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San Diego Radio History
by Alex Cosper

see also American Radio History

San Diego radio began in the early twenties. Some of the earliest call letters of AM stations in the market by 1922 included KDPT, KON, KYF, KDYO, KDYM, KFBC (which later became KGB), KFFA and KFVW (which later became KFSD). Call letters, dial positions and ownership changed frequently during radio's first few decades. By the early forties the AM dial became more stable with key stations being KFSD (600), KGB (1360) and KFMB (1450).

One of the most legendary stations in San Diego radio history has been KGB. In the sixties the 1360 dial position was occupied by "Boss Radio KGB," which was the top 40 format implemented by the consulting team of Bill Drake and Gene Chenault. Ron Jacobs, who had programmed KHJ in Los Angeles at the launch of "Boss Radio" in 1965, was the PD who oversaw the transition of KGB to progressive rock in 1972 with a simulcast on KGB-FM (101.5). The station became a legendary rocker and sold several times since the eighties, eventually winding up in the hands of Clear Channel, who went on to own six other stations in the market.

By the late eighties the top station in San Diego was album-oriented rocker KGB, owned by Brown Broadcasting. Other top stations of the era included contemporary hits simulcast combo KKLQ (600 AM and 106.5 FM), owned by Edens, Jefferson-Pilot's country simulcast combo KSON (1240 AM and 97.3 FM), Group W's beautiful music station KJQY (103.7), Midwest TV's adult contemporary station KFMB (760 AM), Gannett's news/talk station KSDO (1130 AM) and alternative station XTRA (91X), owned by Noble Broadcasting.

91X was born in 1978 as a rock station, owned by John Lynch of Noble Broadcasting. In 1983 the format switched to "rock of the eighties," consulted by Rick Carroll of KROQ in Los Angeles. Within a year Max Tolkoff took over programming and the station began to accelerate in the ratings. In 1987 Trip Reeb became PD and then left two years later to be GM of KROQ. Kevin Stapleford then took over as PD of 91X and Michael Halloran became MD. Bryan Jones did mornings off and on from 1984 to 1996 (Jones died of a heart attack at age 49 in November 2006).

During the eighties and nineties 91X was one of the top-rated alternative stations in America. Although Stapleford resigned in 1996, Halloran was promoted and gave the station one more period of high numbers. Within a year Halloran was replaced by Brian Schock, who was an original jock on the station. Part of the station's successful sound of the Stapleford/Halloran era involved a mix of guitar-based alternative music with many other flavors including classic rock sprinkled in.

With the signing of the Telecom Act of 1996, radio owners were allowed to greatly expand the number of stations they could own in a market. The first big player in San Diego was Jacor. Within a year of the new law, Jacor owned eight stations in the market including contemporary/rhythmic station KHTS (93.3), rocker KIOZ (105.3), classic rocker KGB (101.5), alternative rocker XTRA (91X), talk station KGO (660), news/talk station KSDO (1130), big band station KPOP (1360) and pop station KKLQ (106.5). In 1999 Jacor stations were acquired by Clear Channel.

Leading stations throughout the nineties tended to be Jefferson-Pilot's country station KSON (97.3), Midwest TV's KFMB combo (full service, 760 AM and hot adult contemporary, 100.7 FM) and SFX's adult contemporary station KYXY (96.5).

In the 2000s Clear Channel owns several stations in the market: KOGO-AM (news/talk), KHTS (contemporary hits), KGB (classic rock), KMYI (hot ac), XHTM (contemporary hits), KUSS (country), KFI (talk), KIOZ (rock) and KLSD-AM (talk). CBS Radio (formerly Infinity Broadcasting) only owns a few including adult contemporary KYXY, which took the market crown in 2005, and classic rocker KPLN. KOGO has been the more frequent market leader.

Whether you are a radio professional or listener, feel free to suggest information for this page, which will expand through time.

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