Steve Smith Archive: Les Cole

Jason,

Ken Bertrand worked at KGMI in Bellingham. I believe he was the news director, not sure on that but one of their main newsmen. I do not have a photo of him, but you could probably copy the one at facebook. Again, this is March 1972. I worked for him for awhile at KBFW in Bellingham, after his KGMI days. I think he ended up in communications at the state legislature and retired from that. He is in the Seattle area.

Ken Bertrand mp3

As a young tradesman, Les Cole had been a stained glass artisan in Seattle-Tacoma. He fell from a ladder, probably working on a window at a church, and shattered his hip. A career change was essential. I think it was in the 1960’s, he went into broadcasting. He worked at KTNT, KMO and KOMO. In 1970 he arrived in Bellingham as program director of KOQT, a station coming back on the air after bankruptcy. That lasted a short time and then he resigned. Not long afterwards, he became news director at KBRC, an established 5kw station, in Mt Vernon’s Skagit Valley. This 1972 newscast, slightly scoped, is a great example of the way a well-crafted newscast could integrally tie a radio station to its community. Cole worked at KBRC for a few years, then he became an announcer at KVOS TV in Bellingham. He was at KVOS until he retired and Les passed away several years ago.

The photo was taken in 1998. That is me to the right, sitting with Les, who had become a personal and family friend, at my father’s 100th birthday.

Les Cole-KBRC mp3

Talk of the Town – 1930s [Part 1]

April 1939—Disaster Coverage – When the huge Boeing Stratoliner crashed some twenty miles south of Tacoma in March, killing its 10 passengers, KVI, Tacoma, was quick to act. Realizing the anxiety with which Northwest listeners would await authoritative information on the disaster, KVI Program Director Wade Thompson, Chief Engineer Jim Wallace and Announcer Norm Runions grabbed their portable shortwave transmitter and hurried to the scene. Equipment was set up and a broadcast aired, bringing a picture of the scene, accounts of the tragedy by eyewitnesses and a list of passengers, the first to be released.

May 1937 – Ruben Gaines, formerly business manager of the Tacoma Philharmonic Orchestra, has joined the staff of KVI Tacoma, as announcer and music director. Dorothy Ann Simpson has been appointed secretary and receptionist at KVI.

June 1938 – Advertising plum fell into the lap of KVI, Tacoma recently when the local Rhodes Department Store bought 31 hours to promote its 46th anniversary, concentrating its entire advertising budget on KVI. Novel slant was the fact that each of the programs was devoted to some particular department of the store, such as an Aloha show of Hawaiian music in the interests of the Rhodes Surf Shop. Highlight of the day’s series was an hour program from the store’s auditorium featuring a fashion show which contrasted styles of the Victorian era with modern fashions. Included were Mike Men’s Mixup, a quarter-hour show dramatizing mistakes made by announcers, and Sports Slants, featuring Jerry Geehan, KVI newscaster. The program schedule was worked out by Ed Jansen, KVI commercial manager, and directed by Kay Kelly, editor of KVI’s Woman’s Page of the Air.

June 1939 – To build good will between business men and the city’s two radio stations, KMO, Tacoma, recently conducted a Radio Day at a Tacoma Chamber of Commerce luncheon, with representatives of both stations participating. Larry Huesby, KMO special events announcer officiated, and Carl E. Haymond, president of KMO. Mr. and Mrs. Earl Irwin, heads of KVI, and Jim Wallace, chief engineer of KVI, spoke at the meeting, each covering a different phase of the industry.
[source: Broadcasting Magazine]

