He was 85 years old, reports KIRO7. His family announced that he died peacefully Tuesday at his longtime home on the San Juan Islands.
O'Day was a radio personality and station owner in Seattle for four decades. His influence and longevity is commemorated in the permanent disc jockey exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
According to Peter Blecha at historylink.org, O'Day became synonymous with KJR, the station he ran for a decade and built into an empire. Blecha writes to really understand his impact you'd have to consider the power of that station back in the '60s -- it was not uncommon for KJR to boast of a 37 percent rating, an unheard of dominance by a radio station. O'Day, KJR's star DJ, was eventually promoted to Program Director and, by 1968, to General Manager. Additionally, O'Day produced or engineered numerous recordings by many of the top bands on the KJR play-list including the Wailers, the Viceroys, the Dynamics, and the Casuals. And if that wasn't enough, he also ran an extensive teendance circuit across the region -- which was the most profitable part of his empire and perhaps the most visible. By 1962, O'Day was making more than $50,000 a year just from throwing dances. By the mid-1960s O'Day and Associates were presenting over 58 separate teen-dances a week throughout the state.
O'Day parlayed his experience into ownership of a string of stations including KXA, KYYX, and Honolulu's KORL. But by 1982, O'Day was once again the center of controversy when his empire fell on hard times financially and The Seattle Times ran a feature story outlining his woes. By 1983, he was facing bankruptcy, squeezed by a $5 million bank loan. He almost lost everything he had once had. But adversity seems just another everyday challenge for O'Day, and the saga of his long career in the radio industry is always adding new chapters.