Steve West

Steve West • Written August 2018

Growing up in the logging seaport of Grays Harbor County, and working Summer jobs in the mills, prompted Steve West to seek a slightly less-dangerous way of making a living.  

Borrowing from his high-school experience (always the one with the 45s for the school sock-hop), Steve became a disc jockey and began his radio career in 1962 at a small, daytime radio station, KHOK in Hoquiam. His career branched into teen-dance promotions, highlighted by the night he brought the Beach Boys to Hoquiam High School.

After a short stint on active duty with the Washington National Guard, Steve became a morning jock at KPUG in Bellingham. Steve and Sharon were married there in 1967, and Steve was fired while they were on their honeymoon. This helped Sharon understand that it is what it is—and led to 50+ years of togetherness. It also opened the door for a job interview—and a job—with Pat O’Day (now a fellow IMMORTAL) at legendary KJR in Seattle.

In 1970, Steve left KJR to move into program management. With a team of young radio personalities, he transformed KTAC/Tacoma into the South Sound’s Top 40 leader. Steve was then invited back into the Kaye/Smith radio group as program director at top-rated KJRB/Spokane.  

Following four successful years in the Inland Empire, it was back to Seattle, this time as program director at KJR.  And then came FM!  

As the decade of the ’70s came to a close, FM was finding a toehold with young radio listeners. Steve decided to move up the dial and accept the general manager’s position at KJR’s FM sister station, at a time when disco was the rage.

With personalities like Langon & West, Crow & Hovanes and Steve Slaton, KISW, Seattle’s Best Rock, rocketed to No. 1—becoming the first FM station ever to gain the top position in the Seattle-radio ratings.  

Following the sale of KISW in 1986, Steve launched a new FM station in 1987 for Roy Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting.  Some of the KISW staff joined the new KXRX, allowing 96-dot-5 to become an immediate and dominant force in the Seattle market.  

In 1996, Steve and a partner acquired the 850AM frequency in Tacoma and converted the station to news/talk KH2O, the Voice of the South Sound.  The station was sold to the Ackerley Group in 1998 when they realized that Tacoma wasn’t yet the City of Destiny.

After selling KH2O, he formed the Steve West Group (SWG) a marketing company specializing in retail advertising.  As a consultant with a customer viewpoint, SWG has helped businesses improve customer service and deliver their sales messages through both traditional and digital channels.  Now in its twentieth year, SWG enjoys long-standing relationships with its clients.

Steve, and the radio stations he's managed or owned, won numerous national awards for ad campaigns and promotions and twice were named Radio Station of the Year by the National Association of Broadcasters.  And he was a recipient of the prestigious PSRBA Crystal Soundie Lifetime Achievement Award.