|City of license||Los Angeles, California|
|Broadcast area||Southern California|
|Branding||KFI AM 640|
|Slogan||More Stimulating Talk (General); KFI News - On The Hour, On the Half, And when it Breaks... (News)|
|Frequency||640 (kHz) (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||March 31, 1922|
|Class||A (Clear channel)|
|Callsign meaning||K Farmer's Information|
|Affiliations||Fox News Radio|
(Capstar TX Limited Partnership)
|Sister stations||KBIG, KHHT, KIIS, KLAC, KOST, KEIB, KYSR|
|Webcast||Listen Live (via iHeartRadio)|
- For other stations that used the KFI callsign, please see KFI (disambiguation).
KFI is an AM radio station in Los Angeles, California. It received its license to operate on March 31, 1922 and began operating on April 16, 1922 as one of the United States' first high-powered, "clear-channel" stations. KFI is the dominant class A 50,000 watt station in North America which broadcasts on 640 AM. Currently, it operates as a talk radio station, airing a mixture of syndicated and locally originated news and talk programming.
In the Spring 2006 quarter Arbitron rating, KFI was the most listened to radio station in Los Angeles, averaging approximately 1.5 million listeners during any given weekday. The station was the most listened to AM radio station as well as the most listened to news/talk radio station in the country, beating out WABC in New York City and WSB (AM) in Atlanta.
Its studios are located in Burbank between the Warner Bros. Studios and NBC, and it has a transmitter site in La Mirada near the Artesia Boulevard exit of Interstate 5, the Santa Ana Freeway. It is currently under ownership of iHeartMedia, Inc. (formerly Clear Channel Communications until September 2014).
In 1922 Earle C. Anthony was the founder and owner of what eventually became 50,000 watt KFI - AM 640 radio, a station he controlled until his death in 1961. From 1929 to 1944, he also owned KECA-AM 790, now KABC. The E.C.A. in KECA stood, of course, for Earle C. Anthony.
He was an early president of the National Association of Broadcasters and, during his term, oversaw the establishment of the organization's first paid staff. He was also a founder of one of the earliest television stations in Los Angeles, KFI-TV, channel 9, and KFI-FM, both of which were disposed of in 1951.
The original KFI station used a 50-watt transmitter and was made out of a crank telephone. Early on, Anthony operated the station from his garage, and later from atop his Packard automobile dealership. In its early days, it was typically on the air for only four and a half hours a day.
From the time of its inception in 1926, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) operated two networks, the Red Network and the Blue Network. The Red Network carried the commercial programs, while the Blue Network carried the sustaining ones (those without commercial sponsors). The red and blue designations came from the colors of the U.S. flag. In 1931, NBC reorganized its West Coast operations, creating Orange and Blue networks for that area to replace its previous Pacific Coast network. KFI was part of the Orange group, along with KGO, Oakland; KGW, Portland, KOMO, Seattle, and KHQ, Spokane.
Being an NBC affiliate, Anthony operated two radio stations to carry both networks. KFI-AM, 640 kHz, carried the Red Network, and KECA-AM, 790 kHz, carried the Blue.
KFI helped to keep the calm during the dark days of World War II by airing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats." Later, it carried "Monitor (NBC Radio)," the network's very successful weekend radio service.
As a side note to KFI's participation in World War II, there is a bullet hole in the ceiling of the transmitter building, located in La Mirada, California, where a National Guardsman accidentally discharged his rifle on December 10, 1941, three days following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The bullet hole is still there to this day, preserved as a monument to KFI's wartime service.
The "FI" segment of its call sign was an abbreviation of "farmer's information." Every winter evening between 1924 and 1956, KFI would deliver a frost report at 8 pm that would tell citrus farmers whether to turn on wind machines or light "smudge pots" to keep their orange and lemon groves from freezing. The frost warnings moved to 7 pm until the late 1970s when they were removed from the schedule.
KFI also was one of the early FM stations in Southern California. The first FM station west of the Mississippi went on the air in Los Angeles in August 1941 from Mt. Lee. That was K45LA on the old 42-50 megacycle FM band. This was what soon became KHJ-FM and is today's KRTH at 101.1 MHz. It was on 44.5 MHz initially but, when the old 42-50 megahertz band was needed for television, the FCC allocated 88-108 MHz as the FM band. So, KHJ-FM was moved to 99.7 in 1945 and by 1948 to 101.1 FM .
On November 29, 1944, KFI officials broke ground on Mount Wilson for construction of a new FM and TV transmitting facility. The ceremony was broadcast live over KFI (AM) from Mount Wilson from noon to 12:15 pm that afternoon. KFI-FM went on the air from that site at 105.9 megacycles (MHz today) in July 1946 with its first test program, though some later sources say the station went on the air in 1947. The station only lasted until 1951 when the owner, Earle C. Anthony, decided to turn off the FM station and returned the license to the FCC. This was common at the time, when some station owners saw no money from FM and no future in FM. In the early 1950s, while the audio quality was much better than AM, FM radios were not cheap, there were no AM-FM combination radios yet and stereo broadcasting on FM didn't happen until 1961.
