Remembering legendary Northwest DJ, pop culture renaissance man Pat O’Day
Aug 4, 2023, 7:34 AM | Updated: 9:38 am
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published Aug. 5, 2020
Pat O’Day passed away Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 at his San Juan Island home. O’Day is best known for his work as a radio deejay on station KJR in Seattle in the 1960s, but he was also a concert promoter, hydroplane race announcer, and a candid survivor of substance abuse.
Born Paul Berg in Nebraska in 1934, he came with his family to the Northwest in January 1942 when his father took a job in Tacoma. O’Day worked at a number of radio stations in the area beginning in the 1950s, but really hit his stride and honed his classic broadcasting style at KJR as deejay, program director and, eventually, general manager. At KJR, O’Day assembled a team of broadcast legends, including Gary Lockwood, Charlie Brown, Emperor Smith, and Lan Roberts.
Pat O’Day loved radio and local history, and was always willing to help me with KIRO Newsradio stories – and other projects – about a range of topics over the years, including:
Pat describes the intimate relationship between radio broadcasters and listeners – especially young listeners in their cars.
Pat weighs in on the true meaning of decades of hydroplane racing and hydro culture in the Northwest.
Pat puts bicycle-drawn “street hydros” into context, and calls a fantasy race between John Keister, Bill Wixey, Dave Dederer . . . and a darkhorse radio historian.
Pat helps solve a 1962 Seattle World’s Fair mystery about a local parody folk song.
Pat yanks the Beatles away from the press, and vintage audio captures the moment when he says, “It’s eight minutes to show time!”
How could KJR’s Santa Claus – the real Santa Claus, by the way – be in so many places at once? Pat spills the yuletide beans.
Pat explains how he helped launch Tacoma instrumental phenoms The Ventures, with a few twists of his mighty KJR 45rpm turntable
In an oral history recorded in the 1970s, Pat describes how he got his durable on-air name.
Rest in peace, Pat. It’s nice to know that all those years of your live radio broadcasts are still headed out beyond the galaxy, waiting to be tuned in by some intergalactic teenager at the controls of his space pod somewhere.
You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien, read more from him here, and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.