4 comments

  • Steven Smith

    I was with SRO then. Up in Bellingham we pretty much knew what was going on in Seattle. I remember when Fred Danz bought KTW and ventured into his first large market. I do not remember Oswalt. I met Bruce Johnson one time, he was officially the first top manager/director of the broadcast division. He was an impressive looking guy in a tailored suit from big market LA. As I recall, the main thing he did was bring in a group p.d. named Bo Donovan, recently deceased. I do not think Bruce lasted a year at SRO, Bo maybe a year. Managers of KZOK that I do remember were John Hayes, Norm Gregory and Gale Johnson. Other directors of SRO broadcast division, and there were not many, were (early on pre major market) Rod Louden, Jack Bankson (briefly doing the job but maybe not officially) and the guy who did it the longest and was very effective….Cliff Hunter. Cliff was a broker, too, and was very involved with SRO selling stations. I bought KBFW through Cliff and he was involved in many of the other sales of SRO stations over the years. At SRO theaters and radio, the fellow who was really the hatchet man was Jerry Vitus. When they sent him to town, I cannot think of one time where one or more high level employees were not sent walking. I met with him a few times, trying to figure how to keep KBFW running for a few weeks without a manager, since Jerry had unceremoniously sent the previous one unexpectedly out the door walking moments before. Vitus was tough, like second in charge behind Fred Danz, and you did not want a call that “Mr. Vitus will be driving to your town, so please plan to meet with him at 8am Monday.” If you got that call, start sending resumes and gird your loins….you were on the way out.

  • pugetsound

    I feel the Earth move!

  • Steven Smith

    I remember another Kzok manager. He was up in Bellingham for maybe six months and Sro moved him to Seattle. It was 1975, I remember him because I was getting married and he only wanted me to take a week for a honeymoon trip to L.A. and we were driving. I think he and I settled on ten days. His name was Bob Hensky and he came by way of Kansas City. His tenure in Seattle was not long. He was always scheming ways to personally make more money. When in Bham he gave me more engineering assignments that were related to his personal agenda than station business: One involved his shakey plan to train dogs with shock collars (wanted me to make the collars from high voltage electric cattle prods on Sro time) and the other had to do with his wanting to be able to monitor by amp and speaker, by phone line at his house, out of state radio stations so he could get game scores for lesser known college teams. The plan was to use this early score info from other states, not readily available on the west coast, to gain an advantage when betting on games. It never made sense to me, but I think he had the tele number for some station’s private monitor line and he planned to tap into that to follow a given team he would gamble on. This was all before the internet, so he could get inside info faster in those days by phone line. He was not in Seattle more than a year or two. I was told by friends at Kzok that he and Sro had a job terminating dispute over costly tradeout items that ended up being used personally….elaborate backyard dog runs for one. I suspect that termination was another job for Jerry Vitus. Fred Danz himself was not into personally firing people. I am sure he did so at times, but in Bellingham I saw 14 general managers come and go between 1974 and 1995. A high percentage of them were fired, but Fred was never around then. Every time Jerry Vitus handled the task.

  • pugetsound

    Sleaze bags in the radio industry. We have all known one or more.

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