|Broadcast area||Seattle metropolitan area|
|Branding||Sports Radio 950 KJR|
|First air date||1922|
|Transmitter coordinates||Coordinates: |
|Affiliations||Fox Sports Radio, NBC Sports Radio, Westwood One|
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||KBKS-FM, KFNQ, KHHO, KJAQ, KJR-FM, KUBE, KZOK|
KJR (950 AM, "Sports Radio 950") is an all-sports radio station owned by iHeartMedia and located in Seattle, Washington. It was Seattle's only all-sports talk radio station until 710 KIRO affiliated itself with ESPN. KJR is now the Puget Sound region's home of Fox Sports Radio and NBC Sports Radio, and the station, mainly during Seahawks season, uses the slogan "Home of the 12th Man". KJR's transmitter site is on Vashon Island, and operates from its studios in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood northwest of downtown.
KJR is one of the oldest radio stations in the United States. Its first license was issued in March 1922, however, it traces its lineage to broadcasts made by a predecessor station operating under an experimental license beginning in 1920.
KJR's first formal broadcasting license was issued on March 9, 1922. However, the station's origin dates back to earlier broadcasts conducted by the station's first owner, Vincent I. Kraft.
Beginning in 1917, Kraft was the director of the local Y.M.C.A. School of Radio Telegraphy, and in early 1920 he and O. A. Dodson organized the Northwest Radio Service Company. Details on Kraft's earliest broadcasting efforts are limited, however, in August of that year he began an irregular series of broadcasts originating from his Cowen Park home at 5503 14th Avenue, N.E., over his amateur station, 7AC. Later that year Kraft was issued a license for an Experimental station, with the call sign 7XC. In early September 1921 he began transmitting programs on a regular schedule, consisting of broadcasts three evenings a week from 7:45-8:30 p.m.
In early February 1922, Kraft built a radio transmitter used by a temporary station, KDP, to broadcast a week-long series of programs from Saint James' Cathedral. Following these broadcasts he began using the KDP transmitter at 7XC. On February 28, 1922 he resigned his Y.M.C.A. post in order to assume active management of Northwest Radio.
Initially there were no specific standards for stations making broadcasts intended for the general public, and radio stations holding a variety of license classes, most commonly Experimental and Amateur, began adopting regular broadcasting schedules. On December 1, 1921 the U.S. Department of Commerce, which regulated radio at this time, adopted a regulation formally establishing a broadcasting station category, which set aside the wavelength of 360 meters (833 kHz) for entertainment broadcasts, and 485 meters (619 kHz) for market and weather reports.
A few months later Kraft applied for one of the new broadcasting licenses, which was issued on March 9, 1922 with the randomly assigned call letters KJR, for operation on both 360 and 485 meters. It had been initially reported that the station's new call sign was "KAJR", however this turned out to be an error in a telegram sent by the Commerce Department, and shortly thereafter it was correctly reported that the assignment was actually "KJR". Later in 1922 KJR's licensee was changed to "Northwest Radio Service Co. (Vincent I. Kraft)".
KJR was the third license issued for a Seattle broadcasting station, preceded by KFC (Northern Radio & Electric, licensed December 8, 1921 and deleted January 23, 1923) and KHQ (Louis Wasmer, licensed February 28, 1922, later moved to Spokane–now KQNT). Despite this, KJR claimed to have the oldest broadcasting lineage, by including the earlier 7XC activities as part of its history.
Because there was only the single entertainment wavelength of 360 meters available for use by multiple stations, each region had to set up a timesharing agreement to allocate timeslots. On June 23, 1922 three Seattle stations took turns operating from noon to 10:30 p.m., with KJR allocated 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. In May 1923 the Department of Commerce set aside an additional band of transmitting frequencies, and KJR was assigned to one of the lower power "Class A" frequencies, 1110 kHz, which was modified a short time later to 1060 kHz. In early 1925 the station transferred to one of the high power "Class B" frequencies, 780 kHz, and in 1927 the station was shifted again, to 860 kHz. On November 11, 1928, under the provisions of a major reallocation resulting from the Federal Radio Commission's (FRC) General Order 40, KJR was reassigned to a high-powered "clear channel" frequency of 970 kHz.
