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|City||San Diego, California|
|Broadcast area||San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area|
|Branding||1170 The Answer|
|First air date||1946|
|Power||50,000 watts day
2,900 watts night
|Callsign meaning||CBS Quality (KCBQ was a CBS affiliate in the 1950s).|
|Affiliations||Salem Radio Network|
|Owner||Salem Media Group
(New Inspiration Broadcasting Company, Inc.)
KCBQ (1170 kHz "1170 The Answer") is a commercial AM radio station in San Diego, California. It is owned by Salem Communications and airs a talk radio format. Studios and offices are on Towne Center Drive in San Diego. The transmitter is off Moreno Avenue in Lakeside, California. By day, KCBQ operates at 50,000 watts, the maximum power for American AM stations. But because AM 1170 is a clear-channel frequency, KCBQ must reduce its power at night to 2900 watts to avoid interfering with Class A stations KFAQ in Tulsa, Oklahoma and WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia. It uses a directional antenna at all times.
The station offers local San Diego radio personality Mark Larson in the morning and Salem's line up of conservative nationally syndicated hosts Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Larry Elder and Michael Medved the rest of the day. Some hours on weekdays and weekends are paid brokered programming. Weekends feature shows on money, health, food, law and cars. Some hours are paid brokered programming.
1170 first signed on the air in 1946. Its original call sign was KSDJ (for its owner The San Diego News Journal). The station began broadcasting from its first studio at 5th and Ash (later to become the studios of KFMB AM/FM/TV). In 1949, KSDJ was sold to Charles Elliot Salek and became San Diego's second CBS network affiliate. (KGB had been San Diego's first CBS affiliate during the 1930s). To coincide with the new network affiliation, the KSDJ call letters were changed to KCBQ, meaning Columbia Broadcasting Quality. The call letters KCBS were sought, but the CBS network wanted them for its network-owned San Francisco affiliate. An "agreement" was reached and Salek settled for "K-Columbia-Broadcasting-Quality".
In 1951, KCBQ moved its studios to the Imig Manor Hotel (now the Lafayette) on El Cajon Blvd. KCBQ's transmitter site was next to the Campus Drive-In at El Cajon Boulevard and College Ave. The drive-in was demolished in the late 1970s and is now the Campus Shopping Center.
KCBQ's power until 1958 was 5,000 watts non-directional day and 1,000 watts non-directional night. The station used an RCA BTA-5F 5,000 watt transmitter at the College site. KFSD (now KOGO) used the same model transmitter.
Bartell Family Radio bought KCBQ in 1955 and dropped the CBS affiliation as network radio was losing its luster in the face of competition from television. In 1956 the station spent a few months in an old Victorian house during a gap between the end of their lease at the Imig Manor and the completion of the new glass studios at the El Cortez Center at 7th and Ash. Those studios are dedicated in 1957 with a live broadcast from an outdoor stage featuring the music of Bill Green's Big Band. The new studios had a large "picture window" studio that looked out over the street so that fans could watch their favorite disc jockeys on the air. There was even a mirror mounted over the console so that from the street you could watch the DJ's every move at the controls. The studios were featured in Life Magazine in 1958. This would be the home of one of the nation's pioneering Top 40 stations for the next 11 years.
In 1958, the station increased its power to 50,000 watts directional daytime and 5000 watts directional nighttime with a huge $50,000 treasure hunt giveaway to publicize the power increase. The transmitter site was moved from College and El Cajon Boulevard to a new site in then-remote, bucolic Santee. The boosted power was more of an appeal to ad agencies than an actual reception improvement with virtually all of the signal being shot out over the Pacific Ocean. KCBQ was still difficult to hear more than about 20 miles to the north at night.
In 1968, the studios moved to the Santee transmitter site where they remained through several ownership changes, until being purchased by Salem Broadcasting in the 1990s. The site was demolished and the transmitter site moved even further east to relatively undeveloped Lakeside, sharing towers with Family Radio's KECR 910. The former Santee transmitter site now bears a monument to its famous 50-year tenant.
KCBQ had been one of the leading AM Top 40 stations in San Diego and was a model for the rest of the nation. KCBQ began broadcasting Top 40 music in the late 1950s and continued with the format through the 1960s and 1970s with great success. The station achieved national prominence in 1972-1973 with its presentation of "The Last Contest," a promotional and production extravaganza created by program director Jack McCoy. The promotion was later syndicated nationally by TM Productions of Dallas, and KCBQ's on-air format was widely copied as the "Q format." KCBQ's success prompted a substantial number of Top 40 stations to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for new call letters which included the letter Q. During its Top 40 heyday, KCBQ was owned by Bartell Media Corporation.