Ratings Book Identifies Listener Favorites

ratings race Morton-Kevin August 10, 1975 / The Arbitron ratings, as mentioned a few weeks back, reported KOMO as the most popular radio station overall, but that Bob Hardwick, KVI morning personality, has the more listeners in his day-part than any other disc jockey in the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett area. Requests followed for information on other segments of the listening day. Prefacing with the reminder that ratings were designed to be used by advertisers to get an idea of the indefinable radio audience, here are some simplified answers.
Teen-agers, naturally, want to know who is the most popular in the “after school” timeslot. According to the April-May figures from the rating service, it was a neck-and-neck race.
KJRs Kevin O’Brien, since departed, had a full quarter (25.1 share) of the area teen-agers listening to him. KING AM’s Gary Lockwood had a close 24 share.
A 12 share of Seattle-Tacoma-Everett teens were listening to KTAC’s Robert O Smith, since defecting to KVI.
Decidedly lesser in teen listeners were KOL AM, KOL FM, and KZOK. Incidental teen listeners were reported on such stations as KISW, KLAY, KOMO, KUUU and KGDN.
The survey shows that teenagers, in this rating, at least, were not to be caught dead listening to such stations as KAYO, KBIQ, KETO, KMO, KWYZ, KXA and KYAC. The stations had no reported afterschool teens.
Adults in the afternoon drivetime (Same thing as afterschool–3-7PM) also like KJR but favored KOMO and KVI. KOMO had an 8.4 share of women and a 10.9 share of men listening to Don Cannon, ace afternoon announcer. KVI’s Jack Morton had an eight share of women and 11 share of men listeners–his best ratings ever.
Continuing a stereotyped demographic description: most men “driving home from work” were tuned to KVI or KOMO. But others were favoring KIRO FM (obviously the ones already home since FM car radios art that evident) and KJR (7.4 each) and KIRO AM (seven point). KIXI’s combined figures show that it’s News 90 news block drew a male audience of 7.9 compared to KIRO AM’s NewsRadio block with 7. — Both healthy figures for quantities of news-listeners. Women’s afternoon favorites were overwhelmingly KOMO, KVI, KIRO FM and KIXI AM and KIXI FM.
Back to total audience figures, nighttime radio saw KING AM get it’s only strong daypart. From 7 PM to midnight, KING AM’s 8.3 edged out KJR’s 8.1. The third most popular station at night was KVI with the 7.8 share. (KVI’s usual fare in that time included Theater of the Mind and soccer.) FM listeners massed faithfully around KIRO FM’s beautiful music to make it forth, beating out KOMO. KOMO Had a 6.9 Share, equal to combined 6.9 share of KIXI AM and KIXI FM at night.
With the exception of KING FM’s classical music toting up a respectable 4.6 share, the 32 other radio stations surveyed in the period ranged in the threes, twos and (gulp) less-than-ones at night.

KOL’s license-transfer to Hercules Broadcasting has been approved by the FCC and most folks expect that by September 1 you’ll be hearing the new format… Rich Erickson left KOL last week to take a midday disc jockey slot at WLCY Tampa…Bob Oxarat, KOL station manager, has moved to KPOK Portland… Roy H. Park has agreed to purchase KEZX, subject to approval of the Federal Communications Commission. Park Broadcasting properties include AM-FM-TV combinations in Tennessee and Virginia and two Portland stations, KWJJ and KJIB… Rick Evans from Salem, has joined the staff at KZOK. He’s on the air from 7 PM to midnight weekdays.

Unexpected interest in Wally Nelskog’s radio station call-letter tinkering finally got Nelskog himself into the act.
The president of KIXI, affirms that call-letter predecessors of his Renton station were both KQDE and KUDY.
Nelskog says his “cutie” radio stations were as follows-KUTI Yakima; KUDI Great Falls Montana; KQDY Minot, North Dakota; KQDI Bismarck North Dakota; KQTY Everett; KUDE Oceanside, California; KQDE and KUDY Renton.
KUDY became KIXI Seattle in the fall of 1961, after 2 1/2 years of litigation and 12 months zoning for towers in the Mercer Slough.
If KIXI AM gets permission to move to 880 on the dial there will be no call letter change.

Oldest Northwest Radio Stations

1922 It was a big year for broadcasting in Washington. The first radio station in the State of Washington was not located in Seattle or Tacoma, but in Spokane. 590 KAQQ, later KHQ, now KQNT, [Feb 28].

Next was Vincent Kraft’s experimental station, which became KJR, the first radio station for Seattle and Western Washington [Mar 9].

South Sound residents got their own station on March 30, as KGY 1240 began broadcasting. Those original call letters were used by the station until the Kerry family sold the station in 2014 to Sacred Heart Radio.

Tacoma’s KMO 1360 took to the airwaves on March 30. The station dropped those great call letters in 1984, for KAMT. The station later went with the call letters KKMO.

KTW 1250 Seattle started programming on April 22. The station is now KKDZ.

Finally, another station for Seattle on May 23, 1300 KDZE, which later became KOL. The station became KMPS in 1975, and was acquired by Salem in 1997, changing call letters to KKOL [not quite KOL].