Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.
Leon Cartersmaller.jpg

KYAC Got The Word Out

Portrait by Henry Luke

Portrait by Henry Luke

Leon Carter

It was just an extraordinary time. I was still working with Northwest Airlines, and I saw the guy who was the news director at KYAC. Veltry Johnson was his name. And I loved his voice. He had such a distinct way of delivery. And so I said, "Hey, man, I would like, how do I get into this? How do I do this?" He said, "Well hey, why don’t you come down to the station and meet the owner and so forth?" So OK. A couple days later, walked in, he introduced me to the owner, and he asked me what I was doing, and I told him, "I got the voice for it, and I know how to write, you know, I can write a news story, and I can do things. I don’t have to get paid, just let me get the experience." He says well, "I could do this. I can only pay $75 a week." He said, "But if you would apply, the Urban League has an OJT program that we can qualify you for, and they would pay you another $75 a week, giving you $150 a week." Well, heck, I’m making $500 a week at Northwest Airlines, and I got a baby, and a family, why would I want to do that? Absolutely, yeah, I want to do that!

It was the hub. The communications, in terms of rallies and organizations and so forth. I interviewed so many celebrities, Stokely Carmichael...I interviewed Julian Bond...what’s her name with the big hair? Angela Davis. The impact that you can take your message directly to the black community, that was kind of a revelation. That’s when talk radio started. It was as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. You know, you couldn’t get coverage, you couldn’t get people to come to your rallies and so forth, so what other way than through the radio stations?

So that's how we got the word out, that things were happening. When KYAC went off the air, this community kind of evaporated.