Oregon State Senator Betsy Johnson once called Freel “The most powerful voice on the North Coast of Oregon” as a nod to the veteran broadcaster’s reach and influence as the morning news anchor and commentator on KAST AM 1370. Tom Freel has gained the trust of generations of listeners as the morning voice of common sense and no nonsense on Astoria’s heritage radio station.
Tom Freel began his radio career in Portland, Oregon on News Talk KYXI AM 1520 where he learned the broadcast profession in a fast-paced metro newsroom environment. He soon earned his place as a reporter and a news anchor. Tom's daily afternoon drive feature “BREAKTHROUGH” on science and technology innovations in the Northwest garnered awards from the Associated Press and the Oregon Association of Broadcasters.
Tom's coverage of a jetliner hijacking and subsequent crash in a northwest Portland neighborhood in 1979 was carried on CBS radio nationwide and was lauded by CBS News Executive Vice President Emerson Stone as “Invaluable to CBS news at a tough time of the day and far from any network bureau” Tom became a regular contributor to the network news coverage. In 1980 his coverage of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens won best coverage in metro Portland from Associated Press.
Tom moved his family to Astoria to take over programming duties on KAST AM and KAST FM in 1981. Held that position until the stations were sold and was named Operations Manager for New Northwest Broadcaster's Astoria Cluster in 2002. He was responsible for programming and day-to-day staff operations of seven radio stations serving Clatsop and Pacific counties. Under his direction, the KAST 1370 news team won various coverage awards from the Association Of Oregon Broadcasters for special series reports and website coverage. In 2007 Tom won "Best News Coverage" and "Best Breaking News" awards for coverage of a devastating multi-day wind storm that cut off Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington from the rest of the world. The Mayor of Astoria made an official proclaimation recognizing the vital importance of Tom's personal contribution to that coverage when KAST was the only media source broadcasting emergency information 24 hours for days.
In 2009 KAST won recognition for it's outstanding community service from the National Association of Broadcasters. In 2010 Tom served as Vice President and General Manager for NNB Radio Astoria. It was the capstone experience of his career. The stations were sold to Ohana Media Group and Tom stepped down from the manager's post to go back to doing just those things he truly enjoys as News Director and Morning Host. In 2014 Tom was promoted to KAST Program Director in addition to directing the efforts of the news department that provides content to the other radio stations and social media connections in the Astoria group.
Tom Freel introduced the concept of local talk radio to the lower Columbia audience with the creation of “Coast Watch Call In” in 1986 and the program has provided an important community forum. In 1994 Tom introduced the concept of a full time news and talk station in a small market with a strong emphasis on local news. Freel is the person other talk show hosts call for his opinion on issues affecting the coasts of Oregon and Washington. He has been a guest commentator on the Lars Larson show on several occasions over the years. In 2003 Tom Freel was honored by the Oregon Association of Broadcasters as “Oregon Heritage Broadcaster of The Year", recognizing what was then over 20 years on the air on KAST.
When the station facilities moved into the city Of Warrenton in 2009 the city commission welcomed Tom with a special recognition noting his many years of providing unbiased news coverage and providing a community forum on his morning talk program and welcoming him and his staff.
Tom has served as the President of the Astoria Lions Club and went on to serve Lions Clubs International as Oregon District Governor for the charitable organization in 2003 and has served on a number of non-profit boards for organizations including the American Cancer Society North Coast Chapter, Pioneer House Homeless Shelter, and Board of Trustees for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Tom and Linda Freel have been married for 43 years and have two children and two grandchildren to spoil.