Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history
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Thread: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

  1. #1

    Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Changing call letters is nothing new. There were still plenty of call letter changes in Los Angeles
    in the 1920s and '30s.

    I hope I'm not going to confuse everybody reading this. But, the license for KABC-790 is a complicated story, and dates back to February 1925 as KFVF, and another radio station license that started in 1925, KFXB in Big Bear Lake.

    KFVF changed to KNRC in September of 1925; It changed ownership and call letters again in November of 1928 to KTM; then to KEHE in 1935 under Hearst Radio's Los Angeles Evening Express.

    KFXB moved from Big Bear to Los Angeles in 1927 and changed calls to KPLA. KFI owner Earle C. Anthony bought KPLA in November of 1929 and changed the calls to KECA for his own initials.

    While KFI went from 5 kw to 50,000 watts in 1931 was at 640-AM, KECA was only 1,000 watts at 1430-AM.

    KTM was at 780 on the dial and shared time with KELW-780 in Burbank. Both had license troubles in the early-'30s. Anthony had hoped for years of moving KECA to 780 for better signal coverage and higher power.

    In 1937, KEHE-780/ Hearst Radio bought out KELW so they could be full time on 780. KEHE-780 had their new 5 kw transmitter site built where today's KABC-790 tower site is.

    By 1939, Hearst was selling off their stations, so some of them. Earle C. Anthony paid $400,000 for KEHE and took it off the air. He moved KECA from 1430 to 780. The license for KECA-1430 was deleted. (In 1942, new station KWKW-Pasadena went on the air on 1430)

    KFI and KECA-780 moved inbto the former KEHE studiuos at 141 North Vermont in December of 1939. In March of 1941, KECA moved from 780 to 790-AM. And yes, in 1943, due to duoply rules at the time, the
    FCC allowed a station owner to have only one radio station per market. So, Anthony had to sell his beloved KECA-790 to the Blue Network (formerly the NBC Blue Network), which became ABC.

    And in 1954, KECA-790 became KABC for American Broadcasting Company

    I hope that is clear. For a recap, here's a bit from my own AM call frequency history charts.

    Jim Hilliker
    Monterey

    AM 790 (November 15, 1929)

    KABC is actually the result of the merger of two stations. KABC began in August of 1925 as KFXB in Big Bear Lake and moved to Los Angeles in 1927 as KPLA. KFI owner Earle C. Anthony bought KPLA and changed it to KECA for his initials on November 15, 1929.

    KECA was on 1430 AM. Anthony decided to buy out KEHE 780 and move KECA to that dial position. KECA 1430 license was cancelled by the FCC on 7/31/39 and KEHE became KECA 780 on 8/8/39. KECA moved from 780 to 790 AM on 3/29/41.

    KABC has been talk radio since August 1,1960.

    KFVF February 16, 1925
    KNRC September 22, 1925 Kierulff N Ravenscroft Company
    (Charles R. Kierrulff, the owner, also was the first owner of KHJ in 1922 when he ran it for the Los Angeles Times for 7 months.)
    KTM November 1928 Tom Morgan
    KEHE May 6, 1935 Evening Herald Express
    KECA August 8, 1939 Earle C. Anthony
    KABC February 1, 1954 (or 2/10/54) American Broadcasting Company

  2. #2

    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Thanks Jim for a wonderful rundown. You mention 1430
    as KWKW? So when did 1430 become KALI? When I got here
    in 1978 both KALI-and-KWKW on 1300 were both Spanish.
    Its also curious that ABC seemed to be going in
    2directions in 1960. What, KABC-and-KGO left
    rock-and-roll for talk, while WABC, WLS, and WXYZ went
    rock. WABC would have been just 4months away from
    switching. Thanks in advance. And lastly, an unrelated
    curiousity, supposedly KLAC was rock around
    1959, maybe same time as KHJ had those CRC Jingles.
    Are their any KLAC 1959 airchex around? Supposedly it
    was called "future phonic" maybe a play on the
    jingle company "Future Sonic"

  3. #3

    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Your history is excellent as always, Jim. The only addendum I'd make is that the new KWKW 1430 that signed on from Pasadena in 1943 wasn't really on the same channel that KECA had been on. That, of course, is because of the NARBA frequency shift of 1941. Had KECA still been on 1430 at that point, it would have been moved up the dial to 1460 - and so it's really the Inglewood station that's now KTYM that inherited the former KECA spot on the dial.

    One other amusing note: the old KABC/KLOS studio on La Cienega was built by accretion over the years around the original KEHE 780 transmitter site from 1937. When that studio/office building was demolished in the late '80s (early '90s?) to be replaced by the current facility behind it, the workers finally chipped away enough at the newer additions to get to the doorway that led into the KABC transmitter room, and when they did, they found the Hearst eagle mascot carved into a nice stone lintel that had been hiding above the doorway all those years. The stonework was saved, and at last account was in storage somewhere in a crawl space above the current La Cienega engineering offices.
    All kinds of good stuff over at http://www.fybush.com

