On New Year’s Eve, local country radio host Steve Scellick retired from his long-running morning show on KXLE-Ellensburg. However, he’s not quite riding off into the sunset yet.
Scellick plans to take on a backup role at the station, producing commercials and offering help whenever the KXLE staff “get in a pinch.”
“It’s kind of hard to walk away from [radio] after doing it for so long,” Scellick said. “I talked to management and said, listen, ‘I’ll still do some stuff.”
Scellick said he has other plans in his future, like going on trips and spending time with his wife, Gail, who he married on Valentine’s Day last year. Primarily, he looks forward to having more time to work on his guitar chops.
Life on the air
Scellick started his broadcast career back in the mid-1980s selling advertisements, after graduating from Central Washington University with a degree in music. He started working behind a microphone not long after.
With no background in broadcast, Scellick said he had to essentially learn on the job.
“I knew nothing, and there was nobody to really teach me so [it was] really trial and error,” Scellick said. “It took me years to figure out [an] identity.”
For a decade, Scellick hopped from station to station around central Washington, including a brief stop at KXLE in 1991 before heading to KXXS-Yakima.
Scellick would find his way back to KXLE in 1996 after being persuaded by then new general Brad Tacher. 25 years later, they’re both still in the building.
“I really didn’t enjoy [working at KXXS] at all,” Scellick said.”My kids were in high school, I was working evenings, I missed a lot of stuff they had going on at school, so I was glad to get back.”
Scellick became a familiar voice in Kittitas County during his time with the station.
Whether it was because of the quirky giveaways, like a free car covered in chewing gum, or his shows humorous bend, people tuned-in every weekday. The photos and appreciation mail scattered all over the KXLE studio walls serve as a reminder of the people he reached.
Scellick worked with a couple cohosts on his morning show, but he said he shared a special chemistry with Rob Lowery.
“When Rob Lowery and I were together, we tried to be humorous and get people laughing, or saying things they would talk about at the water cooler at work,” Scellick said.
They would talk music, news and bring in a guest or two. Working during an era of shock jocks and hot takes, Scellick said he tried to keep the show genuine but family friendly.
“We just wanted to be that little spot in the morning where it was light, and you didn’t have to shield your kids from it,” Scellick said.
What’s next for KXLE?
Brad Tacher holds his hire from 1996 in high regard. He said Steve brought a special energy and creativity to KXLE.
“There’s just no replacing Steve Scellick. He’s one of a kind,” Tacher said. “Very few people are going to come to a small market and work their whole career here. And that’s what Steve did.”
With that being said, the station still has a hole to fill for on-air talent.
Tacher said KXLE is a part of a network that provides all its music and talent. Until the station comes out of the economic hardships of Covid, they will rely on those resources before seeking a new morning show host.
“We’re kind of on the sidelines waiting to see what happens. It is very possible though by hopefully summer that we may be looking for a new on-air talent,” Tacher said.