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KHJ
Broadcast area Los Angeles, California
Branding La Ranchera
Frequency 930 (kHz)
First air date April 13, 1922
Format Spanish
Power 5,000 watts
Class B
Facility ID 37224
Callsign meaning "Kindness, Happiness, and Joy"
Owner Liberman Broadcasting
(LBI Radio License, LLC)
Sister stations KBUE/KBUA/KEBN, KRQB, KWIZ
Also part of the Liberman Cluster: TV Station KRCA
Website www.laranchera.com
KHJ transmitter in 1927

KHJ Radio in Los Angeles, California broadcasts Spanish-language entertainment programming as La Ranchera. It was also one of America's most formidable Top 40 radio stations in the 1960s and 1970s as 93 KHJ before changing its format in 1980.

Contents

History

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Early history

KHJ went on the air in 1922. It shifted frequencies from the lower half of the radio dial like most stations of the day, in response to the growing interference problem standard broadcast stations faced as their numbers grew. The new Federal Radio Commission established order on the AM band in the late 1920s, forcing some substandard operations off the air, pushing others to merge, and assigning others to stable and permanent channels with predictable signal power in 1927-28. As part of that effort to bring order from chaos, KHJ was assigned the regional-service channel of 900 kHz, with 1000 watts of power, and remained on that channel and that power level until 1941. At that point another reorganization of AM broadcasting by the Federal Communications Commission (successor to the FRC), in conjunction with a multinational North American treaty agreement, saw KHJ permitted to raise power to 5,000 watts and move to a frequency of 930 kHz, where it continues to operate today.

Originally owned by the Los Angeles Times newspaper, KHJ even served for a short time in the late 1920s and early 1930s as the Los Angeles affiliate and West Coast production hub of the fledgling CBS radio network, functioning as the originating station for programs like Bing Crosby's first national network radio show in 1931. CBS would eventually purchase its own more powerful West Coast flagship station, 50,000 watt KNX, and part company with KHJ. Then, KHJ was purchased by Don Lee, a well-known local luxury automobile dealer who also owned KFRC in San Francisco. Lee eventually accumulated 21 radio stations. In 1949, the entire broadcasting company, including KHJ and other stations, was merged into RKO General. The call letters were said to stand for "Kindness, Happiness, and Joy".

During its Don Lee ownership, KHJ became the West Coast flagship station of the Mutual Broadcasting System, one of the "Big Four" networks in radio's classic era of the 1930s – 1970s. Famous entertainers of the period, such as George Burns and Gracie Allen, and Steve Allen, appeared on KHJ. At one point the station employed its own 50-piece orchestra to back up musical guests. In an historic 1931 broadcast (which partially survives today), KHJ introduced the world to an up-and-coming singer named Bing Crosby. Pat Weaver (the president of NBC, creator of The Today Show and The Tonight Show, and the father of actress Sigourney Weaver), worked there as an announcer.

"Boss Radio"

In April 1965, programming consultant Bill Drake was brought in to craft KHJ's new top-40 format. Drake hired noted program director Ron Jacobs, who had built stations in Hawaii and California to No. 1 in the ratings and would go on to co-create American Top 40 with Casey Kasem in 1970. The new format featured a very "tight" sound built on a restrictive music playlist and restraints on on-air commentary by the announcers (although a few superstar announcers, such as Robert W. Morgan, Humble Harve, and The Real Don Steele were allowed to develop their own on-air personalities). Also part of the format, which came to be known as "Boss Radio", was a package of memorable jingles performed by the Johnny Mann Singers. "Boss Radio" subsequently spread throughout the nation and brought high ratings and acclaim to stations such as KFRC in San Francisco, WQXI in Atlanta, CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, and WRKO in Boston. Bill Drake, teamed with Gene Chenault, brought up many of their "Boss" announcers through KYNO in Fresno, California, which they used as a proving ground for talent.

KHJ was famous for its call-in request number, which used the Los Angeles area code 213, conflict exchange 520, followed by the current year. For example, in 1974, the phone number to call the station would be (213) 520-1974, then the next year it would change to 520-1975.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the station competed with three other local stations with similar formats: KFI, KTNQ and San Diego-based XETRA-AM, which operated under the servicemark "The Mighty 690." The other nicknames for KHJ radio was "Boss 30" and "Double colon" as in "//".

