The Remarkable Career of Tom Read

Another Wikipedia Type Bio Series From The Northwest Pioneer Broadcasters

NAB Director-World's Fair Consultant-Teacher-Station Owner-Founder ACN Radio Network - Pageant MC                                                                                                                     

   EARLY YEARS

Tom Read was born into a medical family in Tacoma, Washington.  The family friends who frequented the Read home were either doctors or lawyers.  So it was only natural that young Tom decided he would either become a medical doctor or a lawyer.

Tom actually gave serious thought to medicine but was more interested in law.  His goal was to become the next Perry Mason.  Perry Mason was the name of a popular old time radio show and later a very popular television program starring actor Raymond Burr.

Tom did begin with acting classes because the piano lessons did not take and his mother felt that children should be exposed to the arts.  So she enrolled him in The Tacoma Little Theatre acting classes.  The theatre took and that led to a major change in Tom Read's life.  Acting in local plays led to his learning the radio business during summers and weekends at KTBI, a 1000 watt daytime station at 810 on the AM dial in Tacoma, at a very young age.

Tom was an unpaid staff announcer at KTBI, starting to work at the station and learning the radio business, because he was too young to be compensated.  Entering college at the University of Puget Sound, which had an excellent law school, he was hired as a full time staff announcer at the historic KMO Radio in Tacoma.  He worked the 4pm to Midnight shift and was able to use the 7pm to Midnight time to study during KMO's nightly classical music program, which had listeners up and down the West Coast.

Tom was brought up in the Presbyterian Church in Tacoma and accepted the Lord at an early age.  Looking back, he has seen that all of his experiences in life were designed by the Lord for where He wanted Tom to serve Him through his founding of the American Christian Network.

TELEVISION

The dramatic training at the Tacoma Little Theatre gave Tom an exceptional ability to interpret radio and TV scripts.  That ability, along with a God given, distinctive bass voice quality, catapulted him to win auditions at major radio and TV stations in the Seattle-Tacoma area as well as working at stations in Bellingham, Yakima, Puyallup, and Lewiston, Idaho while going to school.

While still in high school, Tom won an audition over many older and more experienced announcers for a summer vacation staff announcer position at Channel 11, KTNT-TV, the CBS Television Network affiliate for Seattle/Tacoma.  He was the youngest staff announcer ever hired at a major Seattle TV station and according to research in our Northwest Pioneer Broadcasters archives, that situation has never been matched.

(All Pictures are Copyrighted by Tom Read 2015 All Rights Reserved)

KTWR FM TACOMAMr. Controversy

While announcing at KTBI, Tom met and became a close personal friend of the late Clay Huntington.  Clay was a sports play-by-play announcer and had started a small ad agency in order to find sponsors that would pay for local sports coverage on radio.  Even with a wide age difference, Tom became associated with Clay in his advertising agency in charge of program production while Clay handled the sales end of the agency.

Becoming friends with Ken Williams resulted in a major change in Tom Read's life.  Ken was also much older and was a consulting broadcast engineer.  Ken had learned how to fill out the engineering section required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for new radio station applications.  Ken told Tom that he thought there was a good AM frequency that could be used for a new station in Tacoma.   Tom told Clay and suggested that some of his business friends might put up the money.  Clay was not able to raise the needed funds but Ken suggested that Tom go ahead on his own and apply for an FM station as there were very few FM stations on the air at the time and frequencies were readily available.  An FM station did not require the land for a large 200 foot tower, like an AM station, and could be put on the air for much less money.

Having saved the money he earned at KMO and being hired as a full time, regular staff announcer at Channel 11, Tom started working with Ken on an application for only the second FM station in Tacoma.   Tom received the Construction Permit from the government before he was even 21.  At the time, Broadcasting Magazine indicated he was the youngest single licensee of a radio station in the country.

The station call letters were Tom's initials, KTWR.  He did some very unique programming with KTWR and pioneered what is known today as a Christian radio format but eventually sold the station to Jerry Geehan of KTAC AM.  KTBI became KTAC when it changed frequency from 810 as a daytime only station to 850 with full time operation and was purchased by Geehan and some other, local Tacoma businessmen.

After selling KTWR, Tom began producing and syndicating radio programs for local stations and radio stations across the country.   The programs were produced on reel to reel tape recordings which were then high speed duplicated for distribution and sold to stations around the country.  Since no high speed duplicating company existed in Tacoma or Spokane, Tom started Christian Recording and Duplicating which also did the program duplication for Washington State University, and other program producers.   He later added high speed professional cassette duplication.

Tom was especially proud of one program he produced for the Clay Huntington Advertising Agency.  It was called Dial-A-Word and was aired as three five minute daily programs, three times a week on KMO in Tacoma.

Daily Commentary Program By Tom ReadTEACHING

While running KTWR evenings and working at Channel 11, Max Bice, the General Manager of Channel 11, was approached by the Clover Park School District to see if there was anyone on staff at KTNT who would make a good instructor, part time, to teach beginning radio production and announcing.  Max thought it would be a feather in the cap of KTNT to have one of their staff teaching at Clover Park.  Max asked Tom Read if he would be interested and he accepted and virtually wrote the book for the new broadcasting class.

