|City||Santa Monica, California|
|Broadcast area||Greater Los Angeles Area|
|Branding||Radio Esperanza 1580 AM|
|First air date||1947|
|Power||50,000 watts night
50,000 watts day
|Former callsigns||KOWL (1947-1956)
(Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Licensee, LLC)
|Website||Multicultural Broadcasting Website|
KBLA (1580 AM) is a radio station licensed in Santa Monica, California, with a Spanish religious radio format as Radio Esperanza 1580 AM. It broadcasts at 1580 kHz with 50,000 watts day and night. Most of this station's signal is dumped over the Pacific Ocean to avoid interference with KHEP (ex-KNIX) 1580 in Phoenix Arizona, which also operates with 50,000 watts day & night as authorized by the FCC. Consequently, the station is heard on a regular basis in Hawaii, via AM nighttime skip. Neither KBLA nor KHEP is considered a clear-channel station because they are classified as Class B using directional antennas.
Originally, the facility was daytime-only, beginning operation July 30, 1947, as KOWL on 1580 kHz with 5 KW power. It was owned and operated by Arthur H. Croghan.
Later, with the call letters KDAY, it first played pop music, and then, in 1968, switched to a soul/R&B format. In the late 1960s, the station received approval from the FCC to operate at night. The studio and transmitter site were moved to a new facility on North Alvarado St. north of downtown L.A. At this time, it switched to a Top 40 format, then around 1972, went to an album rock format, designed by Bob Wilson, who would later launch the media magazine Radio & Records. However, in January 1974, KDAY returned to its soul roots, and became a highly successful AM R&B radio station during the mid-to-late 1970s, as "1580 K-DAY."
In the early 1980s, the original KDAY was the first radio station in Los Angeles area to play the new hip-hop music, thanks to KDAY's new program director and DJ Gregory "Greg The Mack Attack" MacMillan. Def Jam acts such as Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys, Whodini, The Fat Boys, and Public Enemy became popular in the United States; KDAY brought their sounds to a new audience on the West Coast. In the late 1980s, it was the first station to introduce N.W.A, a rap group that has the fusion of both Ice-T's gangster energetic rhymes and Public Enemy's political radicalness.
By the early 1990s, KDAY could no longer keep up with the FM stations that had co-opted the sound, so it became all-business KBLA on March 28, 1991. During this time, it was also the flagship station of the Los Angeles Clippers pro basketball team.
About 1997, KBLA ended the business format and beginning selling air time to broadcasters of different ethnic backgrounds.
On March 31, 2004, KBLA became the original West Coast affiliate of Air America Radio, airing talk shows hosted by Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, and Janeane Garofalo among others. On April 14, the shows were no longer available due to a payment dispute between Air America and KBLA's owner, Multicultural Broadcasting. Air America shows would not return to the L.A. area until February 1, 2005 on KTLK AM 1150.
- 1971 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-29.
- 1957 Broadcasting Yearbook, page 69.
- Callsign history of KBLA on the FCC site. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- "KOWL Goes on Air, Is Owned by Croghan" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 11, 1947. Retrieved 5 October 2014.