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|City||Little Rock, Arkansas|
|Broadcast area||Little Rock metropolitan area|
|Branding||1090 AM KAAY|
|Slogan||Hear The Word|
|First air date||1924|
|Class||A (clear channel)|
(Radio License Holding CBC, LLC)
|Sister stations||KARN, KARN-FM, KIPR/KPZK, KLAL-FM, KURB|
KAAY is a 50,000-watt, class A clear-channel AM radio station in Little Rock, Arkansas, licensed on 1090 kHz. The station is owned by Cumulus Media. The station's studios are located in West Little Rock, and the transmitter tower is located in Wrightsville, Arkansas.
KAAY was founded as KTHS in 1924 in Hot Springs; it moved to Little Rock in 1953. After the TV station KTHV was created from it in 1955, KTHS was sold to LIN Broadcasting, who turned it into a Top 40 station in 1962 under its present call sign. It has been a stalwart of Christian radio since 1985, and has been owned by Cumulus Media since its 2011 merger with Citadel Broadcasting (which bought the station in 1998).
KAAY's cult status was forged in the late 1960s, when, after 11pm, the station abandoned the standard Top 40 format for three hours of underground music with the program Beaker Street hosted by Clyde Clifford.
During the station's heyday, KAAY featured a full-service Top-40 format, and was the dominant station for most of the state of Arkansas. During the 1960s and 1970s, on-air personalities included Mike McCormick, Doc Holiday, Jonnie King, Buddy Karr, Ken Knight, Sonny Martin, newsman George J. Jennings, Wayne Moss, Phil North, and Ray Lincoln of the "Ray and Ram Program." The station also broadcast University of Arkansas football games. Its nighttime signal extended well beyond Little Rock and Arkansas, covering much of the Great Plains, North Central, and mid-south regions of the United States, leading to its sobriquet "The Mighty Ten Ninety." KAAY could be heard clearly at night in Key West, Florida, and as far to the northwest as Jamestown, North Dakota. It could also be heard late at night clearly as far south as Cozumel, Mexico. This radio station was a big inspiration to Cuban rock musicians and rock fans who listened to Beaker Street every night, keeping themselves informed about American music and underground music in the 1970s. They listened undercover with Soviet made transistor radios. In the late 1960s the jingle started out with roaring thunder followed by a deep voice...FIFTY THOUSAND WATTS OF MUSIC POWER K>>DOUBLE-A Y Little Rock.
By the 1980s, as Top 40 rock music was moving to the FM band, KAAY began to change direction. Aside from adult contemporary currents and some country music, no tunes released past 1977 were being played since the station was now targeting baby boomers. The station would lean oldies by this time and be promoted as "Oldies 1090". Music was put on hold every night for up to nine hours of religious programming. The station abandoned the music format altogether in the mid-1980s, and underwent several changes in ownership. Since 1982, religious broadcasters have utilized KAAY's signal to spread messages nationwide. It was mainly a Southern gospel station when it entered Christian radio in 1985, but it switched to contemporary Christian music in 2000.
KAAY is among the most powerful AM Christian stations in the United States, with 50,000 watts of day and night power. After dark, its nighttime signal reaches over 12 states.
KAAY currently is a Christian Talk and Teaching Radio station. Unfortunately, owners of KAAY in later years allowed the stations famed transmission facilities in Wrightsville, AR to fall into disrepair. Copper thieves stole a large amount of transmission line, degrading the stations signal significantly. Roof damage allowed water to enter the 50,000 watt transmitter - knocking it off the air. Currently, KAAY has reestablished 50000 watt service during the day, but has yet to rebuild the 3 tower directional array, so nighttime service remains under special temporary authority with 10,000 watts non directional.
On Labor Day weekend of 2003, the station returned to its roots with a historical segment called "KAAY Rewound". KAAY's Barry Mac and sister station KARN's Grant Merrill played the hits and took calls from all over the country. Clyde Clifford returned to talk about "Beaker Street". This eventually led to a weekly segment called "Radio Yesterday" which features the memories of the station's heyday.
- "Cumulus now owns Citadel Broadcasting". Atlanta Business Journal. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011.