KJR was originally was located at the Times Square Building in downtown Seattle. In 1925, it moved to the Terminal Sales Building, where Kraft had erected a 50-foot (15 meter) mast to serve as the station's antenna, which was soon superseded by a new, T-wire antenna built in North City near Lake Forest Park completed in 1927 (later the site of Saint Mark's Catholic Church), at which point the studios were moved to the Home Savings Building at 1520 Westlake Ave.
Kraft sold the station to businessman Adolph Linden in 1928. KJR was planned to be the key station for a new radio network, the American Broadcasting Company (unrelated to the current ABC radio network), with plans for a nationwide expansion. However, the effort failed and Linden and a subsequent owner, Ahira Pierce, were jailed for illegal financing, using money from financial institutions which went bankrupt. KJR was then acquired by NBC, which in 1933 leased the station to the Fisher family-owned Fisher's Blend Station, Inc., owners of KOMO radio, who moved the KJR studios to the Skinner Building. In 1936, KJR became an affiliate of the NBC Blue Network, and continued this affiliation after the Blue Network became ABC in the 1940s. In 1937, a new transmitter was erected on Seattle's West Waterway, which operated until 1996.
On March 29, 1941 KJR, along with the other stations on 970 kHz, moved to 1000 kHz, as part of the implementation of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement. That same day the Fisher family, after leasing the station for eight years, purchased it outright.
1944 call letter swap between KJR and KOMO
The August 1941 adoption of the Federal Communications Commission's "duopoly" rule restricted licensees from operating more than one radio station in a given market. At this time the Fisher family owned two Seattle stations – KJR on 1000 kHz and KOMO on 950 kHz – and their efforts to be granted an exemption were unsuccessful. The Fishers decided to keep the superior frequency of 1000 kHz, but also keep the KOMO call letters that they had held since the 1920s. Thus, on May 6, 1944 KOMO and KJR swapped call letters, with the KJR call sign moving from 1000 kHz to the less desirable 950 kHz. The next year KJR was sold to Birt F. Fisher, who was unrelated to the KOMO owners.
In 1946, KJR was purchased by Marshall Field and continued its affiliation with ABC until 1953, when ABC switched to KING. In July, 1952, Marshall Field sold the station to a group headed by Chicago businessman Ralph E. Stolkin, which sold it seven months later following Stolkin's departure to two Portland businessmen, Theodore Gamble and Howard Lane.
Following the purchase of the station by Lester Smith in 1954, KJR became a pioneer Top 40 music station, continuing with this format until 1982. Smith moved the studios to the transmitter site on West Waterway in 1955. In 1957, the station was sold to entertainers Danny Kaye and Frank Sinatra, and Smith stayed on as general manager. Sinatra sold his interest in the station to Smith in 1964, and the resulting partnership became known as "Kaye-Smith Enterprises." In the 1960s, under the programming guidance of Pat O'Day, the station was top rated in Seattle and well known for introducing the Pacific Northwest to many recording stars such as Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts and the Ventures. Today, the call letters are used by KJR-FM, which broadcasts a format that includes many of the songs and shows (including original American Top 40 shows from the 1970s) from that era.
KJR was sold to Metromedia in 1980, and evolved to adult contemporary in 1982, following in KING's footsteps. In 1984, Metromedia sold the station to Ackerley Communications for $6 million in cash. (Ackerley would buy KLTX (now KJR-FM) in 1987.) In June 1988, the station shifted to oldies, playing the music that had made the station famous throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
KJR's shift to sports programming was a gradual evolution starting in 1989, when the station added some sports-themed shows in mid-days and afternoons. The rest of the music programming would be phased out in September 1991, making KJR a full-fledged sports radio station.
In July 1994, KJR & KJR-FM were sold to a partnership with New Century Management and Ackerley titled "New Century Media" (Ackerley would re-acquire full control of the two stations in February 1998). Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) bought the stations in May 2002.
On November 4, 2011, at 7 a.m., KJR began simulcasting on 102.9 FM, replacing country-formatted KNBQ. This ended on June 13, 2013, when KNBQ (now KZTM) reverted to an Adult top 40 music format. During this time, Clear Channel did not transfer the KJR-FM calls from 95.7 to 102.9, instead co-branding the station as "Sports Radio 950 AM and 102.9 FM KJR".
