At KTOY, We Played The Hits & Carried A Big Stick

Students at KTOY [the LH Bates Voc-Tech radio station] were encouraged to develop programming that might run on weekends or in the case of the Soul Sound of KTOY, carry the station through the summertime.

One such regular feature of KTOY, was the Variedas Latinas program each Sunday morning at 6 – this Spanish language music program was hosted by Mario Briones.

As this program began during my time at KTOY, I was introduced to Mario and remember him as being a very nice person, with a good sense of humor. I have one specific memory about Mario though.

I hung out at KTOY to get in extra time on the air. There was a particular snowy, winter evening where Tacoma was hit with many inches of snow and I was certain that the morning guy assigned to open the station would not be able to drive in to town. I decided to set my alarm for 3 am and hike downtown, about 6 miles from my house at the time, to open up the station. I had the front door key because I often opened and signed on.

I was correct in thinking that no one would be there at 6am. I arrived around 4:30, prepared the news copy, pulled some music to play and then at 5:40, I went up to the rooftop of Bates Vocational’s building at 11th & Yakima, with a large stick, and banged against a cable hanging off the tower — as I recall, this was to get any water, ice or snow off of or out of this cable. It seemed that sometimes, this condensation or moisture, prevented us from getting the station on the air. When we had problems firing up the station, going to the rooftop and hitting the cable with a stick got us back on the air. If there is a broadcast engineer out there that can explain this better, please tell us what this was all about.

Anyway, I digress. One Sunday morning, Mario called me and sounded quite alarmed. He was at the station and needed someone to come take over, because he had to get to the emergency room. I was unsure what the emergency was, but rushed downtown as quickly as possible.

When I arrived at the station, I saw that the window on the front door had been shattered. Upstairs, Mario was waiting, with a towel or shirt wrapped around his bleeding arm. He had gone out to his car to gather a few record albums, propping the door to the building open with a stick. The door began to close and Mario ran to grab the doorknob, instead, shoving his arm through the window.

Mario was as dedicated as they come, and did an outstanding job with his Sunday morning program. [Jason Remington]


 Radio listings from 1977 


In 1940, a technical education program was founded in the basement of Hawthorne Elementary School. During the 1941-42 school year, the program was officially named the Tacoma Vocational School. In 1944, LaVerne Hazen Bates (L. H. Bates) became the director of the school. In 1947, the school changed its name to the Tacoma Vocational-Technical Institute. After L. H. Bates retired in 1969, the Tacoma School Board changed the name of the school to the “L. H. Bates Vocational Technical Institute.” In 1991, the state separated the vocational technical institutes from the local school districts and they came under the auspices of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
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