THE END: After 25 years, he’s dialing “S” for sign-off

QZVX.COM is based on the Seattle Times radio column written by VICTOR STREDICKE. The RADIO DIAL ran from the mid-1960s, until August 27th, 1989, often twice during weekdays, with the big, newsy Sunday edition in the tv listings supplement of the newspaper.

Here is the FINAL column, from 1989…

VICTOR STREDICKE April 27, 1989 –

This is my last column; I’m leaving the “Radio Dial” beat after nearly 25 years, to start an independent publishing venture that I’ll probably have to buy an ad to tell you about, if it works out.

Clearly there’s not enough space here for all the goodbyes.

Over the years I met probably thousands of talented, energetic members of the radio community – no matter how short a time they stayed members of the community.

In all those years I encountered only three jerks. Only one remains in broadcasting.

But let’s tune in some happy memories before we say so long.

I still hanker for the weekday adventure series “I Love a Mystery.” And I remember when KXA (now KRPM-AM) played real country music like “Blood on the Saddle” and “Old Dog Tray.”

Luckily, there still is plenty of good listening left. Though we no longer march around the breakfast table with “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club,” there’s fun galore on contemporary radio’s “Breakfast Club,” “Breakfast Flakes” and “Breakfast Table.”

My professional tour of duty began about the time the last network-radio drama, “Gunsmoke,” left the air. I heard Arthur Godfrey’s swan song and “The New Monitor” (but not the old “Monitor”). Paul Harvey already was an ABC Radio Network legend.

Eventually there were new network sensations such as Larry King, Sally Jessy Raphael and Garrison Keillor.

I remember the old KVI. Country KVI. And the Golden Age KVI, with the most distinctive staff in town, known by single, still-recognizable names: Hardwick, French, Morton and Rubberdough.

Some sad stories I never told: The early-day KISW disc jockey who died at his microphone, and nobody called to complain. And the gregarious talk-show pioneer who died alone in his hotel room, undiscovered for two weeks.

I watched Dick Curtis, still KVI morning jock, hang up his rock-‘n’-roll shoes five times.

I remember a sense of validation when I could compare my longevity at the newspaper with Lan Roberts’ on KJR. He’d been at KJR for a long, long eight years, before he began bouncing to KOL (as an enigmatic program director), back to KJR, then to KISW (for one day!), and then to more exotic climes including Honolulu and Taiwan. But now Lan is back on KJR, on tape, 10 a.m. Saturday mornings.

I remember when you could walk into a radio station and talk to the guy who owned it, not some corporate vice president from Chicago. Back then, local owners included Fred Danz, Wally Nelskog, Pat O’Day, William E. Boeing Jr., Saul Hass, Kemper Freeman, Manning Slater, Les Smith, Jessica Longsden, Ed Garre. Plus those bizarre pioneers Elwood W. Lippincott, Courtlandt Clark and Lorenzo Milam. But I never met KOMO’s W.W. Warren or KING’s Dorothy Bullitt, because they’d already surrounded themselves with corporate boards.

I watched Pat O’Day rise and fall and rise and fall and rise and fall – and rise and win.

I’d like to have told you more about some real veterans in the industry, including Larry Nelson, 25 years at KOMO; Bill Yeend’s 17 years at KIRO; George Boucher’s 40 years, most of it in management at KBLE. But it’s too late now. And I missed entirely Bill Fanning’s uninterrupted 20 years at one station and Bob Engler’s total of 50 active years in broadcasting.

Who were my favorite local announcers? Two guys you may not even remember. Rudy Perez (“Juan Rudolpho,” usually, on KBLE-FM) and Jim McGavick, on KBVU, who used the same ad-lib lines through his entire career. Each had a pace, a style that made them stand out in my mind’s eye. Today’s tops are Gary Lockwood, Charlie Brown and Susan Stamberg. And I love to hear “the world’s greatest rock-‘n’-roll newsman,” Chet Rogers. And now I’m in trouble, because there are a dozen more favorites of today and I really don’t have room for them all.

I visited (the new) KISW when Al Cummings and Chris Lund, in headbands and beads, sat cross-legged on the floor to do a hippie morning show – after KISW’s 30 years as a subdued classical-music station.

And I remember KEUT, between KOL-FM and KMPS. And KTWR, before KBRD.

I salute Beau Phillips and Paul Sullivan, program directors at different stations, who once conspired to get me fired because I couldn’t tell the difference between KISW and KZAM.

I still love to hear old radio veterans tell tales of when “KOMO was the Red AND the Blue Network,” when KOL was in the basement of the Northern Life Tower, when Buck Ritchie broadcast from the top of the Camlin and when Frosty Fowler was on the Space Needle. It’s hard to wave goodbye on the radio. Looks like I should plan on attending the next meeting of the Northwest Broadcast Pioneers.
Up until now, Radio Dial by Victor Stredicke has appeared weekly in the Scene section.

Read previous columns by VICTOR STREDICKE…

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Author: Victor Stredicke

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

2 thoughts on “THE END: After 25 years, he’s dialing “S” for sign-off

  1. The build-up to this post left several readers anxious as to what was going on here at QZVX. I think they are relieved it was a timely tribute to Victor.

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