KJR's listeners were entertained by some of the country's greatest radio personalities: Larry Lujack, Scotty Brink, Norm Gregory, Burl Barer, Pat O'Day, Eric Chase, Bob Shannon, Dick Curtis, "World Famous" Tom Murphy, Bobby Simon, Jerry Kaye, Gary Shannon, Ichabod Caine, "Emperor" Lee Smith, Lan Roberts, Kevin O'Brien (Kevin Metheny), Robert O. Smith, Charlie Brown, Bwana Johnny, Matt Riedy, Marion Seymour, Sky Walker, Tracy Mitchell, Bob Brooks and sports commentator Chuck Bolland, plus Bolland's much younger brother Mark "Jeffries" Bolland. Gary "Lockjock" Lockwood, a.k.a. L.J., was the disk jockey who had the longest tenure on the "Mighty Channel 95," from 1976-1991.
KJR served as the home of the Seattle SuperSonics from 1987–2006.
Since the 2006-2007 season, ISP Sports was the media rights holder for Husky athletics until IMG College took over. KJR was the Washington IMG College Network's flagship station from 2002-2014. (KJR has since lost the broadcast rights back to KOMO.)
In 2002, Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Jeff Nelson had surgery to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow. During his weekly show with Dave "Softy" Mahler, Nelson announced he would attempt to sell his bone chips on eBay. After earning bids as high as $23,600, eBay pulled the chips from auction.
In 2003, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird made a bet with morning host Mitch Levy that gained national publicity. The bet was over Bird's season assist/turnover ratio. If the ratio finished higher that 3:1, Bird agreed to be spanked by Levy on the air. If Bird won the bet, Levy agreed to purchase Storm season tickets. The bet was later amended to include Bird yelling "Harder, Daddy, Harder." The bet was ultimately called off by Bird. When asked at a later date, Tyler Orsborn (morning show producer at the time) suggested that Storm management were the real reason the bet was called off and not Bird.
During a 2006 radio interview with Dave "Softy" Mahler and former University of Washington quarterback Hugh Millen, then-Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim L. Mora said he'd be in the "friggin' head of the line" for the Washington Huskies football head coaching position, if it became available. Mora, who played for the University of Washington, later said he was only kidding during the interview, but was still fired by the Falcons at the end of the season. He would later coach the Seattle Seahawks for one season in 2009.
Host "Softy" began a feud with another sports show host in Salt Lake City, Utah after they argued about their predicted outcomes of the Washington vs. BYU game on September 5, 2008. After arguing with Hans Olsen of Sports Radio 1280 The Zone, Softy had an on-air meltdown where he claimed that he was going to choke Hans and repeatedly called him an idiot.
On August 26, 2017, KJR morning host Mitch Levy was arrested in connection with a prostitution sting. iHeartMedia has not issued a public statement on the matter. On October 6, Levy announced he would exit from the station after 23 years.
- "FCC Query Results". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
- "Radio News: Leaves Y. M. C. A. School", Seattle Daily Times, March 1, 1922, page 5.
- "Three Broadcasters Busy", Seattle Daily Times, February 28, 1922, page 5.
- "Amateur Radio Stations: Seventh District", Amateur Radio Stations of the United States (edition June 30, 1920), page 77. The "7" in 7AC's call sign indicated that the station was in the 7th Radio Inspection district, while the fact that the "A" was in the range A-W specified that the station was operating under a standard Amateur Station license.
- "New Stations: Special Land Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, October 1, 1920, page 5. The "X" in 7XC's call sign indicated that the station held an Experimental license.
- "Radio News", Seattle Daily Times, February 17, 1922, page 8.
- Northwest Radio Service Company advertisement, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 17, 1922, page 14.
- "Amendments to Regulations", Radio Service Bulletin, January 3, 1922, page 10.
- "New Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, April 1, 1922, page 4. Limited Commercial license, issued March 9, 1922 to Vincent I. Kraft in Seattle, Washington for operation on 360 and 485 meters for a three months period.
- "Gets Federal Station Call", Seattle Daily Times, March 15, 1922, page 8.
- "Wireless Laughs at Wire", Seattle Daily Times, March 18, 1922, page 5.
- "Alterations and Corrections: Broadcasting Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, November 1, 1922, page 7.
- "Radio Broadcasts", Seattle Star, June 23, 1922, page 2.
- "Amendments to Regulations, Broadcasting Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, May 1, 1923, page 12.
- "Alterations and Corrections: Broadcasting Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, June 1, 1923, page 10.
