STAR 101.5 History

101.5 was one of the dominant FM frequencies in this area -- getting its start September 1st, 1959. The station launched as KETO-FM, originally sandwiched between all the doctors and dentists in downtown Seattle on 4th Ave.

The first owner of the station, was Bill Boeing, Jr. -- son of the founder of that little ol' aircraft factory in South Seattle. But this wasn't just some "rich kid hobby" .. he really made a "go" of the station for almost ten years. During that time there was a lot of focus on album cuts, including slogans such as "The Album Sound in Stereo" and "the Sweet Album Sound".

We had a brief encounter with Contemporary country in the early 1970's, when the station was sold and moved to the old Sheraton Hotel in the University District. You could walk into the lobby, arrange a catering event, and request some Dolly Parton all without moving your car from its same parking spot.

Maybe it was that Country Connection that attracted a singing cowboy with a big herkin' checkbook. In 1976, Gene Autry bought the station (through his Golden West Broadcasters company) because he sensed all his exceptional talent at KVI wanted some younger playmates that they could push around. So we launched a contemporary format as "the FM KVI" ... and after a few months of proving ourselves the KVI folks actually let us move a little bit closer (but not in the same building ... yet).

We spent some time across from the Westin hotel right above the exhaust fans of the building's deli. Lots of jocks and news folks seemed to always be hungry when they were at work after smelling pickles, burgers, and roast beef all the time. Meanwhile, dance started to become a big thing with the introduction of DISCO ... and we did a lot of that kind of thing in the late 70's. We even changed the name to "K-PLUS FM" emphasizing our frequency as "101-PLUS". Whoever applied for our call letter change was kind of bad at spelling so we wound up spelling PLUS with a "Z" and no "U" ... K-PLZ.

Disco died. We finally stopped eating at the deli all the time; and the folks at KVI decided we were maybe mature enough to share their restrooms ... so we were invited over to the Tower Building where KVI had been housed for many years. That building was kind of a media hub for many years (including the legendary El Gaucho bar and restaurant downstairs).

We had pretty much continued since the mid 1970's as an adult-focused contemporary station; but in 1986 we decided to crank up the tempo a notch and focus on making an impact as a Contemporary Hit station. Z-101.5 was born, and with its introduction, a couple of yahoos from Portland were hired to be our new morning team. Seattle met Kent and Alan, and for about 9 weeks they did some pretty cool radio. For the next twenty years, they basically coasted on the laurels of those nine brief weeks.

By 1994 Gene Autry had passed on, and his stations were being sold. The Seattle properties were sold to Fisher Broadcasting, owners of KOMO radio and television. It was an amazing transition as legendary stations KOMO and KVI were brought under the same roof; and KPLZ kind of went along for the ride (they LOVED our revenue stream but hated our dress code).

In 2002, the radio stations closed the door at the Tower building for the last time, and moved into the state-of-the-art Fisher Plaza across from the Space Needle. Imagine all those awesome Seattle icons within the radius of about 2 blocks. The staff was happy because we were introduced to indoor plumbing, the insurance adjusters were happy because we were finally in a building constructed at least a quarter century after earthquake standards were introduced, and Kent and Alan were ecstatic because they now had the entire Seattle Center for panhandling.

That pretty much brings us to today. Still going strong, still with the same transmitter location that we had in 1959 atop Cougar Mountain, and still scared to start each sweep of music without conducting a complete focus group before we get to push "PLAY". Radio has changed a lot, but we've changed with it.

And as fate would have it, we are once again located right above the exhaust fans of the restaurant on the floor below us. But it has given us a chance to introduce pickles and burgers to a whole new staff.