|Broadcast area||Sacramento and Stockton, California|
|Slogan||Sacramento's 24-Hour News, Traffic and Weather Station|
|First air date||February 2, 1922|
(AMFM Broadcasting Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||KBEB, KFBK-FM, KHYL, KYRV, KSTE, K296GB|
KFBK (1530 AM) is a radio station in Sacramento, California broadcasting on a frequency of 1530 kHz. KFBK is a class A station owned by iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications). It used to be designated as a class "I-B" station, sharing Class A status on 1530 AM with WCKY in Cincinnati, Ohio. The station boasts the highest field strength of any AM station in the United States. KFBK is also simulcast on KFBK-FM. The station has studios in North Sacramento near Arden Fair Mall, and its transmitter is near Pleasant Grove.
KFBK's daytime signal covers much of the northern portion of the state, from the northern Sacramento Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area and the fringes of the Central Valley. At night, it reaches much of the western half of North America.
KFBK's history reaches back to station KVQ (first license issued: February 2, 1922), which shut down later that year after listener complaints about interference. KVQ's facilities were sold to the Kimball-Upson Music Store and the Sacramento Union newspaper.
Later, Kimball-Upson sold out to The McClatchy Company, a local, family-owned company which owned the Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee and Fresno Bee newspapers. In addition to KFBK, McClatchy would eventually acquire radio stations in the same markets, KBEE in Modesto and KMJ in Fresno. From 1964 to 1978, KFBK was a sister station to Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto TV station KOVR. The cluster of KFBK, KBEE and KOVR was possible because Sacramento and Modesto, then as now, are separate radio markets.
On October 2, 1948, KFBK increased its power from 10 kW to 50 KW, concurrent with the installation of a directional antenna, which operates with separate day and night parameters. Prior operation was 5 kW from 1936 and 10 kW from 1937, on 1490 kHz (a "high-powered" Regional channel). 1941's NARBA changed the assigned frequency to 1530 kHz (a new U.S. Clear channel), but the assigned power remained 10 kW. Ultimately, all U.S. Class I-B/Class A stations were required to upgrade to 50 kW (all U.S. Class I-A/Class A stations had already upgraded to 50 kW). Co-channel WCKY (AM) operated on the same frequencies, but with 5 kW since 1930, 10 kW since 1937, and 50 kW since 1938, and directional since 1939.
1950s and 1960s
As television took over network programming, KFBK reinvented itself as a news, information, sports, and entertainment station. Because of its 50 kW signal strength and location in the heart of the Central Valley, the station became the chief method by which farmers obtained weather, prices and other vital farming information. KFBK carried CBS Radio Network programming including top-of-the-hour newscasts, plus specialized reports from Edward R. Murrow and Lowell Thomas. Local news programs included the Richfield Reporter. Tony Koester was both the long-time voice of the minor league Sacramento Solons and the station's sports director. When the San Francisco Giants arrived in 1958, the station began a long partnership carrying their games. Entertainment programming included Arthur Godfrey and Doug Pledger.
The talk of the town
In the 1970s, with less network programming available, KFBK began programming talk shows as part of their broadcast day, promoting them as "The Talk of the Town". After a brief trial as an adult contemporary music station, ownership committed themselves to a format that included news blocks during morning and afternoon drive time, with the remainder of the day's programming featuring local talk shows. With the U.S. Federal Communications Commission implementing a newspaper-broadcasting cross-ownership rule, McClatchy was forced to divest itself of its radio and television stations. KFBK was sold to Westinghouse Broadcasting and later shifted network affiliation to ABC Radio.
During the 1980s, KFBK employed Morton Downey, Jr. as a local midday host. After Downey's departure, Rush Limbaugh replaced him at the station. Limbaugh first rose to prominence at KFBK before becoming nationally syndicated in 1988. Limbaugh's national program still airs on KFBK in the same time slot (9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon) where he hosted locally.
Limbaugh's local replacement after leaving KFBK, Tom Sullivan has also taken his program into national syndication, after taking an anchor position at the new cable TV business channel Fox Business Network. Like Limbaugh, Sullivan's national show (syndicated via Fox News Radio), continues to air on KFBK in its former local time slot.
A number of other KFBK alumni have come to national media prominence. Former KFBK news reporter/anchor Laura Ingle is a featured reporter on Fox News Channel. Former KFBK reporter and weekend anchor Todd Starnes hosts commentaries for Fox News Radio, and former KFBK evening host Spencer Hughes airs a weekday program Fox Across America on Fox News Radio's satellite radio channel.
KFBK begins FM simulcasting
KFBK-FM began simulcasting on December 1, 2011 at 92.5 FM, the former home of KGBY. This was mainly to fill in areas east of Sacramento where the AM signal is weaker at night to protect WCKY. On December 26, 2013 KFBK began a trimulcast on 93.1 FM, the former home of Classic 93.1 (KHLX); the simulcast ended a week later when KHLX adopted a country music format as KBEB.
- The KFBK Morning News with Amy Lewis and Dan Mitchinson (local)
- The Rush Limbaugh Show (local 1984-1988, syndicated since 1988)
- Tom Sullivan (originally local, now syndicated via NBC News Radio)
- The Afternoon News with Kitty O'Neal (local)
- Coast to Coast AM (syndicated)
- KFBK official website
- KFBK Franklin antenna
- KFBK history at The Broadcast Archive
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KFBK
- Radio-Locator Information on KFBK
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KFBK
- Live web broadcast (only available in .wma format)
- FCC History Cards for KFBK