Norm Gregory Radio Scrapbook: Golden West Radio, 1979

by Norm Gregory on January 5, 2012

in 1979, KQFM, Radio Scrapbook

Gene Autrey’s Golden West Broadcasting owned some impressive radio stations up and down the west coast from the early 1950s to the early 1990s.

I worked for one of their Portland stations for ten months and can attest they were a first class operation from the company retreats in Palm Springs to big budget promotions.

This August 1979 Billboard article gives you an overview.

Billboard Golden West 08-18-79

During Michael O’Shea first and only visit with me in Portland I remember him telling me that he knew very little about Album Oriented Rock radio and would trust my decisions. Later, of course, I worked with him again at KJR-FM where he was general manager of the three New Century Media stations. I can tell you it was quite an unique and pleasant experience working for a GM who came from programing.

What is going on here? I have been digging through My Collection of photos, news clippings and other documents from my 35 years in radio. The daily postings began on May 19, 2011. The Collection can be sorted:

By radio station: KPUG • KJRB • KJR • KZOK • KQFM • KOMO • KJR-FM

By year: 1961 • 1963 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972
1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1994

1 Ed Bennett January 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

I have noticed that the best station managers have come from programing or have been jocks.

2 Norm Gregory January 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm


For the first year of KJR-FM . . . the Bob Case / Michael O’Shea policy was no sales promotions on the air. You think that rule would have come from a former sales manager / now GM?

3 Adam January 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Hi Norm, this is Adam again,

I know it was 1979 and all, but it’s kind of interesting(at least to me) how so many of those stations were not only AM, but actually played music(mostly adult contemporary music).

When you add the talk segments and California Angels games on KMPC, it reminds me a bit of the smaller market stations of today; sports, talk, a lot of music, etc.

I’ve noticed though that while bigger market AM music stations seemingly don’t work as well, smaller market AM stations that have music do really well.

For example, i’ve been on vacation in the past and heard AM stations in other parts of Washington State, as well as Oregon and Arizona that seem to do just fine playing music, and doing what the bigger stations do, mainly airing talk shows, sports play by play, etc.

Question is, with the internet, social networking, and the technology of today, would that kind of station work in a bigger market today on AM? Like Seattle, Portland, Spokane, etc?

I guess i’m just someone who would rather hear that kind of radio then talk 24/7(except for sports talk, that I find entertaining), and i’m in the minority most likely.

Oh, speaking of music i’m listening to KMCQ FM in Seattle as I type.

Good station, few commercials, great music playlist, overall it’s what a station in that format should be nowadays.

4 Norm Gregory January 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

The conventional wisdom among broadcasters these days is that the big broad formats (true Top 40, full service AC, etc) won’t work any more. Too many stations . . . each are trying to slice off a specific audience. So now there are many shades of AOR, AC, Top 40, etc.

I often wonder if a true Top 40, i.e. a station which plays all the hits from . . . Taylor Swift to Bruno Mars, Adele, Foo Fighters, Snoop Dogg, Toby Keith, Foster The People, Lady Gaga, Nickelback, to Florence + The Machine, etc, etc. would work.

The big corporations controlling most of radio have no interest in taking the risk . . . they continue to play it safe . . . And we listeners continue to wonder why radio is boring . . Until 25 million of us sign up for satellite radio. And find lotsa “boutique” channels that are even more focused; but also discover a few channels ( e.g. “Buried Treasure,” “Theme Time Radio Hour,” “The Underground Garage”) that defy classification by just playing good music from all genras and eras.

I can’t get KMCQ (104.5 FM) here in central Seattle. I did enjoy “Click” 98.9 FM when I listened a couple months ago. They were playing a good mix of modern music.

5 J. Conklin January 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Mr. Norm . . .Interesting . . .I had just come back to the site to ask you to consider posting your personal views on what YOU felt it would take to “re-invent radio” in today’s fragmented entertainment environment and here seems to be a glimpse . . .it just seems to me that with the corporate quest to control it all . . .their ultimate elimination of localized, personality and “full service” programming you championed for so many years . . .and the subsequent loss of listeners . . .won’t the end result be that they will be the “Kings of Nothing”?

So, please consider sharing your thoughts on what you feel it may take to make radio relevent again or if you think it can be . . . (KISW promoting and marketing itself as “We Are The 99.9, Listener Only Radio” ?) . . .talk to us again Norm !

6 Norm Gregory January 8, 2012 at 1:05 am

I hate to disappoint but re-inventing radio is not something I think about these days. In fact, I considered it a luxury not having to think about it . . . after all the years I spent in the programming trenches.

And even if could some how gather up the energy/passion to make some suggestions I would have to, first, assess the radio market of today. Since I haven’t listen to much local broadcast radio in the last ten years . . . I don’t have a sense of what is going these days in AM and/or FM.

7 J. Conklin January 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

Mr. Norm . . .

Thanks for the response and I understand . . .like the executive who spends their day on the phone, the last thing they want to do at home is talk on the thing especially in retirement . . .I have to admit that your next to last sentence is all telling as to the state of the medium however . . . for an individual who loved what they did (I assume) and radio in general for years to not scan the dial certainly puts a perspective on the “average” listener of today . . .thanks again

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