- "Alterations and Corrections" Radio Service Bulletin, February 2, 1925, page 8.
- "Broadcasting Stations, by Wave Lengths, Effective November 11, 1928", Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S. (Edition June 30, 1928), page 173.
- "KJR Expands Service", The Seattle Times, 24 December 1924, p. 3.
- John F. Schneider, Seattle Radio, (Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2013), p. 31.
- William Hanford Brubaker, A History of Radio Broadcasting in Seattle Up to the Establishment of the Radio Act of 1927, (Seattle: M.A. thesis, University of Washington, 1968), pp. 38-39.
- "New Radio Chain Pushes Eastward", Washington (D.C.) Evening Star, August 1, 1929, page 46.
- Schneider, op. cit., pp. 33, 38, 41.
- "Federal Radio Commission" (Decisions: February 14, 1933), Broadcasting, March 1, 1933, page 32.
- "Blue Would be ABC", The Seattle Times, 26 October 1944, p. 15.
- Schneider, op. cit., pp. 41, 46.
- Radio Broadcast Stations, Federal Communications Commission (March 29, 1941 edition), page 19.
- Schneider, op. cit., p. 41.
- "Ban On Multiple Ownership in Same Area", Broadcasting, August 11, 1941, pages 6-7.
- "KOMO-KJR Seek Relief on Duopoly", Broadcasting, March 13, 1944, page 18.
- "KOMO, KJR in Seattle Exchange Call Letters", Broadcasting, April 24, 1944, page 72. 950 kHz was a "regional" frequency, with a power limit of 5,000 watts, while 1000 kHz was a "clear channel" frequency, which allowed powers up to 50,000 watts.
- "KJR-KOMO Separation", Broadcasting, 12 November 1945, p. 100.
- "Marshall Field Firm Buys KJR", The Seattle Times, 19 July 1946, p. 3.
- "KJR (advertisement)" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 19, 1948. p. 53. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- "Radio KING's Coronation Monday" (advertisement), The Seattle Times, 31 May 1953, p. 16.
- "Hughes to Sell R.K.O. Stock", The Seattle Times, 19 September 1952, p. 15.
- "R.K.O. Hunts New President After Stolkin Quits", The Seattle Times, 23 October 1952, p. 52.
- "Ownership Changes", Broadcasting, 19 January 1953, p. 118.
- "Ownership Changes", Broadcasting, 6 December 1954, p. 999.
- Marty Loken, "Like It or Loop It, KJR's Still No. 1", The Seattle Times, 12 April 1964, p. 19.
- Schneider, op. cit., p. 46.
- "Changing Hands", Broadcasting, 30 December 1957, p. 50.
- Schneider, op. cit., p. 97.
- Norm Gregory Radio Scrapbook: KJR 1919 to 2001, February 9, 2012 (normgregory.com)
- Victor Stredicke, "KJR Sold for $10 million", The Seattle Times, 7 March 1980, p. D-9.
- "Ackerley Firm Agrees to Buy KJR", The Seattle Times, 23 February 1984, p. C-10.
- Victor Stredicke, "KJR Owner has faith in AM-radio venture", The Seattle Times, 24 June 1984, p. TV Section, p. 2.
- Gary Lockwood TV commercial for KJR (youtube.com)
- "New Century Assumes Seattle Stations; Management Named", Radio & Records, 22 July 1994, page 3.
- "Transactions", Radio & Records, 27 February 1998, page 8.
- "Stop the insanity: Bidding for Nelson's bone chips reaches $23,600". Sports Illustrated.com. May 15, 2000. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- Associated Press (July 21, 2003). "Bird apologizes to fans for making wager". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- Pasquarelli, Len (2006-12-15). "Mora says he's happy with Falcons". Retrieved 2013-12-18.
- England, Dave. "Seattles 950 Am Sports Show Host "Softy" Is The Ultimate Loser". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-12-18.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Mitch Levy Exits KJR Following Prostitution Sting Arrest
- "Sounders FC announces iHeartMedia as new radio broadcast partner, with 950 KJR AM becoming radio flagship of the Rave Green". Seattle Sounders FC Communications. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KJR
- Radio-Locator Information on KJR
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KJR
- FCC History Cards for KOMO (covering KJR 1927-1944, KOMO 1944-1981)
- FCC History Cards for KJR (covering KOMO 1927-1944, KJR 1944-1980)