Classic radio call letters return, recalling two of LA’s pioneering black DJs – Daily News


There was big news in San Diego last week: the return of the KGB to the AM group, with the former KFMB (760 AM) taking the legendary calls.

The original KGB (now KLSD, 1360 AM) was one of America’s Finest City’s first radio stations, in 1922. It was the region’s “Boss Radio” station in the mid-1960s; in 1972 it was “recycled” into a progressive rock station – and one of the few in the AM group – under the direction of former KHJ “Boss” programmer Ron Jacobs.

In the late 1970s, the station returned to the top 40 as 13-K and for a time beat KGB-FM (101.5) in ratings. The formats that followed, including news, talk, and the current sports format, are uninspiring and poorly rated, but like KHJ here, the calls have special meaning for one who grew up on AM radio.

KFMB was a full-service station from 1964 to 1974, broadcasting middle-of-the-road music as well as news and information. In 1975, the station added sports and talk shows, and was completely devoted to news / talk / sports in 1994. It was KFMB’s sister FM – known as B-100 – that started set the area on fire as the first FM among San Diego’s Top 40 in the mid-1970s.

So how do legendary musical call letters end up on another station’s talk format frequency? The complicated world of radio consolidation and station sales. Last December, then-owner Tegna agreed to sell KFMB AM and FM to Local Media San Diego, but the sale did not include the call letters that remain with KFMB-TV, which Tegna still owns. .

Local media turned around and sold KFMB (AM) to iHeart Media, which already owns KGB-FM; rather than putting the calls back to 1360 – which he also still owns – management decided to assign them to 760.

Normally, three-letter calls don’t return to stations when lost – the FCC stopped assigning them decades ago. But they can be easily assigned when a timeshare station is still using them, as is the case with KGB-FM.

Personally, I’m a little excited that iHeart actually recognizes the historical significance of call letters, although I’d rather see them tied to 1360. What would be even more exciting if iHeart allowed the station to revert to a music format playing either oldies from the 60s and 70s, or a “top 40 for adults” format which I think might draw listeners to the AM group. I can already hear the ringing of 76 KGB in my head …

They probably won’t and will probably stick to a forgettable conversation format, but I keep dreaming.

Moving in

The notes seem to stabilize a bit and become a bit more normal. KRTH (101.1 FM) was back in first place for the second and third week of June, according to the Nielsen rating service. KFI (640 AM) was still doing well in fifth place in week three, and KNX (1070 AM) was just behind in sixth.

KABC (790 AM) retained its COVID-19 boost, tied for 32nd but maintaining an audience share above 1.1, compared to pre-COVID days when it was closer to around 0.3 . One of the reasons the station itself operates out of the cellar is John Phillips, heard weekdays from noon to 3 pm…. I will be speaking with him soon to get his take on the news, talks, radio and more.

Letter bag

“I read your column on John & Ken with interest, and it confirmed something I had suspected for a long time: in approx. About 1989, I was in New Jersey on business, and while driving I overheard these two guys on the car radio discussing a local issue. They were funny and in keeping with some of my own ideas.

“In 1993, I was listening to KFI (back to Los Angeles) and I heard J&K talk about these two guys convicted of murdering their parents, and they reminded me of the guys in New Jersey, and I always suspected that K&J were them.It’s good to have confirmed my suspicions.

“Now for some really old radio stuff. In high school I listened to two disc jockeys who were pretty much the only ones playing modern jazz on the local AM radio. One was Bill Sampson, on the dark station KWKW during the late hours (around midnight), and around noon, Joey Adams on a station whose letters I can’t remember.

“Finally, there was a guy named Phil Hendrie who was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever heard, and he was on KFI in the early 90s, so I’m pretty much a confirmed KFI guy. . What happened to Hendrie anyway? – Robert Schwartz

Big questions. Bill Sampson was one of LA’s first black DJs and has indeed been heard on KWKW (then at 1:00 p.m.; now at 1:30 p.m.). He also owned the Los Angeles-based Scamm Sound label. He’s ahead of my time though, so I know very little about him… so I’m asking you to help me fill in the details.

I discovered more about Joe Adams, also one of LA’s early black DJs, and I believe he started even earlier than Sampson. Adams was heard on KOWL (later KDAY and now KBLA, 1580 AM) in the 1940s, and had the station’s most popular program. In fact, he was among the most popular music DJs in Los Angeles. At the time, KOWL was a day-only station and had to sign to protect other signals on the same frequency at dusk.

According to an obituary on Adams in the LA Sentinel, “At a time when DJs had to solicit their own sponsors, Adams drew an incredible 56 paid advertisers to pay for airtime on KOWL, marking the start of a auspicious radio career that ultimately lasted twenty years. “

In addition to radio, Adams was an actor in television and movies. He was Frank Sinatra’s psychiatrist in “The Manchurian Candidate” and won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Husky Miller in “Carmen Jones”.

He was part of the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of fighter and bomber pilots during World War II, which allowed him to become qualified to fly airplanes for commercial purposes.

In addition, he was a professional photographer, worked as a road manager for Ray Charles for a long time and even managed the Ray Charles Corporation until his retirement in 2008.

He was a Renaissance man, and I’m not even talking about all of his talents and accomplishments. It would take a book. Adams died in July 2018 at the age of 94.

Finally, Phil Hendrie is still here, but online now. You can find it on, where you can listen online or through iTunes.


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