Ronald DeHart Audio: Lan Roberts Showcase
Lan Roberts was a phenomenal trailblazer in Seattle’s AM radio heyday of the ’60s and ’70’s. He had the voices, humor and promotional antics that every PD was after. For many, his voice was synonymous with KJR, where he worked two gigs totaling about 10 years. But he also logged two stints at KOL (the station which actually brought him to Seattle in 1961). His on-again, off-again relationship with Pat O’Day also found him on the air at Hawaii’s KORL before his later on-air years in Taiwan and California. He returned and retired to his home state of Texas, where died at age 69 in 2005 of complications from lung cancer. But his broadcast legacy is profound, as measured by the volume of info and recycled aircheck fragments found all over the internet.
With this and other audio presented here, it’s the hope and intention of this writer/editor to provide context rather than the single, ultimate, all-encompassing sound bite — whatever that is. So, the attached clips are a composite of the body of work Roberts contributed to the airwaves.
— The KJR years (early ’62 to mid ’69), with Phil Dirt, the Hollywood Reporter, a ’62 Name-it-and-Claim-it intro and Lan’s Old Maid Game (with a loaded question from Dick Curtis)
— Over to KOL (late ’69 through May ’71) where (following a legal battle with KJR) Lan takes an on-air poke at Pat O’Day, a Robin Mitchell Snow Bust promo of Lan’s parachuting skills, Mr. Science and Jimmy, and Lan’s famous Jimmy Stalwart grape stomp with another great voice man, Terry McManus
— Back to KJR/KISW (May ’71 to May ’74) and a ’71 50th anniversary snippet, followed by a ’77 cameo stint on O’Day’s KYYX (at the time Roberts was working at O’Day’s KORL), and finally another brief ’88 KJR encore to help the station’s 1968 class reunion promotion (when Roberts was morning man on ICRT in Taiwan)
KOL Christmas Day ski report
Robert O. Smith, in various voices, with the ski report, Terry McManus intro, a Rainier Beer commercial, Lan Roberts as Mr. Science & Jimmy, wishes everyone a Merry Christmas… all in (3:47).
KOL Snow Bust
Lan Roberts parachutes into the ski area. Hopefully, he doesn’t run into any UFOs on the way down… Robert O.Smith is on the air intro’ing Elvis, as only he can. Robin Mitchell voices the Snow Bust promo. (:52)
Bobby Simon Showcase
What do Robert Theodore Simon and country music legend Buck Owens have in common? Both were at Puyallup’s KAYE in 1958. Since those early days, a lot’s been said on several blogs/web sites about Bobby’s swinging door fortunes (or skills) in recycling some of the more than a dozen radio stations in his 30+ years in radio. But in all cases, he brought some of the most mellow, conversational skills to the airwaves. It would be great to feature multiple sound bites from Simon’s many career stops, which went to Pasco, Spokane, Seattle, Eugene, Portland, Indianapolis and back to Seattle-Tacoma.
— Ron DeHart
Robin Mitchell KOL 1968
Robin Mitchell – Audio Tracks: Now & Then
Here’s an audio update of one of Seattle’s most remembered DJs. Robin Mitchell has logged over 50 years either on-air or in radio consulting. And — as of January 2015 — he’s still DJing. Thanks to live streaming off the internet, here’s Robin (on Jan. 6, 2015) describing the snowy, winter conditions during his afternoon shift on KGEZ in Kalispel, Montana, where he’s been the past three years. The station’s playin’ the oldies and, perhaps more than coincidentally, is programming a “Twenty-Twenty” news format. Sound familiar? So why not (47 years later) enjoy another ’60s Robin Mitchell aircheck? An early 1968 clip from KOL is included. Robin’s tight on-air board performance was truly among the best. The two airchecks run about 4:30.
— Ron DeHart
“Space-Age Radio” KOL Challenges KJR – 1965-66
It was May of 1965 — when American music charts were overrun by the British invasion — and
Kolorful KOL jumped headlong into the rock radio wars. With new Program Director Buzz Barr leading the way, KOL had an eye toward knocking off kingpin KJR. It was the real beginning of a fierce head-to-head battle of two Seattle broadcasting greats which went on for 10 years.
