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How Dori Monson Built a Radio Career and Success at KIRO

Both reflect a level of competition that keeps him at the top of both games. After 35 years in the industry and a 2-A Washington state girls championship hoops coach, Monson still has a fire in his belly for both passions. 

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Scanning the walls in Dori Monson’s home office, you probably wouldn’t know he was a Seattle radio talk show host with an Edward R. Murrow Award. The wall is all about family and a passion for coaching. 

Squeezed between photos of his wife of 35 years, their three daughters, and rescue dogs they consider family, Monson’s walls are vivid reminders of his other career: coaching girls basketball.

“There’s barely one wall in my office,” the noon-3 p.m. KIRO News radio 97.3 host says from the town, not far from the Scandinavian neighborhood where he was born and raised, “but it’s more like a scrapbook of my basketball coaching life than a showcase to my `day job.’” 

And yet, there is a lot of cross-over between the two for Monson, 60. Both reflect a level of competition that keeps him at the top of both games. After 35 years in the industry and a 2-A Washington state girls championship hoops coach, Monson still has a fire in his belly for both passions. 

His path was wildly unpredictable. 

As a 10-year-old, Monson wanted to start creating a life vastly different from the one he’d experienced up to that point: rough and tumble.

“I wanted to have a happy home,” the youngest-of-three kids said. “My father wasn’t around. Our phone was cut off. I bathed in cold water. All these things happen, and the only reference point you have is your own life.” 

But Monson was determined to break the proverbial cycle. 

“In retrospect, it doesn’t seem that terrible,” he said. “I thought I could change things going forward.”

One of his favorite games as a kid was the Sports Illustrated Superstar Baseball game. An obscure game, to be sure, a bit nerdy and wonky. But Monson was all over it. 

“It was this dice game,” Monson said. “You could manage players like Brooks Robinson.” 

At the time, the game retailed at $9.95, not a small chunk of change for a kid in the early ‘70s. 

“I talked my mom into matching my $5 when I could raise it,” Monson said. 

“That was a fortune. She agreed to match the money.”

Undaunted, Monson cut grass, swept driveways, anything he had to do to raise his balance of the money for the game. After finally earning his half, his mother was true to her word and coughed up her $5 match.

“I spent the next five years buried in that game,” Monson recalled. After several housing moves, he remembers losing “my original game but found another years later, and had to pay a fortune.”

Board games, he said, were easier on emotions. Real games broke his heart when he was seven years old. 

“The Seattle Pilots left town,” Monson said. “The trucks were headed north from spring training, and they were diverted to Milwaukee after the sale.”

Some of those nightmares still haunt his sleep. 

“I had a real love for the game in the summer of 1969,” Monson said. “I had a tree fort and strung an extension cord to the house so I could listen to games. I bought a baseball scorebook. Learned to keep score for as many games as I could.”

A self-described nerd, Monson recalls going to his local library to bolster his baseball skills. His goal: to carve a plan that would out-manage Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles – his favorite team. 

After graduating from high school early at 15, Monson went to the University of Washington. “I worked 70 hours a week at two jobs just to pay the tuition,” he said. “At 17, my life’s goal was to manage a warehouse.”

Then he met someone that would change his career trajectory and his life. 

“I was working in a warehouse one day, and I heard a commercial for the Ron Bailey School of Broadcasting,” Monson said. “Tuition was close to $3,500 – an impossible amount of money for me at that time.”

But when the guest speaker and then KING-TV sportscaster Bill O’Mara met Monson through the school, the legendary hydroplane race caller made Monson a deal: “He told me he’d let me be his intern if I went to school and finished my degree,” Monson said. “It was a gentleman’s agreement. But he also said I had to graduate from college to make good on the deal.”

Monson went to UW Seattle for a semester but had to drop out because he couldn’t afford tuition. Two days later, Monson – who was living at home – heard a car coming up the drive.

“I don’t know how he knew where I lived, but Bill O’Mara came up to the porch and knocked,” Monson explained. “I knew he didn’t have a pot to piss in, but he peeled off six $100 bills and reminded me of our deal.

“This man had fallen on some tough times and was sleeping at his own radio station,” Monson recalled. “I went back and re-enrolled the next day.”

The Seattle radio talk show veteran credits the start of his radio career to O’Mara. O’Mara was still doing high school play-by-play into his 90s, and Monson recalls that “Sports Illustrated did a piece on him.”

In college, Monson majored in communications and did play-by-play work for the Huskies on the campus station. He knew he could do it because he’d been practicing in his room as a kid.

“I’d been doing my own play-by-play calls with the Orioles games when I was seven years old in the summer of 1972,” he recalls. 