KFI-FM was the first Los Angeles FM station to have its transmitter on Mt. Wilson. According to an article written by Marvin Collins several years ago, KFI-FM used a General Electric 3 kW Phasotron transmitter, operating with a 2-bay antenna, giving the station an ERP of 10 kW. Later, the 1951 Broadcasting Yearbook listed KFI-FM's power as 16,500 watts.
Through 1948 and '49, KFI-FM broadcast its own music programs, separate from KFI 640-AM. A sample from the Los Angeles Times radio page for December 1949 from 3 to 9 pm shows KFI-FM offering those with FM receivers programs with titles such as Afternoon Melodies, Classics, Music For You, Symphony Moods and World of Music. By 1950, KFI-FM was simply broadcasting simultaneously the same programs from KFI-640. Five other FM stations were also simulcasting the programs from their AM stations, while at least three other area FM stations had their own programs, according to a Los Angeles Times radio log. Most of the FMs were only on the air from mid-afternoon to about 9 pm, while some like KFI-FM were on the air from 6 am to midnight with the simulcast of their AM stations.
Along with KHJ-FM, other early day FM stations in the Los Angeles region that went on the air in 1946 were the non-commercial KUSC-91.5 and KCRW-89.9. KFI-FM and KMPC-FM were broadcasting by 1947. By 1948 and 1949, other early FM stations on the band around L.A. included KNX-FM at 93.1; KWIK-FM in Burbank at 94.3; KFMV-Hollywood at 94.7; KECA-FM 95.5; KRKD-FM 96.3; KVOE-FM in Santa Ana at 96.7; KKLA (owned by KFSG-AM 1150) at 97.1; KAGH-FM in Pasadena at 98.3; KMGM (owned by the movie studio) at 98.7; KMPC-FM at 100.3; KNOB in Long Beach at 103.1 (moved to 97.9 by 1958); KFAC-FM at 104.3 (moved to 92.3 by 1955); KCLI-105.1 and KFI-FM on 105.9. (KCLI was owned by the founders of KIEV-870 in Glendale.)
By 1950, KCLI was gone along with KMPC-FM. KFI-FM was listed in the 1951 Broadcasting Yearbook, but was gone from newspaper radio logs by mid-1951 and gone from the 1952 Broadcasting Yearbook. KKLA-97.1 also went off the air for good in 1951.
So, while KFI-FM made history as the first Los Angeles FM to transmit from Mt. Wilson, its short history lasted only about five years on 105.9. The station was not sold. The owner, Earle C. Anthony, simply shut the station down and returned the license to the FCC. A new license for 105.9 in Los Angeles was issued in 1956 with the call letters KBMS (Better Music Station). This FM station's original city of license was Glendale. The new station license had no ties to the defunct KFI-FM. After a few call letter changes, the current 105.9 FM license is still on the air today and has been known over the years as KWST, KMGG and since 1986 has been KPWR.
For many years, KFI was the Los Angeles area affiliate of the NBC radio network, most particularly the NBC Red Network, as distinguished from the NBC Blue Network of less powerful stations, which became the American Broadcasting Company. KFI's sister station, KECA, was the affiliate of the Blue network. The anti-trust decision that divested NBC Blue also forced Earle C. Anthony to sell KECA (which became KABC).
During this period the station carried such sporting events as the World Series and the Rose Bowl. From 1960 to 1973, the station was the flagship station of the Los Angeles Dodgers radio network. Its programming transitioned during this period from block programming, often featuring 15-minute programs, to full service radio with disk-jockeys playing records interspersed with aggressive local news coverage. In April 1972, KFI celebrated its 50th birthday with a 12-hour special, featuring new interviews and commentaries from many former NBC Radio personalities of the past.
In 1973, Cox Broadcasting headquartered in Atlanta, purchased KFI for $15 million, at that time the highest amount ever paid for a radio station. James Wesley, Cox's manager at WIOD in Miami and that station's Operations Manager, Elliott "Biggie" Nevins, were dispatched to Los Angeles to manage the station. Cox instructed Wesley to find an FM facility in the Los Angeles market and purchase it also. A deal was reached with Dallas broadcaster Gordon McLendon, to purchase his KOST-fm for $2.2 million. Wesley also decided against renewing the long term agreement for carrying Dodger baseball, positioning KABC to become the new Dodger station in Los Angeles.
