The rise of sites like eBay illustrates an age-old truth: auctions are exciting and addicting – the flurry of bids coming in from all sides, eager buyers hoping theirs is the lucky winning number. Auctioneers colorfully describe items, juggle incoming offers and keep the crowd riveted throughout.

Each year Olympia’s annual KGY and KAYO Big On-Air Auction is a day-long whirlwind of buying and selling on the radio. Businesses across Western Washington offer goods, services and packages of goodies galore.

Historians say auctions began more than 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece. Over the years, cultures have sold everything from war plunder to tools and livestock. It’s even noted that, “One of the most significant historical auctions occurred in 193 A.D. when the Praetorian Guard put the entire Roman Empire on the auction block.”

KGY-KAYO auction
The 11th annual KGY and KAYO FM Big On-Air Auction takes place from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Saturday, January 26. Photo courtesy: KAYO FM

At the Big On-Air Auction, you can view the list of available items now and choose which you’re most interested in. Auction day is Saturday, January 26, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on 96.9 KAYO, 95.3 KGY and streaming at

Sale listings will be updated frequently as new items are added so check the website often. Some are Buy It Now vouchers, to guarantee you get exactly what you want, while others are open to bidding in one-hour increments.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” says Nick Kerry, station general manager. Typically falling the first weekend in February, this year’s auction was moved up a week so it wouldn’t interfere with Super Bowl parties. “We hope it’s a more open weekend for everyone’s schedules.”

With a full docket, all station staffers put in a long, hectic auction day. But it’s also a bit of a party. “It’s a unique day of radio, live and unscripted; part radio play, part sportscast,” says Noel Wall, their regional sales manager. “There are a lot of moving parts.”

KGY-KAYO Big On Air Auction
Auctioneers and station talent will offer nearly 20 items an hour in this zero reserve, all day extravaganza. Photo courtesy: KAYO FM

Auction items come from local groups, organizations and businesses who receive on-air advertising time equaling their value. “There’s been a steady increase every year of business participation,” says Crystal Evans, a KGY account executive. Everything is presented with zero reserve, or minimum required bid, and items tend to sell for approximately 50 percent of their retail value.

This year look for more and bigger, says Evans. These include jewelry, tools, firearms, and an array of gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses. But there will also be a used car, a spectacular fireworks bundle from the Thurston County Search and Rescue stand, sturdy horse tack, and even installation of a custom 100-square-foot natural stone patio.

Looking for experiences instead? Bid on a professional make-up session, ideal for group event or celebration. There are also concert and sporting event tickets—fireworks night at the Rainiers, anyone?—massages, battle sails on historic tall ships, and more.

For business owners, this is a win/win event as well. “It’s one of my most favorite outreaches,” says Evans. “It reaches so many people. For some, the auction can be your one and only time to shine.” Anyone still wanting to participate can call the advertising team directly and get in on this year’s action.

To bid, preregister online and receive your unique identification number. That makes calling in on auction day much simpler for all involved. It’s not unusual for hosts to juggle up to 18 items an hour, all day long, with two staff per phone line. As the big day draws closer, a full schedule will be released, broken down into itemized timeslots. Organizers purposely mix up each hour’s agenda so there aren’t tight groupings of similar items.

KGY-KAYO auction
This year’s items can be viewed online and include gift certificates, merchandise, goods and services, and even a car! Photo courtesy: KAYO FM

Buyers should also pay attention to which items are available in multiples. There might be 2 or 3 gift cards to that hot new restaurant or downtown boutique. Any unsold items will be listed online or in the station’s lobby starting Monday, January 28.

No money is required to preregister or at the time of bidding. Instead items can be paid for and picked up from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday, January 28 through Friday, February 1 at 1700 Marine Drive NE, on the gorgeous Olympia waterfront. The station accepts cash, checks, and credit cards and will start calling winners mid-week if they haven’t picked up their treasures.

This is the auction’s 11th year and it’s a fan favorite. Whether you’re shopping, bidding, or just listening to the frenetically organized chaos, keep your radio tuned to 96.9 FM or 95.3 FM all day January 26. You definitely won’t regret it.

Is there is an item or experience you’ve always wanted to try but don’t see listed? Contact the station directly and they’ll try to make it happen in next year’s auction. You never know what the dedicated sales team will discover next.


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