Lester Smith Sells KISW

Lester M Smith, who under the business name Alexander Broadcasting owns KISW, agreed last week to sell the high rated album rock station for $13 million to Nationwide Communications, broadcast division of the Nationwide Insurance Company.
Smith, 66, said the primary reason for selling was that the price was right. “You can’t take it with you,” he added. Smith and a school days friend, entertainer Danny Kaye, purchased KJR in 1954, the Portland station KXL in 1955 and added KISW to the growing chain in 1965. Last week, KISW marked its 15th anniversary as a rock station, but the frequency actually dates to the first days of FM broadcasting. From 1947 to 1956 KISW had a classical format.
“We are going to see a lot more multiple market operators,” Smith predicted. “Communications companies are becoming bigger.” Kaye-Smith sold KJR for $10 million in 1980. Smith will retain other entertainment-related businesses in Seattle, including Kaye-Smith’s recording studio and BPI, a radio music service. He will also retain KXL AM & FM in Portland and KJRB and KEZE FM in Spokane.

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times. --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke

3 thoughts on “Lester Smith Sells KISW

  1. . . . “a lot more multi-market operators”. . .sad but prophetic.

    Today’s radio exists as but the frigid exuvia* of the business we all loved.

    *the cold, dried-up, sloughed-off exoskeleton of an insect, crustacean or arachnid, and another inspirational Recaptcha

  2. KISW-FM was still classical music in 1965. I stopped by there one evening and met the very young DJ/engineer who was working the board and playing the classics.

  3. Sadly, Burl Barer’s video about an encounter between Pat O’Day and Lester Smith is no longer on You Tube, but it was a great historical snapshot.

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