Starting in the mid-1970s, KFI successfully programmed Top 40 music. Owner Cox Broadcasting hired John Rook as program director. Rook was considered the force behind WLS Chicago's success. One of Rook's first hires was Dave Sebastian (Williams) as Music Director and Air Personality. Dave had recently left 93/KHJ, Los Angeles. Rook's first air staff included Al Lohman and Roger Barkley (top-rated in the morning), Mark Taylor (mid day), Bob Shannon (afternoon Drive), (Music Director) Dave Sebastian Williams (evenings). Within the first year Dave left abruptly for crosstown Top Forty rocker KTNQ (Ten-Q). John Rook then moved in Eric Chase (mid-day), Charlie Fox (early evening) and Dave Diamond (late night). By the late-1970s the staff was revised to Lohman & Barkley mornings, Tim & Ev Kelly in mid-days, Jack Armstrong afternoons, Big Ron O'Brien evenings and Charlie Fox at night. Rook and several of the on air personalities left in the early-1980s with KFI softening to a more Adult top 40 format (sort of in between Top 40 and adult Contemporary). By the mid-1980s the station was more news and personality intensive than music intensive with a Full Service format.
For nearly 20 years during the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, KFI boasted one of the most listened-to shows in Los Angeles radio history, "The Lohman and Barkley Show," featuring the comedy duo of Al Lohman and Roger Barkley. During this time, throughout the day the station featured a hybrid format combining adult contemporary music with comedian hosts. Other hosts included Hudson & Landry (of "Ajax Liquor Store" fame), Charlie and Mitzi (Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), and Gary Owens. In the early-1980s, KFI began broadcasting in stereo, with the C-QUAM system (continued until January 2000) .
By the mid-1980s ratings began to slip; by the spring of 1984, KFI was ranked twenty-eighth in the Los Angeles Arbitron ratings, ahead of only KHJ among AM music stations in the market. KFI moved the music to more of a Soft Gold-based AC and began to play less and less of it. The talk show moved from a blend of entertainment, comedy, and lifestyle to more political issues. The music was dropped in 1988 and KFI evolved to an issue-oriented talk format. The first hosts were Dr. Toni Grant, former disk jockey Geoff Edwards, doing talk in the midday, and Tom Leykis, with a politically oriented "combat radio" program. Competitor KABC, which had been doing talk radio for some time, sued KFI in U.S. District Court to have KFI cease and desist using the term "Talk Radio" with the call letters. Therefore, the slogan More Stimulating Talk Radio was created. Rush Limbaugh replaced Edwards in 1989 after Edwards refused to play promo spots for the controversial Leykis show.
The station was owned by Cox Radio until 1999 when Chancellor Media traded 13 stations to Cox for it along with KOST 103.5. Cox opted to exit the Los Angeles market and focus on medium market radio stations and its TV stations.
Chancellor merged with Capstar in 1999 and became known as AMFM Inc. In 2000, they merged with Clear Channel Communications making KFI Clear Channel's flagship AM radio station in Los Angeles. Like other stations owned by Clear Channel, KFI uses the iHeartRadio platform to stream its webcast. The legal title of the station continues to be held by a subsidiary of Capstar. 
When KFI went on the air March 31, 1922, the station was mostly an experiment to determine if anyone could hear radio voice transmissions. "Can you hear me?," Earle C. Anthony would yell into a carbon microphone from his garage transmitter location. "Yes, I can hear you", a family member would reply from a nearby house, listening to Anthony's transmission on an early, very primitive radio receiver. The station's operating frequency was not necessarily 640 kHz in those days, but any frequency where Anthony could get the transmitter to operate.
Later, the Federal Radio Commission (prior to the Communications Act of 1934) mandated that all stations would operate on a frequency of 833 kHz (360 meters). One station would operate on this frequency for a period of time. Then, it would go off the air so another one could use the same frequency.
The first station would invariably make the decision to continue to stay on the air after the second one had came on, causing massive interference. Later, after the establishment of the Communications Act of 1934, stations were assigned specific operating frequencies. KFI was assigned its present call letters and ended up with its 640 kHz operating frequency, a fortuitous happening, since radio signal propagation seems to be better at low end of the AM band than at the upper end.
In addition, being the first station on 640 kHz, KFI would not be required to erect a directional antenna system to protect other stations. Those that came on the air on 640 kHz following KFI would, instead, have to protect it. With its low operating frequency, its 50,000 watts of power, and its non-directional, 722-foot, single tower, antenna system, KFI's night-time signal could be heard over vast sections of the United States and various parts of the world.
From 1922 to 1926, early programming consisted of such things as reading news from a newspaper and local gossip. Broadcasting hours were very short, since Anthony was involved in many other activities, and programming sources were very limited. In other words, it was a hobby.
