Thursday, June 28, 2007

Liberal talk station celebrates 85 years on the air

Okay, they haven't been doing liberal talk for 85 years. Actually, more like three. But KLSD in San Diego is celebrating a big birthday soon.

All Access reports that Clear Channel-owned KLSD has set Saturday July 14 for its 85th anniversary show. Scott Rice will host the look at the station, which signed on in 1922 and is the oldest radio station in the market. The show will focus on the successful "Boss Radio" Top 40 era, when the station was known as KGB, and will include original jingles plus interviews with former KGB personalities.

Over the years, 1360 became a legend in local radio. Hell, they even gave us the San Diego Chicken! The station began life as 10-watt KFBC in 1922, at 1210 AM. The call letters switched to KGB in 1928, named for station manager George Bowles, and moved to 1360 kHz in 1942. Later, they were a cornerstone for the old Don Lee and Mutual radio networks. Famed radio and TV entertainer Art Linkletter got his professional start at this station.

During the 1950s, KGB was slogging along with a middle-of-the-road (MOR) music format. Lots of Lawrence Welk, Steve Lawrence and Nat King Cole. In 1963, the station hired Bill Drake and Gene Chenault out of Fresno to run the station. The two brought in several DJs from Fresno and installed their hip take on the Top 40 hits format, "Boss Radio." Boss Radio took San Diego and the country by storm, particularly when it moved up the road to KHJ in Los Angeles and soon to stations across the country and to the other side of the globe, when an offshore pirate radio station called "Swinging Radio England" started blasting the British Isles with the approach. Stations such as KFRC in San Francisco and CKLW in Windsor/Detroit became well-remembered legends with the Boss Radio approach.

As the era of AM Top 40 radio drew to a close, KGB eventually went through various formats. They simulcast the album-oriented rock of KGB-FM, was all-news as KCNN in 1982 and later KPOP, playing adult standards (basically, a lot of the MOR stuff they played prior to 1963), In 2004, they flipped to progressive talk as KLSD, and became one of the most successful stations airing the format.

So, happy birthday KLSD! And for you young ones out there who desire to relive the heyday of AM radio, in glorious mono, tune in July 14 for a bit of history.

Further reading:

A history of 1360AM
Boss Radio Forever


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