Monson later got a job in sports at KING-TV to watch ball games and write timecodes. “I dug in and started knocking on station doors until I made something happen. I started doing high school recaps on Saturday morning. Then they gave me a shot doing morning sports.” 

Those segments were taped as Monson was finishing up his night work. 

“Then the new television news director told me I had to quit radio. When I asked why he said he didn’t have to tell me. I assume it was because he had something against the radio side and wanted to stick it to them.”

That’s when Monson had to choose. Would it be radio or television?

“I went in and met our radio news director Steve Wexler and told him I was thinking of choosing radio over television. He kind of grimaced and said he wouldn’t do that if he were me,” Monson said. Wexler told him even though he’d only been with the station for a week, he already knew he was going to make some changes and might go a different direction. In other words, Monson figured he was going to get canned.

Monson called his wife and let her know about his dilemma. She assured him he’d make the right decision. “I went to the television news director and told him I quit,” Monson said. “I had no backup plan.”

The next day he went back to Wexler’s office and said he’d quit the television job. “Wexler started laughing,” Monson said. “I told him if he still fired me, that’s his call. But he was fair with me. I asked him to just give me 30 days more to see if I got better in his eyes. See if I grew on him. Get some coaching. I think he liked my gumption because he agreed.” 

Since he no longer had to work nights at the television station, he could devote all his time to his radio gig.

“I came in even earlier and did some fill-in for the lead host. I wanted to make myself indispensable.”

His wishes came true. 

He’s been in his current position for 27 years and is known by everyone within listening distance. “The last couple of years have been great,” Monson said. “I have a couple of friends that dissect ratings, and they tell me we are the highest local news and talk station in the country for the past two years. That isn’t a formal study, but these guys know what they’re talking about.”

From 2010 to 2017, Monson balanced his radio work with his role as head coach of the Shorecrest High School girls basketball team in Shoreline, Washington. “I stepped aside three years ago,” Monson explained.

In 2016, his team won the Washington state 2-A girls basketball championship, and Monson was recognized as the state Coach of the Year.

Coaching has long been something close to Monson’s heart. He found it gratifying because he was able to impart life lessons to student-athletes. 

“Coaches were so important to me when I was a kid. My wife and I have been blessed with three daughters. Only my youngest played basketball throughout high school, but the others were active in tennis. My wife too.”

While he didn’t say he was all about destiny, Monson thinks there is some deliberate force in the universe.

“I don’t think some things that happen in life are by accident,” Monson said. “I had only one class in my entire college career with assigned seating. It was a children’s literary class, and my future wife and I were assigned to sit next to each other.”

Today, Monson hosts The Dori Monson Show on KIRO Newsradio, weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. It’s a life he loves. Monson’s daily show is topical. It allows him to share his thoughts, humor, and just be himself. 

“Seattle is a very liberal place,” he said. “I think people view me here as someone who can help balance the rest of the media. I have things to discuss that aren’t political. I want to be a companion for people stuck in traffic. Make them laugh. I take a great deal of pride in that.”

He said he and his staff break lots of news as they have a connection with listeners. “We get a ton of tips from listeners,” Monson said. “They turn out to be good stories for us as listeners have become fine-tuned to our show and what we talk about.”

Several years ago, it earned him an Edward R. Murrow award.

Monson said he took advantage of the challenges Covid presented. “It was a game-changer for me. I started doing my show at home and still do. I can still interact with my anchor at the studio and my producer.”

In the evening, he spends four to five hours preparing for the next day’s show. Monson’s show is the only one in prime time listening that doesn’t have a co-host. 

Monson said he’ll continue with this gig as long as he has a functioning voice and brain.

 “I love what I’m doing. I’ve worked 40 years to get to this point. I want people to hear what I have to say for as long as they want me to.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. J D Bell

    June 18, 2022 at 4:26 am

    Dori mentions thatr he likes to think he balances out the Liberal side of Seattle…but the local media, especially KIRO and it’s sister stations, are very conservative. There is no balance to local talk shows anymore…twenty years ago, Dori was himself quite Liberal, but he clearly decided to try to become the NW version of Rush Limbaugh…and he has succeeded in doing so. I do not agree with his politics, but respect his career achievements.

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BNM Writers

Kraig Kitchin Knows and Values the Importance of the Radio Hall of Fame

“I am first and foremost somebody who likes to shine a spotlight on the … brilliance of others. I don’t stop to think about if there’s a place for me in the Radio Hall of Fame.”

