Courtesy of Tom Lacko, here’s a crisp, 30+ minute scope of 960 KALE. This features Jonathan Walker doing the afternoon show a few days before Thanksgiving, 1975.
We know virtually nothing of this radio station or its legacy. Listeners who remember KALE are cordially invited to post their comments (below).
5 thoughts on “Jonathan Walker, 960 KALE Richland, WA | November 22, 1975”
KALE was the leading Top 40 AM radio station in the Tri-Cities, WA. Its license was tied to Richland, WA.
Everybody in the Lower Columbia Basin listened to 960 AM for KALE.
Other than KJRB in Spokane, nobody was bigger than KALE in Eastern Washington.
Sadly now its a newstalk station.
I was a DJ at AM 960 KALE from the early to mid-70s, until October 5, 1975. My air name was Hank Simon until one of the other jocks referred to me as “Super Simon”, during a station lineup promo, and that moniker stuck until I left. The other jocks I worked with included Tom Mann (who was Program Director and hired me), Dean LeMaster, Chris Michaels, Mike West, and Dave Bauer. They were a great bunch of guys. When I started at KALE we worked out of the original studio located at the site of the 3 antenna towers on Lewis Road in Pasco. The studio then moved to Kennewick Ave. in downtown Kennewick. When I left they were just starting to put together the FM studio in the same building, down the hall from the AM studio, which had a window looking out on Kennewick Ave. I moved to Spokane and worked in radio there as “Lee Michaels”.
KALE was a leading station in the middle 1950’s as well. In 1956 myself and a friend started a popular program on Fri. & Sat. nights called “Downbeat” which came on at 9-12 PM. We played the popular tunes of the day. My partner was Les Leigh. Hard to believe but we were both still seniors in Pasco High School at the time.
We were listening one evening in early 1956 to the host of the night show who, honestly, we though was not very good. At least the music was not. Later on, we heard that he was let go from the station because he accidentally used a swear word on the air. Whether of not this was true, he was released from the station. The very next day we drove out to the station and told the station manager that we “could do the job” and would work for “nothing” just to get a chance to play good music. We were hired immediately providing we both went out and “sold” our time slots to advertisers. I remember our first on-air ad was with a drive-in restaurant in Kennewick. Then one of the restaurants in downtown Pasco.
We picked the name of the show from the popular jazz magazine “Downbeat” and our intro song “Stomping at the Savoy” was a 1934 jazz standard. We were on our way. We decided on a “call-in request” format and immediately from the first night, the phones began ringing. I cannot remember but I believe the station’s antenna was pointed towards Oregon until 10PM as we received a lot of calls from Southern Washington and Northern Oregon. After 10PM the antenna went directional into Northern Washington and Canada. We were always surprised at the number of music requests from Canada.
In ’56 I was wearing my white bucks and blue suede shoes and most nights on the radio I accused Les of “stepping on them” as we faced each other across the table while on the mike. People would call in and kid us about this as this was a popular song written a year earlier by Carl Perkins and performed by Elvis, Buddy Holly, etc. Les was really stepping on my feet and I was really telling him…”Get off my Blue Suede Shoes” Like Wolfman Jack in “American Graffiti” we also had the girls knocking on our radio station’s back door while we were on the air. We had fun.
I stayed with the program for about a year and then went off o college in Yakima. I got married in 1958 and then moved to Sacramento, CA. I believe Les stayed with Downbeat for another year and then may have joined the military. I lost track of him and have not heard anything since 1958 or so. I look back on those times as the “happy days” of my life. I only regret that no pictures were taken of us at the station, at thiat time as 17 year olds. Anybody out there remember hearing us 57 years ago?
I worked for KALE/KIOK from 1986 to 1995. I was an on air personality during that time, much of it on the automation system , some of it live/assit on Saturday’s . The format was classic hits changing to Oldies by 1988. Many fond memories with program director Greg Allen and many others associated with this enterprise .
KALE went on the air April 1, 1950 , the first broadcast radio station licensed to the city of Richland , Wa.
When I first visit the Kennewick site on the Parkade, I was stunned with how barren and unpleasant the facility was. The next time I visited the same site, it was remodeled with plush carpet and ’70s chic.