m. Mondays on KUOW; “Le Show,” with Harry Shearer, at 11:30 p.m. Sundays on KPLU, and the local disaster, “Music With Moskowitz,” at 8 p.m. Sundays on KRPM-AM-FM, 770 and 106.1 mHz.

Holiday features

Martin Luther King Jr. features will be heard on KUOW, KRIZ and KKFX.

— KKFX, 1250 kHz., will offer a four-hour program of gospel music and King speeches beginning 5 a.m. Sunday.

— KUOW, 94.9 mHz., will delay a morning multi-site concert, “King, A Global Celebration,” to 7 p.m. Sunday. The concert originates in Boston, Los Angeles, and Bloomington, Ind.

— KRIZ, 1420 kHz, will present “King, From Atlanta to the Mountaintop,” including King speeches and comments by Coretta Scott King and Dr. Ralph Abernathy, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, repeated at noon Monday.

`Talkback’ moves

“Talkback,” a national talk show focusing on fundamentalist-Christian issues, has moved again, to get a live time slot on KGNW, 820 kHz, at noon weekdays. The program previously aired on KGNW, KCIS and KBLE.

Twisting the dial

Jackson Del Weaver has been removed as general manager of KJR, with Bob Hogan, sales manager, acting as interim station manager . . .

Delilah-Rene left the midday shift at KJR, apparently uncomfortable swimming in a sea of Solid Gold . . . Ed Dunaway, familiar on both KMPS and KRPM, has resigned at KRPM. Dunaway indicated he was is leaving the broadcast business “for a while, at least,” he said. . . . (Gary) Ryan & (Bobby) Ryan, former KRPM personalties, are scheduled to begin a weekend shift at KMPS-AM-FM, 1300 and 94.1. They’ll feature topical humor, funny voices and country 12-in-a-row from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday . . . . Come Monday, just as she comes back from vacation, Jennifer Woods adds duties as The Afternoon Traffic Instructor (commuter traffic reports) on Paul Fredericks’ show, from 3 to 6 p.m., and continues her nighttime shift, from 7 p.m. to midnight on KMPS-AM-FM . . . Bill Larson has scheduled a telephone guest, Gen. William Westmoreland, on his local talk show “Talkline,” at 4 p.m. Monday on KGNW, 820 kHz. . . . Spirit Ridge, a local group singing original and traditional folk music, appears on Monday’s edition of the new “Lunch With Folks,” at noon on KBCS, 91.3 mHz. . . . Rob Conrad, former KMGI and KLTX announcer, can be heard on portions of the syndicated “Format 41” radio feature, used at radio stations in Pasco and Tacoma . . . Maureen Matthews, former KHIT-KNUA announcer and program director, is announcer and program director on Transtar’s syndicated music service, “Niche 29,” not heard in the state.

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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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