Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I stepped off the number 7 bus that Monday and walked up the stairs of the "University Building" at 1305 3rd St. That building was torn down 10 years ago and now that is the sight of Benaroya Hall a lovely performance hall. There was nothing lovely in that part of town in 1982. My guess is the U building bit the dust about 20 years too late. I walked up to the 4th floor to the reception area where a young woman was at the desk filing her nails and gabbing to a friend on the telephone about her weekend. She asked if she could help me and I said that I was starting work at this station. The receptionist pushed a button, barked something in to the intercom and instructed me to take a seat. Across the desk was a large couch where I waited for Elvin, the new boss.
A rather big gentleman walked into the lobby with black hair, droopy mustache and untucked shirt, I thought maybe it was Pat O'Day because he had a certain charisma about him. I had no idea what Pat looked like. It was not Pat though, it was Jerry Kaye who was a radio legend himself and he had just up and quit right there on the day that I was to start work. I was not exactly a "good luck charm" for the station.
One of the station staffers walked by, sighed and compared the place to WKRP, a fictional station on a show that was popular at the time. I started my shift that day, one of half a dozen "board operators" the DJs taped there shows and we (we had also been called Producers) put the voice with the music. I started that afternoon at KXA which was downstairs and also close to Pat's office. I would work at KXA exclusively for the next few months. At the end of the shift about the time that I was ready to head for the bus to the pad where I was staying, a man about my age walked in with his arm around a beautiful lady, he was introducing the girl named Sherry to everyone around, the girl was easily 4-5 inches taller than he was. He then came back kind of talking at everyone "Is that the girl of my dreams? Or the girl of my nightmares?".
I was pretty happy for a while working board at KXA. Since I usually worked overnights, I became friends with the lady working KYYX overnight. After a shift we would go to the bar at 5:30-6:00 in the morning for a quick coctail.
to be continued


Dave Zarkin said...

Betty Macdonald wrote "Of Mikes and Men," her recollections of working in radio in the 40s in Portland. She is best known for her unflattering portrayal of life on a Vashon Island chicken farm, The Egg and I, made into a hit Universal movie with Claudette Colburn and Fred Macmurray. I love your radio days recollectins and hoping you will tell us more about the music. I remember Jerry Kaye (I think from KJR in the late 50s?) Dan Donovan is doing a wonderful Sunday morning show on KQQL here devoted to 50s and early 60s artists and wonder if it is turning up in other markets because its a Clear Channel station.

Arthur allen said...

I thought KXA/KYYX was in the Arcade Building across the street from Benaroya Hall, where the Seattle Art Museum is now. They still had a large T antenna right on the roof for KXA even though most other Seattle AMs were broadcasting from remote arrays on islands on the Sound.

Because my parents didn't have an FM car radio, they would sometimes listen to KXA back then. One time the automation played two songs simultaneously, then automated Pat O'Day came on telling the listeners that they just heard a duet by so-and-so. You gotta love pioneering automation!

Mike Barer said...

The tower was at the arcade building, the studio was at the University Building, at least when I worked there.