World traveling disc jockey
By Jim Hewett
In 1972 I returned to Seattle completing a round the world journey that started in September 1969. I had been a disc jockey at KOL-FM in the late sixties.
The only marketable skill I had at the time was as a licensed radio operator and on-air personality. I was looking for work and heard about KQIN in Burien. It was only 500 watts at 800 on the AM dial, but it was in the Seattle market and it had a n opening at the time. I applied.
The owners were John and Barbara Mowbray and the operations manager was Brian Calkins. I had worked with Brian briefly at the Auburn radio station so he knew my work. Since he knew what I could do I was immediately hired and began working every day on the air. It was a decision I never regretted. In essence I was staring all over in radio and I had to prove that was not just talented but reliable.
Early on I found out that the Mowbrays were partners with Jerry Robinson who owned the Highline Times Newspaper. It was a symbiotic relationship that served the Highline area well with local news and entertainment. Brian had programmed the station as more music-less talk traditional country station. We segued sets of three records in a row. In between the sets of three we did commercials and brief public service announcements. Brian was a very disciplined programmer. He had no dreams of personal glory. While Brian was in charge the station did surprisingly well in the Seattle market survey---it actually showed we had a small but measurable portion of the market.
When I joined the station in 1971 the station manager was John Mowbray, Brian Calkins was the Operations Manager, and Ray Kelly was the Sales Manager. I and one other announcer were the only non-titular employees.
At some point , Brian left KQIN to seek other challenges and I was named program director. I was able to bring in Burl Barter and Don Chambers who were major market quality performers whom I had worked with at KOL and KRKO in Everett respectively. Little KQIN began to sound like a major market station. We also hired Bill Jensen as a sales associate. Bill was young, well educated and dedicated to making radio broadcasting his career. Under Ray Kelly’s tutelage and with his boundless enthusiasm he brought in many new accounts for the station.
I changed the programming by adding in some of the current Nashville music that was becoming more and more popular all across the nation. Sales were good and the phones were ringing. I felt the audience was responding so I loosened up on the air. Times were good. I married my wife Atsuko,whom I had brought with me from Japan when I returned to Seattle. We rented a brick Tudor style house with 2.75 acres on Sylvester Road. Life was good. We celebrated our marriage at The Riverside Inn in Tukwila, which was one of Bill’s accounts. I played golf at Tyee Golf Course, which was one of Ray’s accounts. My wife got a job there in the pro shop as marketing manager. My green fees were free.
Then I went to Nashville to the Country Music Association Convention. County music had gone big time all across the nation. I met a little guy named Ben Peyton. He would later become program director of County KAYO, Seattle’s market leader in country music. They were changing from traditional county music to modern country. Ben called me in 1974 and hired me on one condition: I had to use the name I had used at KXLY in Spokane, KRKO in Everett and KOL and KOL-FM in Seattle.
Once again I became Robin Sherwood.
Ed Note: Bill Jensen (a star athlete from Enumclaw) worked with Jim Hewett in those days. Bill adds to Jim's story here.
I wanted to work in radio because of my love of music. After three years [70-73] in cable tv as a programmer I was hired at KQIN on the sales staff. I was guided in part by Ray Kelly & made enough sales & with clients telling me they got a response that I believed in the concept. I left after 13 months for KOL, KVI, KIRO, KHIT, KQIN again as Willie Davis (Green Bay Packer fame) bought it in 1985 and made it a 50,000 watt daytime, 10,000 night station. I left in 1986 after it was sold to Salem Broadcasting I finished my radio career as sales manager with KLSY/KIXI 1987 until 2004. The first run with KQIN was quirky. Barbara Mowbray with her spinning wheel going constantly along with being the receptionist. John vacuuming the station in the afternoon when he had nothing else to do. While I received little formal radio sales training both Ray & Jim were great for moral support. I believe without the existence of KQIN and this opportunity my career would have been in something other than radio. For this alone I am grateful. Jim and I continue to stay in touch.
I look upon those days fondly. I was just a weekend announcer at the station. After spending time working at various small to mid-market stations, I ended up living on Vashon Island, where the KQIN transmitter was located. I had a First Class license and, in those days, that was a requirement for transmitter logs, so I babysat the transmitter and worked weekends on air. I enjoyed John and Barbara and everyone who worked there. Amazing that a daytimer could do as well as it did in a crowded market, but you guys made that happen.