Stan Garrett KZEL, dead at 73

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
  • #48835

    Wanted to pass along some news from Eugene. This was posted in the Register Guard today. Stan was a friend and is dearly missed.

    Garrett loved and changed Eugene
    Your Turn
    Jay West Guest columnist
    I first met Stan Garrett in the early days of 1970 when I introduced myself to five talented and idealistic University of Oregon students who comprised the original on-air staff of KZEL-FM, a local radio station broadcasting from a small block building behind a riverside trailer park on Franklin Boulevard in Glenwood. They were working for free, resurrecting a dead radio frequency at 96.1 on the FM dial as a visionary new idea that they programed with their personal music collections consolidated into a record library.
    The “idea” was the Eugene version of “Free-Form Radio,” created for their generation of young Americans to reflect their ideas, needs and sensibilities. KZEL became the music, news and information of the day as seen through the lens of their generation in our local community.
    I was introduced to Free-Form Radio at age 25 while living and working in San Francisco and Los Angeles when pioneer radio stations KMPX and KPPC attracted audiences in 1968 and 1969. When I returned to Eugene and heard KZEL-FM on the air in Eugene, my life changed forever. And when KZEL disappeared one day from my radio, I had to know why. It took me to a little building in Glenwood beneath a 400-foot radio tower and meeting Garrett and those UO students for the first time. I did not know I was about to receive the blessing of his radio programming genius.
    I left Glenwood that day with an excitement and a commitment to those students, to try and help them get back on the air. With my wife Barbara’s support, I approached the owner of KZEL, Eugene lumberman George Zellner, about becoming involved with his station. Zellner suggested a way we could buy the station, and on May 1, 1970, KZEL-FM signed back on the air where it has remained to this day 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    I first hired Thom O’Hair as our program director, who left after a year to become a radio legend in his own right as program director with the Free-Form Radio pioneer “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue at historic KSAN in San Francisco. Garrett was KZEL music director at the time, barely 24 years old, and the staff consensus choice to become our next program director. A position he held until KZEL was sold in 1979.
    During his tenure as program director, Garrett earned a national reputation among the radio and record industries as one who knew music, market trends and matched his knowledge with creative programming expertise and an onair sound unique to the Northwest market through his understanding of local tastes and attitudes. On the air, he was best known as “Harry ’til 3” and he made sure that KZEL spoke to and for our Eugene audience and community.
    Garrett earned dozens of gold records and music awards from the recording industry. He introduced our audience to a diversity of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, Heart, Boston, Talking Heads, Gil Scott-Heron, Patti Smith and Elvis Costello who KZEL helped present in concert or in live local radio broadcasts. He was among the select few who reported radio music airplay to all the national music trade publications like Billboard Magazine, Radio & Records, Cash Box and Walrus.
    In 1975, Garrett was named Billboard Magazine’s “Program Director of the Year” for Progressive Radio while carrying KZEL on his shoulders as “Radio Station of the Year,” a rare national distinction among all stations in radio markets under 1 million in population that he and KZEL repeated in 1976. He shared the respect of scores of top music industry and radio professionals who recognized him for his love for community relevant commercial radio.
    I have often received credit for the station that we built together in Eugene, but the reason we became the voice of our generation is because of people like Stan Garrett and those who sacrificed and believed in our mission to the Eugene community. He helped break the gender and racial barriers in Eugene rock radio and went on to distinguish himself in so many other ways through syndicated agricultural radio programming and the Pro Rodeo Radio Network.
    Stan Garrett was an Oregon native and an Oregon Duck through and through, who loved his town, his university and his community. He was also a friend and a brother to so many of us, and a loving, funny, sensitive husband to his wife, Patricia, and his large and caring family. We will miss him the rest of our days, and we are grateful for his life and his spirit.
    Jay West, co-owner and general manager, KZEL-FM (1970-1979).

    Garrett died on Wednesday Nov. 4.

    Andy Brown

    Thanks for posting. I let know some of the old crowd who were there at the beginning.


    Are there any known airchecks from those early days of KZEL?

    Andy Brown

    Sleepy John might have some or know of any. I’ll inquire.

    Steve Naganuma

    Here is a site with lots of KZEL history (audio, scrapbook, photo gallery).


    The audio links on that KZEL history page seem to be dead. They link to .ram files, Real Audio Media, but the server eventually times out with no response. 🙁

    Example: is still actively registered in DNS but doesn’t respond.

    Dan Packard

    Fascinating history about KZEL, such a legendary and organic radio station for Eugene. The history links are from former KZEL afternooner Norman Davis (who is quite a broadcast legend himself).

    I would love to hear the KZEL program from 1971, “I seem to be a Verb” – ideas and designs of Buckminster Fuller, airing at 1:45 pm.


    Agreed Dan. I actually did a couple of months of airshifts on KZEL in 2002 before getting blown out by G Micheal Donovan who said I wasn’t mean enough. Dictorial management didn’t work out well for me but life goes on. But agreed a great heritage station.


    Found this.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.