|Broadcast area||Sacramento, California|
|Slogan||Sacramento's New Hit Music Station|
|Frequency||103.5 (MHz) (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||1996|
|Callsign meaning||K Hot Hit Music|
|Former callsigns||KRYR (1996-1997)
(Entravision Holdings, LLC)
KHHM, also known as HOT 103.5, is a Rhythmic Contemporary station outlet serving Sacramento, California. The station is owned by Entravision Communications. Although KHHM does have a HD Radio channel, it has yet to sign on a HD2 or HD3 subcarrier. Its studios are located in North Sacramento and a transmitter site is based in Midtown.
As KBMB "103.5 The Bomb"
The station debuted with a Regional Mexican format in 1996 as KRYR and then by choice of license holder Paula Nelson, switched to Urban Contemporary during the wave of Hip-Hop/R&B stations that sprang up nationally in the late 1990s. The call letters changed to KBMB with the moniker "Better Mo' Better Music," with an emphasis on AC Soul and now a Network affiliate of ABC Radio Network Urban AC, a contract pursued and finally secured by the station's first Operations Director Thomas Turner - now production/accounts manager for KDIA/KDYA "The Light At The Top Of The Dial" - Bay Area. Later the "calls" moniker KBMB changed to "The Bomb" by choice of owner Paula Nelson, and with the aid of promos, liners and drops produced by KDIA Bay Area legend Bob Jones, the programming focused on targeting the largely ignored hip hop community. Stations such as KSFM, a predominate leader in the market as an CHR, were not on the new Hip Hop wave, creating the void KBMB filled.
Reflecting the market's demographics, 7% of the Sacramento radio market is African American, so although KBMB was the only Black-owned station (Diamond Broadcasting, the original license holder) at the time, it relied primarily on white females 18–34 for its ratings and commercial appeal. While it was marketed as a Rhythmic/CHR in 1998 as a way to target beyond the core audience and to attract more mainstream advertisers to the station, it managed to maintain an unofficial urban format through its ABC Network affiliation and its own music selection. It was the home of the syndicated Doug Banks Morning Show, making KBMB one of few urban stations in the West Coast to carry a syndicated morning show. It also carried the Tom Joyner Morning Show for a short period upon the station's debut but actually had both on for a while, after moving Banks to mid-days.
In its early days, KBMB once had personalities like former Program Directors Randy "Jayare" Johnson (who hosted locally oriented hip hop shows "the Basement" and "Ground Zero and is now a member of the hip hop group Beataroundabush) and Ibrahim "E-Bro" Darden (who is the current program director at WQHT Hot 97 in New York) and Deshawn "D-Funk" Robertson, host of the highest rated Afternoon Drive-Time show in the station's history, "The Afternoon Flava Show" (He is currently a professional stand-up comedian). From its inception, the station competed fiercely for ratings with heritage competitor KSFM for the very lucrative 18–34 female demographic. The station was committed to Sacramento community causes, as well as its inclusion of urban-leaning artists that traditionally were seldom heard on Sacramento radio. Though competing with an undersized signal which was originally 3 kW but later upped to 6 kW, the upstart station gave heritage KSFM (50 kW) a run for its money in the ratings. It even gained competition from KHYL in 2001 upon that station's format changed from oldies to Gold-oldies leaning R&B.
But in 2004, after years of litigation between the station's majority owner, Paula Nelson (the last local independent station owner, and the only African American station owner in Sacramento) and Bustos Media, the station was forcibly sold to Entravision communications, a predominantly Spanish language corporate entity. Johnson, Nelson, and all other managers were terminated, and the management team of the local Entravision cluster assumed the reins, despite the abysmal ratings at Entravision's existing properties. Almost immediately the format was constrained in a failed attempt to compete with KSFM and pop rival KDND more directly.
After Entravision acquired KBMB, the officials systematically went about disassembling the predominantly African American air staff. The sentiments expressed by Entravision head of Radio programming Jeff Lieberman were that the station was just too ethnic to compete in Sacramento (these, despite the Bomb's history of ratings success with a predominantly African American cast of characters). A pronounced push to make the station more Latin oriented began with the hiring of a nearly all Latin air staff and the infusion of Spanish into the station's imaging. The longtime urban contemporary format was permanently gravitated to a rhythmic format. The Doug Banks Show was dropped in favor of a locally based morning show, but KBMB returned to a syndicated morning show with Big Boy's Neighborhood, before that, too, was dropped when the urban-turned-rhythmic format on KBMB ran its course in 2009.
As KHHM, "HOT 103.5"
On January 11, 2010, after months of dismal ratings, KBMB dropped "The Bomb" in favor of "HOT 103.5" and terminated Nikia Moore, the last of its daily African American air talents. It has also shifted from a hip hop-focused approach to a broader contemporary Hit direction that includes primarily pop crossovers that wouldn't have been played in the past. In addition, it has also replaced Big Boy's Neighborhood with more music mornings, while a more Latin-friendly morning show is sought.
