|City of license||Los Angeles
|Broadcast area||Greater Los Angeles|
|Branding||100.3 The Sound|
|Slogan||Southern California's Classic Rock|
|Frequency||100.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Repeaters||100.1 K261AB (Newhall)|
|First air date||1957 (as KMLA)|
|Callsign meaning||K SoWnD (play on the word "sound")|
|Former callsigns||KMLA (1957-?)
KSWD (100.3 FM, "The Sound") is a Bonneville International-owned radio station licensed to Los Angeles, California, USA. The station currently broadcasts a wide-ranging classic rock format. It has studios on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles, and its transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson alongside a translator in Newhall, K261AB on 100.1 MHz to help extend KSWD's coverage to the north of the Los Angeles area.
100.3 FM debuted in 1957 as a background music station with the call letters KMLA. Later, it became KFOX-FM, the country sister station to KFOX (1280 AM) in Long Beach.
In 1972, 100.3 FM was purchased by four businessmen who changed the call letters to KIQQ (K100), in an attempt to capitalize on its 100.3 MHz dial location. The next year, with the station's soft rock format failing to gain ratings or billing, KIQQ brought in deposed KHJ heavyweights Bill Drake and Gene Chenault, who contracted to program and manage the station.
In spite of bringing in former KHJ powerhouse jocks, including Robert W. Morgan and The Real Don Steele, certain management and programming decisions are believed to have led to the demise of Drake-Chenault's run at 100.3. By 1975, Morgan and Steele were gone. Ultimately, the station cut costs drastically by airing a generic national format via satellite.
In the early 1980s, “K-100” dropped its handle, and kept to the calls as "KIQQ” with a live and local aggressive CHR Top 40 format. The on-air lineup included Jeff Thomas, G.W. McCoy, and Francesca Cappucci. "Play Hits for Cash" was a regular promotion. KIQQ simulcasted the NBC show Friday Night Videos, and even had Wally George as a weekend call in host. KIQQ also carried American Top 40 in 1983, after competing station KIIS-FM lost AT40 over the playing of network commercials, forcing KIIS to create its own chart show, Rick Dees Weekly Top 40.
By 1986, with competition from KIIS, KKHR, and KBZT proving too intense (KIIS alone had a 10 rating in the Arbitron book), KIQQ became easy listening "100.3 K-Lite." That lasted for three years before the launch of another new format.
KQLZ - "Pirate Radio"
In 1989, KIQQ was sold to Westwood One, which hired Scott Shannon from WHTZ in New York to program the station. They became KQLZ "Pirate Radio 100.3" on March 17, 1989, airing a Top 40 playlist heavily leaning toward rock. The last song KIQQ played before the format change was "(At) The End (Of A Rainbow)" by Earl Grant. While KQLZ played a lot of heavy metal, they also mixed in some mainstream rock and even a few dance songs by artists like Madonna. The first ratings books showed an initial spike, but faded rather quickly, once the novelty wore off. KQLZ eventually dropped the dance songs and went completely rock. Shannon was let go, and he eventually went back to New York to program WPLJ.
Finally opting to leave the radio ownership business, Westwood One sold KQLZ to Viacom (now CBS Radio) in 1993, and the new owners ended the Pirate Radio format on April 2 of that year. Viacom brought KXEZ and its soft adult contemporary format back to life at 100.3 FM after a six-month absence from the FM dial. The KXEZ call letters and format were previously at 98.7 FM. In 1992, KXEZ had become KYSR and was named "Star 98.7".
In September 1996, the station changed calls to KIBB, and flipped to a dance-leaning Rhythmic Hot AC format, branded as "B 100.3" ("The Rhythm of L.A."). The move was to go after listeners who have become disenfranchised with the increasing hip-hop content at KPWR. The move also came about based on the instant success of WKTU in New York, which debuted in February of that year. In 1997, Chancellor would buy KIBB, added currents to its playlist, and shifted directions to Rhythmic Contemporary Hits, as well as altering their slogan to "L.A.'s Hot FM".
Despite the effort and a promotional campaign (one memorable ad featured a large billboard of a Latina woman dancing placed near a building on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles), KIBB couldn't make a dent in the ratings. After two years and minor tweaks in its playlist and direction, KIBB's fate was sealed when Chancellor decided to drop the format at 5 PM on November 19, 1997 (after a couple of days of teasing a "major event" and playing "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy as the final song) for yet another short-lived fad: Rhythmic Oldies as "Mega 100." The call letters were changed to KCMG. The format, which drew instant ratings success in the market, was replicated on many stations across the country in the late 1990s (however, many of these stations would flip in the early 2000s due to poor ratings and promotion). Chancellor merged with Capstar in 1999, forming AMFM Inc.
