Marty Riemer, late of KJR, hopes to talk himself into something new

Victor Stredicke – February 9, 1989 – If there is a yellow line on the floor at the unemployment office, you aren’t supposed to step over it. Marty Riemer probably would, just to see what would happen. Riemer quit his “pretty darn good” job at KJR last week, with no specific plans. A month ago he told Rick Scott, KJR program director, that he’d like to leave – or sign a really good contract. Obviously, they didn’t come to terms. But Riemer worked through the end of the month – one of the few times that a drive-time radio personality on his way out didn’t get yanked from the air instantly. Being a personality disc jockey demands self-confidence. He faces the microphone daily but seldom gets a grasp on who is listening, or what they like. The lanky Riemer considers himself a viable entertainer, but he has doubts – as do most other disc jockeys, especially around ratings time. And at every station, the afternoon jock plays second fiddle to the morning star. KJR’s big promotion this year is a (statistically improbable) million-dollar giveaway on Gary Lockwood’s morning shift. Riemer did get a nice push in the second year as a midday personality, a series of billboard ads from Ackerley Communications, the parent organization. But his big step up, to the afternoon shift, was tainted. KJR played Ross Shafer’s departure to Hollywood as an event, with a cheapskate promotion, “Who Will Replace Ross Shafer?” Well, as it turned out, eventually Marty did. But Riemer didn’t get billboards and he didn’t get Shafer’s big bucks. Further, the week after Riemer switched to the afternoon shift, KJR changed format – to solid gold, a nice-enough play on KJR’s hit-making history but imitative of several oldies formats already in the arena. Despite his previous radio experience – campus stations KGRG and KCMU and then KJET in its New Wave rock mode – KJR was a big step up for Riemer. The personable disc jockey began a whirlwind appearance schedule that included fairs and flea markets and visits back to his elementary school in Auburn. Later, as afternoon jock, he’d finish his air shift on basketball nights by zipping to the Coliseum (actually only a four-minute jog from KJR’s studios on Lower Queen Anne) for “Fans in the Stands” interviews. Riemer offered “Top 5 News Stories” each Friday afternoon, combining elements of stories you almost might have read, like compensating the families of victims of the Iranian jetliner crash through funds diverted from the proceeds of Oliver North’s lecture tour. Riemer’s simple solution to summer’s TV writers’ strike was to propose that the opening-season “Cosby Show” have the Huxtable family just sitting around watching TV. Riemer was the first to point out that Seahawks owner Ken Behring looks like Alfred Hitchcock. But at some days’ end, doubts arose. “I sometimes did feel like I was just `sitting in’ for Ross,” he confessed. Only a few listeners knew that Riemer was continuing his engineering studies at the UW. He’s only a quarter away from a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Even though he earned his first-class radio license at age 13, the electrical-engineering degree does not translate into a radio career. “I may end up wearing a white shirt and necktie in a corporate environment,” Riemer said. “I’m also writing a proposal to do a TV show of some kind.”

Trinity on radio

Trinity Broadcasting Co., spearheaded by the TV couple Paul and Jan Crouch, has purchased radio stations KGHO-AM-FM in Hoquiam. This is Trinity’s first radio acquisition. The stations carry the audio track of the Crouches’ TV program, “Praise the Lord,” as well as other Christian programs. In the state, Trinity operates Channel 20 in Tacoma and a low-power UHF TV station, Channel 23, in Aberdeen.

Twisting the dial

— Pre-Valentine’s Day, you can dial up songs with the common theme of love on “Folksounds,” with Marianne Bundren on KBCS, 91.3 mHz., beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday but concentrated in the 9 o’clock hour.

— “Romancin’ the Oldies,” at 6 p.m. Sunday on KOMO, 1000 khz., will feature a valentine’s show.

— Delilah-Rene, queen of audioland’s lonely hearts, has a five-hour show of valentine requests and dedications on “Lights Out,” beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday on KLSY-AM-FM, 1540 and 92.5.

— But the best gig, at least at this writing, is that of Norm Gregory, who will host Valentine’s Week broadcasts from Jamaica. Features on his afternoon commute-hour shows will focus on the tourist activities of couples from the Seattle area who accompanied Gregory on the junket.

— One hour each week, Pacifica Network focuses on details of Oliver North’s trial. In the noon hour each Monday, highlights, updates and commentary will be supplied on KCMU, 90.3 mHz.

Author: Victor Stredicke

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