Willie Nelson was always very good to us at KMPS during the 1980s. There was the legendary story, around the station, that he actually wore one of our KMPS bandanas on “The Tonight Show,” but I’ve never been able to find any video confirmation for that story. We did receive phone calls from listeners swearing they saw Willie wearing the “Compass” bandana on television. Some callers wondered if the bandanas were available for sale. We had been handing out “free” bandanas, at live/remote broadcasts, as giveaways for listeners who were enticed to show up at those remotes with on air announcements such as: “The first 500 listeners to stop by at our live broadcast today will receive a free KMPS bandana!” Years later the famous KMPS bandana was actually incorporated as part of the station’s logo.
I was the KMPS Promotions Director during that period (May 1985 through ’87) and I pitched the idea of a KMPS Country Store Catalog.
The station had a fairly strong mailing list of our listeners, from our contest entry-blank information. We mailed thousands of copies of the KMPS Country Store Catalog, plus it was promoted on the air allowing listeners to phone in and request a catalog be mailed to them.
Catalogs were also made available at all of our live remote broadcasts and merchandise from the catalogs was sold at The KMPS Booth at our free annual Listener Appreciation Picnic.
Our friend Willie also helped KMPS out at his sold-out concert at Key Arena during the peak of his career. At the time KMPS AM&FM was in the middle of a huge ratings war with the Tacoma country station KRPM-FM. Because there were two Puget Sound area Country Music stations promoting the concert, the local promoter was in the position where they were unable to allow either one of the stations to be the sole concert sponsor. So, there were no station banners on the stage or in or near the arena.
Because I’d seen Willie a number of times, I was aware he would often trade hats with audience members who threw their hats on stage. I had a Backstage Pass, so I was waiting at the entrance to the stage wearing my KMPS baseball style cap. Willie arrived and was waiting for his announcement to go on stage. I asked him if he’d trade me hats and, as expected, he graciously switched his hat for mine. So, as I’d hoped, Willie walked out on this concert stage wearing a KMPS baseball cap … giving the impression to many in attendance that KMPS AM&FM was Willie’s Seattle area country music choice!
Willie eventually traded that KMPS cap with a fan in the audience … but I still have Willie’s hat!
Jay Hamilton is a veteran disc jockey, program director, music director and radio programming consultant. In the Pacific Northwest, he is best remembered for his time at KMPS AM/FM during the '70s and '80s. Jay is now retired and lives on the Olympic Peninsula. Music, of nearly every genre, has always been an important aspect of his life and he frequently contributes opinions, articles and "Collectibles" to Puget Sound Media.