A radio adventure

January 30th, 2021 by Ken

(Editor’s note:  I celebrate my 50th year of media involvement this year.  I wrote this article about one of my radio ventures for my book “Personal History of Lacey.)

Everyone who knows Bob Blume has their favorite Bob Blume story.  Here’s mine.

Bob always wanted to be involved in the media.  He supported The Lacey Leader in its early days but turned away when the paper wrote articles he didn’t like.  But being a media owner remained one of his interests.

When word came that the FCC had allocated a new 50,000 watt  FM radio station for the greater Olympia area, Bob jumped at the chance and filed the necessary paperwork to obtain the station.  After months of paperwork and money, the FCC made their decision.  They awarded the station to Dave Rauh and Toni Holm, two former Evergreen students.  They started and continue to operate KXXO FM radio station in Olympia.

But Bob found an alternative.  Leasing property from him in South Sound Center was an AM radio station KLDY.  Owned by a Tacoma woman the station played a female oriented music selection.   When Bob had an opportunity to buy the station, he did so.

Now bear in mind, that Lacey had a long history in radio.  KGY radio began at St. Martin’s College, and though now headquartered in Olympia, it at one time had a studio in South Sound Center where it broadcast daily.  Other radio stations have also had a Lacey location.  KITN Radio moved from downtown Olympia into Lacey in the 1980’s and operated from a facility off of Sixth Avenue until it moved away and eventually went out of business.  KTOL radio broadcast from studios in Lacey off of Pacific Avenue until it too eventually moved away and faded out.

So, while Lacey was no stranger to radio stations, the same couldn’t be said for Bob Blume.  Bob had absolutely no concept of radio or just how it worked but he had his radio station and began pumping money into equipment, facility and staff.  He hired good staff, well-paid staff and set off to turn the world of broadcast on its ear.  He even hired me.

I did “Man on the Street” interviews.  I took a tape recorder and each day would ask people a “Question of the Day.”  I took the tape back to the station and they edited it for broadcast.  Bob paid me $10 an interview.  Without much effort and in just an hour or so, I could do 10 interviews and make $100 a day.  That was good money at the time.

But after a few months it became obvious that the station wasn’t doing what Bob wanted it to do – – and it was losing money.  Bob never liked to lose money.  One day he called me into his office.

“I’m losing $30,000 a month on this radio station,” he said.  “Why?”

Being honest like I was, it didn’t take me long to give him the answer.  “You’ve got too many people working for you and you’re paying them too much money,” was my reply.

The next morning Bob called me into his office and fired me.

The story ended for me there, but KLDY continued to operate for several more months with a very reduced staff and eventually, like KITN and KTOL it just kind of faded away.

Bob never again entered the radio business.


Posted in Business, History, The Real News

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