KHJ competed against four other "soul radio" stations serving the Los Angeles radio market at the time: KDAY and KGFJ both of Los Angeles, and the "border blasters" XERB and XHFHJ-FM both based in Rosarito, Mexico located south of San Diego.

The End of an Era

The format brought high ratings to the station through the late 1970s until FM radio became the dominant way to broadcast popular music. In November, 1980 during the Bob Shannon Show, "93/KHJ" switched from Top 40 to Country music. The country format which boasted, "we all grew up to be Cowboys" lasted three years before changing to an all oldies format, "The Boss is Back" using the original Johnny Mann "Boss Radio" jingles. In 1984, KHJ tried a Top 40 format called "Car Radio," highlighted with traffic reports every ten minutes, 24 hours per day.

On the evening of January 31, 1986, regular "Car Radio" evening jock Dave Sebastian Williams was joined in studio by Robert W. Morgan. Many disc jockeys from throughout KHJ's heyday of Boss Radio phoned in (including M.G. Kelly, Bobby Ocean, and Boss Radio-era Program Director Ron Jacobs) for a farewell broadcast, playing the songs that had made KHJ a popular AM station in the 1960s and 1970s. At the stroke of midnight, the station changed its call letters to KRTH to match those of its FM sister station, KRTH-FM playing a format called "Smokin' Oldies" that featured hits of the first ten years of rock and roll. The station used "AM-930" as its on-air ID.

Switch to Spanish, and problems with new call letters

RKO General was under nearly continuous investigation by federal regulators from the 1960s onward due to unethical conduct at its television stations, including KRTH-AM/FM's television sister, KHJ-TV (channel 9, now KCAL-TV). It was eventually ruled unfit to be a broadcast licensee and forced by the FCC to sell off its broadcast properties. In the summer of 1989, KRTH AM/FM were sold to Beasley Broadcasting, which immediately turned around and sold KRTH-AM to Liberman Broadcasting. It became a full-time Spanish-language station, adopting the call letters KKHJ in honor of its historic calls.

As time went by, program director Alfredo Rodriguez and chief engineer Jerry Lewine wanted to bring back the legendary three-letter call sign. However, the FCC hadn't issued three-letter calls to radio stations since the 1930s. So they came up with a plan to convince the FCC that KKHJ could not use the Spanish pronunciation of its call letters on the air. This was purportedly because the pronunciation of the first two letters in Spanish (kah-kah) sounded like «caca», the Spanish vulgar slang word for feces. As a result, whenever the call letters were used, they were pronounced in English. This proved somewhat awkward over a decade, so the station collected letters from listeners and community listeners and lobbied the FCC to allow the station to drop one of its Ks. The FCC allowed the station to return to its original three-letter calls, KHJ. The change became official on March 15, 2000.

New Dodgers baseball contract

See also Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network#Spanish

On August 21, 2007, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that their Spanish-language broadcasts would come to KHJ for the 2008 season, leaving KWKW after 20 years.[1]

Other KHJs

An unrelated low-powered FM station in Madras, Oregon, KHJA-LP 102.1 FM [1] was a tribute to the 1960s and 70s era KHJ, using the Los Angeles station's vintage logo, jingles, and "Boss Radio" slogans. In 2008, it changed its call sign to KGBZ-LP and switched formats.

Meanwhile, the former KKHJ callsign that was used during the 1990s by Liberman was assigned to an FM station in American Samoa [2]. They also use the legendary station's "93KHJ" on-air name. The classic 93KHJ jingles are also regularly played on the station.

"KHJ" is also used as the branding of a country music station in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada -- CKHJ.

WKHJ-FM in Mountain Lake Park, Maryland has always used the "KHJ" moniker. WKHJ, however, plays an adult contemporary format.

An aircheck sample of an old KHJ jingle can be heard at the beginning of the song "AM Radio" by the band Everclear.

On his Greatest Stories Live album, singer Harry Chapin references KHJ in the song W*O*L*D ("I am the morning DJ, at KHJ. Playing all the hits for you; play them night and day"), much to the audience's delight (this version was likely recorded in concert in a locale served by KHJ).

References

  1. ^ Los Angeles Times, Aug. 22, 2007, page D6

External links


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