Pat O'Day

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Pat O'Day (born 1934 as Paul W. Berg) is a Pacific Northwest broadcaster and promoter.[1] He is probably best known as the afternoon drive personality at Seattle's KJR 950 in the 1960s,[2] he would eventually become program director and general manager. He owned KYYX – FM 96.5 Radio in Seattle[3] in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. This frequency is now occupied by KJAQ. The current KYYX station in another city has no connection.

Starting in 1967, O'Day served as race announcer and commentator during Seafair for various radio and TV stations, most recently KIRO TV. The television station, however, announced it was parting ways with O'Day in 2013 and he would not return to broadcast the race.[4]

He set the Guinness world record for water skiing non-stop (around Lake Washington) for 4 hours 52 minutes, in 1959.[5]

He is responsible for bringing the Seattle music scene to national prominence.[6]

In 1998 a plaque featuring Pat O'Day with a photograph of him was added to the permanent disc jockey exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.[5]

O'Day has lived in the San Juan Islands where he sells real estate.[7]

O'Day is the author of, It Was All Just Rock 'n' Roll, by Pat O'Day and Jim Ojala, detailing his work in radio and the concert promotion company, Concerts West. (first edition published Oct 18, 2002, second edition, It Was All Just Rock-'n'-Roll II: A Return to the Center of the Radio & Concert Universe, published Dec 2003) ISBN 978-0970626486

He has three sons (Garry, Jerry, and Jeff) and one daughter (Kelsey).[1] Although a reputation for excessive drinking hurt him early in his career, he entered Schick Shadel Hospital in 1986 for treatment. Most, recently, he has been Schick Shadel's spokesman in both radio and television advertisements.[1] In 2007 Pat O'Day joined more than two dozen other radio and music industry leaders as a member of the nominating committee of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

His story was featured in a 2015 documentary about radio DJs called I Am What I Play, directed by Roger King.[8]


Almost everything known (published) about Pat O'Day's work in the radio and live music concert businesses can be found in O'Day's autobiography, It Was All Just Rock-'n'-Roll II: A Return to the Center of the Radio & Concert Universe.[5]

The book is an exposition of O'Day's career as an on-air personality and manager in the radio broadcast industry, and an insider's view into the genesis of the modern live music concert industry. O'Day reveals many personal stories and cogent revelations about life in the entertainment and broadcast industries, as well as his exploits and accomplishments in the world of turbine jet-powered hydroplane boating, and his "U-95."

Notably, chapter one Spanish Castle Magic, begins by recounting his first (almost unremarkable) conversation with a "skinny young man" named Jimi Hendrix, in 1961, at O'Day's flagship teen dance club the Spanish Castle. Seven years later, the now famous Hendrix would ask O'Day backstage at an arena concert in Texas, "Pat, can you believe this is happening?" Later that night, Hendrix had to remind O'Day of the 1961 fleeting conversation they had at Spanish Castle. In his autobiography, O'Day recounts Hendrix's background and career in the music business.[5]:16–29, 41

Thumbnail sketch of O'Day's radio career and broadcasting businesses[edit]

  • KVAS (Astoria, OR) Sept. 3, 1956. First radio job[9]
  • KLOG (Kelso WA) 1958/59(?). On-air personality/disc-jockey
  • KUTI (Yakima, WA) 1958(?). On-air personality/disc-jockey
  • KAYO (Seattle, WA) January 1959. On-air personality/disc-jockey
  • KJR (Seattle, WA) December, 1959-1974(1976?). On-air personality/disc-jockey/Manager
  • KORL (Honolulu, HI) 1976. Owner
  • KYYX (Seattle, WA) 1977. Owner
  • KKMI (Seattle, WA) 1983. Owner[10]
  • KXA (Seattle, WA) 1980. Owner[11]

As a youth, O'Day often accompanied his father to the Tacoma, Washington radio station, KMO, to watch him deliver his daily radio program. It was there that Pat decided his "life's direction" would be in broadcasting (p. 7).[5]

In 1998, a plaque featuring Pat O'Day with photograph of him was added to the permanent disc jockey exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.[5]

Teen dance club business in Oregon and Washington States[edit]

Beginning in 1956 at the Astoria, Oregon National Guard Armory, Pat's teen dance clubs (admitting only teens aged 15–20, and providing security) started out as, "Pat O'Day Dances." The following year it moved to the Kelso, Washington, National Guard Armory, then expanded to Bremerton, Tacoma, Lynnwood, and then to Bellevue (Lake Hills Roller Rink)(p. 77). Eventually teen dance clubs were also established in Olympia, Mount Vernon, Burlington, Westport, Tri-Cities, Yakima, and the north Seattle dance club "The Bummer" (p. 103).[5]

The flagship dance club was known as the Spanish Castle (located near the intersection of old Highway 99, now Interstate Highway S, and Kent-Des Moines Road, in Sea-Tac, Washington), and operated from 1959 until its closing in 1964 (p. 66). Famous artists who performed there include; Jan & Dean, the Venture's, Larry Coryell & The Dynamics, Merrilee Rush, Paul Revere & The Raiders, the Kingsmen, the Beach Boys, the Sonics, the Wailers, Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Jimi Hendrix.