However, in November 1926, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was incorporated. When NBC's network facilities were finally extended to the west coast of the United States, KFI immediately became one of its affiliates. In joining this network, KFI had the advantage of NBC's vast entertainment and news resources. One of the first NBC programs to reach the west coast, and KFI, was the broadcast of the 1927 Rose Bowl Game from Pasadena, California, with announcer Graham McNamee.
As the years progressed into the 1930s and 1940s, NBC's, and KFI's, programming improved. The network was owned by its parent company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which also owned the Keith–Albee–Orpheum vaudeville circuit, later renamed Radio–Keith–Orpheum (RKO). RKO handled many vaudeville comedians that were ideally suited for radio. Some of them were Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, and Rudy Vallee, among others.
During the depression of the 1930s, many people could not even afford the admission price of a movie ticket, but they could afford to purchase a radio where they could listen to free entertainment, interspersed with commercial announcements.
During the dark days of World War II, KFI was there to provide air raid and blackout warnings. It was believed that an attack on the west coast of the United States was imminent, so people were warned to turn off their lights, and drape black cloths over their windows, so the expected bombers would see nothing but blackness. Periodically, KFI, and the other Los Angeles radio stations would go off of the air so the bombers could not use the signals to pinpoint their bomb dropping locations, as they did at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
An actual incident occurred on February 25, 1942, known as The Battle Of Los Angeles, where U.S. Army anti-aircraft artillery emplacements fired 1440 shells at something they thought were enemy aircraft, but turned out to possibly be UFOs, or something else unknown to them.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his "Fireside Chats" broadcast from the White House in Washington D.C., used NBC and KFI to reassure the public that everything was safe and under control. People were glued to their radio receivers and KFI during this time to get news, any news, no matter how small, concerning the outcome of the war, the safety of themselves, their families, and their country.
Following World War Two, the homecoming G.I.s infused a spark of life and prosperity into the U.S. economy.
In 1942, under the provisions of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, NBC was required to divest itself of its Blue Network, which later became The Blue Network Incorporated, and subsequently The American Broadcasting Company.
As a result of this divestiture and a booming economy, more money was available to NBC to develop better, higher quality programming. In the 1940s, NBC was known as the network of the radio comedians, which gave it the distinction of being the network with the largest listener base. KFI, being an NBC Radio Network affiliate, also shared in this wide listening audience. If one wanted to hear the great radio comedians in the Los Angeles area, and in the western United States, one listened to KFI.
As the years continued into the 1950s, television began to cut inroads into radio advertising revenues and sponsors began the gradual migration from radio to television. As a result, less money was available to support quality radio network entertainment programming.
Gradually, NBC and the other radio networks began dropping large-budget entertainment shows in favor of news and information programming. "NBC News on the Hour" and "Emphasis" became the network staples as entertainment programs were slowly phased out.
NBC radio affiliates, including KFI, had the tough decision to eventually reduce, or completely eliminate, their network connections in order to maintain their profit structures. At that time, KFI became a disk jockey station, that is, live hosts playing phonograph records on the air. Between 1968 and circa 1975 KFI's programming alternated between streamlined MOR and full-service programming, dropping most long-form NBC programming.
Later, when music licensing fees became too difficult to maintain and as FM had replaced AM radio as the primary source for contemporary music, KFI became a news and information outlet.
KFI is now a talk radio station owned by Clear Channel Communications, the largest U.S. radio owner. Syndicated personalities who began on KFI include Bill Handel with Handel on the Law, and Leo Laporte. Local programs include The Bill Handel Show, Tim Conway Jr. Show and The John and Ken Show. Scotch-Canadian talk show host Bill Carroll was added to middays in February 2010.
The weekend lineup includes tech expert Leo Laporte's The Tech Guy show (originally local-only, now nationally syndicated via Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks since February 2007), topical-talkers Wayne Resnick and Charles Payne (journalist), a local version of the John Batchelor news magazine, Gary Hoffmann, and Tim Conway Jr..
In addition to originating syndicated programs such as Bill Handel's afternoon and weekend shows, Laporte's The Tech Guy and Sunday's The Jesus Christ Show, KFI carries other well-known syndicated programs such as The Rush Limbaugh Show and Coast to Coast AM, with Ian Punnitt. Afternoon hosts John and Ken were syndicated from KFI during their first run on the station, but are heard only on KFI now. In 2009, John and Ken began airing on KNEW in Northern California. Bryan Suits hosts "Dark Secret Place", where he discusses the War on Terror and all things foreign policy from 2 to 4 PM. As of April 2000, Lisa Ann Walter (Actress & Comedian) joined KFI's weekends afternoon slot from 4 to 7 PM. Wayne Resnick now hosts the 7 PM to 10 PM.
Like that of most talk radio stations, programming on KFI has a reputation for political conservatism. However, while KFI's highest-rated syndicated hosts Rush Limbaugh and now former KFI host Laura Schlessinger are traditionalists, in general the local hosts on the station in recent years would more accurately be described[by whom?] as tending towards libertarianism.
