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|City of license||San Diego, California|
|Broadcast area||San Diego, California|
|Branding||Intelligent Talk 1170|
|Slogan||"Where Your Opinion Counts"|
|First air date||1946|
|Format||News Talk Information|
|Power||50,000 watts day
2,900 watts night
|Callsign meaning||CBS Quality (KCBQ was a CBS affiliate in the 1950s).|
|Owner||New Inspiration Broadcasting Company (Salem Broadcasting)|
KCBQ (1170 AM, Intelligent Talk 1170) is a radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format and is owned by Salem Communications. The station offers Conservative talk programming such as Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Kevin McCullough, and Michael Medved. It was formerly a top 40 and country music powerhouse.
1170 originally signed on the air as KSDJ (for its original owner The San Diego News Journal). 1170 began broadcasting from its first studio at 5th and Ash in 1946 (later to become the studios of KFMB AM/FM/TV). In 1949, KCBQ was sold to Charles Elliot Salek and became San Diego's second CBS affiliate (KGB had been San Diego's CBS affiliate during the 1930s). To coincide with the new network affiliation, the KSDJ call letters were changed to KCBQ, meaning:
K-West of the Mississippi
The calls KCBS were sought, but the CBS network wanted them for their network-owned San Francisco affiliate. An "agreement" was reached and Salek settled for "K-Columbia-Broadcasting-Quality". In 1951, KCBQ moved its studios to the Imig Manor Hotel (now the Lafayette) on El Cajon Blvd. KCBQ's transmitter site was next to the Campus Drive-In at El Cajon Boulevard and College Ave. That drive in was demolished in the late 70's and is now the Campus Shopping Center. KCBQ's power until 1958 was 5,000 watts non-directional day and 1,000 watts non-directional night. KCBQ had an RCA BTA-5F 5,000 watt transmitter at the College site. KFSD/KOGO used the same model transmitter.
Bartell Family Radio bought KCBQ in 1955 and dropped the CBS affiliation as network radio was losing its luster in the face of competition from television.
In 1956 the station spent a few months in an old Victorian house during a gap between the end of their lease at the Imig Manor and the completion of the new glass studios at the El Cortez Center at 7th and Ash. Those studios are dedicated in 1957 with a live broadcast from an outdoor stage featuring the music of Bill Green's big band. The new studios had a large "picture window" studio that looked out over the street so that fans could watch their favorite DJs on the air. There was even a mirror mounted over the console so that from the street you could watch the DJ's every move at the controls. The studios were features in Life Magazine in 1958. This will be the home of one of the greatest pioneering Top 40 stations ever for the next 11 years.
In 1958, the station increased its power to 50k watts directional daytime and 5k watts directional nighttime with a huge $50,000 treasure hunt giveaway to publicize the power increase. The transmitter site was moved from College and El Cajon Boulevard to a new site in then-remote, bucolic Santee. The boosted power was more of an appeal to eastern ad agencies than an actual signal improvement with virtually all of it being shot out over the Pacific Ocean and KCBQ still unable to be heard more than about 20 miles to the north at night.
In 1968, the studios moved to the Santee transmitter site where they remained through several ownership changes, until purchased by Salem Broadcasting in the 1990s. The site was demolished and the transmitter site moved even further east to relatively undeveloped Lakeside, sharing towers with Family Radio's AM 910. The former Santee transmitter site now bears a monument to its famous 50-year tenant.
Top Forty Years
Years prior, the station was one of the two leading AM Top 40 stations in San Diego. KCBQ began broadcasting Top 40 music in the late 1950s and continued with the format through the 1960s and 1970s with great success. The station achieved national prominence in 1972-1973 with its presentation of "The Last Contest," a promotional and production extravaganza created by program director Jack McCoy. The promotion was later syndicated nationally by TM Productions of Dallas, and KCBQ's on-air format was widely copied as the "Q format." KCBQ's success prompted a substantial number of Top 40 stations to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for new call letters which included the letter Q. During its Top 40 heyday, KCBQ was owned by Bartell Media Corporation.
Some of KCBQ's most legendary personalities included Don Howard, Jim O'Leary, Ralph James, Jack Vincent, Dex Allen, Harry "Happy Hare" Martin, "Shotgun" Tom Kelly, Charlie & Harrigan, Charlie Tuna, Bob Shannon, Perry Allen, Bobby Ocean, Lee "Baby" Sims, Jimmy Rabbitt, Rich "Brother" Robbin, Brian Roberts, China Smith, Chuck Browning, Harry Scarborough, Dave Conley, Gene Knight, Gary Kelley, Paul Kelley, Jim Barker, The Magic Christian, Brian "The Blind Owl" White, Gary Allyn, Robert L. Collins, Neilson Ross, Phil Flowers and Ron "Ugly" Thompson.
By the mid-'70s, the station had begun a series of ownership and format changes that continued on a fairly regular basis. In 1978, with music-formatted radio becoming dominated by FM stations, KCBQ dropped top 40 in favor of an adult contemporary format, to be followed in 1982 by a switch to country music. In 1985 the station changed to a syndicated "first decade of rock 'n' roll" oldies format, Kool Gold, which carried it through most of the '90s. In the late 1990s KCBQ was acquired by Salem and settled into its conservative talk format.
KCBQ featured a 50,000 watt transmitter (limited to 5000 watts at night, and later, reduced to 1500 watts nighttime). The antenna was originally a six-element directional array in the city of Santee off of Mission Gorge Road. A park was built nearby and named Mast Park in honor of Bill Mast, one of the developers of Santee from the 1960s and 1970s.
The antenna site was sold amidst urban development in the area, and is now a shopping center, anchored by a Kohl's and a Lowe's. For a time the station had to broadcast at reduced power from a temporary longwire antenna on long time competitor's tower 1360 KGB/KLSD and 101.5 KGB-FM, as well as the former FM side of competitor 910 radio KDEO/KECR (now Channel 933 KHTS). According to the FCC, KCBQ's daytime power on the long wire was 5,000 watts, with power reduced after sunset to 675 watts (non-directional, both day and night).
KCBQ received a construction permit for a five-tower array in the area north of Lakeside, not far from the old site, and to increase power to 50,000 watts daytime, 2,900 watts nighttime. The station began to operate at the 50,000 watts on Monday, June 4, 2007. KCBQ is now sharing antennas with KECR 910, another former AM top 40 competitor of KCBQ's in the first half of the 1960s; KECR 910 was known as Radio KDEO (pronounced "Radio kay-dee-oh") in the 1960s.
On August 28, 2010, a monument to the "Top 40" days between 1958 and 1978 was dedicated near the site of the former broadcast center and radio towers. The dedication was attended by more than 400 people. Located in the 9400 block of Mission Gorge Road, the monument has over 100-names of on-air personalities. Funding for the monument was raised by alumni and fans of KCBQ radio.
The monument has been nominated and recognized as the only place where radio hosts were recognized. KCBQ is often recognized for the wave of Top 40 radio and the prominence of the letter 'Q' in station call letters.
- Intelligent Talk 1170 KCBQ
- FCC History Cards for KCBQ
- 1170 KCBQ on Twitter
- San Diego, California antenna sites 2001
- San Diego, California antenna sites 2005
- KCBQ Monument
- Roadside Historical Marker Database
- KCBQ Monument Dedication
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KCBQ
- Radio-Locator Information on KCBQ
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KCBQ