Seattle FM Dial - 1981
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Thread: Seattle FM Dial - 1981

  1. #1

    Seattle FM Dial - 1981

    I found my copy of the 1981 North American Radio and TV Station Guide written by Vane Jones. I used to buy each of his editions to help with identifying stations dxing etc. Following is what the Seattle-Tacoma dial looked like back then. Lots of call letter and facility changes! Looks like nobody was on Tiger Mountain. It would be interesting to start a thread that discussed what each stations format and airstaff were at that time! Merry Christmas. Tom S


    Freq Call COL ERP HAAT
    (mhz) (watts) (feet)
    88.5 KPLU Tacoma 100,000 620
    89.3 KASB Bellevue 10 65
    89.9 KGRG Auburn 10 50
    90.1 KUPS Tacoma 10 40
    90.5 KCMU Seattle 10 156
    90.9 KPEC Tacoma 39,000 180
    91.3 KBCS Bellevue 100 210
    91.7 KTOY Tacoma 38,000 310
    92.5 KZAM-FM Bellevue 100,000 1,100
    93.3 KBLE-FM Seattle 100,000 1,070
    94.1 KMPS-FM Seattle 98,000 1,100
    94.9 KUOW Seattle 100,000 730
    95.7 KIXI-FM Seattle 100,000 1,150
    96.5 KYYX Seattle 81,000 1,220
    97.3 KNBQ Tacoma 100,000 370
    98.1 KING-FM Seattle 100,000 700
    98.9 KEZX Seattle 96,000 1,100
    99.9 KISW Seattle 100,000 1,150
    100.7 KSEA Seattle 100,000 730
    101.5 KPLZ Seattle 100,000 1,150
    102.5 KZOK-FM Seattle 100,000 1,170
    103.7 KBRD Tacoma 84,000 1,670
    105.3 KBIQ Edmonds 115,000 720
    106.1 KPRM Tacoma 25,000 700
    106.9 KWWA Bremerton 30,000 1,380
    107.7 KRAB Seattle 63,000 1,190
    "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son"

  2. #2

    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981

    Of all the stations on this list I would say the MOST consistent (as in much the same then as today) would be:

    KING, KUOW, KPLU

    The LEAST consistent (new owners, formats, managers, staff every year or two since 1981):

    92.5
    95.7
    96.5

    Most improved since 1981:

    100.7 (new country does wonders for a struggling channel)

    Least improved since 1981:

    97.3 ("B" as in BOMBING fast, even Movin is more promising which is pathetic)

  3. #3

    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981

    Very cool, thanks for sharing this. What's interesting is that the list underscores the fact that AM was still king at the time, although KISW was in it's glory days around then even popping a #1 12+ book around '82. FOUR beautiful music stations??? KSEA, KBRD, KBIQ and KEZX which flipped to soft rock right around that time. Also several signals that were pretty much non-factors in the Seattle radio market back then (93.3, 106.9, 107.7) that are now major players.

  4. #4

    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981

    Quote Originally Posted by Shark
    ...the list underscores the fact that AM was still king at the time...
    ..and everybody said 'AM':
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdzZ7wTQnAU

    heh, what a flashback!

  5. #5

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    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981...and the AM side of the story

    Quote Originally Posted by Shark
    Very cool, thanks for sharing this. What's interesting is that the list underscores the fact that AM was still king at the time, although KISW was in it's glory days around then even popping a #1 12+ book around '82. FOUR beautiful music stations??? KSEA, KBRD, KBIQ and KEZX which flipped to soft rock right around that time. Also several signals that were pretty much non-factors in the Seattle radio market back then (93.3, 106.9, 107.7) that are now major players.
    KWWA at the time was also running B/EZ (they briefly switched to AOR in 1982, probably the most heavy metal of the Puget Sound AORs at the time, then automated CHR until the KHIT transformation.) Ironically, KWWA was running 30,000 watts at a pretty good HAAT, but you could barely get the signal in Lynnwood. It went Gold Mountain by the end of 1983.

    KBIQ could have qualified as a B/EZ, but it was primarily religious. You just could not escape the overtones of The Maranatha Singers (they weren't exactly Ray Conniff.)

    93.3 was KBLE-FM and at the time, a sort of white Southern Gospel format that really sucked. I remember hearing stories of the sort of, umm, tensions between staffers of it's now seperate AM religious station (KBLE-AM 1050) and it's very secular "New 93" former FM sister during 1981 (when they were still located in the same building at 114 Lakeside Ave.)

    KRAB 107.7 was a 6am - Midnight operation which had the unusual habit of letting a volunteer run a show, then when that volunteer left (the mike was always left on, you could hear them packing up their stuff and leaving the studio or going into the studio and setting up. And you heard everything-expletives included.) then dead air until the next volunteer came in. But there's a big electric bill that comes with a 63,000 watt FM station - especially one that was perpetually bankrupt with strange Lorenzo Milam broadcasting philosophies. It's non-com status usually saved it but by this time, new rules that cut most of the Federal grants this station recieved were in effect and something had to give. So the station went off the air during the dead hours. Not that anybody was really listening......