On June 25, 2010 it was announced that KBMB would change its call letters to KHHM to match its "HOT 103.5" handle. The move coincides with launch of the station's "103 days of Summer" campaign. In February 2011, KHHM morphed to contemporary hit radio with a Rhythmic lean at first, but since the transition, they have moved into a more Mainstream direction with the addition of artists like The Script, Selena Gomez & The Scene, Coldplay, Christina Perri & Andy Grammer to its playlist and in April 2011 was moved to Mediabase's Top 40/CHR panel. By September 2011 Nielsen BDS moved KHHM from the rhythmic contemporary panel to the Top 40/CHR panel as it has become less dependent on Rhythmic hits; BDS still continues to list KHHM as a Top 40/CHR reporter although Mediabase returned the station back to the Rhythmic panel in 2014. It now has increased competition with Top 40/CHR rival KDND, and hot adult contemporary stations KZZO & KUDL. Hot adult contemporary station KGBY was considered a rival until December 1, 2011, when that station became KFBK-FM to simulcast KFBK-AM. KHHM's flip to top 40 joins other California markets with two top 40 stations such as Los Angeles' KAMP-FM & KIIS-FM and San Francisco's KMVQ-FM & KREV, and most recently San Diego with KEGY & KHTS-FM.
Ratings and signal coverage
Sacramento has always been a fierce market for Top 40 stations, which has seen more than one competitor claiming the crown. KBMB was, at the time, no exception, having beaten KSFM and KDND several times since its debut, and at most times ahead of rivals KSFM and KDND. But KSFM had dominated The Bomb in later years, mainly due to KSFM's more powerful signal and multi ethnic air staff and KBMB's small range (6 kW) and failed programming strategies. KBMB had also been beaten at times by KDND, a straightforward top 40 more in tune with 103.5's current direction.
Another reason for KHHM's Class A status is due to KHSL-FM in Chico, who also resides at the 103.5 frequency. As a result, KHHM's coverage is limited to mostly Sacramento County proper. Since its shift from Rhythmic to Mainstream in 2011, KHHM's ratings have been low, making them hard to compete with KSFM and KDND, although it improved somewhat slightly by being first and faster on current Pop hits and playing newer artists like One Direction and Capital Cities.
In March 2014, KHHM decided to dump the Top 40 format for Rhythmic Contemporary. This means although KHHM plays some pop songs, it has enough Hip Hop and R&B songs to compete with KSFM. This was probably done for ratings boost and to leave the clustered Top 40/CHR race, which they came in last every month since flipping formats in 2010, although their return also has them facing off with Rhythmic AC rival KHYL as well. However, by August 2014, KHHM returned to BDS' Top 40/CHR panel, potentially due to KHYL's shift to Rhythmic and its return to a more Pop-skewing presentation (although Mediabase still has KHHM listed on its Rhythmic panel).
In 2005, long time 106 KMEL air personality Short-E and ex-KSFM Davey D both joined the Bomb Family. Although they enjoyed high ratings after their arrival to KBMB, Davey D's career with KBMB was cut short when he parted ways with the station in January 2008. Another change in the lineup took place in 2008 when Short-E, who was doing mornings with co-hosts Lady Stephanie and Famous, was moved to afternoons after the station placed Big Boy in the morning drive and his co-hosts were let go. On Sunday mornings, KHHM aired Gospel programming from 6 AM to 12 noon with Tommie Goss from the late 1998 until early 2010 when he left the station for KHYL.
In 2011, KHHM revamped its lineup, with the launch of the "Hot 1035 Hot Morning Mess" with JayMarzz and Roxy featuring the Breakfast Club mix with DJ Tosh, PD Pattie Moreno,"The Latin Diva," in mid-days featuring the Caliente Mix at noon with DJ SN1, Short E in the afternoons, Super Mike in evenings, and RayArea in weekends. This lineup was changed later on, with Short-E returning to mornings, Jay Marzz taking afternoons, Ray Styles succeeding Super Mike in evenings, and weekends are handled by Jillian. The daily mix shows continue to air intact with most of the mixes airing on Friday and Saturday nights. As of November 2013, Short-E would leave KHHM to join KSFM as their new MD, followed by Moreno in January 2014.
- Sacramento HD radio guide
- "KBMB Goes Hot In Sacramento" from All Access (January 19, 2010)
- "Hot In Sacramento Grabs New Calls" from All Access (June 25, 2010)
- "KHHM Shifts To Rhythmic" from Radio Insight (March 10, 2014)
- KHHM Official website
- 103.5 former official MySpace page
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KHHM
- Radio-Locator information on KHHM
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KHHM