In his explosive hit single “Country Must Be Country Wide” Brantley Gilbert sings “In every state there’s a station playin’ Cash, Hank, Willie, and Waylon.” That was true of only one radio station in Washington State until today’s launch of Classic Country 1520 KXA (KKXA-AM), Western Washington’s exclusive home of the biggest classic country hits of all time and the last all-new AM radio station that will ever go on the air in the Puget Sound basin. KXA launched at 4:00 PM today with “Simple Man” by Charlie Daniels.
Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) officials cleared the way for KXA to begin commercial programming and gave the station the green light to operate its new transmitter facility in the Snohomish River Valley. “Getting on the air is the first step,” said station general manager, Andy Skotdal, “Next, we’ll see how listeners respond to the classic country format and eventually add some on-air personalities to the mix.” Classic Country 1520 will feature real country variety with country favorites from the 80’s and 90’s with artists like Travis Tritt and Brooks and Dunn and will include legends of the format like the late Johnny Cash. “Seattle radio stations are running extremely tight music playlists and repeating the same songs over and over,” said Skotdal, “We’re going to bring songs to the radio that Seattle stations won’t play any more.” KXA will also carry Washington State University football and basketball as well as some Everett Silvertips, Everett Aquasox and high school sports games.
Classic Country 1520 is one of two radio stations locally operated by the Skotdal family in a market that is dominated by large, multi-state radio station operators like CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Entercom, Bonneville International, and Sandusky Radio. “The cost of Seattle radio advertising is out of reach for most local business owners, but the northern Puget Sound region now has another affordable outlet for local businesses to reach consumers. Instead of Seattle businesses pulling consumers from Snohomish County to King County, KXA and sister station KRKO 1380 AM (Fox Sports 1380) have formats that can pull consumers from King County back to businesses in Snohomish County.”
The call-sign is a tribute to the former KXA, Seattle, a station identified today as KTTH 770 and one of the oldest radio stations in Puget Sound. Call-sign KXA’s heritage (1927) dates back almost as far as KRKO 1380 AM (1922), but KXA also has a bit of a storied past as a station once owned by Roy Olmstead, Seattle’s most famous bootlegger. It is claimed that Olmstead’s wife used coded messages during her children’s story hour to signal offshore boats loaded with alcohol.
Earlier this month, the FCC granted KRKO authority to operate full-time at 50,000 Watts, a distinction shared by approximately 100 radio stations in the United States, KJR 950, KIRO 710, KOMO 1000, and KPTK 1090 among them. KXA is now awaiting final approval to boost its full-time power to 50,000 Watts as well.
“There will likely never be another all new AM radio station in Western Washington. We had an extraordinary team dedicated to making this happen. More than 300 people assisted with the 14-year process to get the radio station on the air. This is the last all new AM radio station that will ever go on the air in the Puget Sound basin, and on behalf of my family, I want to express my gratitude to all of those who helped make KXA’s debut possible.”