In 1968, the dance club business was sold to Lester Smith and Danny Kaye along with local businessman, Mack Keith (p. 135).[5]

Pat O'Day & Associates and Concerts West[edit]

O'Day is the founder of what started out as Pat O'Day & Associates (POA), with Dick Curtis and Terry Bassett as principals (p. 41). In 1967, after opening a new regional operation in Dallas, Texas, POA changes the name to Concerts West (CW), becoming the largest concert company in the world, at that time (pp. 135, 348). Late 1968 CW merges with Kaye-Smith Enterprises (owned by Lester Smith and Danny Kaye) (pp. 31, 125, 135). O'Day attributes his inspiration to go into the entertainment business to Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, and Billy Graham crusades (pp. 44,47,50,150).

Describes how, at that time, CW re-invents the booking and handling of touring bands/artists (pp. 27–28). Describes the state of the concert industry before he got into it (pp. 235–236).

Concerts West client roster of touring musicians/groups, mentioned in O'Day's autobiography, included many well-known artists and bands of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (here, most famous listed alphabetically); the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Bachman-Turner-Overdrive, Bad Company, Bob Dylan, Bread, the Byrds, Canned Heat, Cat Stevens, Chicago, Country Joe & The Fish, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Donovan, the Doors, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Grand Funk Railroad, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, John Denver, Led Zeppelin, Linda Ronstadt, Moody Blues, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney & Wings, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Steppenwolf, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, The Mamas and the Papas, The Monkees, Paul Anka, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Three Dog Night (pp. 237, 238, 252, 254, 330, 349-354).[5] "In 1976 the firm presented over 700 shows"[1]

O'Day's describes his first live concert promotion series (featuring "mainline" artists), by agreeing to help promote and run the World's Fair Opening Twist Party, in 1962, at the Orpheum Theater, putting on two shows a day during the fair's opening weekend—all shows sold out or nearly did so (p. 236). The second concert promotion, O'Day books Del Shannon and support acts in a rented theater. One week after advertising for the concert begins, a total of 10 tickets have been sold. O'Day cancels the concert and adopts a slogan to remember this lesson, "A show with many small acts doesn't add up to a big show. It's still just a show with many small acts." (p. 237).

1963, O'Day and his associate, Dick Curtis, produced the first of what was to become a successful string of enhanced concerts at the 3,200 seat Seattle Opera House (located at Seattle Center). The first such show, the Seattle Spring Spectacular, featured such artists as April Stevens and the Four Seasons, along with Northwest bands as warm-up acts. Offering three shows in a single day, each act was typically limited to four or five songs. Pat O'Day and Dick Curtis decide to modernize and enhance this live concert experience by adding ushers in tuxedos and back performers with a full orchestra, believing the enhanced experience would create repeat customers. This first concert and all the rest of the Seattle Opera House series of concerts sold all available tickets. Notable performers during this run included; Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys and Roy Orbison (pp. 237–238).[5]

Of historical note, as told by Pat O'Day in a 2015 speech for the Eastside Heritage Center Benefit (relating to O'Day's concert company, Pat O'Day & Associates):

  • The Beatles were the first (post 1962 World's Fair) show at the "Coliseum" (now KeyArena).
  • O'Day's first client was Jimi Hendrix
  • Elvis Presley worked exclusively with Pat O'Day & Associates for live concerts, and they handled "every single appearance from 1969 until his death in 1977".[12]

Chapter 12 Beginnings / Elvis, The Beatles and the birth of the arena concert industry[edit]

Chapters 12 through 14 cover the early days of Pat's involvement with (and creation of) the modern concert promotion and touring industry. Chapter 12 starts at the beginning in Seattle, Washington.

During the Opera House series of concerts put on by Pat O'Day & Associates (POA), the city of Seattle was busy converting the 1962 Seattle World's Fair World of Tomorrow Exhibit hall into the 15,000 seat Seattle Center Coliseum (now Key Arena). The opening acts included the Righteous Brothers, the Exciters, Jackie DeShannon, "and others" (pp. 240–241).[5]

During the first several concerts at the new coliseum arena, POA struggled with the perennial problem of the inadequate sound system. POA then took their cue from Altec Voice of the Theater system, which used 15" cones for lower frequencies, and tweeters for high frequencies. O'Day had actually built similar speaker cabinets earlier for his teen dance clubs from JBL 15" speaker cones. At the coliseum, an array of such speakers were built and suspended 360 degrees around a stage which was placed in the center of the arena, cutting in half the distance sound needed to travel. The audience would be situated near the stage and thus within range to enjoy the new Rock and Roll experience (pp. 241–245).[5]

A stage located in the center of an arena posed a new problem; bands were accustomed to playing to audiences directly in front of them. Pat O'Day & Associates then [b]invent the first revolving stage[/b], being 30 feet in diameter and using electronic motors propelling eight automobile tires, and completing one full revolution every 60 seconds (reversing directions after two revolutions to avoid tangling power cords). The first band to use the new stage was The Mamas and the Papas. Thanksgiving 1966, the second band was the Rolling Stones (pp. 245–247).[5]

