Norm Gregory, IGM & KOQT in Bellingham

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This is the story of the little known connection between International Good Music (IGM) and a prominent Seattle disc jockey. IGM was a leader in radio automation. The Bellingham company sold automation systems and, also, they produced and sent recorded programming to automated radio stations across the country. Their reel to reel music came in different formats, from rock, to MOR, to country and both announced and unannounced tracks.

The above photo is a standard ’70s era IGM automation system.  About this same time, IGM created an oldies dominant music service called “Hit Sound.” Billboard Magazine described the format in the July 18, 1970 issue.

They didn’t say so in the article, but the syndicated voice on the “Hit Sound” tapes was none other than Seattle’s Norm Gregory.

Norm Gregory

Norm was 26-years-old and, in real life, working at KJR in Seattle. It is a coincidence that I have this recording of Norm. I retained it all these years because the tape captured my first ever day on the radio — a Memorial Day air shift at KOQT in Bellingham. I was 18 years of age in 1970 and had yet to graduate from high school.

In 2016, I sent a copy of this “Hit Sound” recording to Norm. He barely recalled his arrangement with IGM, but he knew they sent scripts to him at KJR and he recorded the liners and sent the tapes back to IGM. Norm had never before heard the “Hit Sound” format all put together “on-the-air” at a radio station. P.S. He was not too impressed with the format once he heard it!

Regardless of the bland programming, here’s a Pacific Northwest radio rarity — a 50-year-old recording of the late Norm Gregory doing his little known syndication gig. Plus, it’s a recording of IGM’s defunct “Hit Sound,” and it’s some of the only remaining audio from long gone KOQT radio.

I scoped this aircheck and it’s easy to keep track of who’s who.  The voices on it are Norm, announcing most of the music, Les Cole (KTNT, KMO, KOMO, KBRC, KVOS-TV) who reads a spot, introduces the weather and news, and then there’s me, a wet behind the ears kid, who gives a weather forecast and reads the news.  Over the years, I got to know Les Cole and we stayed in touch for about 30 years until he passed. 

Les Cole (L) with me at my dad’s 100th birthday party in 1998

“Hit Sound” aircheck with the voices of Norm Gregory, Les Cole and Steven Smith. KOQT Radio, May 30, 1970                          

Michael “Paul” Boss, 1969 photo

Editor’s note: Another KOQT announcer from that period was Mike Paul, the morning jock, who was talented for a young guy at a startup station. However, his voice is not on the above aircheck. In large part because of coincidence and Puget Sound Media, I recently reconnected with Mike. I learned that when he left KOQT, he headed to Ashland, Oregon and then into San Francisco. Michael worked in Utah as well, but is probably best known as Michael Boss — a popular ’80s jock on Tijuana based border-blaster XETRA-AM. The Mexican station was licensed to transmit a 50,000 watt signal that was directed into Southern California. Michael told Puget Sound Media, We had five towers and the ground wires were always wet, being so close to the Pacific Ocean. That was a real factor. Optimod audio processing and an AM stereo side-channel also boosted our volume big time. We were the loudest thing on the dial in Los Angeles. XETRA at 690 (Mighty 690) on the dial had a strong signal from the tip of Baja to Mount St. Helens and all up and down the California Coast. We received fan mail from Australia and Japan and even Sweden.”

 

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Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with Puget Sound Media in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.

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