Steve Slaton, a top rock disc jockey here for almost 20 years, was fired Friday after his regular evening drive-time shift on KISW.
Slaton, known for his love of hard rock and a natural, easygoing on-air style, spent almost his entire career at KISW.
"I'm still shell-shocked," Slaton said yesterday. He already has had offers from other stations and is considering them. "I want to stay in radio," he said. "I love radio. And I want to stay here in Seattle."
Dave Samp, station manager of KISW, would not confirm the firing, saying only that Slaton was no longer with the station. "The station policy is to not discuss personnel issues," he said, "so that's all I can tell you."
Although sudden, the firing was not a complete surprise. It had been known for some time that Slaton felt restricted by tight playlists at KISW, radio insiders say.
For many years, he enjoyed almost full control of his program. But since KISW was bought in 1986 by Nationwide Communications Inc., he has been subjected to tighter controls.
"I just didn't feel good about it," he said. "I felt my program had been cleaned, gutted and freeze-dried. I followed a computerized printout of songs that were highly researched and tested. It was all science, no emotion. I felt I had been reduced to a highly paid, low-regarded robot."
Slaton was one of a handful of local deejays in the $100,000-a-year range. For the past six years, he was on the air from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. After working a short time at KLAY in Tacoma (now KRPM), he started at KISW in 1973 on the all-night shift, moved to midday in 1976, and was on evenings from 1978 to 1986.
He said he will always consider KISW his "radio home."
"For a boy from the wrong side of the tracks in Tacoma to be at a great station like KISW for such a long time was a great privilege," he said. "So I can't feel too bad about it."