Thursday, November 24, 2005

My KTEL Days

My first commercial radio job was something to remember. The station was KTEL and it was where my cousin Burl cut his teeth in the business. It was 1978, the station had been remodeled since Burl had worked there as they had moved the offices from downtown to the transmitter. It was still a real dilapidated place. When Burl and Lee came to visit one time, Burl pointed to the little holes in the wall and said--"that is where I fired a pellet gun at the bugs crawling on the wall". When I got on board the station was all country which took some getting used to, they had just stopped playing rock. My friend Jeff recently told me in the rock days, everytime a jock would play In-a-Godda-Divida (the classic 27 minute song) the Cranky Engineer would screech into the parking lot fearing that the DJs were partying.
KTEL was also the station where my Grandfather gave gardening tips on Tuesday morning as part of the "Men's Garden Club". The station was totally run by Jack Keating an elderly man who was rarely at the station. I only saw him 3 times during the year that I worked there. Once was when he hired me.
I was the last DJ to sign off of the old board. We were the Seattle Super Sonics station and I was working the board running the game when they won their NBA title in '79. Also the cranky Engineer was terminated after working there for 25 years during that one year. I later went back to WSU to get my degree and returned to KTEL for a brief time 6 years later.

7 comments:

Danny Barer said...

Was KTEL all-country in 1978? I recall that it was Top 40 format in the early '80's, when my friend Dan McMahon was doing his "Wee Willie Winkle" morning show; and that it went all-Country later. Which doesn't mean that it might not have switched formats a few times before that.

Mike Barer said...

Yes, It was country and sports from 1976 on. It did have Paul Harvey which was a big draw. I don't know if it even exists today. I have exchanged e-mail with Dan, who tells me that he is on his 3rd marriage or something. The man is a real character.

Dave Zarkin said...

Someone should do a history of "coffee pot" radio stations in the USA, those 250-watt wonders that typically were Mutual or ABC affiliates. Some were pioneers in Top 10 and other formats. My favorite was KSPO, 1340, Spokane, in the Realty Bldg., downtown. Mom took us to KSPO to hear the Story Lady when we were rug rats in front of the Crosley radio. Those were the days. Check out my blog for silly movies, www.cheezymovies.blogspot.com

Mike Barer said...

Your right on that. At KQQQ in Pullman the entire station was literally plugged in above the coffee pot. Really I kid you not.

Dave Zarkin said...

I interviewed at a "coffee pot" staton in Pullman when I was about 19 and they wanted me to work for nothing. Operating out of a farmhouse, the equipment was definitely not broadcast quality. My radio dreams were foolish but it was all part of growing up.

Danny Barer said...

Oh, right; Dan was on KUJ. D'oh. It was only 23 years ago; you'd think I'd remember.

Mike Barer said...

Dan McMahon has some funny stories about KUJ owner Jim Nelly.