    KZOK at this time was heavy metal leaning AOR (not to the extent of KWWA), KISW was slightly more traditional, but it had already made it's mark as the market leader AOR. KZOK would later perform a disasterous experiment in 1985 called "Quality Rock", which eliminated all the heavy metal and focused on the softer end of AOR and well...beyond (James Taylor, Carly Simon -even Sade got airplay on KZOK circa 1985-86.) By the end of 1986, KZOK went classic rock and began to recover (it's intial TV ads didn't even mention the call letters, but asked listeners to "try 102.5 FM.")

    KZOK had a billboard located near the KISW studios on Aurora that said "Quality Rock KZOK" and at the bottom it read "Not Too Hard, Not Too Soft." At the bottom of "Not Too Hard, Not Too Soft.", somebody spray painted "Not Too Good."

    Rick Shannon and Craig McClure were the morning jocks at KZOK circa 1981, Connie Cole was there (having survived all the changes before defecting briefly to KISW in the early '90s, then back to KZOK.) Larry Sharp, Larry Snider and I can't remember who else....

    KUOW and KPLU were still classical. KYYX was CHR (actually most of the music that was called CHR at the time would be Lite AC today. I guess it was the Top 40 delivery that gave it some legitimacy.) KPLZ was AC "The Music Magazine", KMPS was "Stereo Country 94" and began to shift away from it's "Outlaw Country" sound (KMPS never used the slogan "Outlaw Country", but it was a type of country-rock crossover sub-genre that specialized in stuff from Willie Nelson, Eagles, Waylon Jennings, The Charlie Daniels Band, Gram Parsons, etc.)

    KRPM was there ("Tune your radio to 106 RPM"), not mentioned on this list was 90.1 KMIH and KZAM had gravitated towards an AOR/AC hybrid that might be called a AAA today. But removed most of the folk, jazz and classical cuts in the daily playlist that made KZAM an institution (male jocks were also added by this time) were deleted, KEZX would pick up the AAA format for the rest of the '80s until passing the torch to KMTT in 1991.

    AM? It was going through menopause, FM having taken over the younger audience. KJR-AM had flipped to a full blown AC (of course like I said, most of the CHR music of 1981 was AC. The difference being the jock delivery.) Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Little River Band and Air Supply were KJR-AM core artists. However, two elements of it's CHR heyday remained, Gary Lockwood and American Top 40 w/ Casey Kasem. AT40 remained weekly on the KJR format until 1986 and Gary Lockwood until 1991 before being dropped. He resurfaced at KZOK where he remained until 1994.

    KSPL 1150 dropped it's nostalgia format for CHR from 1983-85.

    KQIN (In 1986 on 820 and 50,000 watts) began a sort of "Quiet Storm" Urban AC format (a popular Urban sub-genre of the '80s, usually on FM) although they never referred themselves as "Quiet Storm" although the call letters were good enough for it (Hey, if KRWM could be translated as "Warm"...) Very albumy for a typical Quiet Storm station, it had a very unusual FM quality for an AM station at it's time.

    Park Broadcasting owned KEZX-FM had bought the original KGNW-AM 1150 (which moved to KQIN's 820 frequency in December 1986) and intitally began a simulcast of KEZX-FM, later in daytime hours as "The Oasis", focusing on New Age cuts, which were all the rage amongst "professionals" of the time...

    Northwest AM CHRs were disappearing through the '80s, CFUN 1410 Vancouver had flipped to AC in 1982, KKZU 1510 Mountlake Terrace went silent in 1985, KRKO 1380 Everett pulled the plug on live and local CHR for satellite-fed oldies in 1987, CKXY 1040 Vancouver in 1989 which went AOR, then Modern Rock in 1992 before going Nostalgia and later sports talk and CKLG 730, which held on clear until February 2001 and was still breaking in new hits until the end (It's last?: "I'm Like A Bird" Nelly Furtado, which didn't chart stateside until later that year.) AM began it's transition from radio force to radio graveyard though there were signs of life. KZAM-AM and KJET had brought Modern Rock to the masses via 1540 and 1590, respectively.

    KZAM-AM had dropped it's "Rock of The '80s" format in March 1981, becoming jazz formatted KJZZ until 1985 when it became KLSY-AM and began an automated, slightly hotter musically secondary format of KLSY-FM for a year before becoming a full blown simulcast of KLSY-FM which lasted until 1992 when it had new owners (due to Sandusky's accquisition of KIXI, pre-1996) and became an affililiate of the upstart Country Gold network as KBLV. KJET held out until September 1988 before becoming oldies KQUL. 1590 began to rock again on February 2, 1990 as KZOK-AM "Z-Rock 1590" until October 1993 when it simulcasted KZOK-FM until being sold to Salem in 1995 when it became "Positive Country" KPOZ (Unbeknownst to them maybe, POZ was a gay term for being HIV/AIDS positive, which may have led them to their more correct KLFE name, despite their 0.0000 ratings...which they still have now...) At least KJET scored a 3.7 rating at it's peak in 1987. Normal for today, but PHENOMENAL for an AM rock station in 1987.

