|City of license||West Salem, Wisconsin|
|Broadcast area||La Crosse, Wisconsin|
|Branding||100.1 Classic Rock|
|First air date||1982 (as WISQ)|
|Former callsigns||WISQ (1981-1986)
|Owner||Mississippi Valley Broadcasters, LLC|
|Sister stations||WLFN, KQEG, WLXR, WQCC|
WKBH-FM (100.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a classic rock format. Licensed to West Salem, Wisconsin, USA, the station serves the La Crosse area. The station is currently owned by Mississippi Valley Broadcasters, LLC.
All the stations of the "La Crosse Radio Group" are housed at 1407 2nd Avenue North in Onalaska, WI.
The station was assigned the call letters WISQ on 1981-04-07. On 1986-10-26, the station changed its call sign to WQJY-FM, on 1987-03-26 to WQJY, and on 1997-01-01 to the current WKBH.
The Classic K-Rock Years
Although the station still attempts to be a relevant rock outlet, most listeners will agree that WKBH FM was at its peak during the mid to late 90's. During this time period, there were actual rock people in the building and on the air, while many of the current staff were working at local top 40 and easy listening stations.
In 1992, former owner Pat Delaney and Van Halen Fan/General Manager Tim 'T.S.' Scott began broadcasting ABC Radio's Satellite Classic Rock Service at WKBH's previous location on the dial, 105.5 FM. Feeling that they needed a local presence in the morning, the "Marshall Stax Show" soon debuted. Perhaps feeling completely humiliated by the name Marshall Stax (given to him by Scott), or possibly due to dumpy conditions at the old K-Rock studios in Holmen, WI, Stax quickly departed for Madison. Deciding that K-Rock needed a big city attitude, Scott brought in Jim Dixon, a veteran of the Columbus, Ohio and Orlando and Tampa Bay, Florida markets. In keeping with the theme of giving his morning men bad 80's hair metal-sounding names, Scott deemed that Dixon would from then on be known as "Diamond Jim."
In January 1993, "The Dawn Patrol with Diamond Jim" made its debut. Teamed up with co-host Thomie Storm, Dixon soon became the most controversial radio personality that La Crosse and Winona listeners had ever heard. His honest, blunt, yet humorous approach to everyday subject matter had a unique way of polarizing his audience, such as with this incident shortly after his arrival.
The evening after receiving a letter from a member of the local Holmen School Board complaining about his use of the expression, 'pissed off,' Dixon attended a basketball game at the Holmen High School. During halftime intermission, he took note that the pre-teen tumbling exhibition was being accompanied by the Cyndi Lauper song 'She Bop' blaring through the PA system. After reading the letter on the air the next morning, Dixon wondered aloud why an educator would spend so much energy worrying about what a radio personality said, rather than ask why children were doing somersaults in a packed gym while their families clapped along to a song glorifying female masturbation. To further make his point, Jim 'graded' the letter, pointing out several grammatical errors. After this episode, Jim never received another angry correspondence from any school board member in the entire listening area.
In addition to bringing a personality-driven morning show to the airwaves, Dixon was also appointed the station's promotions director, and he wasted little time in getting to work. Despite having practically no budget to work with due to the owner Delaney being one of the cheapest radio owners in the history of the medium, he realized that there were many small minds in charge at the other stations in town. He quickly set his sights on WLFN FM, also known as Magic 105, a bland adult contemporary station that was about to lose its ass in the biggest promotions blunder in the history of LaCrosse Radio. Led by Ernie Douglas (from My Three Sons) lookalike Pat Smith, Magic 105 had decided that it would give away a new house during the Spring of 1993 Arbitron rating period. This was a risky move, particularly for someone with absolutely no true radio vision, but Smith was willing to put all of his eggs in one basket with the promise that the increased revenue from the ratings victory would more than offset the huge costs associated with giving away the house. Smith didn't count on Dixon completely sabotaging the promotion for the cost of a couple of sheets of plywood and a gallon of paint. While Magic 105 ran commercials and promos offering a chance at a new house, K-Rock countered with a campaign accusing Magic of trying to lure listeners to their 'crappy' station with an unrealistic promise of winning a house. "If it's crap you want, we'll give you the whole crapper" announced the K-Rock promos, and the station began appearing at the Magic 105 events with the 'K-Rock Outhouse' being towed by the station van. Dixon even convinced LaCrosse Mayor Patrick Zielke to do the official ribbon cutting for the outhouse! In the end, the promotion completely backfired on Smith and WLFN FM, as the station finished near the bottom of the Spring ratings. This would ultimately fuel the intense hatred Smith had for Dixon, that would come into play in later years. Later that year, K-Rock presented its first 'Listener Appreciation Concert' featuring Starship at The La Crosse Center, drawing nearly 4,000 fans.
Over the next couple of years, Dixon worked with a revolving cast of partners, as Delaney was unwilling to part with any money to actually pay anyone above minimum wage. Following Storm's departure, Tim Larkin and Ray 'Stingray' Scott both spent time in the sidekick chair. "The Dawn Patrol" also featured a stable of characters and bits including 'Young Vulcan Spock', Bradford Quinton Bradford's 'Politically Incorrect Playhouse,' and the popular contest 'Famous Last Words,' featuring graphic re-creations of celebrity deaths on their respective anniversaries. Listeners were also treated to daily editions of 'Mr. Manly,' Collum Keating's syndicated bit, as well as 'Jimmy D. The Sports Philosopher,' written and voiced by a then-unknown Jimmy Kimmel. During the same period, K-Rock was also strengthening its hold on the rock audience, first by adding "Pirate Radio with Lonn Friend," a syndicated Saturday Night Active Rock program, and later, "Gonzo Radio, Saturday Night," a localized version after "Pirate.." went defunct.
Not only were listeners paying attention to K-Rock, as evidenced by a continued strong showing in the Arbitron ratings, but the other stations were also taking notice. In late 1995, former K-Rock sales partner Midwest Family Broadcasting flipped AC Mix 96.1 to WSPL FM and began airing a competing Classic Rock format. Dixon's morning partner Ray 'Stingray' Scott joined WSPL for afternoon drive, but not before pirating a number of Dixon's bits and parodies which he then played on his own program. This led Dixon to declare all-out radio war on his former friend, and he even enlisted Keating to record a special edition of Mr. Manly that was a brutal personal attack on Scott written by Dixon.
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WKBH
- Radio-Locator information on WKBH
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WKBH