Radio Waves: 2/26/16

Readers’ Revenge – or More Call Sign Meanings

It’s been a while since my last edition of Readers Revenge, a time when you get to add to the conversation either covering things I missed or want to embellish.

As it turns out, call letters mean a lot to you as they do me, and quite a few responses came in with call letter meanings as well as stories of early broadcasting. Some of the meanings mentioned:

KUSC – broadcasting form the University of Southern California, which reader Bill Cosso claims has broadcast classical music since it went on the air.

KGIL – named after original owner Gil Paltridge, says legendary programmer and DJ Chuck Southcott.

KECA – Earle C. Anthony, who owned what would later become KABC (790 AM), which itself is named after its later owner, the American Broadcasting Company. Thanks, George Lee of La Crescenta.

Adding to the KECA story is Steve Thompson of Glendale, who writes, “In 1929, Earle C. Anthony, a Packard automobile distributor and founder/owner of KFI, bought KPLA (1430 AM) and changed the call letters to KECA, after his initials. Ten years later he bought KEHE-780 from the Evening Herald-Express newspaper. He promptly took the station off the air and moved KECA to 780.  Anthony then moved the studios of KFI and KECA from his Packard dealership in Los Angeles to the former KEHE studios at 141 North Vermont. KECA moved to 790 in 1941 and today is KABC.” A complicated story, essentially confirmed by longtime reader of my column, George Schwenk.

Don Ward added a few: KJLH (originally on AM): John Lamar Hill; KMGM – owned by Metro Goldwin Mayer film studios, later to become KCBH – Crawford’s Beverly Hills (music store) and eventually KJOI – for the obvious K-Joy; KOCS – Ontario City Service; KSOM – Sound of (beautiful) Music.

KMAX – named after the owner, Max (and MaryAnn) … “can;t remember their last names,” said Deanne Davis of Sierra Madre. Dacis and her husband John lauched a station in yucca Valley from 1988 to 1994 called KROR … “The Mighty Roar of the desert.”

KPOP – The Popular Station, submitted by Phil Keosababian. KPOP was the original call sign for what later became KGBS and KTNQ.

KFWB – “Keep Filming Warner Brothers” or something related to “Westinghouse Broadcasting,” as both companies were owners at one time or another. Turns out to be more mundane – random sequential letters, says Wikipedia.

Joe McDonald of Whittier asked if three-call letter combinations were meant for “clear channel” stations, those with no other stations on the same frequency that cover large areas of the United States.Locally, KFI (640 AM) and KNX (1070 AM) are clear channel stations. Alas, while a good theory, it turns out that there were four-letter clears as well as three-letters that were not. KHJ (930 AM), for example, is not a clear channel. Three-letters were just what was issued in the early days of broadcasting.

Cory Moore of Compton noted a mis-spelling … Auburn automobiles are spelled with a “u,” not with an “o” as wrote with Auborn … I’m going to pretend I did that on purpose.

Next week: some interesting information on early FM broadcasting, including the problems with early stereo.