Spotlight KGY Radio Station

We’re talking with Nick Kerry the man behind KGY Radio and KAYO Country Radio here in Olympia.

Nick Kerry, GM at 95.3 KGY and 96.9 KAYO Radio in Olympia




Nick please provide us with a brief summary of your services.

Radio broadcasting is all about two things:  Listeners and Advertisers.  Both are important and interrelated, success or failure of any and every radio station depends on it.  96.9 KAYO is a mainstream County format, designed for broad appeal and enjoyment.  Musically, KAY-O as we call it on-air, positions itself in the Seattle/Tacoma market umbrella (Yes, Olympia is part-of the Seattle/Tacoma market in the ratings world) as “Latest & Greatest” country for the South Sound.  “Latest & Greatest” means KAYO plays current hits, recurrent hits of the last 5 years, as well as the most recognizable and well known country hits of the last 20 years.  Sometimes KAYO even plays “classic” country tunes, during the “5 o’clock throwback” Monday-Friday, and notably on Sunday mornings with Honky Tonkin’ County with Tracy Lawrence, a nationally syndicated program.  Personality, both individuals and the radio station itself is also important in broadcasting.  The KAYO DJ’s are entertainers, and the glue that holds the music, stationality, and advertising together.  Morning Drive is an especially important time of the day when listeners want more entertainment, in the form of humor, longer segments, and relevant information like traffic and weather reports, as well as topics often featured on social media.

Olympia’s 95.3 KGY follows a very similar recipe, with a different music format:  Greatest Hits of the 60s, 70s, and (early) 80’s.  The morning show with Doug Dahlgren features more informational segments, from National News headlines to Stock Market Reports, longer-form interviews, and integrates more local talk-shows such features more informational segments, from National News headlines to Stock Market Reports, longer-form interviews, and integrates more local talk-shows as Red Zone Talk (High School Football) and recently added Hoop Talk (High School Basketball) programs.  Of course the demographics between 96.9 KAYO and 95.3 KGY are different, and the DJ’s approach is tailored for each population.  Another difference between 96.9 KAYO & 95.3 KGY is their respective coverage areas.  KAYO is “South Sound” which equates to multi-county “flame-thrower” of a signal, while KGY is hyper-local to Thurston County.  

The second parts of our businesses’ services are advertisers.  The KAYO/KGY Sales Team works diligently everyday to fulfill advertisers’ expectations, by providing marketing advice, tactics for using radio more effectively, and becoming their local resource for market information.  The relationship between advertisers, Account Executives, and the radio station is the more important service this company provides to the community.             

Tell us about your company’s mission and values;

KAYO/KGY is a team of broadcast professionals, many of whom have been working in radio and media sales for many years, combined with newcomers to the industry.  Passion for media and radio specifically is a shared value of ours, as well as having fun while we make the magic happen behind the scenes – Radio is often called “Theater of the Mind” – creativity, taking risks, and remaining listener/community focused are all important values.  A positive energy in the office/studio is also very important for radio because it ultimately translates to the on-air experience…listeners don’t want negativity coming out of their speakers.  It’s KAYO/KGY’s mission to create the best local radio for listeners and advertisers in the South Sound.

What is the most pressing issue for your business?     

Doing more, with less.  The media landscape has exploded, social media is shaping our world, the marketing environment for advertisers, and our cultural zeitgeist in profound ways, and it’s not going to stop, or go back to the way it once was…no matter how uncomfortable we feel (as consumers) about BIG DATA, targeted advertising, or fake news.  Over the last 20 years, radio stations have reduced staff, meaning we each wear many “hats” on a daily basis, especially in a smaller market like Olympia.  There are so many great opportunities that social media does bring to the table for a radio station; the challenge can be where to focus attention for the biggest benefit.  The good news is technology has benefitted radio in many ways, from operational efficiencies, to increased methods of content distributions, like streaming online, and to minute by minute engagement with listeners on social media – coming to an on-site remote broadcast event to see the radio station is no longer the only way to engage with listeners. 

What are the services you use the most (or are looking forward to using) from the Tumwater Chamber?  

Networking for management and sales staff at Tumwater Chamber forums and events is the most important service KAYO/KGY utilizes to further our goal of helping more local businesses with their advertising needs, while becoming further integrated into the community by building meaningful relationships with local business and political/organizational leaders. 

  How do you stay engaged with trends that you see in your industry? 

Currently, everything seems to be changing faster, advances more frequent, and topics more varied in the broadcasting industry, staying on or ahead of the trend is essential.  KAYO/KGY utilizes industry resources such as memberships with the Washington State Association of Broadcasters (WSAB) for policy matters, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for advocacy, innovation, and education.  The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) provides a resource specific to advertising sales.  Events such as the NAB’s annual convention in Las Vegas, and music industry specific conventions like Country Radio Seminar (CRS) in Nashville provide additional opportunities to meet industry professionals, learn about new industry advancements, and discover new, creative, promotional opportunities.  6

What does it take to be a successful employee at your company?

It takes a significant amount of hard work, a tough skin, being a natural people-person, having a willingness to deal with EGOs and BIG personalities, persistence, and having a passion for radio/broadcasting, marketing, advertising, and being deeply invested in the community. 

What makes Tumwater such a great place to do business?   

Tumwater is a great place to do business because it has its own identity.  Tumwater business owners are proud of their community; they work diligently to be the best at what they do, and how they contribute to the overall wellbeing of the City.  For KAYO/KGY Tumwater is a HUB of business activity from small and medium, to big businesses.  Over the years, commercial development has allowed start-ups to grow in scale, becoming regionally significant businesses.  In my opinion, the City has done a good job of planning development, balancing it with market pressures, while preserving and enhancing the existing feeling of Tumwater. 

What, in your opinion, are the most pressing issues facing the Tumwater Community?

While it’s not a problem all of the time, traffic in and around the main thoroughfares in Tumwater is tricky.  This is of course on both sides of the Trosper Road I-5 interchange, where there’s significant retail, and professional offices.  Related to traffic is the density of development, Tumwater is spread-out, in my opinion, and that’s concerning as the city continues to grow.  Personally, I believe there’s an opportunity to develop the former brewery property into a 21st Century space, which would benefit the community.  

What pieces of advice have you found to be the most helpful since starting your career? 

The best pieces of advice have come from ongoing sales and management training I had the privilege of receiving.  A specific piece of advice from the course related to “Priorities” – point being, many people approach priorities as a list of 1st, 2nd, 3rd in importance.  The instructor told the class priority is singular, meaning there’s only one…Ask yourself, what’s the most important thing you will do today?  That’s the real priority.    

How do you achieve a work/life balance? 

I fail most of the time with work/life balance…The radio station consumes most of my time but I love it, so I let it happen.  The most beneficial way for me to find some sense of balance comes with “time blocking.”  I attempt to anticipate/plan the workday by setting aside adequate time for important must-do tasks, follow-ups, etc.  I also strive to separate the “urgent” from the “important” – focusing on the most important first and foremost, while accepting that something unexpected will also come up.  

Where is you favorite place to have a meeting outside the office? 

I don’t like to travel very far, my favorite place for outside the office meeting is Hearthfire Restaurant next-door to the radio station.  Of course, I do enjoy meeting at a clients’ office/location, and seeing their operation for myself, and local coffee shops are also right in there as well. 

Social Media Contact:  Samantha Boone –