This week’s Tower Site installment is a partial reprise of a segment that originally appeared in the column on February 9, 2007, as we were recapping the fun of our Big Trip 2006, a two-week odyssey that took us all over the Pacific Northwest, from Seattle to Eugene to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and back.

Of all the stations we saw on that trip, there may have been none as stunningly scenic as KGY in Olympia, with studios perched right on the water – and so we’re delighted to be able to feature it as part of the 2012 Tower Site Calendar, now shipping from the store

Before we pulled in at KGY on our way south from the Seattle airport, we stopped by another Olympia site, a rare triplexed tower, the tall stick shared by KBRD (680 Lacey), KGTK (920 Olympia) and KLDY (1280 Lacey) on Sleater-Kinney Road on the city’s east side. KBRD and KLDY were interesting stations, running noncommercially as the legacy of their late owner, Skip Marrow, who programmed standards on “K-Bird” and classical on “K-Lady.” A few months after our visit, the foundation established after Marrow’s death sold KLDY, which is now doing Spanish religion, but it’s using the proceeds to keep K-Bird chugging along with the standards, which seems pretty neat to us.

So, for that matter, does our next tour stop: Olympia’s venerable KGY (1240), perched right on the water at the Port of Olympia…

Is this a beautiful radio station, or what? We’d wanted to see KGY for a long time, and sales manager Dennis Brown was happy to take a few minutes at the end of his day to show us around the compact two-story building sitting on pilings in the water.

I’m not sure how in the world I’d ever get any work done in the KGY air studio, which has that million-dollar view of Budd Inlet and the marine traffic heading in and out of Olympia, and a view out to the lobby, too, but it sure is a nice space.

The room includes a little desk for KGY’s talk programming, and the transmitters are right there, too – a Harris MW1 for primary use and a nice clean RCA BTA-1R as a backup.

Down the hall from the air studio, there’s a newsroom, a production room, and the studio for KGY’s more recent FM sister, KGY-FM (96.9 McCleary), which was running mostly from a satellite service, but had a local morning show that uses this little room.

(I believe it has gone more local since our 2006 visit.)

Upstairs, the general manager’s office sits right above the air studio, complete with a telescope to better observe all the ships and birds going by. The rest of the second floor is the sales office, plus some storage space over the front of the building.

The AM tower sits right out in the parking lot, with a ground system extending into the water, giving this kilowatt on 1240 plenty of punch.

It’s a great little local station, and we’re as hopeful as can be that its owners work things out with the Port of Olympia, which has been trying to relocate the station so it can develop the area with new hotels and restaurants.

2011 update: The tower seen here no longer exists; in 2009, it was replaced with a new tower on higher ground a short distance away. Meanwhile, the city and the station came to at least a short-term agreement on the studio site out there on the pier, which is now safe until at least 2014.

Thanks to Dennis Brown for the tour!

The KGY tower and studio site is one of many you’ll find featured in the all-new Tower Site Calendar 2012, available now from the all new store!

Next week: WLBC/WXFN and the former WLBC-TV, Muncie, Indiana


  1. It would have been nice if they just moved that beautiful SS tower with a helicopter like WROL did years back

  2. Another 2011 change – Dick Pust, longtime DJ (53 years!) and most recently GM was let go back in March. He ran (unsuccessfully) for Mayor of Olympia.

Comments are closed.