SPOKANE

Shortly after selling his FM station, KTWR, Tom was asked by Goodwin Chase, the President of the National Bank of Washington in Tacoma, if he would go to Spokane and investigate a radio station, KUDY 1280 AM, that owed the bank money on notes for the station land and equipment.  Read was asked to take over the management and operation of the station by the then owner.  He immediately changed the format to Christian conservative programming with the slogan, "For God and Country".  Tom was so successful in turning KUDY around with the new ministry radio service, that the KUDY owner was finally able to sell the station and recap his life's savings that he had invested in the station.

SEATTLE - KQIN 800 AM

After the sale of KUDY, Tom was approached by the owners of KQIN in Seattle to purchase the station.  KQIN has an ideal, low AM frequency of 800 with a transmitter on Vashon Island, literally between Seattle and Tacoma.   Based on the success of KUDY, and with the help of the Bank of Spokane, Tom purchased KQIN and changed the format to inspirational teaching programs in the morning and beautiful music in the afternoons.  KQIN was very successful but Tom did not have the capital to increase the power to 50,000 watts, which the station is today.  So when he was approached to sell KQIN to the All Star football player, Willie Davis, he decided to do so.  That station today is KGNW owned by Salem Communications.

NAB BOARD OF DIRECTORS

During his ownership and operation of KQIN, Tom Read was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters.  He took the job seriously and Jim Murphy, then President of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters, stated that Tom was the best and most effective Director of the NAB that Washington and Oregon NAB member stations had ever elected to the position.

STATIONS OWNEDTom Read on Channel 13

According to the Northwest Pioneer Broadcaster's data base, Tom Read has owned the following radio stations.   Many he originally build and some others he purchased.   He still owns six stations.

 

KHTP FM - Tacoma, Washington - KTWR
KGNW AM - Burien/Seattle, Washington -             KQIN
KTBI AM - Ephrata/Moses Lake, Washington
KYSN FM - Wenatchee, Washington - KTRW
KAAP FM - Rock Island/Wenatchee, Washington - KXA
KSPO AM 1050 Spokane
KTAC FM - Ephrata/Moses Lake, Washington
KYAK AM - Yakima, Washington
KGDN FM - Tri-Cities/Walla Walla, Washington
KTTO AM 970 - Spokane, Washington - KTRW
KTW AM 630 - Dishman/Spokane, Washington
KSPO FM - Spokane

Picture upper right:  Tom Read doing a live commercial from the back of a flat bed truck on Channel 13 during a football game broadcast in Tacoma on KTVW-TV.  (Copyrighted by Tom Read 2015 All Rights Reserved)

The following are stations at which Tom Read managed or worked as a staff announcer from the time he was about ten years old.  In addition to the listed stations below, his syndicated programs were heard on stations throughout the country.

KTBI  810 AM Tacoma, Washington
KMO 1360 AM Tacoma, Washington
KVOS 790 AM Bellingham, Washington
KPUY 1450 AM Puyallup, Washington
KTAC 850 AM Tacoma, Washington
KTNT-TV Channel 11 - Tacoma, Washington
KTNT AM & FM Tacoma, Washington
KTW 1250 AM Seattle, Washington
KIMA 1460 AM Yakima, Washington
KFHA 1480 AM Lakewood, Washington
KSTW-TV Channel 13 - Tacoma/Seattle, Washington
KRLC 1350 AM Lewiston, Idaho
KUDY 1280 AM Spokane, Washington - Manager
KHQ 590 AM Spokane, Washington
KGA 1510 AM Spokane, Washington
KWSC 1250 AM Pullman, Washington

 

World's Fair

Tom Read was hired as a communications consultant of the World's Fair in Spokane, Washington.  He produced and was the radio and television host for the live coverage of the opening day ceremonies.  He also produced and was the host of a daily five minute program on approximately 50 stations which originated from the Fair site.  He hosted most of the major events during Expo and was known as "The Voice Of Expo" as named by one time Spokane Mayor, Jack Geraghty.

NPB Recognition

The Northwest Pioneer Broadcasters have determined from the records in their archives, that Tom Read is the longest running radio-TV voice in the State of Washington.  From time he was about twelve, he has been consistantly heard on radio and/or television stations in the state.  That is for a longer period than any other announcer including sports announcer Bob Robertson.

Tom Read still finds time to announce commercials on his own stations as well as talent for other stations and ad agencies.  He also has hosted for at least 20 years a weekly half hour conversation radio program called "It Seems To Me" and hosts a weekly one hour music program "Records With Read - The Music Makers of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

 

More career details will be added from the files of the Northwest Pioneer Broadcasters.   Next, the founding of the American Christian Network.

Check back often.

The house in Tacoma, Washington where Tom Read grew up and ran wires to neighboring houses as his first wired radio station.

800 North C Street as it appears today.  The only visible change is the fence going up the front stairs.  Young Tom mowed the lawn of the family home many times.