Seattle broadcast legend Pat O’Day will not be the voice of the hydro races at Seafair this year. O’Day said he spoke with Seafair broadcast partner KIRO 7 a few weeks ago and they told him they would not be needing his services.
O’Day said he was fine with the news remaining under the radar, “I wasn’t going to say a word about it. I thought well maybe we could just do this and nobody will notice.”
But after word got out, O’Day tells KIRO Radio’s Luke Burbank Show his Facebook page lit up like a Christmas tree and The Seattle Times was calling.
“I guess some people think it’s a big deal,” O’Day said.
Burbank assured the veteran broadcaster it is indeed a very big deal for race fans.
“I think most people when they think of the hydro races, one of the first things that comes to mind is you calling those races,” said Burbank. “We can’t lose the Blue Angels and Pat O’Day in the same Seafair, that just seems like too much for us to take.”
O’Day said he just feels grateful he got to be such a big part of this event that means so much to the city of Seattle.
“In life, we get a few opportunities to make a difference in one sector or another and over the years I was a disc jockey in Seattle but always loved they hydro planes and 46 years ago started doing the broadcast.”
He not only was the voice of the hydros at Seafair, but also played a big part in the sport over the years, being involved in the development of the first turbine engine and introducing the first and only female Unlimited driver, Brenda Jones.
“It’s been my joy to make contributions to the sport, but above all to make a contribution to our great, treasured festival called Seafair. I feel very lucky to have been omnipresent in that whole thing for 46 years.”
When asked what he’d be doing this Seafair weekend, O’Day said he may be calling the ferry boat races on his front lawn in the San Juans.
“The wonderful Beth Knox of Seafair called me last night and said, ‘You know Pat I want you to be our VIP at the race and we want to take care of you.’ I said, ‘Thank you Beth.’ She’s such a great lady. But I don’t know what I want to do. It might be kind of a lump in the throat to be there and not be a part of it.”
Burbank is hopeful that since the news has gone public there will be strong push for O’Day to be reinstated. He also took a moment to let the public know KIRO Radio was in no way involved in this decision.
“People often confuse the radio station called KIRO and the TV station,” said Burbank. “We had nothing to do with this.”
O’Day said he doesn’t think KIRO TV will be changing their mind on this, and he can sympathize with the leadership over there.
“I’ve been a broadcast station owner, I know how those things go,” said O’Day. “I’d really hoped to retire on my own time, but I think KIRO figured that would be when I was 90.”