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KCBS (AM): Wikis


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KCBS (AM) logo.jpg
City of license San Francisco, California
Broadcast area San Francisco Bay Area
Branding All News 740 AM and 106.9 FM
Slogan "World's First Broadcasting Station" [1]
Frequency 740 kHz 106.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)
First air date 1921 (experimental under various calls from 1909–1921)
Format All News
Audience share 3.8, #5 (Sp'08, R&R[2])
Power 50,000 watts
Class B
Facility ID 9637
Transmitter coordinates 38°8′23.00″N 122°31′45.00″W / 38.13972°N 122.52917°W / 38.13972; -122.52917
Callsign meaning K Columbia Broadcasting System
Affiliations CBS Radio, CBS News
Owner CBS Radio
Sister stations KFRC, KFRC-FM, KITS, KLLC, KMVQ
also part of CBS Corp. cluster: KPIX-TV and KBCW-TV
Webcast Listen Live

KCBS (740 AM, "All News 740 AM and 106.9 FM KCBS") is an all-news radio station in San Francisco, California, that is a key West Coast flagship radio station of the CBS Radio Network and Westwood One. Its transmitter is located in Novato, California.

KCBS' full programming schedule is simulcast on co-owned KFRC 106.9 FM.



KCBS has its roots in the experiments of San Jose engineer Charles Herrold as far back as 1909, making the broadcaster a leading contender for the title of oldest station in the United States and possibly the world. Herrold used a variety of different radio call signs in the early days, including FN, SJN, 6XF, and 6XE. In the very beginning, he just used a simple greeting like "San Jose calling." That greeting and the initial FN sign (which was an inverted abbreviation of "National Fone") reflected the fact that Herrold had been partially working on the idea of a radiotelephone.

On December 9, 1921, Herrold received a commercial license under the callsign KQW. It was the 21st licensed radio station in the United States and the 11th in California. However, the "arc-phone" Herrold had been using for over a decade had to be scrapped. It would only work at wavelengths above 600 meters, and all radio stations were restricted to 360 meters (roughly the equivalent of 833 kHz). He quickly created a replacement, using a tube-like transmitter drawing power from San Jose's streetcar lines. However, he never recovered financially from the loss of his arcphone, and was forced to put the station on the market in 1925. After initially giving an option to a civic foundation, he sold it to the First Baptist Church of San Jose. Herrold stayed on as a technician for the station he'd created for a few years, but died in obscurity in 1947.

There is at least one authentic broadcast recording chronicling this early history. On November 10, 1945, KQW presented a special program called "The Story of KQW," commemorating Herrold's early broadcasts. It includes a brief recorded statement by Herrold, just before his 70th birthday. During the introduction to the program, a KQW announcer explains that the program was produced to mark the 25th anniversary of the broadcasting industry as well as the 36th anniversary of KQW. The announcer then goes on to say that KQW was the first radio station in the world to operate on a regular schedule. The major events in Herrold's work are then dramatized.

In 1926, station manager James Hart bought KQW's license and facilities, buying the station itself in 1930. Until 1942, it operated as a service of the Pacific Agricultural Foundation to farmers in the Central Valley. A series of power boosts brought the station to 5,000 watts by 1935. It was the San Jose affiliate of the Don Lee Broadcasting System from 1937 to 1941, during the time that it was owned by Julius Brunton & Sons, co-located with KJBS at 1470 Pine Street in San Francisco.

However, in 1942, CBS offered to move its San Francisco affiliation to KQW after KSFO turned down CBS' offer to buy the station. KQW jumped at this offer, having been without a source of network programming for over a year. CBS moved its affiliation to KQW later that year, with an option to buy the station outright. KJBS Broadcasters then sold the station and KQW moved to a lavish CBS-owned studio at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. For all intents and purposes, it became a San Francisco station, though it continued to be licensed in San Jose. An announcer remained at the transmitter to identify the station as "KQW, San Jose" every hour.

At the end of World War II, KQW found itself in a battle with KSFO for its longtime home on 740 kHz, the last Bay Area frequency that was authorized to operate at 50,000 watts. When CBS affiliated with KSFO in 1937, it cut a deal with KQW to swap frequencies with KSFO, which would then boost its power to 50,000 watts. The change was waiting FCC approval when World War II broke out. By 1945, however, KQW had become San Francisco's CBS affiliate, and CBS was obviously not about to give up the advantage of having the last 50,000-watt frequency in the Bay Area. While the FCC granted the frequency to KSFO, its owners, Associated Broadcasters, later decided to concentrate on plans for its new television station, KPIX-TV. Eventually, Associated Broadcasters traded 740 back to CBS in return for KPIX getting the CBS television affiliation for the Bay Area.

