Bob Hardwick format change – 1984
For those disgruntled with today’s commercial radio, here’s typically outspoken Bob Hardwick talking to his loyal KVI listeners about the station’s format changes in an audio clip 30 years ago. Hardwick logged 21 straight years with the station (1959-1980), but left in a huff at least twice for various stints at KAYO, KTAC and KIXI before walking away from the mic for good at KING 1090 in 1992. He was an artisan of casual, humorous, easy listening adult radio before political yak came into vogue. And he shocked us all with his suicide in June of ’92 (a couple of months after leaving KING). There’ll probably never be anyone like him.
New KVI 1984 – Bringing Back the Oldies
There’s a number of Seattle radio history fans who think of KVI’s mid-’80s transition as the “after Hardwick” era. True. When most of the station’s golden age crew (Hardwick, Jack Morton and others) left in July of ’84, what followed became one of Puget Sound’s greatest oldies radio sounds. The New KVI quickly made its mark through the efforts of Mike Webb, Ron Erak, Tom Huytler, production whiz Jay Green and others. And there were more familiar names sharing in the fame of this significant piece of KVI history. Folks like Heidi May, Humble Harve, Sky Walker, Dick Curtis, Paul Walker and Paul Thompson, to name but a few. It lasted until 1990 when KVI made its first of two leaps into the world of conservative talk radio. You’ll hear none of that in this posting. But you might enjoy this composite aircheck reflecting how AM 570 helped a lot of listeners remember how great it was to have the oldie hits back since the demise of the old KJR and KOL. The aircheck runs about 4:30
— Ron DeHart
Will the Real KVI Please Stand Up ?
Seattle’s KVI is like many long-lived 3-letter call AMs. A rich history in which its lows heavily detracted from its glory years. The golden age (and high ratings) of KVI was an adult contemporary mainstay which came well BEFORE Oldies KVI or Conservative Talk KVI. True, it was a simpler time and there were fewer competitive distractions in the ’60s and ’70s. But how can we forget the on-air lineup that included Bob Hardwick, Jack Morton, Dave Clarke, Ray Court, Don Fuhrmann, Buddy Webber, Johnny Carver, Lou Gillette, Bill Goff, Jack Spencer, Bill Schonely, Bob Robertson — to name a few. The era referred to here started in 1959 when Gene Autry and Golden West put KVI on the radio map. It pretty much ended when the station’s ratings tumbled in the early ’80s.
Here’s an audio compilation, a bit of KVI’s golden age in a composite which runs 5:41.
It starts with Hardwick sometime in the early ’70s doing his always-chatty morning drive show of limited music, lots of newsy info and ad-libbed commercials. Then there’s a rare but short clip of Robert O. Smith during his overnight schtick in ’77. Long-time afternoon drive host Jack Morton follows in another ’77 clip, complete with a Bob Robertson sports introduction and Tam Henry news. Then Jack Allen introduces an episode of KVI’s long-running Theater of the Mind, followed by a Bill Taylor newscast. You’ll hear a rare money-game promo from ’83 with a round of jockshots of the on-air crew at that time. And, closing out the aircheck, from July of ’84, Bob Hardwick again, this time including a Gregg Hersholt newscast, a Midas commercial with a Peter Boam voice tag, portions of a Ray McMackin sportscast and a Cliff Murphy KVI-in-the-sky report. Hardwick’s less-than-happy closing comments [you can hear more at “Bob Hardwick — KVI Format Change 1984”]– just a few days before the station changed to oldies hits — gave listeners little clue what he would do when the programming change kicked in.
(As it turned out, Hardwick left KVI — for the second and last time — and was off the air for 22 months, returning to morning drive on KIXI in late May of ’86. He later again left the airwaves for a time before his final radio job at KING, which ended with his suicide in June, ’92)
KVI’s two-decade golden age happened while many were watching — and listening — to the rock radio wars led mostly by KJR and KOL. While the younger set danced to Chubby Checker, the Beatles and the changing shades of psychedelia, their parents were faithful to the adult-oriented consistency (and news coverage) that KVI provided. With strong ratings bolstering management, KVI enjoyed envied longevity with its core on-air staff: Hardwick 23+ years, Morton 20 years, Fuhrmann 15, Jack Spencer 12, Dave Clarke 11, Bob Robertson 11, Lou Gillette 9 and Ray Court 7. It wasn’t that these and other talented KVI personalities lost their touch over the years, but rather that changing times pulled listeners in other directions. FM radio was storming the market by the early ’80s, the computer age was a growing reality and radio as a major news source was taking a back seat to a growing legion of airwave-transmitted and cable news channels. In listening to these old air clips today, some may say the sound of KVI and other ACRs of that time was boring or corny. But the product was professionally done …. and people listened. What else is there to say? Thank you, KVI, for that golden age.