Here’s a composite audio of KOL’s summer and fall on-air talents starting with J.J. “Mighty Mouth” Valley and continuing with British import Tommy Vance. Along the way, various spot and promotion snippets by Buzz Barr and Rhett Hamilton Walker I and a newscast gem by Ray Hutchinson. KOL was doing a big Suzuki giveaway promotion, and romping all over the term “hullabalooers” in efforts to make hay on a hit teen TV show. Local band sensation The Dynamics with Jimmy Hanna are included with a quick segment of their Parker’s Ballroom/Seafair Bolo Records hit “Leaving Here.” And KOL’s summer jock lineup — called the “Magnificent Seven” — is also identified, just before a rare clip of Dex Allen, who came on board in September. At 2:56 there’s a radio dial change to KJR, and a composite montage of what KJR sounded like, first in ’65 and then ’66. Lan Roberts, Dick Curtis, Larry Lujack, Pat O’Day, Chuck Bolland and Jerry Kaye are all included. Five–almost six–of the 12 heard here worked for both KOL and KJR at one time or another (Barr, Valley, Roberts, Curtis and Kaye.) Vance reportedly agreed to leave KOL for KJR, but instead sprinted off to KHJ in Los Angeles in late summer of ’65, despite legal efforts by KOL to prevent him from going. This is a great memory-jogging flashback with a total running time of about 5:49.KOL Challenges KJR 1965-66
Dex Allen – Flying high during his KOL days, ’65 & ’66
By the end of ’65 KOL continued trailing KJR’s larger listener numbers, but was quickly mounting another attempt to take the lead. After hiring Dave McCormick from Fresno, CA in December, Barr left KOL (for KISN, Portland) in early ’66, but returned six months later before moving over to KJR in the spring of ’67.
Dave McCormick – 1966
McCormick programmed KOL for 11 or 12 months with a fake-Drake flavor that seemed to strengthen the station’s competitive position. The on-air crew with McCormick in ’66: Barr, Rhett Walker, Les Beigel, Danny Holiday, Dex Allen, Dick Burch, Bob Watson, Jim Martin and news guys Bill Munson, Don Hughes and Logan Stewart (Ray Hutchinson moved on to California.) In the spring of ’67 McCormick went back to California before later returning to his Canadian roots and radio jobs in the Vancouver, B.C. area.
As this two-station battle was heating up, there were more changes to come. The listeners were in for a sustained treat as the KOL-KJR battle was in full force.
— Ron DeHart
**I was not familiar with Burch and Watson, so Ron Dehart filled in the missing info [below] -Jason
Burch and Watson were 2 guys Dave McCormick knew in Calif. Burch originally had the 9-noon, then 6-9 a.m. KOL slots (opposite Lee Perkins and Lan Roberts over at KJR) and Watson worked nights, I think after Dex Allen in the 9 to midnight. Guess that would have been opposite Lujack or Jerry Kaye at KJR. Burch and Watson left KOL not long after McCormick in ’67.
KOL’s Last Run To The Top – 1969 to 1972
After chasing KJR through most of the ’60s, KOL re-fired its engines for what may have been a last gasp rally. From ’69 through part of ’72 KOL had solid leadership, outstanding jocks (some of the best voice master personalities in town) and Seattle’s first FM operation. Here’s a composite of chronological airchecks which collectively reflect KOL’s sound. Total time 5:40.
1970 – Don Clark, Sept. 2. Jingle theme: “The Golden 1300″/McManus ID, Joe Fiala News. Then Don Clark again, Dec. 25. The top 100 songs of the year, a Coca Cola spot from evening jock Paxton Mills, George Garret news, a McManus voicer for the hit movie “Love Story,” and a Ken Matler 1970 retrospect segment.
1971 – Lan Roberts, Jan. 22, with his Terry McManus sidekick Jimmy Stalwart and another thunder throat news guy, Jim Bach. Feb. 22. Off-air PD Robin Mitchell filling in and introducing new “Where Your Friends Are” jingle package.
Robert O. Smith, July 12, afternoon drive show, and a women’s lib award.
Some believe KOL peaked in ’71 (when the FM went 24-hours) and recaptured, maybe exceeded, its magic of the mid-’60s. What do you think?
— Ron DeHart
Buckley Broadcasting took over KOL in ’67. Soon gone was the “fake-Drake”
that dominated much of KOL’s ’60s sound. New program director Dick Curtis left KJR (after nearly six years there) in late ’67. He launched KOL-FM’s progressive rock in June ’68, became KOL general manager in Jan. ’69 and hired morning star Lan Roberts away from KJR in May, ’69. Roberts was KOL’s off-air program director (due to a non-compete contract at KJR) and became KOL morning drive jock in early Oct. ’69. Popular KOL talent Robin Mitchell, who left the station in Aug. ’69, replaced Roberts as off-air PD when Curtis brought Mitchell back to the station in April, ’70. The Curtis-Mitchell team led KOL through one of its most successful periods until both were fired in the summer of ’72. Before that, further proof of KOL’s efforts to air big-name personalities was the hiring of another long-time KJR favorite, Tom Murphy, in fall of ’71 after Murphy’s brief stint at KRLA in Los Angeles. When Curtis and Mitchell left, Murphy became PD a short while, leaving later in ’72. Things unraveled after that. The station’s FM dropped independent programming in late Sept. ’73, and within a few weeks nearly everyone was fired and KOL went soft rock, abandoning eight consecutive years of Top-40 (after a similar six-year rock music run from ’57 to ’63). KOL never quite surpassed KJR’s high listener ratings, partly because of technical/signal issues. Buckley sold KOL to Hercules Broadcasting (in ’75) which converted the FM to automated beautiful music and retired the 46-year KOL call sign to make way for KMPS.
