On March 1, 1965 KKEY became a secondary affiliate of the ABC Radio Network when it picked up “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club” program. KWJJ had dropped the show from its schedule when it switched to a Country format. By October 1966 KKEY was broadcasting a “Continental” music format. KEY Radio described itself as playing “Distinctive Good Music” and went on to say “Total Announcements limited to Nine Minutes per hour.” KKEY as also an “NAB Code” station. In 1967 KKEY was granted pre-sunrise authorization of 500 watts. KEY continued daytime with 1kw non-directional. By October 1967 Eugene “Gene” Berg was Chief Engineer. By November 1967 KEY slogan: Better music.
On November 29, 1967 KKEY was authorized to change city of license from Vancouver, Washington to Portland, Oregon. In addition KKEY was also authorized to raise power from 1kw to 5kw and install a daytime directional array. On January 1, 1968 The ABC Radio Network was spit into four new networks. “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club” became part of the American Entertainment Network. KKEY became an Entertainment affiliate, carrying its news at the bottom of the hour. By May 1968 KKEY had opened an additional studio in Portland, Oregon in “The Flatiron Building” at 1226 W. Burnside St. This had previously served as a KEY sales office back to 1967. By October 1968 Ronald “Ron” Hudson was Chief Engineer. KKEY Slogans: The most refreshing sound in Town. Distinctive Good Music. As of November 1968 it was said KKEY was the only fully automated AM station in the Northwest.
Between November 18, & 22, 1968 KKEY raised power to 5kw, using a 3 tower array from its Vancouver broadcast site. A new Bauer model FB-5V transmitter had been installed. After KKEY raised power, the long running program “The Scandinavian Hour” moved to KEY Sundays 9:00am to 10:00am. This program began on Portland radio’s KFJR in 1925, moving to KXL, KGW & KPOJ before landing at KEY. “The Scandinavian Hour” on KXL had been hosted by Bob Anderson since 1942. Ralph Weagant also a KXL alumni who had worked with Bob, persuaded him to move his show to KEY. Bob Anderson was originally a KBPS alumni. Another such program “The Italian Hour” with “Rudolfo, your genial host” also moved to KEY from KWJJ where the program had begun in 1958. “Rudolfo” was Agostino Potestio.
On December 27, 1968 “The Don McNeill Show” as it was now known, was cancelled. Immediately after the cancellation KWJJ requested ABC move the Entertainment Network from KKEY to KWJJ, pointing out “Paul Harvey News & Comment” was an Entertainment Network program. Up to this point, original ABC Radio affiliates that previously carried Paul Harvey, could continue, even though they had affiliated with one of the other four ABC Networks. Paul Harvey was growing in popularity and KWJJ didn’t want to take a chance on loosing clearance, incase the Entertainment Network was picked up by a more powerful station like KEX, where it might run into trouble. ABC offered KKEY the Information Network affiliation, which KWJJ was jettisoning. KEY decided to go independent again.
On February 6, 1969 the FCC issued a license to KKEY covering the power increase and city of license change. KEY was now a Portland station. KEY Radio also changed format in early 1969 to an automated Top 40 format. Slogan: The KEY to Contemporary music. In 1970 KKEY switched their format to an automated Country format.
Then on October 4, 1971 Jack Hurd (formerly aka “Just Plain Jack” on KLIQ AM/FM, KGAR & 1969 founder of “Animal Aid”) became the first talk show host on the station, beginning KKEY’s 25+ years in the Talk Radio format. Jack Hurd’s program was on the air 11:00am to 1:00pm. The rest of KEY’s program day was filled with Country music but this would slowly be fazed out.
On November 29, 1971 two more talk show moderators debuted on KEY Radio. Russ Myer (formerly on KLIQ AM/FM) was on 9:00am to 11:00am. Dave Collins (formerly on KLIQ AM/FM & KWRC) 1:00pm to 3:00pm. KEY slogans: People to People Radio 11-50. KEY two-way conversation. On February 10, 1972 Jerry Dimmitt aka “The Dimmitt” (formerly on KUTY, KGIL, KOOS, KMCM CM, KLIQ AM/FM; later on KAYO) began weekdays 3:00pm to sunset. Also in 1972 Florinda J. “Linda” Weagant, wife of Ralph Weagant became acting General Manager of KKEY when her husband had a heart valve operation. Ralph recovered quickly and only missed a few weeks running the station.
