70s Usher In FM Popularity; Top 40 AM Fades Out

Locally, at the time FM radio began to blossom in the 1970s, KTAC Tacoma was in a heated ratings war against Top 40 kingpin KJR Seattle. Steve West’s talent seemed to be wasted at KJR, working the overnighter. KJR GM Pat O’Day may have considered West a weak air talent. At the same time, West had his eye on KTAC, believing that he could do much more with the Tacoma rocker than current PD Tom Connors. West used all the tricks he had learned coming up in the business and while at KJR, once he took the helm at KTAC. He brought Bruce Cannon over from Tri-Cities. This move may stand as the single most important talent acquisition for KTAC. Cannon eventually became ‘the heart & soul’ of KTAC, on-air as the long-time afternoon drive host, and for periods as Program Director, as well as KTAC’s ambassador of goodwill toward the community. Bruce Cannon remained at KTAC long after West and other talent came and went. There was nothing to KTAC without Bruce Cannon on the radio. Ask anyone who grew up in Tacoma at the time. Soon, KTAC was battling KJR in the South Sound and posting great ratings. The threat was so great that Pat O’Day offered Steve West the Program Director position at KJRB, Spokane to cut KJR’s rival down to size. West took the offer. KTAC’s next PD Derek Shannon, eventually purchased a station in Chehalis and things were changing at KTAC, but the station continued making good money with talents such as Bob Hardwick, Gary Crow, Don Wade, Bobby Simon, and Robert O Smith. As Top 40 began to fade in popularity, so did the fortunes of KTAC and KJR. READ MORE background on STEVE WEST.

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.