Clear Channel merged with AMFM in 2000. Because of this, Clear Channel was over the radio station ownership limits (5 FM stations, 3 AM stations) in Los Angeles. As a result, Clear Channel decided to keep the stronger 92.3 FM frequency. They chose to sell the 100.3 FM frequency and the intellectual property of KKBT, which was on 92.3 FM, to Radio One. KCMG's format and call letters would be retained and move to 92.3 FM.
When the switch was made on June 30, 2000, 100.3 became KKBT, "100.3 the Beat" and 92.3 became KCMG, "Mega 92.3". In 2001, Mega's format on 92.3 did move in more of an Urban Adult Contemporary direction, as the "Jammin' Oldies" format was starting to fade in popularity. Eventually, KCMG became KHHT, "Hot 92.3," a direct competitor to KKBT. Soon afterward, KKBT released their morning team of Dre and Ed Lover, as well as afternoon drivers "The Baka Boyz".
During the first four years under Radio One, KKBT enjoyed modest success as it battled KPWR for the R&B/hip-hop crown. KKBT heavily promoted Steve Harvey as its high-profile morning star and billed itself under the slogan of "Harvey & Hip-Hop". However, KKBT never overtook KPWR in the ratings. Harvey was also at odds with station management over the station's hip-hop content and refused to play questionable songs during his show until his departure from the station and went to KDAY.
By 2004, the station, which was very popular at this point, began showing signs of erosion in ratings, as it faced new competition. KDAY, which was formerly on 1580 AM, signed on for the first time on FM at 93.5 and debuted its own hip-hop format in 2004, siphoning off a good number of KKBT listeners. KXOL-FM's flip to reggaeton in 2005 took many of The Beat's Hispanic listeners. KKBT went through a great deal of turmoil, with several popular airstaffers leaving or being dismissed from 2002 through 2006.
On May 19, 2006, KKBT officially threw in the towel as a Mainstream Urban outlet and flipped to a hybrid Urban Adult Contemporary/Urban Talk format dubbed "Rhythm & Talk". According to the press release that was featured on the station's website: "The new format, which will engage 25-49 year old adults, takes the best music of Urban Adult Contemporary stations and adds compelling content delivered by proven national personalities Tom Joyner, Ananda Lewis, Michael Baisden, Wendy Williams and Free." Although it retained "The Beat" branding, the peace sign which was long a staple of The Beat in station logos, was discontinued.
However, the 'Rhythm and Talk' emphasis did not succeed in the ratings, and the station dropped Free and Lewis first from the lineup. Williams, which aired on tape delay after midnight on weekends, was dropped later, and the Tom Joyner Morning Show was dropped when it could not compete with Steve Harvey on KDAY. Other on-air staffers also left the station; Baisden remained until KRBV's format flip in April 2008. Michael Baisden later landed on KDAY, before being dropped by the station in August 2009.
KKBT was the last full market Hip Hop/R&B station to use the Urban format as opposed to Rhythmic, not to mention the only one that covered the metro. However, much of its target audience tuned to other stations: Hispanics preferred KPWR and KXOL-FM, African-Americans had KHHT, KJLH, and to a lesser extent, KTWV, as options; and in the meantime KMVN debuted and targeted older listeners with dance pop from the 1980s to the present day. With that, ratings suffered, and speculation grew about its future. Emmis Broadcasting reportedly was interested in the station, but decided not to buy it.
Eventually, KKBT elected to go head-to-head with the Urban AC formats of KHHT and long-time Compton-based KJLH. The station also hired Cliff Winston away from KJLH for afternoon drive.
KRBV - "V 100.3"
In October 2006, the station began using the "Beat" brand less in its promos. Promos would only reference the 100.3 frequency and in December 2006, briefly touted "Majic", giving rise to speculation that Radio One would use the Majic brand, most notably found on sister stations WMMJ in Washington, DC, WWIN-FM in Baltimore, and KMJQ in Houston.
However, on December 29, 2006, Radio One instead unveiled "The New V 100.3". With that, an Urban heritage based era came to an end: The KKBT callsign was no more after 16 years, and "The Beat" branding was forever erased as a piece of radio brand history because KKBT was the very first radio station to carry "The Beat" moniker. At that same moment, the calls were changed to KRBV. (Ironically, KRBV and V 100.3 were used on an Urban AC station in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in the mid to late-1990s. That station is now KJKK.) The imaging was similar in fashion to WRKS in New York City, perhaps a reason being that Barry Mayo, the former general manager for WRKS, is consulting Radio One and thus wanted to use similar imaging for this station.