Garrett Searight



A photo of Kraig T. Kitchin
(Photo: Kraig T. Kitchin)

When the 2024 Radio Hall of Fame class was announced earlier this month, Kraig Kitchin was surprised by one name on the list: his own.

Kitchin — the co-founder of Premiere Networks — is the co-chair of the Radio Hall of Fame and said he was surprised to receive the honor.

“I was pleasantly shocked,” Kitchin said. “Incredibly humbled by the gesture. Very grateful to be recognized. I am first and foremost somebody who likes to shine the spotlight on the talent, and hard work, and creativity, and brilliance of others.

“I don’t stop to think about ‘Is there a place for me in the Radio Hall of Fame?’ as much as I think about ‘How do we best showcase and reward people who have really, truly made a forever impact on our industry?” I really didn’t put myself into that consideration set, but I’m humbled that others might have felt that was appropriate.”

Usually on the other side of the phone call informing someone they’ll be inducted into the next Hall of Fame class, Kitchin called finding out he would join the list of this year’s inductees surreal.

“I have spent the better part of the last 10 years doing everything I can to make sure that the Radio Hall of Fame is truly a destination for everybody in our industry, regardless of whether or not they’re in front of the microphone or behind the microphone,” he shared. “So, to have the opportunity to experience the sensation that I am really working hard to provide for so many others, it’s a sensation that actually immediately captures you in such a way that you are without words.”

Obviously, as the co-chair of the Hall, Kraig Kitchin holds it in high esteem. But there’s a deeper connection with the history of the medium and chronicling that history for future generations for the longtime radio executive.

“I think it is most important for our industry to have a vibrant Radio Hall of Fame and meaningful one that is just full of integrity in it’s decision-making process and the way in which they recognize and choose inductees,” he said. “We’re blessed to work in such an industry to begin with. You and I both know how special it is to be in a medium that you can connect with individuals on an everyday basis that you can develop a relationship that is so deeply interpersonal and does so much for different communities. And an industry that has sustained more than 100 years those kinds of relationships.

“So to me I’m really committed to making sure that our industry has a forever history of recognizing individuals who are just really making a difference and listeners minds and hearts, whether or not it’s one person at a time or decades and decades or service, whatever that might be, depending on the inductees that’s chosen.”

When asked what qualities currently define the radio industry, it didn’t take Kraig Kitchin long to rattle off his viewpoints.

“Resilience is one. Innovation is a second. Optimism in the face of a very tough economic circumstance is a third. Creativity amongst all else is a fourth,” Kitchin shared in rapid-fire succession.

“An innate commitment from an on-air personality to make a relationship — to set a date at the exact same time, day-in and day-out for five or six days a week for a forever period of time, knowing full well that if they make a date with a listener, there’s a very good likelihood that a listener is going to make a similar date with that on-air personality and maintain that relationship. I can’t think of another place in all of media where that implicit trust — without saying as much — lives on today.”

Joining Kraig Kitchin in the 2024 Radio Hall of Fame class are:

  • Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase (The Crook & Chase Countdown)
  • Lee Harris (Former 1010 WINS anchor)
  • Phil Hendrie (former comedy talk show host)
  • Jaime Jarrin (former Spanish radio play-by-play voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • Kraig Kitchin (Co-founder of Premiere Networks and Co-Chair of Radio Hall of Fame)
  • Barry Mayo (former GM of 98.7 WRKS in New York)
  • Mary McCoy (longest female radio career, began in 1951)
  • Matt Siegel (former Matty in the Morning host in Boston)

Kitchin was incredibly complimentary of his fellow inductees, each by name and listing off their accomplishments off the cuff.

“It’s gonna shape up to be a great induction class,” said Kitchin. “I’m thrilled to see those individuals receive their induction this year, regardless of whether or not I’m fortunate enough to be in their class. I’m proud and very much looking forward to spending time in person with this fellow inductee class.”

The Radio Hall of Fame class of 2024 will be inducted in a ceremony on Thursday, September 19th at the Omni Nashville.

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The Real Reson Why the CNN Debate is Coveted By Every Network

“This debate will answer more than enough questions as to where the candidates really are in this race.”

Bill Zito



A photo of the CNN logo on a tablet

Everybody wants in. It doesn’t really matter who is actually hosting Thursday’s Presidential Debate, (It’s CNN, if you care) you won’t have to look very hard to find it on TV, radio, live stream, social media, or perhaps even on the stage, performed artistically in real-time by interpretive dance troupes across the nation.

Some platforms will do it better than others, of course. TV and livestream coverage will fare most triumphantly, I expect as who wants to miss the facial expressions, the visible acrimony, and the overall frustration of two old men whose belligerent commentary and interruptions of each other will be mostly lost on an audience without visual reference. I still say radio should be permitted to utilize play-by-play and color commentary for their listeners.