KFI also has an extensive news department, and produces news updates for other Clear Channel stations in the Los Angeles market. KFI employs 20 broadcast journalists.  KFI's newscasts air at :59 and :29 past the hour, with brief headlines approximately halfway between the fuller newscasts during local programming. The newscasts primarily focus on local news with relevant national and international stories included.
KFI also has traffic reports four times an hour. Only two news reports and traffic reports an hour are provided during the overnight hours on Coast-to-Coast. KFI is a member of the Fox News Radio network and Fox News reporters appear on the station (but not its commentators, who have shows on competing stations in the market). However, the entire Fox News Radio newscast is not aired.
For its efforts, KFI was named the Radio & Records News & Talk Radio Station of the Year in 2004.
In 2009, Schlessinger's program shifted to KFWB. To replace her, morning host Handel agreed to take on another air shift, noon to 2 pm, which was the first two hours of the Dr. Laura program. Handel quit the extra show a few months later, citing the fact that it overwhelmed him. John and Ken expanded to take up what was the third hour once occupied by Dr. Laura and the other two hours were used for incoming Bill Carroll's radio show.
With its wide signal coverage, and its varied program schedule, KFI continues to remain a major force in American radio broadcasting.
KFI began as an experimental radio station in Earle C. Anthony's garage. As the programming improved and more money became available, the station was moved to his Packard automobile dealership building, formerly located at Tenth and Hope Streets in Los Angeles, with a "T" antenna mounted on its roof between two short towers. This site was retained as an emergency transmitter for many years, but powered by a 5,000 watt transmitter.
The main transmitter was eventually relocated from Anthony's business establishment to its present location in La Mirada, California, where a "T" antenna was erected between two medium height towers, and the KFI studios, and the studios of its sister station KECA, were moved to 141 South Vermont Street. The 141 South Vermont building is now gone, replaced by a parking lot. In 1948, the "T" antenna was replaced by a 722-foot vertical tower and a 200-foot emergency vertical tower, as long before vertical antennas had been determined to be superior to "T" antennas for high-powered stations, although 195 degrees (which would be 828-feet on 640 kHz) would have been optimum. Competitor KNX employs just such a 195 degree tower, as do many other U.S. Class A non-directional stations, and even some Class B non-directional stations.
Today, KFI broadcasts from its Burbank, California studios on 640 kHz on a 50,000-watt non-directional AM transmitter which is located in nearby La Mirada at 33° 52' 47" N, 118° 00' 47" W. As a class A signal, KFI can be heard throughout Southern California and some distance into Nevada, Arizona, northwestern Mexico, and, at night, in some parts of Hawaii and most of the western United States. According to a May 1, 2004 broadcast by Art Bell, this station can even be heard by sensitive receivers in parts of the Eastern United States. Some Canadians in British Columbia while others in Alaska were able to pick up KFI signals in the winter months, and even as far away as Japan, Philippines, Guam, American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Central America down to Panama.
In Summer 2004, KFI became the most listened to talk radio station in the United States, beating New York City WABC in cumulative audience during the rating period.
In recent years, especially since the 2003 California recall, afternoon drive hosts John and Ken have become actively involved in several political causes, most notably that of illegal immigration. In the months leading up to the 2004 election, the hosts instigated several political rallies advocating the defeat of Congressmen David Dreier (a Republican) and Joe Baca (a Democrat), both of whom they felt were wrongly supportive of illegal immigration. As a result, the John and Ken show was the subject of a Federal Election Commission complaint filed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, alleging that John and Ken engaged in an illegal campaign against Congressman Dreier. Although the large amount of publicity received was quite amazing,[according to whom?] the "Political Human Sacrifice" campaign as they dubbed it was not successful, since both Dreier and Baca were re-elected, albeit Dreier by a substantially smaller percentage than in past terms. On March 16, 2006, the complaint was dismissed.
On Sunday, December 19, 2004 at 9:45 am Pacific Standard Time, Jim and Mary Ghosoph were killed when their rented Cessna 182P single engine airplane, travelling from the El Monte Airport to Fullerton Municipal Airport, struck KFI's transmission tower, located in the City of La Mirada.
The solid steel truss, originally built in 1948, collapsed upon itself, mostly landing in a parking lot to the north of the site (KFI was relatively late to convert from a horizontal to a vertical antenna—same-market Class A KNX converted to a vertical in 1938, and same-state Class As KGO and KPO (now KNBR) converted to verticals in 1941 and 1949, respectively). KFI's signal was knocked off the air for approximately one hour.
