KGY, longtime AM presence, now offering FM version

Station hopes to boost audience amid turnaround

Staff writerJanuary 19, 2014 

Some things never change at KGY radio.

It still occupies a prime spot at the north end of the port peninsula that it has been in since 1960. The site offers one of the best workplace views of Budd Inlet in Olympia.

But in other ways the station has experienced a lot of change, and more change is ahead for a station that has been in existence since 1922.

The station’s longtime owner, Barbara Kerry, passed away in 2007. Her daughter, Jennifer, is one of the principal owners of the business today, while Barbara’s grandson, Nick, is the station’s business manager.

The station, like other stations throughout the country and media in general, has experienced a recent industry-wide decline in revenue. Combine that with the recession and revenue fell 25 percent to 30 percent, general manager Jackson Dell Weaver said.

KGY’s staff shrunk as a result to about a dozen employees from about 35 employees 10 years ago, he said.

Weaver, meanwhile, who specializes in turning around the fortunes of radio stations, was hired two years ago to get KGY, which he calls “quintessential Olympia radio” back on track.

“We’re making money and back in the black,” he said.

An additional change for the station is that it is going to rebroadcast KGY-AM on 95.3-FM because 85 percent of the radio listening audience is listening to FM radio, Weaver said.

The station is broadcasting at 95.3 and will soon be broadcasting at full strength.

This is not the first time that KGY has had ties to FM radio.

KGY has had an FM presence since 1992, a station that has offered a variety of music formats and call letters over the years. Currently it is known as KAYO 96.9 FM, playing hits-oriented country music.

KAYO has about 100,000 adult listeners per week, compared with just 15,000 for KGY-AM, he said.

Weaver said the overall size of the AM radio listening audience hasn’t changed that much, but listener habits have, with more people spending less time listening to AM radio.

AM radio also has faced stiff competition from TV for “morning drive” listeners, Weaver said, citing the example of how popular Q13 Fox News has become.

Meanwhile, business manager Kerry, who started working at the station in 2006 when he was 17 and then interned there during summers off from school, said the business has improved.

“We are a lot better off for the first time in a long, long time,” Kerry said, “and Jackson is a huge part of that.”

KGY 1240-AM, 95.3 FM; KAYO 96.9 FM

Owner: The Kerry family.

Location: KGY and its other stations broadcast from the edge of the port peninsula. The station was built on piers and overlooks Budd Inlet.

Years in business: The station opened in 1922 and has been owned by the Kerry family since 1939.

Type of business: KGY-AM broadcasts music — oldies — news and sports, and is set to rebroadcast that format on 95.3 FM. KAYO-FM plays hits-oriented country music.

General manager: Jackson Dell Weaver.

Employees: About a dozen.


Advice to business owners: Give employees an active role and voice in the business. “You have to give people a higher purpose,” Weaver said.

Did you know? Weaver, 63, has spent most his life in radio. He now works on contract to do several things, including interim management, turnaround management, as well as to manage radio stations through reorganizations or bankruptcy. He characterized his current role as helping to turn around KGY.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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