Recently Steve Leeson, who has worked in Pacific Northwest radio (Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Chehalis), reflected on meeting Charlie Brown and the good times he had visiting KJR back in the seventies.
“KJR had always been the station that I wanted to work at. Former neighbor/mentor/boss Stan Foreman and Former KGHO-Hoquiam jock Steve West arranged for me to stop in at KJR a few times. West was KJR’s GM back in ’75 when I met Charlie. I also met Gary Shannon who worked briefly at KGHO as did Gary Crow. On one visit to KJR, after Charlie’s show, he and I sat down in the lunchroom and talked, I say more about that in my story below. After our break, we went upstairs and I watched Charlie do some production, and he gave me a few tips, and then we said goodbye. The rest of that day at KJR, I spent with Chief Engineer Lee Hurley. I also became friends with Ichabod Caine who was hired to replace Charlie. In 1979, Ichabod was kind enough to do a field trip to KECD at Centralia College (where I was enrolled) and to present a seminar for our radio class.
“Here’s one of my favorite ‘Charlie’ stories. What follows was Charlie Brown, speaking to me when I was visiting him at KJR in 1975. ‘Good Morning!! Hey, I’m gonna grab a cup of coffee real quick, you want some’? Me: ‘No thanks, I’m good.’ Charlie takes a Kava instant coffee jar along with an empty one he’s using as a cup. He pours some instant powder into the jar, fills it with hot water from the sink, puts the lid on and shakes it up. ‘You sure?, I’ve got some Styrofoam cups if you want one?’ I say, ‘No, but thanks.’ He sees my camera and asks, ‘Who did you say you were with again?’ I jokingly replied, ‘Billboard Magazine….no, actually Steve West sent me up here, he’s from my hometown and I’m a weekender at the station down there where he worked.’ Charlie says ‘Oh yeah? We have a few guys here that worked out there.’ Then he goes into a stop-set, does a bit on cart with Clydie, and turns around and asks ‘Do you wanna take a picture? Oh, wait’! he says ripping the Kava label off of his coffee jar cup, ‘Can’t be endorsing that’! and he says ‘Bazooka’ as the camera goes off (the photo from that day is below).
“After his show, we went downstairs and sat in the break room. He let me pick his brain on how to be so funny and entertaining. I learned that it took hours of preparation, and keeping up with current events, and relaxing on-air and being genuine. We sat there for about an hour. Charlie told me he was going to be leaving in a few weeks for Dallas. That was confidential info, he asked that I not tell anyone else. Here I was, a teenager starting out in radio with the ambition to entertain people and to make them laugh, and here he was, more famous than Johnny Carson in the Pacific Northwest, taking time out and an interest in really talking with me. God Bless you my friend.” ….Steve Leeson
Steve Leeson’s bio:
In 1974, he started out at KGHO (AM-FM) in Hoquiam. At that time, the two stations simulcast. Steve also worked most of the Grays Harbor Radio stations, and KITI-AM in Centralia. Initially he was “Steve Russell,” later adopting the air name “The Cruiser.” When Spencer Broadcasting bought KQEU-AM in Olympia, they moved the KGHO-AM call letters from Hoquiam to Olympia. Meanwhile, back in Hoquiam, the AM became KJET-AM stereo and KGHO-FM remained a Hoquiam station. Steve was the KJET program director and the chief operator at KGHO-AM and he recorded voice tracks. Even though the stations have since sold, his voice tracks occasionally play on KGHO-LP in Hoquiam. After 38 years with the railroad, Leeson is now retired. His last position, prior to retirement, was as a locomotive engineer for BNSF, Canadian Pacific, and Amtrak.
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