Charlye Parker poses with a framed photo of Garth Brooks and KXA radio personalities Stitch Mitchell and Anita Moffett. (Provided photo)

Charlye Parker poses with a framed photo of Garth Brooks and KXA radio personalities Stitch Mitchell and Anita Moffett. (Provided photo)

36 hours after final show, Everett radio host Charlye Parker, 80, dies

When Parker got into radio, she was a rarity: a woman in a DJ booth. For the past 12 years, she hosted weekend country music shows at KXA.

EVERETT — When KXA DJ Charlye Parker learned of her terminal diagnosis, she decided to go on her own terms.

During her final KXA Radio show on June 14, she picked the tunes for her own requiem.

Parker, 80, died in her sleep 36 hours later, following a recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

The last song she chose for her listeners was “My List” by Toby Keith, morning host Stitch Mitchell said.

The song’s refrain goes:

I cross ‘em off as I get ‘em done

But when the sun is settled

There’s still more than a few things left

I haven’t got to yet.

Parker grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, in the 1950s.

When she graduated from high school, the career advice she got was to be a secretary, not a DJ, according to a profile on KXA’s affiliated news website, The Everett Post.

But in 1973, when virtually no other women worked in radio, a close friend dragged her into KTRC, a small radio station in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mitchell said.

Program directors told her the key to success was being sexy.

“Nobody would accept anybody trying to be sexy, trying to be sweet, trying to be cute, ” she said in an interview with Fox 13, the day after her final show. “So when you just become you, now you’re OK. Now you’re OK.”

In the 1970s, a photojournalism assignment for the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association made her move to the Pacific Northwest.

Her half-century career sent her from New Mexico (Santa Fe’s KTRC and Albuquerque’s KRZY) to California (KHAY in Ventura) and eventually to Everett (KWYZ and KXA).

When she retired, she realized her radio career had become her life. Parker, who lived in Sedro-Woolley, discovered KXA. The country music station has 90,000 weekly listeners, Mitchell said.

Parker felt like radio was calling her back.

“Oh, my God, I need to be a part of this community,” Mitchell recalled Parker telling him.

For 12 years, she drove down to Everett every Saturday and Sunday for her 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. shows.

This past Memorial Day, her favorite holiday, she went to the doctor for what she thought was an infection, Mitchell said.

It was pancreatic cancer.

Her radio coworkers knew just how to cheer her up.

They suggested she come in for one last show.

“Why don’t we have a farewell party for you? Because what we do for a living. You don’t normally get the opportunity to say goodbye and thank you,” Mitchell said. “And I could hear her click when we were talking on the phone like, ‘I would very much love to do that.’”

Nestled into a blanket knitted by a friend, she came down to the chilly studio one last time.

Fans, friends and former colleagues — all overlapping categories — poured their love into messages and calls. Between songs, she accepted compliments, joked about her life and shared her diagnosis.

“Everything I’ve ever wanted I’ve gotten from radio,” Parker said. “And now here I’m getting ready to die, and I’m not afraid.”

Mitchell thought that was more content than he’d seen her in 12 years.

Anita Moffett, 55, was one of Parker’s colleagues.

Moffett was in disbelief when Parker first introduced herself.

“You can’t be her,” Moffett told Parker. “Because to me, Charlye always been this larger-than-life type of person.”

The two women grew close, becoming “sisters in arms,” Moffett said. Parker gave advice and talked about radio, which she called the “theater of the mind.”

Moffett was proud of the doors Parker broke down for women in radio.

“I wouldn’t even be in radio at all if it weren’t for her,” she said. “There was no female voice in radio when she first started. And the few that were, were in New York, and they were the big time people. The little stations around the rest of the country were not playing females, ever.”

Parker’s longtime companion, a parrot named Fred, was rehomed in a facility for senior pets.

It would only take meeting Parker once to mourn her, Moffett said.

“Just for one meeting, you knew how special she was,” Moffett said, “and how kind and funny and just everything you wish all humans could be.”

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Lynnwood appoints new council member after abrupt resignation

Derica Escamilla will take the seat vacated by Shirley Sutton in May, who claimed the city had a “total lack of leadership.”

Everett Housing Authority is asking for city approval for its proposed development of 16 acres of land currently occupied by the vacant Baker Heights public housing development on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett council locks in building heights for Park District

After months of negotiation, the council approved on Wednesday the 1,500-home project with buildings as high as 12 stories.

Onions are grilled up at the Walla Walla Burger booth during opening day of the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 25, 2022 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Save money and time with advance ticket sales for Evergreen State Fair

The fair’s 115th installment runs 11 days starting Aug. 22 in Monroe. “Bright Lights, Summer Nights” is the theme.

Jayden Hill, 15, an incoming sophomore at Monroe High School is reflected in the screen of a cellphone on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Come fall, Monroe students must silence their cellphones in class

Elementary and middle school students won’t be allowed to use phones in schools. High schoolers will have more leeway.

Members of “Everett Deserves a Raise” group turn in their signed patients to the the clerk at City Hall on Thursday, July 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett minimum wage initiative submits signatures to get on ballot

Meanwhile, another group is leading a campaign for a similar local measure, but with a few notable differences.

The winner of the 2023 Great Mukilteo Dog Show at Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo. (Photo provided by Kandace Barnes)
All dogs are show dogs at the Great Mukilteo Dog Show on Saturday

The mayor “double dog” dares you to attend. Categories include Best Wiggles and Most Slobbery at the show at Lighthouse Park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.