Radio Waves: 3/4/16

Early FM Tidbits

The early days of FM broadcasting were interesting, to say the least. The genesis of FM came from the brilliant mind of Major Edwin Armstrong, who had done much to improve AM yet still hated it … he hated the sound and he knew the limitations (some of which have more recently been solved) including static interference from both local sources — household motors, etc. — and atmospheric, such as lightening; limited audio quality; and interference between stations, especially at night.

Anyway, Reader and radio engineer Bob Burchett has some interesting tidbits regarding early FM broadcasting, especially as it pertains to local powerhouse KBIG (104.3 FM).

“KBIG started in 1959 on FM simulcasting the same audio as an AM station (KBRT) on Catalina Island owned by John Poole. It was Poole who hired the venerable Carl “Mr. Big” Bailey, the first DJ at KBIG. And it was Bailey who was the “BIG” that became the call sign. To make it really cool it was also the big POWER being 65,000 watts (to this day) which is pretty phenomenal … grandfathered in and all; we could NEVER get a station licensed legally with that much power these days! We used to laugh that to hear the station your radio didn’t even need a battery in it.

“SCA (Sub Carrier Authorization) came into being for stereo-only stations during the transition period when owners had to buy incredibly expensive equipment to transmit stereo to radios that could not even lock-on to the 19 KC pilot tone that that causes the radio to decode stereo (the stereo light glowing on your radio is triggered by that as well). In other words, they were sending stereo to radios that mostly could not even pick it up!

“But KBIG had SCA, and they were tagged by the SCA Paging company to transmit numeric data paging (beepers by another name) so folks could dial-in to the paging terminal and the signal was transmitted by KBIG in Los Angeles, as well as stations in each major metropolis across the United States.”

The New KCLA

It is Burchett, by the way, who is behind San Pedro’s own KCLA — Calling Los Angeles, a low-power station broadcasting from the top of a hill in Palos Verdes. With one watt. And you wonder why you never heard them.

Burchett says the current location is and was always going to be temporary in order to keep the licensing process alive. He is working on moving it to a lower elevation thus allowing a legal increase to a maximum of 100 watts.


By the time you read this, KFWB as you know it will be gone. Of course many feel that happened already. Twice or three times. But Monday February 29th was the last day for The Beast 980; in its place is a syndicated South Asian format known as Desi 980.

Former KFWB reporter Steve Kindred checked in to say that a reunion for anyone who has ever received a paycheck from the station” is planned for 5 PM March 12 at the Golden Dragon Restaurant, 960 North Broadway in Chinatown. There is a sign-up page in Google Groups, and you can contact Kindred or engineer Richard Rudman for details. If you are an alumni and having trouble getting information, drop me a line and I’ll forward it to Kindred.

Quick correction

I had it right. My computer changed it. Last week’s mention of KPOP changing to KGRB and later KTNQ should have stated KGBS instead of KGRB. KRGB — as mentioned the week prior — was a station playing Big Band music on 900 AM.