  4. #4
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    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Jim, many times you've explained that the call letters of the the earliest radio stations were assigned sequentially and were not deliberately chosen to stand for something. You've dispelled oft-repeated stories that "KFI" meant "farm information" and "KHJ" meant "kindness happiness & joy" and KGFJ meant "keeping good folks joyful." Slogans were made from already-assigned call letters but the call letters themselves were assigned sequentially by the FRC or FCC unless someone such as the aforementioned Earle C. Anthony requested specific calls letters. Therefore may I assume that KFVF was sequential and the call letters had no special meaning? There are quite a few stations beginning with "KFV-" on this 1925 radio station list:

    http://jeff560.tripod.com/1925am.html

  5. #5

    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Scott, you are correct, I forgot about that! And KWKW was a 1 kw daytimer on 1430, when it signed on the air on Sept. 12, 1942. See Broadcastiung magazine story from 9-21-1942:

    http://www.americanradiohistory.com/...rch=%22kwkw%22

    Someone asked about KALI-1430. What happened was that KAGH-1300 went on the air in Pasadena in 1948, for owner Andrew G. Haley, who had been an FCC attorney. On 2-16-1950, there was a frequency swap, in which KWKW moved from 1430 to 1300-AM, and KAGH moved from 1300 to 1430, became KALI and the city of license changed to San Gabriel. (Then later of course, KWKW moved from 1300 to 1330 on 1-17-89 at midnight, when KFAC-1330 AM went off the air that night, as KWKW had purchased their station license. And 1300 changed to KAZN for K-Asian)
    Interesting to me that it seemed to be history repeating itself, as KFAC started in 1931 on 1300-AM and moved to 1330 in 1941.

    Steve, the 3-letter calls were not issued in any alphabetical order or sequential order, but the 4-letter calls were. One of the first to get a requested call was KPPC in Pasadena in December 1924 for Pasadena Presbyterian Church. Also, earlier than that Aimee Semple McPherson requested KFSG for Kall Four Square Gospel, as she did not like the assigned calls the Department of Commerce gave her in January 1924. And summer of 1925, KJS became KTBI for The Bible Institute (of Los Angeles), which became KFAC in 1931. Yes, ECA requested KECA in 1929 from KPLA. And in 1925, KFVF was assigend. But they alao came up with a contrived slogan in 1925, Keen For the Very Finest, as KFVF was at a radio store in West Hollywood at the time. And the calls requested in Sept. 1925 became KNRC for the radio/electronics store Kierulff And Ravenscroft.
    More about KFVF's founder later.

    Jim

  6. #6

    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Very interesting, thank you!

    I wonder if there are any records or if anybody is still around who remembers what KTM or KELW or any of the other historic players might have broadcast.

  7. #7

    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Quote Originally Posted by Lopaka
    Very interesting, thank you!

    I wonder if there are any records or if anybody is still around who remembers what KTM or KELW or any of the other historic players might have broadcast.
    Well, Art Laboe and Chuck Cecil were on.....


    Just kidding.


  8. #8

    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Probably nobody around today who can actually recall what was on KTM or KELW. But there are plenty of radio logs from the old newspapers and radio magazines of those years that can give you an idea what was broadcast on those two stations. Plus, on David's American Radio History website, there are several articles in Broadcasting about some of the programming on KTM and KELW in the early and mid-1930s, and their battle with the FRC/FCC to keep their station licenses.

    Also, on David's site, I found a 1946 article in Broadcasting magazine on the death of Clarence B. Juneau at age 42. He was the man who got KFVF on the air in 1925 and was chief engineer of its successors KNRC and KTM, and later became station manager of KEHE for Hearst Radio and KYA in San Francisco. Juneau left radio in 1938 or so to start his own advertising agency in Los Angeles. He was still running his ad agency at the time of his death in '46.

    The obit said he had a son, Clarence B. Juneau, Jr. A friend did some detective work and found out that his son lives in the Bay Area community of Brentwood. I mailed a letter to him and he emailed me a reply. Bud Juneau was born in 1939. He told me he had a few photos his dad left behind of the KTM-780 antenna/transmitter site in Santa Monica from 1928; a photo of his dad outside his Hollywood home with a 250-watt transmitter he built for KFVF/KNRC in mid-1925; and some of his business cards for KNRC, KTM and KEHE; plus some photos of the KEHE studios on Vermont from 1936 or so. He has since emailed me scans of those items for my radio history project on L.A. radio. So, thanks to the American Radio History site that David has put together, I solved a longtime mystery about what happened to early L.A. radio pioneer C.B. Juneau.

    Jim Hilliker
    Monterey

  9. #9
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    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilliker
    So, thanks to the American Radio History site that David has put together, I solved a longtime mystery about what happened to early L.A. radio pioneer C.B. Juneau.
    That's exactly what the site is for! I am glad that the data is useful.

    I'm currently looking for Manuel Rosenberg's The Advertiser from that period; that should give some added dimension to the media side from the late 30's.

    I also noticed that Radio Mirror from the mid 30's to about 1940 has quite a bit about KFI and later, KFI / KECA in articles about local and regional radio. I'm considering putting the first 20 volumes of that publication... even though it is a fanzine... on the site because of those little occasional gems about local radio.
    www.americanradiohistory.com
    Broadcasting Magazine and Yearbooks, Billboard, Cash Box, R&R, Record World, Music & Media, Audio, Television/Radio Age, R&R, Duncan's American Radio, Popular Electronics, Studio Sound, Broadcast Engineering, db, and more.

  10. #10

    Re: Story of KABC-790-AM license a complicated one/call lettere history

    In 1931, the LA radio dial looked like this:

    570 KMTR
    640 KFI (NBC Red)
    710 KMPC
    780 KELW/KTM
    900 KHJ (CBS)
    950 KFWB
    1000 KFVD
    1050 KNX
    1120 KMIC
    1200 KGFJ
    1380 KGER
    1430 KECA (NBC Blue)

    Most of these stations filled their day reading from The LA Times or other papers, playing 78's, or having live musical acts come in for 15 minutes to a half hour. "Amos N Andy" was heard nightly on KECA. KHJ started out with CBS Radio before the network jumped ship to KNX. KFWB had a nightly syndicated soap opera, "Cecil and Sally", parts of which survive today.

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