“A crimson-faced former President Trump is repeatedly parroting the words, ‘Crooked Joe, Crooked Joe’0 over a muted microphone as a stoic, almost undemonstrative President Biden enters minute four of his rambling claims that Abraham Lincoln created the NASA program.”

I would listen to that and just watch the TV broadcast with the sound off.

There are differing opinions across the political arenas and perhaps a few pockets of voters, but I am comfortable holding the idea that this debate will answer more than enough questions as to where the candidates really are in this race.

The first face-off is likely to be the only one that matters and the smart news outlets know it and they are not going to let competition stand in their way.

News coverage, no matter where you find it offers carefully crafted, artfully edited, and strategically presented soundbites, video segments, and bits of sit-down interviews with the current and former presidents so this will be the first and most important chance for voters of all kinds to look, analyze and decide for themselves if one, or either of these men have enough left to do the job.

The parties and their lemmings already know who they want so they won’t care what they see, the undecided voter, who is often inaccurately pegged as the uninformed voter, will be scrutinized intently as really, this is their only opportunity to make the decision solely by themselves, without the buzzing of chronic zealots or intense political marketing.

Yes, there is a second debate scheduled (hosted by ABC, if you care) on September 10, but really, if you think about it, it could all be a moot point by then.

Everything is likely to be thrown into this week’s debate, by the candidates, the news outlets, the voters, everyone. A second outing three months later is unlikely to offer the same impact, no matter how close to election day it may be.

It rarely is lucrative to be number two. Apollo 12 landed on the moon just four months after Armstrong and Aldrin did in Apollo 11. Yes, poor Mike Collins was stuck up in the command module but without Googling it, name one astronaut on the Apollo 12 mission.

If you think about it, the networks and the cable channels are in a constant battle not only for ratings points but also for respect and relevancy. Their market is forever shrinking, being nibbled away by every other possible platform in existence. USA Today, a print and digital outlet, has hooked on by offering the debate on YouTube.

That’s just one option, by Thursday there will be others to join Fox News, NBC, and ABC piggybacking on CNN’s broadcast for what’s becoming NFL Sunday in regard to coverage plans, some outlets starting hours before and ending hours after the debate’s puck drop.

Let’s be realistic, if you’re watching Fox News, ABC’s or NBC’s platforms ahead of or following the debate broadcast, you’re a political geek. And that’s okay, own it.

The only way to differentiate between broadcasts is to flip around, and dip into everyone. Turn on the radio for a bit, sit on the couch with your phone, your laptop or your iPad, and take in a bit of everyone’s coverage.

Before and after, you’re only going to listen to what you want to see and hear but during the actual debate, you’ll choose whoever broadcasts the best picture. Let’s be sharp and crisp, folks.

And that’s what matters at the end of the day, who paints the best picture and who tells you something closet to the truth,

Choose wisely, my friends.

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Has Donald Trump Caused the News Media to Change Its Tune?

Rick Schultz



A photo of Donald Trump
(Photo: CNN)

It seems increasingly inevitable that in slightly more than four months, America will once again choose Donald Trump to be their President. Apparently, skyrocketing inflation, high prices, economic pain, open borders flooded with illegals, crime-ridden streets, and other Democrat party priorities and schemes don’t seem to be selling across the nation.  

Perhaps the biggest sign yet of what’s to come, along with swelling Trump support across inner-city America, is the drastic change of opinion across left-leaning Silicon Valley.  

Clearly, and to their chagrin, the mainstream media’s deceptive narrative-shaping efforts no longer seem to be working.

A few days ago, the widely-popular All-In Podcast hosted an exclusive interview with Donald Trump, to discuss his priorities for his next term in office. The interview made headlines not only for what the political frontrunner said, but also for the reaction of the program’s hosts.

“Thanks so much for sitting down with us, Mr. President,” co-host David Sacks began. “The All-In Pod’s basically the four of us having conversations. It’s kind of a spectrum of different views. We got, sort of like, a little bit of some Fox News, and then some MSDNC at the same time.”

“Well that’s ok,” Trump quipped. “Keeps it interesting.”

Two weeks ago, Sacks hosted a fundraiser for Trump, where many Silicon Valley leaders attended and made contributions to help the former President win another term. Many tech billionaires also stepped up to support President Trump on the heels of the event, including the famed Winklevoss twins.

