Jimi Hendrix Clara McCarty Captain Robert Gray Anna Louise StrongAnna Louise Strong Bailey Gatzert Home WWII Women Pilots
Search Encyclopedia
Facebook
Advanced Search
Featured Eassy Sponsor of the Week
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
6826 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donate Subscribe

Shortcuts

Libraries
Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search

Features

Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Everett
Olympia
Seattle
Spokane
Tacoma
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Cyberpedia Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

KING-TV's Seattle Bandstand (1958-1961)

HistoryLink.org Essay 8434 : Printer-Friendly Format

Seattle Bandstand was a televised teen-dance show modeled after Dick Clark's national program, American Bandstand and hosted by Ray Briem (b. 1930).  The Northwest version is an instant favorite of Northwest youth and eventually helps launch the hit-making careers of several area teen-bands. The show launched on March 16, 1958, and ran until 1961.

Ray Briem on Radio

Ray Briem was raised in Ogden, Utah, where as a junior high student in 1945 he and a few pals conceived of a 15-minute radio show concept called The Adventures of Vivacious Vicky that the town’s tiny 5,000-watt station agreed to air. By fall -- while attending his first year of high school -- he was hired as host of his own weekly Music From Madhouse Manor show.

In 1949 Briem entered the military. He was stationed in New York, and in addition to his short-wave-radio-communications duties, he was assigned to take remote gear out twice a week to Manhattan’s ritziest nightspots and host live shows with America’s premier dance bands including the orchestras led by Harry James, Guy Lombardo, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, and the Dorsey Brothers.

KING Lures Briem to Seattle

During the Korean War (1950-1953), and while based in Salt Lake City, Briem hosted an Armed Forces radio show -- Hometown Mailbag -- that proved to be extremely popular amongst homesick GI’s stationed in Korea and Japan and their families back home. It drew the attention of the radio industry, and around 1957 representatives from Seattle’s King Broadcasting began trying to lure Briem north.

Initially he  resisted, but he was finally convinced to visit KING in February 1958. He was intrigued by an offer from station executive Otto Brandt to let him augment an afternoon KING-AM radio DJ shift with a weekly KING-TV show of some sort. Observing that Dick Clark’s Philadelphia-based, nationally broadcast American Bandstand dance-show on ABC-TV was already a big success, KING, an NBC affiliate, agreed and the seed for a new teen dance show was planted.

Seattle Bandstand

Briem gave notice to his Utah job, packed his belongings, and moved north. Planning for Seattle Bandstand then began in earnest. At 1 p.m. on the afternoon of Saturday March 16, 1958, the King Broadcasting Company’s new hire began hosting a weekly two-hour television program that would feature a gaggle of area teens who’d written in to request tickets to participate by dancing to the Top-10 songs of the week -- which Briem touted as the “King Size 10.”

A rather ambitious undertaking. Seattle Bandstand made use of three cameras at the station's studios on at 320 Aurora Avenue N., and was broadcast live (dancing, lip-syncing singers, promotional ads, and all) every Saturday afternoon from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. 

Seattle Bandstand was an instant success -- Northwest teens swamped the station begging to be included. So too did local record distributors wanting to promote new records they were pushing.  And local dance and concert producers did likewise, offering to bring touring teen stars through to lip-sync their latest hit and plug an upcoming event.

KING of the Hop

In addition to spinning popular hit singles, Briem introduced the occasional singing stars or rock ‘n’ roll combo. Among the national stars that made appearances on Seattle Bandstand were the famed 1950s vocal pop groups, the Four Freshmen, the De Castro Sisters, the Platters, and the Diamonds. Then along came that parade of early East Coast teen idols like Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and Bobby Darin.

On the night of February 23, 1959, Darin even headlined a Briem-promoted dance at Seattle’s north-end teen mecca, Parker’s Ballroom. Also booked on the bill that night were two of the Northwest’s most promising young groups.  Olympia’s Fleetwoods -- who were just then breaking out with their debut local-label single, “Come Softly To Me” (which was soon to become a worldwide No. 1 smash) -- opened the show.  Then their label-mates at Seattle’s Dolton Records, the Frantics, performed and backed Darin on his recent hits, “Plain Jane,” “Splish Splash,” and “Queen Of The Hop.” Darin was so keyed up that after his own set he jumped up on the stage again and jammed with the Frantics on Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman,” and a few additional tunes.

Bandstand’s Last Stand

Seattle Bandstand proved that a regionally oriented teen-dance record hop show (that also supported other Northwest bands like the Wailers, Bluenotes, Shades, Ron Holden and the Thunderbirds, Ventures, and Night People) could be successful -- or “bop-a-roo” as Briem would have said -- and by 1958–1959 it had inspired various other NBC affiliate stations to launch such similar programs such as KNDO-TV’s Yakima Bandstand, KHQ-TV’s Spokane Bandstand, and KGW-TV’s Portland Bandstand.

In February 1960, Ray Briem left KING and another local radio character, Frosty Fowler, took over host duties for Seattle Bandstand. The show carried on through 1961, reportedly shifting at some point to a format where it was pre-recorded on Thursday afternoons and then aired on Saturdays.

Though the show only aired for a few short years, Seattle Bandstand impacted plenty of local teens including Tobias Wolff, who would go on to mention it in his esteemed 1989 book, This Boy’s Life: A Memoir.

Ray Briem went on to a long career in conservative talk radio while based in the So-Cal market. He was ultimately honored for his contributions to radio with a bronze star in the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Sources:
Peter Blecha telephone interview with Ray Briem (August 1995); Peter Blecha interviews with Jim Manolides (The Frantics) (1984, etc., Seattle), Ron Peterson (The Frantics) (1984, etc., Seattle), Little Bill Engelhart (The Bluenotes) (1983, etc., Seattle), Bob Reisdorff (1988, 1999, Seattle), Gary Troxel (The Fleetwoods) (1987, Seattle), Gretchen Christopher (The Fleetwoods) (1985, 2000, Seattle), Eileen Mintz (November 2007, Seattle); “Seattle TV Previews," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 10, 1958, p. 14; David Richardson, Puget Sounds: A Nostalgic Review of Radio and TV in the Great Northwest (Seattle: Superior Publishers, 1981), 94, 98;  Daniel Jack Chasan, On The Air: The King Broadcasting Story (Anacortes, WA: Island Publishers, 1996), 62-63, 94-95;  Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life: A Memoir (NYC: Grove Press edition, 2000), 135;  Eileen Mintz, Salty’s Good Times newsletter, January 2007; Bill Virgin, “On Radio: Frosty Fowler Relives His Wild Rides," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 20, 2006,  website accessed November 9, 2007 (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/); Peter Blecha telephone interview with Ray Briem, December  21, 2007.


< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Media | Music & Musicians |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You




Seattle Bandstand dancers, Seattle, ca. June 1959
Courtesy Ray Briem


Seattle Bandstand dancers, Seattle, ca. June 1959
Courtesy Ray Briem


Seattle Bandstand dancers, Seattle, ca. June 1959
Courtesy Ray Briem


Seattle Bandstand dancers, Seattle, ca. June 1959
Courtesy Ray Briem


Ray Briem with Seattle Bandstand dancers, ca. June 1959
Courtesy Ray Briem


Ray Briem (b. 1930), fan club photo, 1958
Courtesy Peter Blecha


 
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org