KGY braces for possible move

OLYMPIA – KGY Radio could move to make way for future Port of Olympia development, and although the longtime general manager says he is prepared to make that move, the cost of moving could be a challenge in this slower economy.

“If we have to go, we have to go,” said Dick Pust, an employee at KGY since 1959. Pust is the general manager and the host of a longtime morning radio program at the station.

Since 1960, KGY has occupied a two-story building on Port of Olympia property that sits atop pilings at the very north end of the peninsula that juts into Budd Inlet. Questions about the future of that property were thrust into the spotlight in August when the port commission voted to move forward with development of NorthPoint, a 2.4-acre parcel that includes KGY.

The property, zoned urban waterfront, could be the future site of a hotel or other public amenities, such as a public pier. At the Aug. 26 port commission meeting, one conceptual drawing showed the KGY studios as a public pier.

Pust, 69, who attended the meeting, said Thursday he wishes the port viewed the KGY property as a possible attraction for NorthPoint, saying visitors always are welcome to come and see the studios.

“Not one person at the port has expressed interest in the historic value of the property,” he said. “They see it as a piece of real estate that they would like to lease.”

KGY could move or be part of a future NorthPoint development, port Executive Director Ed Galligan said, but the port will know more once it receives a development proposal for the property. “Until we get a proposal, it’s really speculative,” he said about what might or might not happen to KGY.

Although the port commission voted to move forward with development, it has yet to issue a request for proposals from potential developers of NorthPoint, said port spokeswoman Kathleen White said. Development is targeted to begin in 2012.

Meanwhile, KGY is doing all it can to boost its revenue for a possible move, a move that Pust estimates could cost the station about $1 million. KGY, which broadcasts on both AM and FM, has applied to the Federal Communications Commission to boost the strength of its FM signal and has hired a new program director to join its 25-person staff. With the port’s help, a new AM transmission tower was recently erected atop a new parking lot near KGY.

“We’re not sitting here fading away,” Pust said.

At the same time, the radio station faces a new round of expenses, he said.

KGY’s rent will increase in January to about $2,400 a month from about $1,300 a month as part of a five-year lease extension signed with the port in April. The station also is paying about $800 a month for its new transmission tower, although it is not in use because the station needs to bring power to the tower at an estimated cost of $10,000 to $12,000, Pust said.

The lease extension can be terminated by either the port or KGY with six months notice, but there are exceptions with regard to future NorthPoint development, according to a copy of the lease.

Olympia Master Builders President Tim Dickey, a guest on Pust’s Thursday morning radio show, said he wishes Pust “all the best in the future,” although he declined to comment on the differences between KGY and the port.

Dickey acknowledged that KGY has done a lot for the community.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403