“One of the things I think we heard a lot at that dinner was the difficulty that people in business were having under this Biden administration,” Sacks said. “You got the crypto guys who just want a framework. They just want the government to tell them how to operate and they can’t get that. You’ve got no M&A happening right now in tech. The real estate guys, they can’t get loans because interest rates are through the roof and there’s a credit crunch. So I think one of the common themes we just heard across that dinner was that it was just so hard to do business right now.

“And I guess maybe a good place to start would just be, what’s the number one thing or maybe the top three things you would do to get things moving again if you’re re-elected?”

“So I’d say regulation, regulation and taxes, ok. You know, I gave the biggest tax cut in the history of our country, and a lot to businesses,” President Trump said. “As you know, they were paying, people and companies were paying 40 percent, 45 percent, including state and city taxes in many cases. And we got it down to 21 percent. We’d like to get it down lower, actually. But we got it down and the revenues were better than ever. Even with the lower rate we had record revenues, which tells you a little about that.”

The All-In interview covered many of the most pressing topics of the day, including inflation, immigration, abortion, and the federal debt. As of the weekend, the podcast episode already had approximately a half-a-million views.

On the rash of murders, rapes, and other crimes being committed by illegal aliens urged into the country by Democrats, Trump pointed out that his secure border would have kept those criminals out of the country.

On abortion, Donald Trump said he does not support a national ban. He also noted that the real extremists are the Democrats, with their frenzied zeal for killing babies right up to the moment of birth, or beyond.

On the oversized bureaucratic state, Trump mentioned some areas he could trim the waste, including at the Department of Education.

Donald Trump also said he would de-classify the JFK files in his overarching effort to be more transparent than the current administration.

But perhaps one of the biggest revelations of the nearly-hour-long interview was how and why typically left-leaning tech leaders have reversed their opinions of Trump, when given the chance to talk with him without the usually-biased media lens.

Following the discussion, co-host and billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya prodded co-host and angel investor Jason Calacanis to give his opinion of the interview.

“I’m undecided, as you know,” Calacanis said, playing coy. “We had a limited amount of time with him.”

Just four years ago, Calacanis told CNBC, “I hate Trump with every fiber of my being and he’s the worst human being on the planet.”

“J Cal, just say it. You like him. Just say it, because it’s written all over your face,” Palihapitiya urged. “Just say it. You like him. You’re confused. You asked great questions and he just dealt with them head on. Just admit it, you like him. You like him!”

Calacanis smiled and said, “I like the fact that he came on the pod, I will say that.”

“I told you you’d like him! This is my point!” Palihapitiya said. “Whether you come out of this wanting to vote for the President or not, everybody needs to, I think, just sit in a room and hear him out.”

“He was very respectful, actually,” co-host David Friedberg said, noting that Trump did not take the bait when asked to comment on some controversial figures. “I was very surprised to hear how he respected Fauci and how he framed his response to that question. And I think that says a lot.”

Palihapitiya himself has admitted he was anti-Trump in 2016 and 2020, and he explained his thoughts on his co-hosts admitting they were surprised by Trump’s calm, rational tone and thoughtful answers.

“But can I tell you why you’re surprised? Because I think we have been fed – this is what I’m saying – we have been fed a narrative of what President Trump looks like,” Palihapitiya said. “Now, in fairness, we’re also being fed a narrative of what President Biden is like. And this is why you have to see these men up close and personal for yourself.

“Because, David, the fact that you’re surprised is less about the fact that Donald Trump has changed. It’s more the fact that you’ve been told a narrative and you’ve believed it. And so now when you see the actual truth you have to re-underwrite. Hold on a second, he’s actually pretty thoughtful. He’s pretty presidential. He doesn’t go off on people. That’s not what you probably thought going in because that’s not what the mainstream media portrays about what you should be thinking.”

Perhaps many voters have also wisened up to the manufactured, media-driven conspiracies that were never true in the first place. That Trump was a Russian agent. Or that he said white supremacists were good people. That he told people to drink bleach. That he verbally disparaged our troops. The media reported these things, and many, many more for years, even though they were knowably false. As a result, the voting populous no longer believes the fake news media that cried wolf.

A recent poll from one of the most accurate outfits, Rasmussen Reports, shows Donald Trump with a ten-point popular vote lead over Joe Biden. As many experts have pointed out, this favorability across the country is much larger than the margin of fraud they believe occurred in 2020.

So it seems that – despite the mainstream, corporate media’s best efforts – the wide swath of America stands behind Donald Trump and his plans to help the nation regain peace, prosperity, and security. Never before have we seen Silicon Valley, rural America, and a groundswell from urban culture converge onto the same team. 

This should make for an earth-shattering November 5th, which the media will have to cover, whether they want to or not.

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