Pilots had complained for years to KFI management that it needed to put strobe lights on the tower and highly reflective balls on the guy wire. KFI and Clear Channel Communications management responded by saying the tower was in compliance with FCC and FAA regulations and that it did not need to make any changes. Until a replacement was successfully erected, the station transmitted from a 200-foot auxiliary tower at a power of 25,000 watts, but provisions had been made to transmit from the disused KRKD (KIIS) 1150 AM site just north of downtown Los Angeles, whenever the RF field towards the tower erection crew would exceed safety limits.
Replacement tower collapse
On Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm Pacific Standard Time the replacement tower collapsed while under construction. The tower was about 300 feet tall (the final height was to be 684 feet) when a guy wire support failed, causing the tower to tip over the opposite direction. There were no major injuries, and only limited collateral damage. The reason for the failure is assumed to be a combination of factors, including the much higher per unit weight of the new 84" cross-section tower, compared to the 1948 tower which had a 42" cross-section, and the inadequacy of the 1948 pier and guy wire terminations, one of which had previously been modified to a cantilever design to facilitate the passage of vehicles under that termination (and, it was the cantilever termination which catastrophically failed during this erection attempt). All of these structural components were replaced or strengthened in preparation for erection of the third tower, which is identical in design to the (failed) replacement tower.
Third tower completed
A new tower began construction at the end of July 2008 and was completed on August 14, 2008. The station returned to full power (50,000 watts) on September 25, 2008 at 17:00 PT. The new tower has a 50-foot-wide (15 m) top-loading "capacitance hat", which electrically extends the tower's height another seventy-five feet, effectively, without actually needing more tower sections (the local regulation authorities in apparent defiance of electrical engineering principles, and communications law, demanded "a 10 percent reduction in overall height", otherwise the necessary permits would be refused, not withstanding the federal government's primary authority over radio communications, and KFI's strategic role as an EAS station for the western U.S. region). The new tower is also equipped with high intensity strobe lights due to its proximity to the Fullerton Municipal Airport, and additional safety upgrades because of the previous plane crash. The new tower has torque arms which limit the twisting of the tower in high winds. The tower has been dedicated to the memory of John Paoli, KFI Chief Engineer from 1998 to 2008, who died suddenly from a previously unknown genetic heart condition soon after overseeing the construction of the new tower. A plaque bearing the words "John A. Paoli, 1958-2008, Memorial Tower. Dedicated on this day, November 18, 2008 to our friend and colleague whose passion and talent brought KFI AM 640 to millions of listeners." and his likeness now graces the wall around the tower's base.
Current on-air personalities
||This section is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (September 2011)|
(all times Pacific)
- Gary Hoffman – Monday–Friday 5am–6am
- Bill Handel – Monday–Friday 6am–10am; Saturday 6am–11am
- Bill Carroll – Monday–Friday 10am–3pm; also hosts an edition of his show from Los Angeles for Toronto radio station CFMJ
- John and Ken – Monday–Friday 3pm–7pm
- Tim Conway Jr. – Monday–Friday 7pm–10pm
- Coast to Coast AM with George Noory – Monday–Thursday 10pm–5am; Friday 10pm–6am
- Coast to Coast AM Saturday – Saturday 10pm–6am
- Coast to Coast AM with George Knapp – Sunday 10pm–5am
- Leo Laporte – Saturday–Sunday 11am–2pm
- The Fork Report – Saturday 2pm–4pm
- Lisa Ann Walter – Saturday–Sunday 4pm–6pm
- "Mo'Kelly" – Saturday-Sunday 6pm–8pm
- Dark secret Place with Bryan Suits – Saturday 8pm–10pm
- The Jesus Christ Show with producer ("holy host") Neil Saavedra – Sunday 6am–9am
- Sunday Morning News with Gary Hoffmann – Sunday 9am–11am
- The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman – Sunday 2pm–4pm
- Wayne Resnick – Sunday 8pm–10pm
Former hosts and on-air alumni
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2007)|
- Jack Angel - the former KMPC overnight man and cartoon voiceover hosted primarily afternoon shows 1970-76.
- Jerry Bishop - announcer for the Judge Judy program and worked for the Disney Channel. Afternoon drive in 1973.
- Tammy Bruce - hosted weekend talk show from 1993 to 1998. Bruce was fired for making unflattering comments about Bill Cosby and his wife Camille, who had recently lost their son Ennis in a murder. Bruce is now syndicated on 153 stations including KABC in Los Angeles.
- Michael Castner - news reporter, now hosts The Daily Wrap from the Wall Street Journal. The syndicated show is heard in Los Angeles on KEIB.
- Chuck Cecil - hosted "The Swingin' Years", focusing on big-band music, from 1956 until the early 1970s. Program was nationally syndicated more than 25 years. Show moved to KKJZ Long Beach until February 8, 2014.
- Joe Crummey - hosted evening talk show from 1988 to 1994.
