"Emperor" Lee Smith, 59, was Seattle's premier Top 40 AM disc jockey in the '70s, just about the last time there were such things as Top 40 AM disc jockeys. He died from cancer on October 12.

Smith held the morning shift on KJR from 1969 to 1974, and aimed his show at the teens and preteens left behind by a "youth culture" industry more interested in following their older, boomer-generation siblings. He spouted witty, energetic banter between the hits of the Spinners, Dolly Parton, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He made public appearances (including annual "chariot races") clad in a burgundy toga and gold sandals. He made his audience feel they had a local celebrity of their very own.

Smith's last on-air day featured a Watergate-themed comedy skit, "The Impeachment of an Emperor."

Norm Gregory, one of Smith's former KJR colleagues, said, "The first time I saw him was in 1967 and the last time was in 1995, and he was the same guy from that first day to the last. Emp was a wild and wacky radio personality, a great father, and a wonderful friend."

The giant neon blue gas flame atop the former Washington Natural Gas building on Mercer Street, originally lit in 1964 but not operated for the past year or so, will be dismantled within the next few months, it was announced on October 25. The gas company (now merged into the Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy) has sold the building to Paul Allen.

The distinctly labia-shaped sign (subject of a loving tribute in a 1999 Stranger piece by Ellen Forney about Seattle's most sexually suggestive landmarks) will resurface at the Museum of History and Industry's new Convention Center location, due to open in 2004.

The Stone Way Safeway in Wallingford, the grocery chain's oldest and smallest extant Seattle store, suddenly closed on November 1. The compact, 10,000-square-foot brick building was a perfect example of the chain's early '50s architectural prototype, with room for such then-new products as frozen dinners but not for such later profit centers as a deli or pharmacy. The company has yet to announce whether it will replace the store with another unit in the same vicinity.