The re-imaging and airstaff changes did not help the station's ratings, however. At a stockholders' meeting in 2007, some investors called for KRBV to be sold, but company officials said that they had no plans to do so. One possible reason for this is that KRBV was the only Radio One-owned and operated station in the three leading markets in the U.S. (as they do not own stations in New York City or Chicago). Also, a sale of KRBV would come at a loss to Radio One compared to how much it originally paid for it, possibly because of the residual effects of the frequency swap with KHHT.
KSWD "100.3 The Sound"
On March 24, 2008, Radio One announced that the station had been sold to Bonneville International for $137.5 million. The transaction closed in the second quarter of 2008. According to a spokesperson for Bonneville, the station would continue to be a music station, although there were rumors that the station would actually flip to news/talk (similar to sister stations KTAR-FM in Phoenix, Arizona and WWWT in Washington, D.C.). On April 3, Bonneville confirmed the adult album alternative format. On their final day, April 7, 2008, KRBV's air staffers bid farewell to their listeners.
On April 8, 2008, Bonneville International took over the operations of KRBV, and dropped the Urban AC format at Midnight Pacific time. The station began stunting as "Bruce Radio 100.3", playing all of Bruce Springsteen's hits (in connection to his show that night at Honda Center in Anaheim, California). After ten hours of playing "The Boss," and after playing I Love LA by Randy Newman, KRBV made the following announcement: "Hello, and welcome to what we hope will be a new beginning for Southern California and music fans everywhere." At 10 a.m., the station became "100.3 The Sound" and the AAA format officially began, with "Beautiful Day" by U2 being the first song played.
The new station offered listeners a wide selection of rock music, stretching from the '60s all the way to "last week," according to Bonneville vice president of programming Greg Solk and executive VP Drew Horowitz. In an interview from R&R the day of the launch, Bonneville president and chief executive officer Bruce Reese told the music trade, "It’s great to be back in L.A." He added that "we are truly excited about our new station -- 100.3 the Sound will be a music station that has absolute respect for the music and that features a broad playlist."
KSWD's new format and "The Sound" logo were loosely patterned after its then-sister station in Cincinnati, Ohio, WSWD. But whereas KSWD's direction took a broader approach, WSWD focused mostly on 1990s and current fare (WSWD switched to a different format in 2009).
KSWD was the fourth station in the Los Angeles radio market to program a Triple-A format. KNX-FM, KSCA and KACD/KBCD have featured the format in past years. The last of those stations also used the positioning statement "World Class Rock for Southern California."
In May 2009, KSWD dropped most of its new music for traditional classic rock artists, although its playlist includes many more deep album tracks than their nearest competitors, KLOS and KCBS-FM. As a result, KSWD was pulled off of Mediabase's AAA Reporting stations. The station is now seen as an AOR station playing a majority of recurrents with only a handful of currents. Rival KLOS has since switched back to mainstream rock, while KSWD currently airs a classic rock format.
On Friday, July 10, 2009, The Sound held a "Finally a KMET Friday" to honor past LA rock radio station KMET. The day featured many of the original DJs from the station and much of the original music, promos and sound clips from the station. The day concluded with a three-hour Bruce Springsteen live KMET concert from 1978.
On June 10, 2010, The Sound aired an A to Z countdown. More than 1,000 songs were played in alphabetical order by song title. The Sound's countdown was very similar to A to Z presentations on KLOS, which ended in 2008. A second edition of "The Sound A to Z" began on October 11, lasting just over a week and featuring more than 2,000 tunes. These promotions allowed listeners to enjoy not only the deep album tracks for which the station was becoming well known, but also tracks outside of the regular playlist, music that hadn't been heard on local radio for many years.
On November 1–3, 2013, The Sound held the 'Mighty Met Weekend' to again honor past rock radio station KMET. Each day featured many of the original DJs from the station and much of the original music, promos and sound clips from the station, including some special 'call-in' guests. Very clever promos were aired in the weeks prior.
KSWD over the years has had a variety of formats on its HD channels. The current formats at present are 'YTN Radio' (South Korean Radio) on the HD2 channel, Radio Hamrah (Persian programming) on HD3, and 'The Mormon Channel' featuring programming from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the owners of Bonneville International, on the HD4 channel.
Andy Chanley works middays for the station. Other on-air hosts include Uncle Joe Benson (morning drive), Julie Slater (afternoon drive), and Rita Wilde (nights). Peace Love and Sunday Mornings is hosted by "The Flower Child" (Mimi Chen). Recently, legendary KMET DJ Cynthia Fox was let go from her middays position at KLOS, and shortly thereafter, turned up at The Sound doing Saturday evenings.
- Durkee, Rob. American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century. ISBN 0-02-864895-1. New York City: Schirmer Books, 1999. Accessed December 10, 2007.
- Station website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KSWD
- Radio-Locator information on KSWD
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KSWD
- Query the FCC's FM station database for K261AB
- Radio-Locator information on K261AB