KNHC is NOW c895


Having put in a 33 year career in professional radio, it’s a little ironic that I missed an opportunity to maybe get on one of the very first Seattle area high school student-run radio stations by only a couple of months.

I graduated from Nathan Hale in 1969.  It was only a couple of months after that in December  that Nathan Hale High successfully started up their student run radio station, KNHC FM.   Having been part of the group at the University of Washington that started up KCMU FM, the student run radio station, I found it interesting to talk to one of the early Nathan Hale radio station people.

They too had one or two faculty advisors involved in what they did.  DJ’s weren’t told at all what to play when they first started out; except for the obvious no obscenities, etc.  And they used to joke about their news slogan, “hear yesterday’s news today”.  They literally just read the news out of the previous days local daily papers.

KNHC started out in 1969 as a low power AM radio station.  KNHC went on the air as a very low power AM station, broadcasting with 100 milliwatts on 1210 kHz, in December 1969. Fairly quickly, however, the high school moved to build an FM station. In September 1970, KNHC received its FM construction permit and went on the air in January 1971. The transmitter was located at Wedgwood Elementary School, and the station broadcast with 10 watts, covering about a 5-mile circle in the north end of Seattle.

In September 1972, the station increased its power to 320 watts, and three months later, stereo broadcasts began. A second power increase, in November 1974, increased the ERP to 1,500 watts directional.

 My friend, Kevin, started out when he was 16 doing production, writing, etc for KNHS.  His senior year, 1975, he was on the air.  His main reason for getting into a high school radio station wasn’t because it was a cool thing to do.  He said they had nowhere near the coolness as jocks, etc.  He got into it because of his love for music and the freedom to broadcast the music that he liked and wanted to play.  And it wasn’t real hard to be a part of the station.  They really needed more people to work there. The morning show featured a lady that did 1970’s country.  Kevin came on around lunch time playing Led Zeppelin and more progressive hard rock.  He did a Noon time one hour show featuring lots of psychedelic music from the 60’s and 70’s before KISW FM in Seattle started it.

Kevin would play a little music from promo records given to the station but tended to stay away from anything really popular.  He often just brought records from home and played the album cuts and whatever else he wanted to play from them.  In fact, the more structured KNHC FM became and the more they dictated what he could play, Kevin actually became less interested in this early radio experience.

The announcers did have to read public service announcements because KNHC FM had a public radio broadcast license similar to KCMU FM.  They had separate people that did the newscasts.   They broke new music for the market pretty much like all student run radio stations usually do.  Kevin said the biggest plus he got out of being on KNHC FM was to increase even more his love for music and learn about even more different kinds of music.  That and maybe being a little shy in school, he got a little more self confidence in what he could do.

After graduating from Nathan Hale High School , instead of pursuing a career in radio broadcast, which he might have been able to do at KCMU FM, he decided to skip some school and just go out and learn about life.   Never being one to want to tied down to much, he traveled and enjoyed music all over the Seattle area and other parts of the country.  Kevin went to countless local concerts and met a lot of the performers of the time.  He later started up his own vinyl selling business called The Vinyl Garage out in Mountlake Terrace ,  just north of Seattle.

Like KCMU FM at the University of Washington, a lot of very talented people went through KNHC FM at Nathan Hale High School….like Mike West of the Mountain and more Seattle FM stations.  I visited their new studios recently and was very impressed.  They have a lot of the new digital equipment and computer tools available at that early age.  I hope they get some great hands on experience and decide to expand their knowledge even more to keep advancing in the broadcast business.


KNHC is NOW  c895