Where the Cedars Meet the Sea

March 13th, 2008 by Ken

Over the years the other radio stations have come and gone,  their call letters nothing more than a mixed up alphabet  — KITN,  KTOL, KLDY, KQEU, KCPL — but only one remains — KGY.

     This month marks the 75th anniversary of one of the state’s oldest radio stations, its stability itself one of its greatest assets. 

     Radio experts argue whether or not KGY radio is the oldest station in the state, but it is one of the oldest.  Started in 1914 by a monk from St.
Martin’s College, Father Sebastian Ruth,  who received his official
call letters and transmitting license on April 4, 1922.  The station
started on the air with its new signal on April 18, 1922.

     Broadcasting originally from a“wireless” shack on the St. Martin’s campus in 1923 he moved it to a log cabin and operated on the radio theme “Where the Cedars meet the Sea.”

     In 1932 it was purchased by Archie  Craft who owned a radio station in Seattle, and moved to downtown Olympia on 11th and Capitol Way.  In 1939 the station was purchased by Tom and Theresa Olsen, whose family has owned it every since.It is now owned and operated by Barbara Kerry, their daughter.

     “Dad always said that news and local involvement was our strong suit,” said Kerry. “We’ve try to keep that in mind with everything we do.”

     Olsen was a native of Olympia and had been a sports reporter for the Seattle Star  and a theater owner.  He was part owner of radio stations in Yakima and the Tri-Cities and during the late 1950’s owned the weekly Olympia News.    “Dad believed that staff members were members of his own family and that community was an integral part of the station,” Kerry said.

    In 1941 the station was moved to the Rockway-Leland Building on State and Washington and in August 1960 moved into its new  facility at the foot of Washington Street on Budd Inlet.  There the Olsen’s planted Cedar trees in rememberance of it’s first motto “Where the Cedars meet the Sea.” 

Stability of employees was a staple with the Olson family. Throughout
the 40’s and into today, KGY employed some of the top newsmen in the
business – Sam Crawford, Bill Fox, Bob Cummings, Don Jones, Bob Macleod, and JohnTennis.  Many of them devoting decades to the community and the
radio station. Longevity at KGY is reflected in  Dick Pust, who has worked at the station since 1959 with a short break for military service.   Pust is now the station manager but still broadcasts his daily radio show from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. every day except Sunday. 

      In addition to hosting every major community festival, he has served on
the Olympia Planning Commission and has been the chair of the Olympia School District levy committee many times.

     Pust recently completed a six-year term as  president, vice president and president-elect of the Washington Association of Broadcasters demonstrating that KGY’s involvement extends to the professional aspects of radio as well as the local community.

Personal Observations

      KGY is the official voice of the community.  Once during a snow storm I was in the station when Dick Pust received a call from a young man who said, “I just heard on  KQ92 (another radio station) that school is closed.  Is it?”  

     It was like hearing it on KGY made it official.

     The station’s commitment to the community has been well documented.  It covers nearly every major community festival.   One of my favorite memories is when KGY broadcast the Lakefair fireworks — live. 

     A few years ago, KGY AM  was joined by KGY FM.  The FM recently changed its format to “Real Country” – – playing country hits of yesterday and
today.   I like the format and now have 96.9 programmed on my radio.

(The article you just read was written more than 11 years ago.)

Posted in Local Politics

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