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San Francisco Bay Area Radio History: 1990s
by Alex Cosper


Introduction 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


see also American Radio History


In the early nineties Mancow Muller was Wild's morning host and made headlines with a Bay Bridge stunt meant to mock a Bill Clinton incident that backed up traffic because the President demanded a haircut. Mancow moved on to Chicago radio and after landing mornings at Q101 his show went into national syndication. Z95's morning show was Gene and Julie, who became the morning show at KIOI (Star) in the 2000s. KMEL claimed a new morning show in 2001 with the Baka Boys, which only lasted six months into 2002, succeeded by Chuy Gomez.

In the mid-nineties the battle for the hits became interesting as KSOL changed owners to Evergreen Media, who flipped the format from Spanish to contemporary hit radio. The new hit station in 1994 was KYLD, known as Wild 107. By the end of the decade, after a few ownership changes, not only was Wild beating KMEL, but both stations were owned by the same company. AMFM was the leading radio company at the time and in 2000 became Clear Channel, which continued to be the top radio company through the middle of the decade, owning KMEL and KYLD. Also appearing in the late nineties CHR battle was Bonneville's KZQZ (Z95), which flipped to classic rock as "The Drive" in 2002 (they tried mixing marginal pop with Led Zeppelin and it didn't work then they changed to country, which also got low ratings, so it became "Max" in 2005).

KMEL's morning show throughout the nineties consisted of (MC) Sway and (DJ) King Tech. It all started in 1991 when they won a DJ battle that rewarded them with a 15 minute live mix on KMEL. After that, the station kept asking them back until they finally became the regular morning show. The show gained such a massive following that it went into national syndication beginning in July 1994. In the 2000s they are now heard in about twenty markets, with an estimated audience of 11 million listeners. The Wake Up Show, is a syndicated dance mix featuring Sway, King Tech, DJ Revolution and Carmelita, which began national syndication in 1996. They've added to their notoriety by issuing a series of mix shows on CD called Sway & King Tech Wake Up Show Freestyles. As of 2005 the series is up to volume eight.


Alternative Radio Changes

Live 105 has been known throughout the nation as an influential alternative rock station. The station has gone through many changes since its inception in October 1986 as Live 105, which succeeded "Hot Hits," although the call letters have remained KITS all along. Because KITS was not winning the top 40 battle at the time with KMEL,
Steve Masters began experimenting with modern rock on his evening show. The reaction was so positive the entire broadcast schedule switched to modern rock under the Programming of Richard Sands. Masters and other Live 105 personalities such as Mark Hamilton, Aaron Axelson and Spud, were responsible for discovering and launching airplay for several core format artists during the eighties and early nineties.

After CBS Radio purchased Live 105 from Entercom, programming from sister alternative San Jose station KOME shifted to Live 105 in 1998. This meant Howard Stern was the morning show until the end of his contract in late 2005 before moving to Sirius the following January. Also moving from KOME to Live 105 was Program Director Jay Taylor, who stayed with the station until 2003. KWOD graduate Ally Storm also transferred her midday show to the new Live 105, which began to take on a more industry-favored rock sound. Live 105's heritage had been a diverse sound, with emphasis on experimental music that did not mimmick popular trends. This included a lot of European keyboard dance music as well as hard rocking punk groups with plenty of humorous novelty songs thrown in.

The definition of the word "progressive" has taken on many meanings in the radio industry over the years. Usually the definition is stretched to fit an national industry format. But if one defines the word in its original sense, which was a sound beyond the normal mainstream that embraced more enlightening or challenging music, then the spirit of progressive radio lives on at KPFA.


San Francisco AM Dial 1990

dial position, call letters (format), owner 560 - KSFO (oldies, simulcast with 93.3 KYA) King Broadcasting, acq by Coast Br in 1992, First Br in 1993, went talk 1994 610 - KFRC (nostalgia) RKO General, acquired Bedford Br in 1991, Coast Br in 1992, Alliance in 1993 680 - KNBR (talk) Susquehanna 740 - KCBS (news) CBS 810 - KGO (news/talk) Cap Cities/ABC 910 - KNEW (country) Malrite, acquired by Shamrock Br in 1993 960 - KABL (ac, simulcast with 98.1 KABL-FM) Shamrock Broadcasting 1010 - KIQI (Spanish) Oro Spanish 1050 - KOFY (Spanish) James Gabbert, began appearing in 1993 Arbitron 1170 - KLOK (Spanish) 1220 - KDFC (classical, simulcast with 102.1 KDFC-FM) Sundial 1260 - KOIT (ac, simulcast with 96.5 KOIT-FM) Bonneville 1310 - KDIA (urban) Mediacomm, acquired by 1310 Inc. in 1993 1370 - KEEN (country) United Broadcasting 1500 - KSJX (rock, simulcast with 92.3 KSJO/San Jose) Narragansett 1550 - KKHI (Classical, simulcast with 95.7 KKHI-FM) Buckley


