Los Angeles Radio History: 1980s
by Alex Cosper

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

see also American Radio History

By the eighties FM had completely taken over as far as music stations, with KIIS (102.7) being the leader in top 40, although KPWR (Power 106) did take the lead at the end of the decade. KIIS had previously been KRHM until 1971 when it became a top 40 station as KKDJ. The station was purchased by Combined Communications, who changed the call letters to KIIS. For awhile it was an adult contemporary station but changed back to top 40 in 1981. KPWR had previously been KMGG until January 11, 1986 when it became a dance leaning hit station. In the nineties it went hip hop.

KMET evolved into an album rock format, which it dropped February 14, 1987 in favor of new age as KTWV (The Wave). A year earlier, a new classic rock station was born with KLSX (97.1). In July 1991 it began airing the Howard Stern show. In 1995 the format shifted to all talk radio as "Real Talk 97.1" featuring people like Susan Olsen (from the Brady Bunch) and Kato Kaelin. KLOS became the home of syndicated radio show Mark and Brian.

The station that stole the rock crown in Los Angeles was the one elevated by Rick Carroll, and that was KROQ. It gradually evolved from the early seventies to the late seventies as a mix of album rock and alternative music. Carroll's arrival in the late seventies triggered a more mainstream approach to cutting edge rock music. KROQ has now been the leader for many years in the Los Angeles area rock scene.

KIIS was challenged in the late eighties by the more beat-driven KPWR ("Power" 105.9 FM), which rose to number one in the market regularly by the end of the decade.

Some might even say Scott Shannon's attempt at "Pirate Radio" at KQLZ (100.3 FM) from 1989 to 1990 was a formidable challenge, but "rock 40," as the format was called fell in the ratings almost as quickly as it rose. This was partly due to a lack of enough current mass appeal rock music from major labels during that period to fuel a fast-burning high-rotation hit machine.

The concept of current rock music treated with a top 40 presentation, was nothing new, as it had been tried many times in history, usually to fail. What usually worked was the album rock approach. In the late seventies and throughout the eighties, Rick Carroll programmed KROQ and consulted other modern rock stations around the country, as well as consulting MTV. Carroll's format "rock of the eighties" was a mix of the album rock and top 40 fundamentals and primed the station to be the rock leader of Los Angeles ... from then on.

Los Angeles Radio Dial 1989

640 AM - KFI, talk, owned by Cox
710 AM - KMPC, nostalgia/big bands, owned by Golden West
790 AM - KABC, talk, owned by Cap Cities/ABC
980 AM - KFWB, news, owned by Group W
1020 AM - KTNQ, Spanish, owned by Heftel
1070 AM - KNX, news, owned by CBS
1190 AM - KIIS, simulcast of KIIS 102.7 FM programming of CHR/top 40, owned by Gannett
1330 AM - KWKW, Spanish, owned by Lotus
1430 AM - KALI, Spanish, owned by SBS
1580 AM - KDAY, urban contemporary, owned by Heritage Media

92.3 FM - KFAC, classical, owned by Evergreen 93.1 FM - KODJ, oldies, owned by CBS 93.9 FM - KZLA, country, owned by Malrite 94.7 FM - KTWV, new age/new adult contemporary, owned by Legacy 95.5 FM - KLOS, album-oriented rock, owned by Cap Cities/ABC 97.1 FM - KLSX, classic rock, owned by Greater Media 97.9 FM - KSKQ, Spanish, owned by SBS 98.7 FM - KJOI, beautiful/easy listening, owned by Command 100.3 FM - KQLZ, CHR/rock 40, owned by Westwood One 101.1 FM - KRTH, oldies, owned by Beasley 102.3 FM - KJLH, urban contemporary, owned by Taxi 102.7 FM - KIIS, CHR/top 40, owned by Gannett 103.5 FM - KOST, adult contemporary, owned by Cox 103.9 FM - KACE, urban contemporary, owned by All Pro 104.3 FM - KBIG, adult contemporary, owned by Bonneville International 105.9 FM - KPWR, CHR/top 40, owned by Emmis 106.7 FM - KROQ, modern/rock of the eighties, owned by Infinity 107.5 FM - KLVE, Spanish, owned by Heftel
Introduction 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

© Playlist Research. All rights reserved.