At KTW, Seattle


In September 1974 Vic Stredicke, who covered radio for The Seattle Times back in the golden day when there was such a beat, wrote an appreciative appraisal of Greg's work as a "talk moderator" on KTW radio, Seattle. Greg, said Stredicke, had "fascinated listeners with his offbeat literary interests and his camaraderie with second-banana celebrities" and with the "studied extraneities" he had brought to the air since joining KTW.

Greg had become part of the regular daytime line-up of hosts--Skip (a.k.a. Aaron, just not yet) Brown and Sally Hill preceding him, sports-talker Wayne Cody following him. Then, at sunset each day, KTW, a "sharetimer," had to sign off the air, to make way for another station's signal, until 11:15 each night.

During his block of time, 1:00-3:00 each afternoon, Greg invited listeners to call in with comments and to participate in interviews of such national figures as Mel Brooks, Margaret Hamilton, and Henry Fonda, plus local celebrities the likes of Ivar Haglund, Stan Boreson, and Pepper Schwartz. Sometimes the famous were passing through, or performing in, town. More often interviews were conducted via expensive WATS phone lines. Says station manager Dave Newton, "We pioneered big phone bills and out-of-town interviews. Sure could have used Skype." Click here for a partial list of interview subjects, dug from the memory of Greg's whip-quick-and-smart producer Kathy Cain.

On January 7, 1974, KTW began broadcasting "The Palmer Report," short commentaries Greg wrote and voiced, usually three or more days a week; they were aired several times during the broadcast day. Stredicke called them "always overstated, usually over-simplified, frequently sardonic." In the year of President Nixon's resignation, there were, of course, ample targets for satire--though Greg said, in an interview with Linda Gist (later his colleague at KING5 television), that it was easy to find "two good ideas for brief satire out of any issue of any newspaper." [Argus, May 30, 1975] See below for samples of "The Palmer Report."

Nine months later, or so, Greg convinced station management to let him try a dramatic comedy feature he named the "Hit and Run Players." It replaced "The Palmer Report" twice a week. This feature involved music and sound effects (by production managers Dave Corry and Jim Cissell), and the voices of any station staff (except news announcers) that Greg could press into service. The only extra cost to the station was $8, for a recording of Renaissance music used to open and close the segment. The feature's focus was sometimes political (for example: Man 1: "I don't see how Ehrlichman can base his defense on the idea that Nixon lied to him, while in the same trial Haldeman based his defense on Nixon's innocence." Man 2: "It's simple. Haldeman's a ventriloquist, and he lied to Ehrlichman while Nixon innocently moved his lips." Man 1: "Thank you.")

But the target might just as well be popular culture, as Linda Gist's summary of another bit makes clear ("'Roger, do you smell … ah … water?' That line signals the beginning of the disaster in a three-minute radio feature called 'The Showering Inferno.' In this satire of the popular movie, a super-skyscraper is engulfed not by flames, but by a flood--from out-of-control plumbing. As the sound effects and the occupants' hysteria mount, the building also endures an earthquake, a plague of locusts, a minor fire on another floor, a gorilla on the roof; finally, a wizard takes off from the penthouse in a balloon."). Click here for another H&R bit.

Greg described the function of the "Hit and Run Players" on a radio news program as the equivalent of a newspaper's comic strip. In May 1975, the "Hit and Run Players" was awarded one of twenty-five George Foster Peabody awards, as an exemplar of the "creative vigor characterizing American radio today." Greg accepted the award on behalf on KTW that spring in New York, having left the station, along with forty other employees, on January 21, 1975, the day KTW left the air.

During the hubbub that ensued (and there was noticeable hubbub), Greg sent a letter addressed to Radio Editor Vic Stredicke at The Seattle Times. His edited (by The Times) remarks: "Perhaps, in 10 years, those who remember the KTW of 1974 will remember it as a talk station that couldn't attract a big enough audience, as was stated in the Sunday radio column [of February 2, 1975]. But for the listeners to the station, and I include those of us who listened from inside as well, KTW-1974 will be remembered as people: broadcasters, guests and callers who were alternately happy, mad, confused, and funny, incoherent, right and wrong--but above all else, alive…

In its comparatively brief time on air, KTW put its audience in direct contact with more influential, important, interesting, and knowledgeable people than any other radio or television station in the country, and probably the world. Grandiose though that may sound, I believe it to be true.

My point is that what KTW did in the 1˝ years it was on the air is more important than what it didn't do the day it went off. True, our departure was abrupt. But how does one say goodbye after such a sad death? When a good friend goes, it is hard enough adjusting to his departure, without having him around trying to say farewell.

… Perhaps the biggest thanks go to Fred Danz, our owner who had the guts to put KTW's talk on the air in the first place, and Dave Newton, manager, who took Fred's and his own ideas about a radio station that didn't insult or pander, but informed and entertained, and made them work. Thanks to you, too, Vic, for your steady support and encouragement. And to Rick, Hank, Froggy, Jerry, Dorothy, Dave, Doc, Mary Alice and the thousands of others, goodbye."

Greg Palmer
ex-KTW talk host


The Palmer Report No. 1

The Palmer Report No. 69

The Palmer Report No. 80

The Palmer Report No. 145