Chapter 13 Joy To The World: Concerts West and the new concert promotion business model[edit]

Now going by the name of Concerts West (CW), Pat O'Day and his associates design a premium state-of-the-art executive-style service for touring bands, music artists, and their managers. The new concept centered around the fact that live music shows have many components and disparate business needs. Music artists would now be free to concentrate on their music and performances, and the managers could spend more time looking after the artist and their future. All aspects of the shows would be handled by CW. Logistics; air travel, limousines and motels, venues and halls, ticketing and box office, trucking, sound, lights, catering and security—as well as all aspects of promotion; advertising & press, special appearances, and the printing of tickets, CW even acted as comptroller and a central point for the handling of all monies and disbursements (CW typically taking 10-20 percent of net proceeds) (p. 252). All clients were guaranteed that at least one of CW's principals would be present at every concert. Due to this guarantee and his other responsibilities at various radio stations, Pat O'Day has to work seven days per week (p. 253).[5]

Chapter 15 Taking Care of Business[edit]

Chapter 15 epitomizes Pat O'Day's dedication to Concerts West (CW), and the care of and service to touring music artists. In this chapter, O'Day relates how he overcame an unforeseen hurdle and won over as clients 1970s rock music group Bachman Turner Overdrive, (B.T.O.) over the (initial) objection of the group's business manager.

It began when O'Day was blindsided by his business partners' rebuff of B.T.O.'s business manager, Bruce Allen, after he called upon CW to handle B.T.O.'s tours. When an overworked O'Day (p. 253) finally caught wind of this, he went into overdrive himself to win back Allen's approval for CW to handle the group's promotion and touring. As part of the deal CW would split 50-50 all touring and promotion business with any other promotion company that was originally promised the group's business. In addition, O'Day promised that he personally would tour with the group and handle all aspects of each show, ensuring Allen and the group would never have to talk to anyone else from CW. O'Day knew this would work because he was planning to retire from his job as the afternoon DJ at KJR in Seattle, Washington (p. 285).[5]

O'Day goes on to relate what life on the road was like with B.T.O., including the story of him renting a high speed go cart track to celebrate the end of a successful tour, and his near-fatal and injurious accident during the 'BTO 500.'

O'Day next tells the incredible story of working with another popular 1970s group, Bread, and recounts how during Bread's last ever tour, and just 12 hours prior to their last ever concert in Salt Lake City, Utah, the tractor-trailer rig pulling a set of double trailers containing all of the group's equipment and instruments crashed and rolled over several times in the Arizona desert, destroying practically everything. O'Day details the harrowing and feverish 12 hours spent finding all the replacement equipment needed in order for the show to go on that night (only minutes behind schedule), and what happened after that (pp. 294–298).[5]

Chapter 17 Surfin' USA[edit]

In 1968, through independent television station channel 13, O'Day anchors his first live telecast of the Seafair hydroplane boat races held in Seattle, Washington, on Lake Washington (p. 336). From the time of the initial phone call asking him to anchor the race, until "show time," he has only 14 hours to fly out of Texas (leaving a Jimi Hendrix tour) and prepare for his commentator debut. He enlists the aide of then-famous Las Vegas singer and entertainer, Wayne Newton, to help with three of the seven hours Pat would be on the air doing play-by-play commentary and keeping viewers interested and entertained. That night he goes home and, for the "first time in [his] career" vomits from the "nervous exhaustion" (p. 337).[5]

1972, O'Day collaborates with Jim Clapp in building the first turbine jet-powered hydroplane boat, the "U-95." 1981, O'Day recruits, trains and introduces the first-ever female hydroplane boat racer—the 110-pound, blonde haired, 21 year-old Brenda Jones—to race his "unlimited hydroplane."[13] At that time, Jones was the world's women's sit-up champion ("2,000 sit-ups in 21 hours"), Jones was the only woman to race a hydroplane boat, and also to win a race (Mission Bay in San Diego) (p. 338).[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Pat O'Day". KISW Hall of Fame. 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 13, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Lacitis, Erik (June 20, 2013). "KIRO-TV ends Pat O'Day's long run as voice of hydros". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r It Was All Just Rock-'n'-Roll II: A Return to the Center of the Radio & Concert Universe, by Pat O'Day and Jim Ojala, published by Ballard Publishing, December 2003. ISBN 978-0970626486
  6. ^ Blecha, Peter (2001-04-03). "the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  7. ^ "To Acquaint You With Pat O'Day". Retrieved 2013-12-20.
  8. ^ Seventh Art Releasing, I Am What I Play. Retrieved April 14, 2017
  9. ^ "Pat O'Day". 1956-09-03. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  10. ^ "Radio Broadcasting History, Radio People (O)". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  11. ^ Victor Stredicke, "Old Gold Rock Sound Heralds the New KXA," The Seattle Times, 5 October 1980, TV, p. 26.
  12. ^ "Pat O'Day Featured Speaker at 2016 Eastside Heritage Center Benefit Dinner". YouTube. 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  13. ^ "Miss KYYX - History". Retrieved 2016-06-04.