    We also had KKFX ("K-Fox 1250") playing rhythmic CHR (though later going satellite R&B oldies in 1987 before dropping it in a year to return to it's live/local currents format.) KKFX lasted until March 1993. It was silent until May 16 of that year when it was reborn as KKDZ, "KidStar 1250" the flagship station of a locally based chidren's radio network that went under in 1997 and became an affiliate of Radio Disney, where it's been ever since.

    Signs of life were also booming in nightly out of Portland via KFXX 1520 Portland (AOR) from 1989 until 1990, Calgary (CJAM/CKMX 1060) which was a CHR during the '80s that flipped to Alternative in 1992 before flipping to MOR in 1996 and KBBT Portland 970 (Alternative, '90s)

    Various Canadian local AMs had current content in the new millennium, but no Northwest AM station featured current hits until 2007 (save KKDZ 1250, if you call anything by Hannah Montana "hits") until KWLE 1340 Anacortes two weeks ago. Hoping more AMs will take a hint and bring desperately needed LIFE back on AM radio.








    To the person who stole my antidepressants; I hope you're happy now.

  6. #6

    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981

    Actually CFUN was CHR until December of 1984. AM 1040 in Vancouver started as an AC in 1986, but switched very quickly to CHR in the Spring of 87. CJUP 800 went from country to CHR in 1986 before becoming modern and switching to 1040 and Victoria had AC on CJVI 900 and CHR on CKDA 1220 which moved to 1200 on July 1 1986. Because of CRTC regulations...new music was able to hold on over the AM airwaves for much longer. I was a heavy KJET listener in the mid to late 80's but also enjoyed KKFX as well. I switched from LG 73 to AM 1040 (then CIOF) when they went top forty and were compatible on my AM stereo receiver while LG 73 was not.

  7. #7

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    As long as we're talking about AMs...

    What was going on at KTAC around that time?

  8. #8

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    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981...and the AM side of the story

    Quote Originally Posted by Bongwater
    KWWA at the time was also running B/EZ (they briefly switched to AOR in 1982, probably the most heavy metal of the Puget Sound AORs at the time, then automated CHR until the KHIT transformation.) Ironically, KWWA was running 30,000 watts at a pretty good HAAT, but you could barely get the signal in Lynnwood. It went Gold Mountain by the end of 1983.
    I found it ironic yesterday that we were lining up in Bremerton to catch ferry. Had difficulty picking up KRWM in beautiful downtown Bremerton when that is the city of license!!! Some things have changed in 26 years!! Was trying to identify the bldg where they used to be but memory really shot...I remember interviewing there in the 1970's, and being impressed at how much space they had considering it was a "small town" station!

    Meanwhile up here near the Cougar xmitters, we're sittting on QUITE the WHITE Xmas!!

  9. #9

    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981

    Since no transmitter was at West Tiger Mountain in 1981. Where were these FM stations located in the Puget Sound area?

    Freq Call COL ERP HAAT
    (mhz) (watts) (feet)
    88.5 KPLU Tacoma 100,000 620
    89.3 KASB Bellevue 10 65
    89.9 KGRG Auburn 10 50
    90.1 KUPS Tacoma 10 40
    90.5 KCMU Seattle 10 156
    90.9 KPEC Tacoma 39,000 180
    91.3 KBCS Bellevue 100 210
    91.7 KTOY Tacoma 38,000 310
    92.5 KZAM-FM Bellevue 100,000 1,100
    93.3 KBLE-FM Seattle 100,000 1,070
    94.1 KMPS-FM Seattle 98,000 1,100
    94.9 KUOW Seattle 100,000 730
    95.7 KIXI-FM Seattle 100,000 1,150
    96.5 KYYX Seattle 81,000 1,220
    97.3 KNBQ Tacoma 100,000 370
    98.1 KING-FM Seattle 100,000 700
    98.9 KEZX Seattle 96,000 1,100
    99.9 KISW Seattle 100,000 1,150
    100.7 KSEA Seattle 100,000 730
    101.5 KPLZ Seattle 100,000 1,150
    102.5 KZOK-FM Seattle 100,000 1,170
    103.7 KBRD Tacoma 84,000 1,670
    105.3 KBIQ Edmonds 115,000 720
    106.1 KPRM Tacoma 25,000 700
    106.9 KWWA Bremerton 30,000 1,380
    107.7 KRAB Seattle 63,000 1,190

  10. #10

    Re: Seattle FM Dial - 1981

    The stations with antenna heights in the 1100-foot range (92.5, 93.3, 94.1, 95.7, 96.5, 98.9, 99.9, 101.5, 102.5, 107.7) would all have been at Cougar, where a few of them still are. 98.1 and 100.7 would have been on Queen Anne Hill, on the KING-TV and KIRO-TV towers, respectively. KUOW would have been where it still is, on Capitol Hill on the KCTS-TV tower. 106.9 would have been on Gold Mountain, I think.
    All kinds of good stuff over at http://www.fybush.com

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