Tag Archives: Larry Lujack

1979 Reunion brings back familiar voices

KYYX 1979 KJR Reunionradio notes_smKJR disc jockeys were something of a rebellious lot, Pat O’Day recalls. Back in the early 1960s the station had the best ratings ever recorded by a Seattle station. O’Day as on-air personality and program director led a crew which would go on to other cities and national fame. Larry Lujack, in Seattle three years, would go on to Boston, briefly, then Chicago, where he is now entrenched as the “longest lasting” morning personality the Midwest is known. Lan Roberts once shut down KJR, complete silence–unthinkable for today’s wall-two wall radio systems–to try to communicate with alien beings. The World Famous Tom Murphy grew up World Famous right here in Seattle. Dick Curtis added spice to Seattle radio, then went on to intimidate KJR as manager of its most formidable competitor, KOL. Jerry Kay, another outrageous disc jockey, gave up radio a time or two, but snuck back to for unheralded weekend work years later.
O’Day, now owner-manager of KYYX, and Tony Stone, program director, have assembled the old gang for this weekend special programming on the relatively new FM rock station. Most of the disc jockey patter to be broadcast today was prerecorded Friday; during each daypart, all of the disc jockeys will thus get some exposure.

KJR – Ownership changes from 1928 to present

A rather complete history of KJR can be found at The Radio Historian The site, devoted mostly to San Francisco radio, has a good amount of info, pictures and interviews concerning the early years of a few Seattle stations though. The website is awesome, there is much more background on KJR than just the ownership timeline which follows:

Here are excerpts from the site, mainly just a timeline of KJR ownership:

KJR in Seattle, begun by amateur radio operator Vincent I. Kraft, was the first radio station to be licensed in the Pacific Northwest.

Over the ensuing years, Kraft built or became controlling partner in four radio stations and a small “Network” called ABC – The American Broadcasting Company.

Kraft sold his interests in the four radio stations, KJR, KYA, KEX and KGA, in the Spring of 1928, to Adolph Frederik Linden, who was the co-owner with Mr. Edmund Campbell of the ritzy new Camlin Hotel on 9th Street in downtown Seattle Both men were also directors of Puget Sound Savings & Loan.

However, Kraft continued to own KXA in Seattle, which he had recently acquired. Kraft finally sold KXA, his last station, in 1946.

In 1928, KJR and the other stations KYA, KEX and KGA and the ABC Network, began to expand nationally, as did the balance sheet. Under the direction of Linden, this operation ran into financial difficulties and Linden had scrambled to sell the operation, actually had a buyer lined up, [20th Century Fox] and nearly regained financial footing — until the stock market crashed and the deal with Fox fell through.

On October 1, 1929, receiver-in-bankruptcy Ralph A. Horr took control of KJR, KYA, KEX and KGA.

In October of 1931, all four radio stations and the new Northwest Broadcasting System network, were sold to the National Broadcasting Company. NBC had been operating its Orange Network on the West Coast from San Francisco since 1927, rebroadcasting the programs of its East Coast Red Network in the West. The Northwest Orange Network affiliates were KOMO in Seattle, KGW in Portland and KHQ in Spokane. In the East, NBC also operated a second network called the Blue Network, and it planned to set up a second West Coast network to bring its Blue Network programs out West, to be called the “Gold Network”.

Still the height of the depression years, this NBC West Coast network failed and NBC began leasing the individual stations to other stations in the local markets. KJR went to KOMO – the price, $1 per year. In 1941, Fisher’s Blend Station finally purchased KJR outright, ending its eight year lease of the station.

A year later, the F.C.C. passed a new duopoly rule that prohibited a single entity from owning two radio stations in a single city. This forced the Fishers to divest themselves of one of their stations, and so the Fishers sold KJR to Birt Fisher. He operated the station only two more years before selling KJR to Marshall Field Enterprises in 1947.

Meanwhile, KJR continued to grow and prosper as an independent station in the 1950’s and 60’s. On August 13, 1952, Marshall Field Enterprises sold KJR to the Mt. Rainier Radio and Television Broadcasting Corp., principally owned by Ted R. Gamble of Portland. The company also purchased KOIN AM/FM in Portland at the same time.

The new owners were interested in television, and KJR had recently filed an application with the F.C.C. for the Seattle channel 7 TV assignment, but they lost their bid for the channel to KIRO Radio. They were more successful in Portland, however, where KOIN-TV soon reached the airwaves.

After their unsuccessful Seattle TV bid, KJR and the Mt. Rainier Radio and TV Broadcasting Corporation was sold again, this time to Lester M. Smith and John Malloy, for a reported $800,000. Malloy was the owner of KVSM in San Mateo and KROY Sacramento, both in California, and Smith was the manager of KVSM after starting his career as an NBC page boy in New York. Smith’s arrival in the Northwest began a 44 year broadcasting dynasty that would also involve KXL in Portland (purchased in 1955), and KNEW in Spokane (which became KJRB), and stations in Cincinatti and Kansas City, and with Smith manning the helm for the entire period.

On June 7, 1958 Smith and Malloy sold their interest in KJR, KXL and KNEW to siinger Frank Sinatra and actor Danny Kaye for $2.5 Million. The station was now licensed by Essex Productions, Inc. & Dena Pictures, Inc., a joint venture doing business as Seattle, Portland & Spokane Radio, Inc. (Essex Productions was owned by Sinatra and Dena Pictures was owned by Kaye.) Les Smith became the General Manager of the station group.

KJR’s fledgeling rock and roll format took on new life in 1959 when Smith hired a young disk jockey named Pat O’Day. He was soon joined by other popular disk jockeys such as Larry Lujack, Lan Roberts, Emperor Smith and Dick Curtis .

By March of 1960, the station’s ratings zoomed to number one with an amazing 37% of the Seattle audience. Advertisers who had been reluctant to associate themselves with the new music started lining up at the door.

On October 14, 1964, Sinatra sold his interest in the stations to Danny Kaye and Les Smith, and they formed Kaye-Smith Enterprises, with Kaye having majority ownership. (Smith bought out Danny Kaye in 1981.)

In 1980, at the height of its popularity, Metromedia purchased KJR from Kaye-Smith Enterprises for $10 million.

In 1984, KJR was sold for only $6 million to Ackerley Communications, headed by billboard mogul Barry Ackerley.

Ackerley Communications sold a majority ownership in KJR to New Century Seattle in July of 1994 for $30 million. Michael O’Shea was the new President of KJR and a part-owner of New Century, but Barry Ackerley bought back O’Shea’s shares in 1998.

In 2001, Clear Channel Communications acquired the Ackerley group of stations, including KJR.

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