Some of KCBQ's most legendary personalities included Don Howard, Jim O'Leary, Ralph James, Jack Vincent, Dex Allen, Harry "Happy Hare" Martin, "Shotgun" Tom Kelly, Charlie & Harrigan, Charlie Tuna, Bob Shannon, Perry Allen, Bobby Ocean, Lee "Baby" Sims, Jimmy Rabbitt, Rich "Brother" Robbin, Brian Roberts, China Smith, Chuck Browning, Jimi Fox, Harry Scarborough, Dave Conley, Chris Bailey, Gene Knight, Gary Kelley, Paul Kelley, Jim Barker, The Magic Christian, Brian "The Blind Owl" White, Gary Allyn, Robert L. Collins, Neilson Ross, Phil Flowers and Ron "Ugly" Thompson, Mason Dixon.
By the mid-'70s, the station had begun a series of ownership and format changes that continued on a fairly regular basis. In 1978, with music-formatted radio becoming dominated by FM stations, KCBQ dropped top 40 in favor of an adult contemporary format, to be followed in 1982 by a switch to country music. PD Bob McKay, in 1985 the station changed to a syndicated "first decade of rock 'n' roll" oldies format, Kool Gold, which carried it through most of the 1990s. It would later simulcast then-sister Q106. On JuIy 4, 1996, KCBQ would flip to a conservative talk format. In the late 1990s, KCBQ was acquired by Salem.
KCBQ featured a 50,000 watt transmitter (limited to 5000 watts at night, later reduced to 1500 watts nighttime). The antenna was originally a six-element directional array in the city of Santee off of Mission Gorge Road. A park was built nearby and named Mast Park in honor of Bill Mast, one of the developers of Santee from the 1960s and 1970s.
The antenna site was sold amidst urban development in the area, and is now a shopping center, anchored by a Kohl's and a Lowe's. For a time the station had to broadcast at reduced power from a temporary longwire antenna on long time competitor's tower 1360 KGB/KLSD and 101.5 KGB-FM, as well as the former FM side of competitor 910 radio KDEO/KECR (now Channel 933 KHTS-FM). According to the FCC, KCBQ's daytime power on the long wire was 5,000 watts, with power reduced after sunset to 675 watts (non-directional, both day and night).
KCBQ received a construction permit for a five-tower array in the area north of Lakeside, not far from the old site, and to increase power to 50,000 watts daytime, 2,900 watts nighttime. The station returned to 50,000 watts on Monday, June 4, 2007. KCBQ is now sharing antennas with 910 KECR, another former AM top 40 competitor of KCBQ's in the first half of the 1960s. KECR was known as Radio KDEO (pronounced "Radio kay-dee-oh") in the 1960s.
On August 28, 2010, a monument to the "Top 40" days between 1958 and 1978 was dedicated near the site of the former broadcast center and radio towers. The dedication was attended by more than 400 people. Located in the 9400 block of Mission Gorge Road, the monument has over 100 names of on-air personalities. Funding for the monument was raised by alumni and fans of KCBQ radio. KCBQ is often recognized as a pioneer in Top 40 radio and it is rare for a community to erect a monument in honor of a radio station.
On January 5, 2015, KCBQ rebranded as "1170 The Answer". Salem uses the moniker "The Answer" for many of its talk stations across the country.
In a throwback and return to its earlier days as an Oldies station, in 2011, KCBQ launched a live radio program, the "Saturday Night Sock Hop" hosted by D.J. Mike Zuccaro, based on the similar format of the original radio program of the same name hosted by Jack Spector in New York City at WCBS-FM from 1977-1984, covering Rock and Roll's First Decade. It featured Doo-Wop, early R&B and Oldies music on Saturday Evenings from 9-10PM and on Sunday Evenings 10pm to midnight. The station later discontinued the show to focus on talk programming.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page C-26
- Gerald A. Bartell biography
- http://www.jimmyrabbitt.com/rabbittbio.htm Jimmy Rabbitt biography
- San Diego, California antenna sites 2001
- KCBQ Remembered
- Salem Rebrands Talkers as The Answer
- 1170 The Answer
- FCC History Cards for KCBQ
- 1170 KCBQ on Twitter
- San Diego, California antenna sites 2001
- San Diego, California antenna sites 2005
- KCBQ Monument
- Roadside Historical Marker Database
- KCBQ Monument Dedication
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KCBQ
- Radio-Locator Information on KCBQ
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KCBQ