CBS exercised its option to buy KQW in 1949, changing the calls to KCBS. (The KCBS callsign predates the use on the CBS owned television station (then KNXT) in Los Angeles by over 30 years, and KCBS-FM there as well.) It also officially changed the city of license to San Francisco after seven years. In 1951, KCBS signed on with 50,000 watts for the first time from an elaborate multi-tower facility in Novato originally intended for KSFO. However, the station is a class B station, not a Class A (clear-channel).

In 1968, KCBS became one of the first all-news stations in the country. However, it already had a long history in news dating to World War II, when it was the center of CBS' news-gathering efforts in the Pacific Theater. KCBS is currently the eighth oldest fully licensed radio station in the United States, the third oldest in California (behind KWG in Stockton and sister station KNX in Los Angeles) and the oldest in the Bay Area.

Westinghouse Electric Corporation (which purchased KPIX-TV from Associated Broadcasters in 1954) bought CBS in 1995, bringing the Bay Area's oldest radio station and its oldest television station under common ownership. In May 2006, KCBS and KPIX-TV moved their San Jose news bureau to the Fairmont Tower at 50 W. San Fernando St., the address of Charles Herrold's original broadcasts. Although CBS management was not aware of the history of the San Fernando St. address when the move was planned, they quickly recognized and embraced its significance when informed, giving long-overdue credit at the bureau's opening celebration to one of the inventors of broadcasting.


KCBS is noted for broadcasts every weekday morning with hall of famer, former Oakland Raiders coach, and sportscaster John Madden. The morning hosts and Madden talk about upcoming football games, life on the road in his traveling bus, and various anecdotes in Madden's and the hosts' lives. Sometimes former KCBS morning host and imaging voice Al Hart joins these conversations. The station also hosts special segments each weekday with CBS News technology analyst Larry Magid and longtime food and wine editor Narsai David.

Similar to its sister stations such as WBBM and WCBS, KCBS does traffic and weather on the :08s, sports updates at :15 and :45 past the hour, and business news at :25 and :55 past the hour. KCBS Cover Story airs weekly as an extended look at a major issue in the news, while In Depth is a weekly long-form interview program. In addition, KCBS simulcasts 60 Minutes and Face The Nation, which is also standard practice at the other CBS-owned all-news radio stations.

KCBS's signal can be heard clearly as far north as Sacramento and Hopland and as far south as San Luis Obispo on most days. Under the right conditions, its daytime signal reaches as far north as Redding and as far south as Santa Maria. At night, with its 50,000 watts of power, the signal can be heard throughout California including Los Angeles and San Diego, and it covers several western states such as Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah. On rare occasions, its signals traveled across the Pacific ocean to be received by DXing the station in Hawaii, Alaska and northwest Mexico.

In mid-March 2005, KCBS, along with almost all the other all-news stations owned by Infinity Broadcasting (which renamed itself CBS Radio that fall), began streaming its audio (reversing a long-standing Infinity Radio policy of not doing so) via its website[3] (WCBS began its streaming audio the previous December). Local commercials which are heard on the radio signal are pre-empted on the Internet stream for a small selection of sponsored ads, and more often for public service announcements, station promos, and repeats of pre-recorded CBS Radio Network feature segments already on the broadcast schedule (including Lloyd DeVries' stamp collecting segment, Dr. Emily Senay's "Healthwatch" and Neil Chayet's "Looking at the Law"); before the fall of 2008, outside sponsors purchased considerably more spots on the Internet stream.

In 2007, the station began identifying itself on-air as "KCBS and KCBS-HD", a reference to the stations' broadcasting in hybrid digital.

On October 27, 2008, KCBS began simulcasting its complete program schedule (including commercials) on co-owned KFRC-FM and digital KFRC-HD-1, at 106.9 in San Francisco. Previously, that FM station had programmed a classic hits format (which remains both on digital KFRC-HD-2 and The station's microphone flag now carries the 740 frequency on two faces of the cube, and 106.9 on the other two faces.


External links



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