- Mark Denis - worked the KFI Traffic Center from 1986 until his death in April 2000; was the imaging voice of "KFI, More Stimulating Talk Radio"
- Matt Drudge - syndicated Internet news personality who ran on KFI Sunday nights 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm the end of September 2007.
- Ken Gallacher — former news anchor for the Bill Handel Show
- Terri-Rae Elmer - former news anchor from 1983-2011. Hosted TNT in the Morning with Tracey Miller from 1990-1993. Spent her last 18 years with the station as the in studio news anchor during the John and Ken Show. Now on morning drive at KABC with Doug McIntyre
- Daryl Gates—the former Los Angeles Police Department chief replaced Tom Leykis as part of the station's shift toward conservative politics. Died in 2010.
- Phil Hendrie - hosted an evening issue-oriented talk show from 1989 to 1990 (sometimes alternating with Joe Crummey), and his syndicated comedy show The Phil Hendrie Show from 1996 to 2006.
- Mikel Hunter Herrington - worked as a disc jockey at KFI in 1969.
- Dave Hull - 1960s, 1970s. The "Hullaballooer" was heard primarily 9 pm-12 am weekday evenings. Spent more than 15 years at KWXY(FM) Cathedral City-Palm Springs. Began a syndicated weekend talk show in 2013.
- Geoff Edwards - first heard as a KFI music host in 1966. Hosted early drive 1987(?) to 1989. Resigned as a protest to Tom Leykis crushing of listener donated Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam records, following Stevens call for fatwa on Salman Rushdie.
- Tom Leykis - hosted a talk show from 1988 until 1992, which was more political issue-oriented than his later syndicated show would be.
- Hudson And Landry - the radio and vinyl comedy team hosted afternoon drive 1974-75.
- Rabbi Mentz - hosted a show from 1997 to 2002. From 10 to midnight, and filled in often for Bill Handel on morning drive. From politics to family life, sports to matchmaking, the show provided an entertaining perspective. Guests such as Governor Davis, Laura Bush, Paula Abdul, Bill O'Reilly, were just some of the names that dropped by the show.
- Tracey Miller - co-hosted TNT in the Morning with KFI News' Terri-Rae Elmer from 1990 to 1993. The show was the first morning-drive show in a major market to feature two women in the lead roles. Miller died in 2005
- Kevin Mitnick - infamous computer hacker who co-hosted a two-hour show early Sunday mornings titled 'The Dark Side of the Internet' with Alex Kasper from 2000 to 2001.
- Karel & Andrew - "Karel and Andrew", Karel Bouley and Andrew Howard were the first openly gay radio talk-show hosts on a U.S. major-market radio station in 1998. Hired for the afternoon drive slot at Los Angeles' KFI, the duo replaced KFI mainstays John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou. "I'm sure there are a million gay [radio] hosts, but not many of them are open, and no one had ever appeared on the air as a gay couple," said Ron Rodrigues, editor-in-chief of Radio & Records magazine. " The backbone of their on-air banter was their contrasting world views. Bouley, who dominated the conversation, could be stopped in his tracks with one, well-placed word from Howard". Al Peterson, an editor at Radio & Records magazine said, "They didn't feel like it was their job to be the poster boys for the gay community or to effect social change, just because they were the first openly gay hosts who were partners off the air.
- Mr. KFI - Marc Germain hosted a question-and-answer talk show from 1993 to 1996. He was fired from KFI in 1996 and then hired by competitor KABC. Germain hosted a similar show as Mr. KABC for ten years before leaving KABC for KTLK (AM 1150), then created, hosts and produces for online network talkradioone.com.
- Scott and Casey - a live call-in talk show, hosted by Scott Hasick and Casey Bartholomew, aired from 1994 to 1997, and again from 1998 to 1999. Scott Hasick was involved in The Stephanie Miller Show during her time on KFI, performing many of the character voices heard on the broadcasts, as well as serving as production guy, and board operator. Casey Bartholomew was involved in the John and Ken Show as their board operator, as well as writing and performing many popular "updates", and imaging for KFI. The pair exited KFI in 1999, for weekday afternoons on New Jersey 101.5. After leaving New Jersey, Scott and Casey served stints in Detroit, St. Louis and San Francisco. Casey spent some time on the airwaves in Charleston before the duo re-united in St. Louis. Scott recently resurfaced at Bonneville's WMVN / WARH in St. Louis. Casey recently resurfaced at New Jersey 101.5 as the afternoon replacement for Craig Carton. Carton and Boomer Esiason replaced Don Imus on WFAN in New York.
