Broadcast History - May 23

Broadcast History - May 23

Postby jon » Mon May 22, 2023 9:15 pm

In 1922, KOL Seattle signed on for the first time, owned by the Seattle Broadcasting Company. The KOL call letters go even further back in history, to the wireless station aboard the Ship "Mount Hope". But KOL is best remembered as a Top 40 station for most of the period from about 1957 until August 31, 1975, when it switched call letters to KMPS and format to Country. With the possible exception of KAYO when KJR first switched to Top 40, KOL provided the strongest and the longest running competition that KJR ever experienced in the years when AM Radio was king (pardon the pun) in the Top 40 marketplace. KOL tried a lot of different competitive approaches against KJR over the years. In 1961, they hired John Stone as Program Director from KJR, who, in turned, hired Lan Roberts. Both Lan and John had come to Seattle from New Orleans where they were Top 40 competitors at WNOE and WTIX. Dave McCormick came to KOL fresh from working with Bill Drake and Ron Jacobs at KYNO Fresno, was appointed Program Director a month later, and quickly brought Drake-style formatics to the station. Before and after, KOL tried to ride the British Invasion with British-sounding DJs Tommy Vance and Rhett Hamilton Walker. With Dick Curtis at the helm in the late '60s, KOL tried to out-personality KJR, with Lan Roberts on AM Drive and Robert O. Smith on PM Drive, plus Terry McManus calling himself Jimmy Stalwart (James Stewart voice) as Lan's sidekick. Bobby Simon, Burl Barer, Paxton Mills and many, many others were added to the mix over the years. They even hired KJR's Tom Murphy for PM Drive in 1971.

KOL also tried to capture the album-oriented audience on two fronts. Beginning June 17, 1968, true die-hards could listen to KOL-FM, which ran a very credible San Francisco-style format, originally known as Underground, later called Progressive Rock with the disappearance of blues, jazz and other elements of Underground. They may have been the only radio station ever to be honest about their periods of automation. Terry McManus voiced commercials and voice tracks in what sounded like a computer-generated voice. Into the early '70s, they moved more and more into all live announcers, though they did simulcast with KOL-AM part of each broadcast day. They were one of only two stations that I am aware of (in that era) that ever simulcast the FM on to the AM. Sunday night's all night show was not staffed on AM, because the period was normally reserved for transmitter maintenance. But KOL-AM occasionally stayed on the air during this period, broadcasting KOL-FM's automated programming, which may well have made it the earliest example of an unmanned AM-FM station pair.

Meanwhile, KOL-AM also played a lot of album-oriented music, though much of it was just the longer album version of current hits. Program Director Robin Mitchell is even rumoured to have discovered a way to improve the station's ratings by playing long album cuts at specific points during the hour. For at least the last half of 1970, all 11 minutes and 4 seconds of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Creedence Clearwater Revival was played regularly, including PM Drive with Robert O. Smith. It would be five and a half years before a much shorter version was released as a 45 rpm record and peak at #43 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

Radio stations rarely pay tribute to their own history, but KOL has from time to time over the years. As recently as 2007, KKOL's web site had a history page created by the then Program Director that included a printed Top 40 chart with Robert O. Smith on the cover. When off-air Program Director Robin Mitchell introduced KOL's "Where Your Friends Are" jingle package in two separate hours on February 22, 1971, Production Manager Terry McManus can be heard voicing accompanying Imaging that celebrates that history: "Serving the Pacific Northwest since 1922..." And, in 1975, the final weekend of Top 40 is allowed to be turned into an on-air celebration with many of the DJs and jingles of the past. Airchecks still exist of both.

Happy birthday, KOL! I'll never forget your glory years. KOL-AM and CKLG-FM were the two stations that remained my favourites for the most years when I lived in Burnaby (until mid-1974).


In 1991, today was a Thursday and CKZZ-FM Vancouver signed on at 8 a.m., running commercial-free until Monday, May 27th. Z95 operates on 95.3 MHz with 71,300 watts from a Mount Seymour transmitter site. On May 8th, 1996, the CRTC authorized Standard Radio's purchase of CKZZ-FM and sister station CISL-650. Since then, in a few summer BBM ratings, Z95 edged out CKNW from its perpetual #1 ratings position. CISL first signed on at 6 a.m. May 1, 1980, on 940 KHz with 2500 watts. The station was licensed to Richmond (B.C.), moving to its current 650 KHz on July 1, 1984.

In 2006, CJKC-FM Kamloops completed its transmitter testing, but did not officially sign on until Friday, August 11th. As Country 103 on 103.1 MHz with 5000 watts, they began by playing 1031 songs in a row. Regular programming began the next Monday at 6 a.m. with Howie Reimer on AM Drive. The station had originally been approved by the CRTC on July 21, 2005, but NL Broadcasting took the opportunity and time it took to buy new equipment for all three of its Kamloops stations: CJKC, CHNL-AM and CKRV-FM ("The River").
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