KOL On-Air Roll Call (’69-’72) –
Robin Mitchell, Dick Curtis, Burl Barer, Bobby Simon, Robert O. Smith, Lan Roberts,Terry McManus, Don Clark, Paxton Mills, Don Burns, Greg Connors, Chris Hill, Bill Ford, Tom Murphy, Gary Crow, Jack Morton, Don Wade, Johnny Novak, Robin Sherwood, Patrick McDonald, Bud Moegling, Max Anne, Bruce Bowles, Paul Gregg, Mee Shore
News Roll Call (’69-’72) –
Bill Munson,Bill Taylor,Don Chambers,George Garret, Gary West, Ken Matler, Joe Fiala, Jim Bach
KOL hangs it up! – 1975
Here’s KOL’s last day on the air — Aug. 31, 1975 — Just before 1300 became KMPS country. The jocks are Mike O’Conner, Roger Dale and Lee Chase. You’ll hear Burl Barer and Bobby Simon on the telephone talking about KOL past, and — WOW! — while the body’s still warm, both KING and KJR are blatantly bidding for KOL’s soon-to-be-abandoned listeners. There’s also an audio jockshot sweep of some former KOL greats, including a Terry McManus station ID, and a rollcall of nine unforgetable KOL news voices. Composite clip runs about 5:15.
Ron DeHart’s Voice Masters Audio — Robert O, Terry McManus, Lan Roberts
Here are three Puget Sound radio voice masters who were the real deal. From the late ’60s and early ’70s — a composite of samples of Robert O. Smith, Terry McManus and Lan Roberts. Many jocks attempted character voice impressions, but few were as good. Heard first is Smith from his KOL days in ’70 and ’71. Some called him the man of a thousand voices. Second is Terry McManus, also from KOL, the much-in-demand production director, with those golden pipes we all coveted. His first track here is a Moody Blues spot from late ’69, followed by station ID’s/promos, some commercial voice overs, and his nearly world famous Jimmy Stalwart character paired with Lan Roberts from late ’69 through mid ’71. The third voice master is Roberts, who with his regulars the Hollywood Reporter and Phil Dirt, brought fame to Jimmy and Mr. Science with McManus’ Stalwart during KOL morning drive. Most of Roberts’ voices got their famed start at KJR several years earlier.
Total audio run time is about 5:15.
In a later audio offering, I’ll present a full KOL montage from the early ’70s in which the three voice masters were instrumental in one of that station’s more successful periods.
Terry McManus Universal Voice Magician
He was the voice of Officer Lee Groinman, Seattle’s toughest cop. And he got a lot of air time portraying that fictitious character, mostly wherever Robyn Erickson and John Maynard were broadcasting across the Seattle radio dial. And although he guarded his non-cop identity, the rich vocal tones and creative wit of Terry McManus came through loud and clear. He did some of Puget Sound’s best character impressions. The list of those has been previously noted here and elsewhere.
McManus was more than just a ballsy, golden-throated voice-over artist. His voice imaging work went regional and national. But he remained involved in behind-the scenes Seattle-area radio (and some TV) longer than most folks knew, starting, most likely, at Bellevue’s KFKF, moving on to KOL, then later to KZOK, KYYX, KXRX and at 100.7 The Buzz.
It seems a fitting honor that the most vivid memories of Terry McManus are segments of the thousands of hours he spent in a production studio. It’s impossible to share even short flashes of all of them. But here are a few samples, starting with his late ‘80s-early ‘90s KXRX days, and working back to KOL in the late ‘60s-early ‘70s. It was at KOL(where he teamed up with Lan Roberts) that Terry’s famous Jimmy (Stewart) Stalwart became famous. You’ll hear Stalwart at the end of this > 4:38 composite audio.
McManus, KOL promotion 1969
Some forget that McManus also held down a regular board shift at KOL when the station was under the guidance of Dick Curtis and Robin Mitchell in 1970-’72. His Jimmy Stalwart character was so hot at that time that McManus often carried the voice through his full shift. (“KOL’s Last Run for the Top, 1969-’72”)
Come On In, It’s Showtime
From around 1962, one of my favorite KOL jingles.
Mr. Music Man
1300 KOL jingles & beds
Here is a batch of KOL Jingles and some music beds from KOL….probable time period early to mid 60’s. I know most of them were copied directly from reel to reel tapes to a second machine. I was using their patch panel. but sadly their on air signal leaked into the patch bay. The overall quality is very nice, with a tad bit of RF leakage. It was done in the KOL production room, but after 50+ years my recollection is a bit hazy. Some of them I have never heard before and I don’t know if KOL used any of the music beds. It was no doubt a weekend evening. Gene Collins (Hostetter) was on the air at the time. Perhaps these will jog the memories of some of the PugetSound.Media followers.
KOL Ray Hutchinson 1962
1300 KOL Jingles
Johnny Forrest – KOL 1962
Bobby Simon – KOL
Bobby Simon interview Paul Rybock at KNHC FM
Burl Barer – KOL
Listening to KOL was hip! KOL was IN with the IN Crowd!!
Battle of the Bands/All-City Dance
Lan Roberts – Mr Science & Jimmy – Astrology – Lan takes phone call on-air about earthquake