— Ron DeHart
Michael Kenyon – Outrageous & More
He was a flamboyant but sometimes haphazard man of multiple careers. Those who knew J. Michael Kenyon in his writing and broadcasting days will tell you his unconventionality was what set him apart from his contemporaries. I knew and worked with JMK before he was JMK. The man was highly talented and ultra passionate for sports, about which he was a trivia fanatic. But he could be (and often was) a walking headache for his newspaper editors and radio producers. He wanted to do things his own way, via creative devises that allowed his oft-times nonsensical view of sports. Although known to many as radio talk show host and sports columnist J. Michael Kenyon, he was born and active as a print journalist named Mike Glover. Not long after leaving Seattle’s Roosevelt High, Glover was in Yakima in the mid-1960s working as a sports writer for the Yakima Herald-Republic. I worked along side him, for sports editor Paul George, while I was a community college student. Transferring to the Univ. of Wash. in early ’66, I took a similar part time job at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports department where I again worked briefly with Mike Glover, his first of four stints under the P-I globe by 1980. Glover quickly worked his way into the beat reporter slot covering the new Seattle Supersonics in late ’67. But in ’69, while covering the team in Baltimore, Glover’s life changed. As the story goes, he fell under the spell of a cocktail lounge acquaintance (at a place called the Bear’s Den Bar), agreed to quit his P-I job, change his name and marry her. P-I sketch artist Bob McCausland captured Glover’s fateful bar encounter and the ‘paper added a caption calling Glover the P-I’s rookie Sonics reporter. He married the woman (his first of five marriages), changed his name and took a job at the Baltimore Evening Sun. But he was soon back to Puget Sound and returned to the P-I where by ’77 he was beat writer for the Seattle Mariners. It was in 1980 that J. Michael Kenyon moved over to broadcasting, becoming one of Seattle’s first sports radio talk show hosts at KVI.
(Some audio from Shanaman Sports Museum of Tacoma.)
Kenyon’s string of sports commentary/on-air stints included KVI, KAYO, KING, KJR, KYYX, KCPQ-TV, KTZZ-TV and finally KLAY, his last gig in ’90-’92. His newspapering tracks can be found mostly at the P-I and Tacoma News Tribune. He’d also been a TV columnist, desk editor and, when in California, even a managing editor, among the several employments that saw him hired then fired over the years. (He’d also quit several broadcast jobs — while on the air.) He’s been a boxer and a combination promoter/pitch man/author for professional soccer, poker tournaments, drag racing, unlimited hydroplane racing, and pro wrestling — the last of which he’s considered a leading archivist and historian. It’s believed he wrapped up his career in New York when one of the new sports web sites was going online. At this writing he’s retired and living in Port Orford, Oregon.
There aren’t many in the Pacific Northwest who emblazoned a signature style quite the way of Mike Glover/J. Michael Kenyon.
— Ron DeHart
Greg Aust Meltdown
STEVEN SMITH writes:
I met Greg in 1973 when he was a new hire at KVI and I was new at the KIXI newsroom. We met in the elevator at the Towers Bldg, KIXI studio on 9th floor. A young guy introduced himself in the elevator, seeing that I was going to the upper KIXI floor. He said I had a deep KIXI voice and he was Greg Aust….new at KVI and he was in the elevator because he lived in that same building.
I started listening to his mid-day show and loved it. Later, when I was with SRO, I spoke with the former KVI GM, Jack Banksen. Jack said Aust was unpredictable, one day he announced he was doing his show naked and a quick peak proved that to be true. One year he got a great book and demanded a raise. Greg got the raise but, next time his numbers were down and he came in the manager’s office and resigned.
I do not know of any Aust KVI airchecks, but his voice is available as Austin in Boston and Chuck McKay at CKLW. A search online will turn those up. The McKay tape is infamous as weird, so if you have not heard it, then check it out.
****Jason – I’ve attached an aircheck of Greg Aust from September, 1973 on KVI. In it he spoofs KJR’s cash call contest.
Thanks so much for your site! -Sam Lawson
Bill Taylor with KVI News – 1978
Other broadcasters I knew, on air at KIXI at that time, included Bob Liddle, Ken Stuart, Rudy Perez and Steve Schilling. Wally Nelskog, the owner of KIXI, came by often as well.
Jack Morton – KIXI
KVI ‘Sound of the City’ KJR ‘Sound Citizen’-Jet City Song