Warren Weagant: “Ralph cancelled his ASCAP and BMI licenses and did not allow music on the air when he started fulltime Talk Radio programming. Only 8 commercials were allowed per hour, 2 minutes each and all ‘personal endorsements’ by the talk show host, who were also show salesmen. No recorded spots were allowed either…all live, personal endorsements. The only produced, regular type spots were just the ones on the Mutual network. Generally, no guests were allowed on the talk shows. Virtually all of the time was a conversation between the show host and the caller.” Moderators were private contractors for their shows. They received 40% of a sale and KKEY, the other 60%. If a separate salesman was involved, the split was 20%, 20%, 60%.
By December 1973 KEY Radio’s Portland studio address at the “Flatiron Building” had changed to 1223 S.W. Stark St. In 1974 Mary Pierce began her show on KEY. On August 12, 1974 Alan Hirsch (formerly on KLIQ AM/FM) joined with Jerry Dimmitt to co-host “The Dimmitt & Hirsch Show” 8:00am to 11:00am; Jim Fenwick (formerly KUIK CM, KPOJ, KOL, KGW CM) Portland’s first talk show host, did a more laid back program on KEY 11:00am to 1:00pm, than his KGW days. Also in 1974 Craig Weagant (son of Ralph) began Producing talk shows 1:30pm to sunset, Monday through Friday. Producing and call screening were done at the Vancouver studios with moderators at the Portland studios.
In February 1975 “The Dimmitt & Hirsch Show” expanded from weekday mornings to included also Saturdays 8:00am to 11:00am. In Spring 1975 Brad Eaton (formerly on KLIQ AM/FM, KVAS ND; later on KCYX PAD, KXL, KAYO, KPAM-860, KING AM/FM) began Saturday mornings, co-moderating with Jerry Dimmitt one weekend and Alan Hirsch another. Soon Brad Eaton was solo fill-in 8:00am to 11:00am, including an hour of “Buy & Sell”.
On June 24, 1975 Fenwick announced he would terminate his program on July 1, 1975. By mid July 1975 the KEY’s broadcast day consisted of Country Music 6:00am to 8:00am; Alan Hirsch & Jerry Dimmitt 8:00am to 11:00am; Laura Hall (or) Peter Marland-Jones aka P.M.J. (formerly on KMCM, KROW & KEX) 11:00am to 1:00pm; Jack Hurd 1:00pm to 3:00pm; Dave Collins 3:00pm to 5:00pm; Mary Pierce 5:00pm to 7:00pm; Ed Richter (later KBOO GM) 7:00pm to 9:00pm sign off. Steve Bradley (formerly on KPOK AM/FM / KUPL-FM; later on KGAR) served as Sunday morning producer, engineer and call screener. Shortly after being hired Steve relieved Ron Hudson CE to work on engineering projects Monday through Wednesday 8:30am to 1:30pm. Ron continued producing shows on Thursdays & Fridays, with Bill Mulikan producing on Saturday mornings. Steve Bradley then added Thursdays 8:30am to 1:30pm sometime later.
On August 1, 1975 Alan Hirsch left KEY. Jerry Dimmitt went solo, hours were shortened after a time 8:00am to 10:00am. Laura Hall moved to 10:00am to 11:00am. Brad Eaton was given the Saturday morning co-host position with Jerry Dimmitt. A while later Brad was given the Sunday morning show as well, 6:00am to 8:45am. Also in 1975 KKEY affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting System’s “Progressive” news feed at :55 past the hour. In Fall 1975 Addie Bobkins (formerly on KLIQ, KWJJ, KXRO, KXL, KEX, KEED, KVAL, KPTV, KISN, KCOP) inaugurated Sunday talk shows on KEY when he began his show 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Addie’s sidekick was Dallas McKennon (formerly on KGW & the voice of many cartoons). By then Laura Hall had been moved into thr 11am to 1pm time slot. In 1976 Lee Raymore (formerly on KMO, KYXI) joined the KEY moderators.
On May 3, 1976 KEY Radio became possibly the first Talk Station in the Nation to have a caller literally die while a moderator talked to the person on air. Laura Hall was chatting with caller Ruby Nelson, 62 “on the line when she heard a gasp, a thud and excited barking of a dog”. Laura Hall on the incident: “The ‘on air connection’ was open. The audience could hear the dog barking.” For 90 minutes Hall tried to rouse Nelson and learn her address. Hall: “I did leave the studio when we got the correct address, and went in with the emergency officers at the Nelson home. It did take more than 2 hours for the call to be traced.” Nelson apparently died almost instantly from a massive heart attack. In Summer 1976 Paul Moore (formerly on KVAN-1480) began producing KEY shows Saturday & Sunday afternoons. In May 1977 Laura Hall moved to KNND as P.D., then to KUGN & KAYO, Mutual News as their Paris correspondent, KPNW N.D., KMTR(TV) Managing Editor.
