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Gary Crow

Radio, Motorcycles and Chili

Now on his second tour of duty at KZOK, Seattle's motorcycling DJ took a few moments over the holidays to discuss his world of radio, bikes and chili!

When did you first start riding motorcycles? What did you start out on? 

I started riding motorcycles in High School on a 250 Honda Scrambler. Also rode a Montesa 250 dirt bike in College at E.W.S.C. Moved on the BMW R-7 and then into the wonderful world of Harley's.

What makes and models do you currently own? 

I currently have a 1993 Harley Nostalgia bike #7 out of 2400 made. It's been re-worked for looks, but basically stock. 

What's the best ride you've ever gone on with "Hogula" 

I loved the ride to Sun Mountain this past summer and enjoy riding anywhere in this great state. 

What foundations and organizations have you've been associated with through riding? 

I've been associated with the American Cancer Society, Hope Heart Foundation, Forgotten Children, in fact just about every charity there is!

Aside from Downtown Harley and Fast Company, what other dealers have you done promotions with? 

I've worked with most motorcycle dealerships, but mostly Downtown Harley Davidson. Russ and Jennifer have been with me since day one of my Harley experience and I've also done many with Beverly at Eastside.

What grabbed your interest in radio and how did you get your start? 

I was stuck by a bolt of lightning when I saw a DJ in my hometown of Richland, Wa. He was doing a remote on a hot summer eve. I was eight and turned to my mother and father and said, " That's what I want to be... a Disc Jockey." Actually, it goes back to listening to The Shadow, Gang Busters and Jack Benny curled up in front of the radio. I am still amazed today with the power of radio as it plays in the theater of the mind.

GaryHow did you get involved in radio in Seattle and what stations have you worked in in the market? 

I began at my home town rocker KALE-AM in the Tri-cities (Richland) in 1969. After six months, I was hired by Steve West to work at a new rock station in Tacoma, KTAC-AM. KTAC became the first station to beat KJR in the history of Tacoma. I was fired for being arrested and was hired by Stan Foreman at KGHO in Hoquiam. 

After eight months in Grays Harbor, I was hired by Tom Murphy to work at Legendary Rocker KOL-AM in 1972. It was at KOL-AM, that I'd sneak next door to KOL-FM and was immediately hooked on the now defunct Progressive Album Rock Radio format. KOL was the hipper Am going up against KJR, because KOL would always play the longer versions of Top 40 hits, this was also true with the talent KOL attracted. KJR jocks were more big voices and straight, KOL jocks were more street and shall we say, psychadelic . KOL changed format after Owner Mr. Buckley passed on, and most were let go. 

I was hired at KZOK in 1973 to do Evenings, but ended up working Mornings, Afternoons and Mid Days. I was also Music Director for three wonderful years. At KZOK, we believed the audience wanted to hear a large variety of Rock and we gave it to them. Everything from Chuck Mangione, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Ted Nugent and Rush! It was the shot Seattle needed and KZOK became the first FM to defeat then unbeatable KJR-AM in the ratings. We also back doored KISW-FM in the ratings, which was essentially Seattle's only Album Oriented Rock station until KZOK appeared. 

I was hired at KISW by Bob Bingham in 1977 to do Afternoons. 10 fantastic years at KISW, which originally was called FM 100. In 1978 we decided to take a giant chance and started playing Hard Rock. We were first to add Van Halen and AC/DC and we started Rocking early right out of the gates in Morning Drive. It worked! KISW Seattle's Best Rock, became the first FM to beat perennial giant KIRO, and we beat them across the board. I had wonderful years at KISW with friends and partners Mike West and Bob Hovanes. Great personalities like Steve Slaton, Robin and Maynard and Bo Roberts. We redefined Rock in Seattle and what a great 10 year ride! To become #1 and do it your way, is a rarity in this business, but I can say we did it at least once in my career! 

I left KISW in 1987 and formed Legendary KXRX with Robin and John Mike West and myself. The X debuted with a 4.3 12+ which is still a Seattle Radio record for a debuting station. Seven great years at KXRX, was let go for shall we say political reasons and was hired at KMTT. Four good years there, helping The Mountain reach the Top 5 25-54 adults and was reunited with Mike West. My contract expired and was offered afternoons at KZOK and a long term contract. I jumped at the chance to make a full circle and return to Rock 'n Roll, and true friends Robin, Maynard and Slaton.

How is life different at KZOK from when you were at The Mountain? 

Life at KZOK is much easier in terms of companies. Entercom being a smaller company than CBS, was a more " hands on approach," to broadcasting. Many critique sessions and weekly discussions, whereas at CBS, they let you do what you do, without all the micro-managing.

How have you noticed radio changing over the years? 

Radio has changed immensely! Due to ownership. Having worked for a single owner like Lester Smith at KISW, you had a real family feel, everyone knew everyone. Now, with consolidation we have four stations in the same building competing against each other. Now you can see the enemy, if you want to look at it that way! But at CBS, all stations realize their position in the market place and work towards one common goal: Winning your share of the total market. We can slice up the radio pie more effectively. Kind of weird that it's come down to all this analyzation, what happened to having fun! I still do, and I think that is the single reason I am still around after all these years. I love being on the air....one owner or a huge conglomerate.

What's the difference for you between doing mornings and afternoons? 

The major difference between Mornings and Afternoons or any other shift for that matter, is winning! Mornings is it. Mornings jump starts your entire station and you'd better be great! Mornings set the tone for the entire radio station in posturing and attitude. You'd better be good! You're getting people up and off to work and need a show that is fun to listen to, participate in and I hate this word, but I'll use it anyway... compelling. The best mornings shows are raw yet educated, rude but not crude, informative and innovative. You'll age two years for every one year you do Mornings and as Don Imus said, there isn't enough money in the world to destroy your life, by doing morning radio! Afternoons is a walk in the park compared to Mornings. The same prep, but a different pace as people head home and want to unwind with their favorite friend and good music.

What's your wisdom to someone just starting out in radio? 

Radio is a tough business, especially on the personality side. I've been very successful and I've had seven jobs. Be ready to move, change your life style and get challenged at every turn. The average life span of a disc jockey is under four years.

What are some of your other interests/hobbies and places to eat?

Hobbies include all sports and my two favorite restaurants are The Met and Elliott's Oyster house....yum yum. 

Do you have any recipes you want to share with readers? 

I have an award winning recipe for Chili, like everyone else, if anyone would like it fax me at 206-805-0909. Cheers and thanks for listening.


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