|City of license||San Francisco, California|
|Broadcast area||San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, California|
|Slogan||More Variety From The 90'S , 2000's and Today|
|Frequency||101.3 (MHz) (also on HD Radio)
101.3 HD2 for "My 80's"
|First air date||October 27, 1957 (as KPEN)|
|Format||Hot Adult Contemporary|
|Callsign meaning||KIOI (K101 moniker)|
|Former callsigns||KPEN (1957-1968)|
|Owner||Clear Channel Communications|
|Sister stations||KISQ, KKSF, KMEL, KNEW, KOSF, KYLD|
Originally founded as KLX-FM by the Oakland Tribune newspaper, the station was sold in 1957 to James Gabbert, a Stanford University engineering major, fellow student Gary M. Gielow, and realtor John S. Wickett. The three launched the station as KPEN on October 27, 1957. At the time, KPEN was a Peninsula station licensed to Atherton, California, broadcasting at a mere 1500 watts from a transmitter on Kings Mountain in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The station soon put an emphasis on high audio quality, in contrast to other FM stations that did not take advantage of FM broadcasting capabilities.
During the day, KPEN played mostly orchestral pop music, switched to a lighter blend of background "dinner music" in the early evening, then classical music after 8 PM. Eventually Gabbert and Gielow hosted an evening program called "Excursions in Sound," which showcased high fidelity recordings and took advantage of the high quality broadcast signal.
Two years after KPEN's successful debut, the transmitter was moved to San Bruno Mountain and power increased to 35,000 watts. Then, on August 14, 1964, power was further increased to 125,000 watts, making it the most powerful signal west of the Mississippi River (it was grandfathered in at that power level by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which capped stations in that part of the country at 50,000 watts).
KPEN became the first station west of the Mississippi to broadcast in multiplex stereo, officially beginning August 10, 1961, after a series of field tests. KPEN's technological achievements were recognized by the Electronic Industry Association, the FCC, and President John F. Kennedy. "Excursions in Sound" was renamed "Excursions in Stereo"; hosted by James Gabbert, the show focused on recordings that made good use of stereo. Gabbert also had a Sunday afternoon show "Anything Goes" that played music, sound effects, and almost anything that dramatically demonstrated the stereo effect.
In the 1960s the station moved studios from Atherton to San Francisco, first in a south-of-Market location, then to Nob Hill in a luxurious penthouse atop 1001 California Street at the corner of Mason Street. With this move, the "PEN" in KPEN changed from representing PENinsula to representing PENthouse. (The same penthouse was later the home of Randolph Hearst, father of kidnapped Patty Hearst.)
By the mid-1960s, KPEN played primarily orchestral and light vocal performances of pop songs and standards, in competition with similar FM station KFOG (owned by Kaiser Broadcasting).
On December 1, 1968, KPEN changed its call letters to KIOI ("K-101"), considered an innovative matching of call letters to dial position. Eventually the station added pop and rock music to its MOR playlist, to compete with upstart freeform rock stations KMPX and KSAN. Gabbert aggressively began promoting the station via outdoor advertising, which was a first for the market. "K-101" is likely the first station in the country to develop what is now called the adult contemporary format.
During the 1970s, Gabbert developed another lasting technological achievement as K-101 became the first station in the country to develop circular polarization, which was a key element to FM reception in automobiles, which previously was difficult.
In September 1980, Gabbert sold K-101 to Charter Company for $12.5 million, then the highest price paid for an FM station. He then purchased KEMO-TV (Channel 20) in San Francisco, changing the call letters to KTZO ("TV 20"). Gabbert later returned to local radio when he purchased KHIT-FM, KOFY (1050 AM) and KDIA (1310 AM). K-101 was profitable, however, various management tweaked the format to compete with market leader KOIT at various times, leaning softer-AC, yet at times, would lean towards the full Hot AC format. In February 1996, sister station WYNY in New York simulcasted KIOI for a day as part of a week-long stunt of simulcasting sister stations nationwide before flipping formats to rhythmic adult contemporary as WKTU.
During the late 1990s, K-101 was flanked by soft AC KOIT and the emerging CHR KZQZ, and suffered in the ratings. The re-emergence of the CHR format by core artists such as Backstreet Boys, NSync, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera forced K-101 to a Hot AC format and re-branded itself as "The New K-101." The station remained competitive; however, the station clearly suffered an identity crisis as the ratings did not improve with the Hot AC approach. In 2000, the station rebranded itself as "Star 101.3" and debuted an exclusive "all-80s hits" format that had been successful in other markets, especially in San Jose on sister station (Channel 104.9-KCNL) as well as Portland and Seattle. Star 101.3 was programmed by KCNL Program Director Gary Schoenwetter, who brought San Francisco legend and former KITS-FM jock Steve Masters for Afternoon Drive. Though the station performed well for a while with its 80s format, management decided to take the station back to the Hot AC format and abandoned the 80s format in January 2002, while letting go Schoenwetter, Masters, and other on-air talent.
Throughout the changes, local morning host Don Bleu has remained consistent and more importantly, a ratings success through various co-hosts Renee Brinkley (1998–2002), Uzette Salazar (2002–2006), April Sommers (2006–2010) and Trish Jentz (2010–Present). Bleu is a Minnesota native formerly of KYUU in San Francisco and KDWB in Minneapolis. Popular show segments during Bleu's morning show include Bleuper calls (prank calls to unsuspecting listeners), The Daily Dish (entertainment gossip), and the Bleu Room, an in-studio lounge session that featured acts including Dido, Natasha Bedingfield, Matchbox Twenty and others performing acoustic versions of their hits.
Since June 30, 2008, afternoon drive has been hosted by the nationally syndicated On-Air with Ryan Seacrest program with cut-aways to local traffic by Dina Lawrence. Also in the line-up is the Hot Adult Contemporary version of American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest, which airs on Sunday mornings.
January 2012: Longtime morning personality Don Bleu moved over to mornings at sister station KOSF. Replacing him in June 2012: Frosty Stillwell (formerly of KLSX- Los Angeles) and Sandy Stec (formerly of KEZR- San Jose) to form the new Sandy And Frosty Morning Show.
Star 101.3 HD
On January 19, 2006, Star 101.3 entered the HD Radio world with an HD-2 channel. The channel was originally an All '80s music format, reflecting back to the days when the station used to air '80s hits upon rebranding itself as Star 101.3 from K-101. The music featured the best songs from the 1980s from acts like The Police, Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and more.
- Star 101.3 official site
- SF Bay Area Radio History at TangentSunset.com
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KIOI
- Radio-Locator information on KIOI
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KIOI
- List of "grandfathered" FM radio stations in the U.S.