- The Tim & Neil Show - Tim Kelly and Neil Saavedra hosted a weekend show, then replaced Tammy Bruce on weeknights. From 1997 to 2001, Tim and Neil hosted various shifts and often filled in for Bill Handel. Tim Kelly was a longtime contributor to the Bill Handel Program, penning and recording the bits and parodies that the show featured under the moniker "Dick Cabeza." Neil Saavedra is currently still with KFI as Marketing Director and on air with the Jesus Christ Show on Sundays.
- Mike Nolan - Known as KFI in the Sky and also employed by sister station KOST 103.5 to do airborne traffic reports in the morning and evening drive times was let go after 20 years with the station due to a restructuring on November 30, 2007. As of January 14, 2008 he was back on air with KFI and KOST as a ground based traffic reporter with an occasional KFI in the Sky from his own plane. He also serves as a subject matter expert for aviation related topics and news stories.
- Ted Rall - Saturday evenings on KFI briefly; can still be heard on the Bill Handel Show occasionally.
- Deborah Rich - hosted a weekend, topic-driven show on Saturday evenings.
- Hilly Rose - from 1972 to 1979, Rose hosted an early morning show on KFI (midnight to 6 am) titled The Hilly Rose Night Owl Show where he, and his listeners, conversed on the air about various subjects. As a child actor, Rose appeared on such radio programs as "Ma Perkins," and "The First Nighter Program." Hilly Rose Los Angeles broadcast history: KABC, 1970–72; KFI, 1972–79; KMPC, 1979–82; KABC, 1982-84. Hilly is now hosting a program on the Sirius Satellite Radio SciFi Channel.
- Turi Ryder - hosted a weekend show for KFI in the late 1990s.
- Laura Schlessinger - hosted the Dr. Laura Show from 1988 to 2009. Moved to KFWB on September 8, 2009.
- Bob Shannon - afternoon drive personality who survived the format change to top forty in 1977 and later went on to having a successful film/television acting career as well as a well known film acting coach in Los Angeles.
- Paul T Wall - former board operator for the Bill Handel show and on-air contributor to Handel on the News. Wall left KFI in February 2008.
- April Winchell - hosted a variety talk show from 2000 until 2002.
- Bruce Wayne (Bruce F. Talford) - "KFI in the Sky" traffic reporter. He was killed on June 4, 1986 in a crash just after take-off from Fullerton Airport in a KFI airplane.
- John Ziegler - hosted a political talk show from (10:00 pm PST to 1:00 am PST) From 2004 until 2005. And from (7:00 pm PST to 10:00 pm PST) from 2005 until November 13, 2007. The show ended each time with a remembrance of the September 11 attacks.
- Tim Kelly - hosted mid-days with his wife Evelyn during the 1977-78 top forty format, he would move to KIIS-fm and be founder of Premiere Radio, the nation's largest radio syndication company.
- Big Ron O'Brien hosted nights on KFI during its top forty format period of the late 1970s. He would move on to top ratings at KIIS-fm and WOGL-fm in Philadelphia. O'Brien died April 27, 2008 at age 56 of complications of pneumonia.
- Charlie Fox hosted late nights on KFI's top forty format in the late 1970s.
- Dave Diamond hosted over nights on KFI's top-40 format in the late 1970s. Diamond died May 5, 2014.
- "Two Pacific Coast Networks Are Formed By the NBC After Buying Four Stations". Broadcasting. November 1, 1931. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- Wallace, David Foster. "Host" The Atlantic Monthly, April 2005.
- Blackstock, Joe. "Pomona radio legend was citrus ranchers' savior - On frosty nights, Jack Benny lost ratings to Floyd Young". Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, December 8, 2002.
- The Story of Mt. Wilson, California Part 3--Broadcasters Invade
- "Rosen, Craig. RADIO NEWS & NOTES -COMPETITION HEATS UP ON AM DIAL". Los Angeles Daily News, July 18, 1988. Page L20
- "KFI GRANTED CONDITIONAL OK TO LABEL ITSELF 'TALK RADIO'." Los Angeles Daily News, May 6, 1989.
- They had taken off from the El Monte Airport with a planned stop at the Fullerton Airport to pick up two passengers. From there, the plan was to fly to the island of Catalina to spend the day, after which they would make the return route to Fullerton and then to El Monte. National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report on the plane crash December 19, 2004
- National Transportation Safety Board factual report on the plane crash December 19, 2004
- 11 pm newscast on KFI about the plane crash and destruction of KFI's transmitter tower. (In RealAudio format)
- Construction of the new tower in Aug. 2008
- KFI official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KFI
- Radio-Locator Information on KFI
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KFI
- Article on John Ziegler's time at KFI from LA Observed
- Article from LA Daily News about Bryan Suits and John Ziegler
- Pictures of the fallen KFI tower
- Additional Photos of the fallen Tower
- Pictures of the NEW KFI tower construction and failure
- KFI Tower Completed in 14 Days August 14, 2008
- FCC History Cards for KFI