BY Art Thiel 05:17PM 12/04/2012

After 21 years, Gastineau leaving KJR radio

Breaking news: Mike Gastineau has tested positive for sanity. After 21 years, he’s leaving KJR-AM sports radio for  . . .  well, life.

“It been an unbelievable run,” he said Tuesday after giving notice. “It got to a point where I’d like to try something different. I’m just not sure what that is. But I’m not going somewhere else and not coming back.”

Gastineau, 52, said the parting was amicable — no firing or disputes — and that he has no other radio job offers.

“I can’t thank Mike enough – both personally and professionally, for his talent, dedication and passion,” Rich Moore, KJR’s program director, said in a statement. “Mike has been a pillar for KJR and a sports icon in the Seattle market. His voice in the afternoon will be missed and his relationship with listeners in the market will not be forgotten. We wish him nothing but the best in his next chapter.”

Gastineau, whose last show with co-host Elise Woodward is Thursday, has done more than 5,000 shows since his Seattle arrival in 1991 with, as he described it, “my last $900 and all my possessions in a Dodge Daytona hatchback.”

KJR became the market’s first all-sports-talk format in September 1991. By September 1993, Gastineau had taken over the afternoon drive slot from 3-7 p.m. and has been one of the most popular, respected and longest-tenured figures in the Seattle sports-media scene.

As much for his quick wit and rational thinking, Gastineau is known as a prolific fundraiser for charity. The driver behind the station’s annual “KJR Kares-a-thon,” he has raised more than $1.5 million over 17 years for various Puget Sound-area charities.

Gastineau made his radio mark in hosting public discussions around Seattle’s sports-facilities developments, from KeyArena to Emerald Downs to the baseball and football stadiums, and lately the campaign to create a new basketball/hockey arena in SoDo.

“I’m proud to have been able to give Seattle fans a voice in these incredibly important debates,” he said. “I always strived to do three things on the show – be funny, entertaining and give people a place for reasonable debate on sports issues of the day.”

Along with this writer and Sportspress Northwest co-founder Steve Rudman, Gastineau in 2009 co-authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists.”

When Gastineau, an Indiana native, made it to Seattle, KJR was owned by the Ackerley family, which also owned the NBA Sonics, and KJR became the NBA flagship station in the market. The Ackerleys sold the Sonics in 2000 to a group led by Howard Schultz and its radio stations in 2001 to ClearChannel of San Antonio, which itself was purchased in 2008 by Bain Capital the same month the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City.

ClearChannel, the nation’s largest radio chain with 850 stations, including six others in the Seattle market, was purchased by Bain and another private equity firm, T.H. Lee, for $26.7 billion. According to ClearChannel’s Nov. 2 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company had $16.4 billion in debt.

Competition grew tighter in the Seattle radio market in April 2009 when KIRO-AM switched from to news-talk to sports-talk, taking on ESPN programming around nine hours of local programming. ESPN 710 recently had its contract renewed to carry the Seahawks, and remains the Mariners flagship station, and this year picked up Washington State University football.

KJR has the rights to University of Washington football and basketball. A third sports-format station, backed by CBS Sports, will begin in January.

Gastineau made it clear he wasn’t retiring.

“The explosion around the Internet and sports has been amazing,” he said. “I have a few creative ideas I’d like to explore.”


  • notaboomer

    i got a copy of your seattle sports lists book for my birthday a couple years ago. it is awesome.

    • art thiel

      Well, thanks nota. It somehow missed nomination for a Pulitzer for literature, but no bathroom in the house is complete without it.

  • CAB

    Hey art, whats the deal on the new CBS station? Do you know anything about it? Gonna miss you on the afternoon show with gas, always gold.

  • Doug

    Sorry to learn Mike is leaving. I will miss his show Hope he pops up on another Seattle station pronto.

  • isaacada1

    CAB, completely agree with you that Gas and Art together were Gold. Going to very much miss that. As for the third “sports radio” radio network to open up in the Seattle market, here’s the news on that.

  • isaacada1

    Art, did you plan to do some digging on if 1090 will have any local Seattle sports hosts or will it all be national? Don’t know if there’s any local sports rights up for auction in the near future for radio.

    • art thiel

      I’ve heard it’s mostly national to start, with afternoon drive a local show. Haven’t looked deeper.

  • RadioGuy

    “But I’m not going somewhere else and not coming back.” Taking that statement literally, that would mean he’s going into some sort of nothingness-like void…sort of like Nirvana without the dying.
    Sorry, but I won’t particularly miss Mike Gastineau. He hasn’t been KJR’s worst host (I give that one to Dave Mahler), but I didn’t ever gain anything from listening to him, either. Good luck to him, but most sports talk show hosts are like pints of vanilla ice cream…when you’re out of one, you just get another with no appreciable difference.

    • art thiel

      Disagree, RadioGuy. Obviously, I’m biased, but Mike has been witty, smart and good with an interview. Most listeners don’t appreciate the difficulty in keeping a show fast-paced and entertaining, particularly in a world where time for talk radio, and ny kind of radio, has shrunk dramatically.

      • Aaron Williams

        I agree with Art, if you don’t like Gas, you don’t know sports radio. He is innovative, informed, and likable, and will be sorely missed

  • Beachman121

    Good luck Gas Man! I always felt that Mike was a class act on KJR. He never stooped to the lowest common denominator that some of the other hosts have. That’s not always good for ratings but it’s much easier on the ears.

  • Aaron Williams

    Art, lets get you on the radio more often, if not regularly. Podcast? Something!

  • ricefield

    So is the Gasman going to 710 or the new CBS station? Big loss for 950.

  • gusarne

    if ever and i mean eveeerrrrrr , there was a day that elise could blabber less and maybe ask mike a few questions, interview him if you will it was tuesday,but noooooooooo, she blabbered insestiantly as usual,she takes 137 words to say something that takes 27

  • nbynwman

    Good luck and best wishes to the Gasman! Always enjoyed his show, his guests, his interviews, his humor and his sports commentary. It easy to criticize a public figure, but to excell for over twenty years takes talent and personality. I will miss him.

  • Matt

    Let’s see. Mike said he’s interested in digital media, writing and maybe doing podcasts. He previously teamed up with Thiel and Rudman on the book. Maybe we’re going to see him making some appearances on this fair site.

    I realize the number of beat writers/bloggers/columnists here isn’t what it was when first started due to the economic challenges of running an ad supported online site, but there’s a niche waiting to be filled in the marketplace for a go-to local sports news site independent of other media (newspapers, TV, radio).