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The end of several eras

Jean Enersen

Jean Enersen

As two Seattle icons celebrate a combined 70 years on the scene, two other mainstays prepare their exit.

Wednesday morning, July 30, KIRO-AM (710) talk-show host Dave Ross celebrated his 30th year on the air with a three-hour retrospective featuring tributes from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, visits from colleagues past and present, and a liberal helping of the parodist’s musical stylings. Friday night, Aug. 1, KING-TV (5) news anchor Jean Enersen will celebrate her 40th anniversary at the station with a one-hour special that she only allowed after management “suggested the piece could be a springboard for talking about mobile vans where anybody can get a mammogram.”

Together, Ross and Enersen have put in 70 years in the same business, working for the same employers — 55 at the same job. Enersen became anchor in 1972; Ross got his own show in 1987. Not an easy feat in these days of media consolidation.

But the same week, two other Seattle mainstays announced their imminent disappearance; and at least one analyst has called for a third to follow suit.

Bonneville Seattle announced that KBSG-FM (97.3) would begin simulcasting sibling KIRO-AM’s signal as of Aug. 12, putting an end to a 20-year run as the local home of the oldies. (What will become of John, Paul, George, and Ringo?) As Bonneville points out, there’s still KZOK-FM (102.5) and KJR-FM (95.7), but I will miss the station that first introduced me to the likes of Tommy Roe, the Grass Roots, and Blues Image. As Michael Hood of Blatherwatch points out, this is probably just the beginning of major changes to Seattle’s radio landscape. Given that he successfully predicted this turn of events a while ago, I tend to take him at his word.

Meanwhile, Safeco shareholders formally approved the 85-year-old insurer’s acquisition by Boston’s Liberty Mutual. In addition to pledging to “honor and fulfill all charitable and community commitments made by Safeco … prior to the date of the merger” (no mention of future giving) and maintain Safeco’s corporate name and headquarters in Seattle (these, however, are merely “intentions”), the merger agreement [1.8 MB PDF] specifies that Safeco’s name will remain on the Mariners stadium for at least five more years. Mossback will have to wait till 2013 to enjoy his yearly fiasco at the Starbucks Grounds.

And speaking of Starbucks, The Seattle Times reports that UBS securities analyst David Palmer is calling for the company’s sale to McDonald’s or Yum! Brands (home of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, A&W, and Long John Silver’s) if they won’t embrace franchising themselves. As changes to Seattle’s economic landscape continue apace, it looks like one’s time on top is inching ever closer to the mythical 15 minutes. Is the era of the institution over? Will the Ross and Enersen anniversaries be the last of their kind?

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