In May 1977 Jack Hurd died at age 59 of Emphysema. Leo “Lee” Evans took over Jack’s time slot 1:00pm to 3:00pm. John Cole was mornings 6:00am to 8:00am; Brad Eaton was added to the weekday schedule 8:00am to 9:00am, as well as continuing weekends; Jerry Dimmitt was 9:00 to 11:00am; The Bob Dye Show (formerly on KYXI, later on KLIQ, KXL) 11:00am to 1:00pm. On weekends Mary Kangas (formerly on KLIQ) was added to Saturdays 6:00am to 8:00am. In 1978 Rick Miller was doing a Midday talk show & Mike Caulkins was on Sunday mornings 6:00am to 8:45am. KEY slogans: People to People Radio 11-50. KEY two-way conversation.
[NO DATING FOR THESE HOSTS YET] Al Emrich (formerly KWLK AM/FM CM, KLIQ AM/FM, KGAR PM, KAAR VP/GM), Jim Cuomo, Henryene Edwards, Jack Hammer, Pat King, Frank Marshall, Merv Martin, Stormin’ Norman, Owens, Jimmy “Bang! Bang!” Walker (formerly on KGAR), Playboy Buddy Rose (formerly on KPTV).
By March 1980 Dave Collins is on KEY Radio 2:00pm to 5:00pm weekdays. By May 1980 Bill Haslam was doing a Sunday morning talk show. In Summer 1980 Roger Hart returned (formerly on KGON-1520, KISN, Paul Revere & The Raiders, manager and early producer, KGAR MD; later KKUL, KKEY, KYTE, KKSN, KZNY MD/PM, KKAD) doing his first talk show weekdays. The KEY Radio moderators were: John Cole, 6:00am to 9:00am; Roger Hart, 9:00 to 11:00am; Mary Pierce, 11:00am to 1:00pm; Lee Evans, 1:00pm to 3:00pm; Dave Collins, 3:00pm to 5:00pm; Jerry Dimmitt (later on KYXI, KAYO, KTNT, KMO, KAAR, KKEY, KXL, KKEY, Northwest Talk Radio Network PD, KVAN-1550, KKEY, KXYQ) 5:00pm to Sunset & off & Program Director. Weekends featured Ruth Kriko aka Ruthie Kaye. Also in 1980 Mutual’s Progressive Network became known as Mutual “Lifestyle”. By 1981 Todd Weagant (son of Ralph) began producing weekend afternoons. Sometime later Ron Hudson’s son, Kevin Hudson also produced weekend shows.
In 1983 KKEY was granted PSSA – Post-Sunset Authority of 186 watts for the first half hour and 100 watts in the 2nd hour. A power reducer was connected to the main transmitter to switch to these lower power levels. The Roy Masters program was then extended to 5:30pm year round. Also in 1983 Mutual’s Lifestyle news service at :55 past the hour was discontinued. KKEY then switched to Mutual’s “Comprehensive” news service at :30 past the hour. In 1984 Ruth Olin was a weekend moderator. On September 1, 1985 KEY Radio began carrying a morning block of religious programs. These shows had been moved from KLIQ, when the station became KMJK, a simulcast of its FM sister. By this time KKEY received FCC approval to begin night operation with 47 watts directional. KKEY then purchased a 50 transmitter and began 24 hour operation. KEY continued daytime with 5kw directional. Same pattern day & night.
On May 9, 1987 KKEY President & General Manager, Ralph C. Weagant died. In 1987 Rick Miller (later on KGW, KING, KXLY, KOMO, KGA) returned doing middays. On June 29, 1987 the FCC authorized KKEY to operate its transmitter by remote control from its Portland studios. By October 1987 Lee Raymore was on the air 1:00pm to 2:30pm, 5 days a week. KEY slogan: Portland’s Conversation Station. In late 1987 control of KKEY’s licensee, Western Broadcasting Co. was transferred to wife Florinda J. “Linda” Weagant, becoming President & GM. Also in 1987 KKEY began carrying Mutual’s on the hour news feed.