Saying Goodbye To The King

There was another shift in the Seattle landscape this past week. The wrecking ball began to erase what had been the home of KING Broadcasting–Channel 5, KING AM and KING FM.

We knew the day was coming.  We heard about the sale, witnessed The Home Team move into their new studios down by the stadiums, heard about several “Goodbye to the building” parties (I missed both of them) and even enjoyed a little behind-the-scenes tour from the recently retired Jean Enerson, who shared some of the building’s secrets.

And then, the demolition began.

KING 5

There are many, many people who have a lot more extensive stories from their days in that building. My time there covered just a school year. It was my senior year at the University of Washington and I was trying to get some real-life working experience in before heading out into the world of broadcasting. My first internship was under the direction of a woman named Diane Clark. She was short, had a curly mop of hair and the nickname, “Roadrunner.”  Under her direction, I helped with the Public Affairs programing at KING radio.  Then, the following quarter, I got a dream internship under one of the finest audio production guys you’ll ever meet, Steve Lawson. This was at the time when Steve was the station voice of KING 5, as well as the production director at KING Radio. (Strangely, that’s where I first met my future radio co-host Bruce Murdock, pretty much a decade before we were teamed up over at KLSY) 

I’d have to say that my experience under Steve really cemented my interest in audio production. KING had one of those cutting-edge 4-track recorders. While most of my time with Steve was spent observing, after he was done for the day, I was allowed to use the 4-track recorder to produce a comedy series “Return to Normalcy” for KCMU, the U.W.’s student-run station. (now, KEXP, after Paul Allen bought it and moved it to the Experience Music Project at the Seattle Center)

Besides the hands-on Public Affairs and Production experience, the internships also gave me exposure to other areas of interest in that building:

When it came time to graduate, I had hoped KING would offer me a job. Hey, they liked me, they let me keep coming back after the internships were over. They even hired me for several odd jobs:

  • Doing Music Research–that’s calling up numbers out of the phone book, asking people if they’d be willing to take part in a music survey and then play 50 or so 7-second clips of music and have them rate the songs.  I’m pretty sure “Afternoon Delight” was among ’em.
  • Driving Miss Dorothy–I tell you, they trusted me.  So much that when Frank, Dorothy Bullit’s regular driver went on vacation, I was asked to fill in for a couple of weeks.  I would come to KING, pick up the keys to her Volvo, then drive to her home and take her where ever she would like to go.
  • Answer Phones on the Request Line–Yep, people would call, and request the songs, I would forward the list along to the DJ.

Also, being in the building, I got to know a lot of radio people, some of whom I worked with later in my career.  Folks like Dana Horner, Alan Mason, Rob Conrad, Dan Foley, Andy Barber, Rick Scott, Joe Cooper and, of course, Mr. Murdock.

However, that job offer from KING never came. And, when I was passed over for a copywriter position and lost that job to a woman with two years’ experience at Planned Parenthood, I knew I had to get in somewhere and start doing. And that’s when I went east of the mountains and began my radio career in Yakima.

But that’s a story for another time.

One other connection to that facility. For those who were around in the 1990s, you may recall that a former KING sales person flipped out and decided to drive his car through the front window of the building. He ended up on top of the older brother of a high school friend, Mike Oling, who had been a channel 5 reporter.  Mike eventually got out of the broadcast biz and now sells insurance in downtown Seattle. KING, as well as KOMO took immediate steps and put in cement barriers to prevent any future such attacks.

So now, the KING building becomes a part of Seattle’s broadcasting past. I was there at a time where Seattle’s top music stations were battling it out on the AM dial. Can you even imagine? It was a different era and now, just one more radio memory that eventually will fade away.

But until then, I’ll remember every moment of my time there fondly.

Tim Hunter

KING LOGO

2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye To The King

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