San Francisco FM Dial 1990


dial position, call letters (format), owner 92.3 - KSJO (rock, simulcast with 1500 KSJX-AM) Narragansett, acquired by Infinity in 1991, the Bay Comm Partners in 1994 92.7 - KJAZ (jazz) Ronald Cowan 93.3 - KYA-FM (oldies, simulcast with 560 KSFO-AM) King Broadcasting, acquired by First Br in 1993, became KYCY in 1994 94.9 - KSAN (country) Malrite, acquired by Shamrock in 1993 95.7 - KKHI (classical, simulcast with 1550 KKHI-AM) Buckley, acq by Group W who changed it to news KPIX AM/FM in June 94 96.5 - KOIT-FM (ac, simulcast with 1260 KOIT-AM) Bonneville 97.3 - KRQR (rock, flipped to classic rock in 1993) CBS Radio 97.7 - KHQT (chr) Annaheim Broadcasting 98.1 - KABL (oldies) Shamrock, by mid-90s had become KBGG 98.5 - KOME (rock) Infinity 98.9 - KOFY (oldies) Pacific, in 1991 acquired by Viacom became AC KDBK, in 1992 went rock, in 1994 became ac KSOL 99.7 - KXXX (chr: X100) Emmis, in 1991 became oldies KFRC-FM under new owner Bedford Broadcasting, acq by Alliance in 1993 100.3 - KBAY (beautiful/easy listening) United 101.3 - KIOI (ac) Fairmont 102.1 - KDFC (classical, simulcast with 1220 KDFC-AM) Sundial 102.9 - KBLX (new adult contemporary) Inner City 103.7 - KKSF (new adult contemporary) Brown Broadcasting 104.5 - KFOG (rock, went adult alternative in 1994) Susquehanna 104.9 - KBRG (Spanish) Bahia Radio, purchased by EXCL Communications in 1992 105.3 - KITS (alternative: Live 105) Entercom 106.1 - KMEL (chr) Century, acquired by Evergreen in 1993 106.5 - KEZR (ac) Alta Broadcasting 107.7 - KSOL (urban) United Broadcasting, acquired by Crescent Com in 1994 became chr: KYLD (Wild 107) also on 99.1 KYLZ


San Francisco AM Dial 1995


dial position, call letters (format), owner 560 - KSFO (talk) Cap Cities/ABC in 1997 became ABC Inc. 610 - KFRC (oldies, simulcast with 99.7 KFRC-FM) Alliance 680 - KNBR (full service, went sports in 1997) Susquehanna 740 - KCBS (news) CBS Radio 810 - KGO (news/talk) Cap Cities/ABC 910 - KNEW (country) Malrite, in 1996 acq by Chancellor 960 - KABL (nostalgia/40s/big bands) Chancellor 1010 - KIQI (Spanish) Oro Spanish 1050 - KOFY 1170 - KLOK (Spanish) Excel Communications 1220 - KIBE Palo Alto (classical, simulcast with 102.1 KDFC-FM) Sundial 1260 - KOIT (ac, simulcast with 96.5 KOIT-FM) Bonneville 1310 - KDIA (urban) Mediacomm (James Gabbert sold the station along with KOFY and WB 20 TV in July 1998) 1370 - KKSJ (nostalgia) American Radio Systems 1550 - KPIX (news, simulcast with 95.7 KPIX-FM) CBS Radio: bought KKHI from Buckley in 1994


San Francisco FM Dial 1995


dial position, call letters (format), owner 92.1 - KZWC (Spanish, simulcast with 92.7 KZSF) KZWC Inc. 92.3 - KSJO (rock, San Jose) acq in 1995 by American Radio Systems, in 1997 acq by Jacor 92.7 - KZSF (Spanish, simulcast with 92.1 KZWC) KZWC Inc. 93.3 - KYCY (country) CBS Radio 94.9 - KSAN (country) acq in 1995 by Chancellor 95.7 - KPIX (news, simulcast with 1550 KPIX-AM) CBS Radio, in June 1997 acq by Bonneville and became chr KZQZ (Z95) 96.5 - KOIT-FM (ac, simulcast with 1260 KOIT-AM) Bonneville 97.3 - KRQR (rock) CBS Radio, became KLLC "Alice" (hot ac) in mid-June 1995 97.7 - KHQT (chr) Annaheim Radio 98.1 - KBGG (oldies, became KISQ in August 1997) Chancellor 98.5 - KOME (rock) CBS Radio 98.9 - KSOL (urban/ac, switched to Spanish in August 1995, simulcast with 99.1 KZOL) Heftel 99.7 - KFRC (oldies, simulcast with 610 KFRC-AM) Alliance 100.3 - KBAY (beautiful/easy listening) United, in 1997 acq by CBS, who moved it to 104.9 in Jan 1998 101.3 - KIOI (hot ac) Evergreen Media 102.1 - KDFC (classical, simulcast with 1220 KDFC-AM) Brown Broadcasting 102.9 - KBLX (new adult contemporary) Inner City 103.7 - KKSF (new adult contemporary) Brown Broadcasting, in 1997 acq by Chancellor 104.5 - KFOG (adult alternative) Susquehanna 104.9 - KBRG (Spanish) EXCL Communications, moved to 100.3 in Dec. 1997 105.3 - KITS (alternative: Live 105) Entercom 106.1 - KMEL (chr/rhythmic) Evergreen Media 106.5 - KEZR (hot ac) Alta Broadcasting, in 1997 acq by American Radio Systems 107.7 - KYLD (chr/rhythmic) Evergreen Media, acq in 1997 by Chancellor, freq switch with Susquehanna in 1997, became KSAN KSAN switched from country at 94.9 to classic rock at 107.7. Meanwhile, KYLD moved from 107.7 to 94.9.


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