|City||Los Angeles, California|
|Broadcast area||Los Angeles metropolitan area|
|First air date||April 13, 1922|
|Format||Roman Catholic religious programming|
|Callsign meaning||Kindness, Happiness, and Joy|
|Former callsigns||KHJ (1922–1986)|
|Owner||Immaculate Heart Media, Inc.|
KHJ (930 AM) is a non-commercial radio station that is licensed to Los Angeles, California. Owned and operated by Immaculate Heart Media, Inc., the station broadcasts Roman Catholic religious programming as an affiliate of the Relevant Radio network.
KHJ broadcasts at 5,000 watts, with a non-directional signal by day but using a directional antenna at night to protect other stations on 930 AM. KHJ's transmitter is triplexed to three of the six towers of KBLA (1580 AM), near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Alvarado Street in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Radio station KYPA (1230 AM) also uses two of KBLA's towers for its signal. KHJ's former towers at the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Mid-City were removed in February 2013.
KHJ was a nationally noted top 40 station from 1965 to 1980. The station switched to country music in 1980 and back to pop music in 1983. In 1986, KHJ switched its call letters to KRTH, adopting an oldies radio format as a sister station to KRTH-FM (101.1 FM). Three years later, the station was sold to Liberman Broadcasting who aired Spanish-language formats from 1990 to 2014.
1920s and 1930s
KHJ went on the air at 720 AM on April 13, 1922. It later moved to 760 AM in response to increased interference on the AM band. The Federal Radio Commission (FRC) regulated the band in 1927–28 and reassigned KHJ to the regional-service frequency of 900 kHz with 1,000 watts of power, where it remained until 1941. At that point, a reorganization of the AM band by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, successor to the FRC) in conjunction with the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement raised KHJ's power to 5,000 watts and moved to 930 kHz, where it continues to operate.
Founded by Charles R. Kierulff, owner of C. R. Kierulff & Company, KHJ was sold to the Times Mirror Company (owner of the Los Angeles Times) in late 1922. For a short time during the late 1920s and early 1930s it was the Los Angeles affiliate and West Coast production hub of the fledgling CBS radio network, the originating station for Bing Crosby's first national network radio show in 1931. CBS would eventually purchase a more-powerful West Coast flagship station, 50,000-watt KNX, and part company with KHJ. The station was then purchased by Don Lee, a local automobile dealer who also owned KFRC (610 AM) in San Francisco and eventually accumulated 21 radio stations. In 1949, the broadcasting company, including KHJ, merged with RKO General. KHJ's call letters were said to stand for "Kindness, Happiness, and Joy".
During Lee's ownership KHJ became the West Coast flagship station of the Mutual Broadcasting System, one of the "big four" radio networks (with CBS, NBC, and ABC) from the 1930s to the 1970s. George Burns, Gracie Allen, and Steve Allen appeared on KHJ, and at one point the station employed a 50-piece orchestra to accompany its musical guests. On a 1931 broadcast (a portion of which survives) KHJ introduced an up-and-coming singer, Bing Crosby. Pat Weaver (president of NBC, creator of The Today Show and The Tonight Show, and father of Sigourney Weaver) was a KHJ announcer.
In April 1965, programming consultant Bill Drake crafted KHJ's top-40 format. Drake hired program director Ron Jacobs, who had created formats in Hawaii and California. The format, known as "Boss Radio", featured a restricted playlist and restrained commentary by announcers (although a few, such as Robert W. Morgan, Charlie Tuna, Humble Harve Miller, and The Real Don Steele, were allowed to develop on-air personalities). Other DJs from this era (1965–1980) included Roger Christian, Gary Mack, Dave Diamond, Beau Weaver, John Leader, Sam Riddle, Johnny Williams, Frank Terry, Johnny Mitchell, Tommy Vance, Scotty Brink, Steve Clark, Bobby Tripp, Tom Maule, and Bill Wade. One defining characteristic of Boss Radio was the jingles by the Johnny Mann Singers. Drake's format spread throughout the United States, bringing high ratings to KFRC in San Francisco, WFIL in Philadelphia, KGB in San Diego, WQXI in Atlanta, WRKO in Boston, and CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (serving Detroit). Drake and his business partner Gene Chenault brought many of their announcers from the other Boss stations, using those stations as a farm system to develop talent.
KHJ's call-in request number used the Los Angeles area code 213 and a 520 exchange, followed by the current year. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the station competed with three other local stations with similar formats: KFI, KTNQ, and Tijuana-based border blaster XETRA-AM (The Mighty 690). KHJ competed with three "soul radio" stations serving the Los Angeles radio market: KDAY, KGFJ, and, from Rosarito, Mexico, XERB.
In mid-1970, a KHJ contest led to a fatality and a large legal judgment against RKO General. That summer, the station ran a series of contests known as the "Super Summer Spectacular". In the contests, the Real Don Steele drove a red car to a particular area and announcers encouraged listeners to find him with clues as to his whereabouts. The first person who found Steele and fulfilled a condition received a cash prize and was interviewed by Steele. The conditions varied, from answering a question to possessing certain items of clothing. An example of an on-air clue was: "The Real Don Steele is moving into Canoga Park — so be on the lookout for him. I'll tell you what will happen if you get to The Real Don Steele. He's got twenty-five dollars to give away if you can get it ... and baby, all signed and sealed and delivered and wrapped up." At the time, KHJ had the largest teenage audience in the Los Angeles area (48 percent, compared to its nearest competitor's 13 percent).
On July 16, 1970, two teenagers, following Steele in separate cars, drove at speeds up to 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) so they could be closest to him when the next clue was announced. One of the teenagers forced another motorist, 32-year-old Ronald Weirum, off the road; Weirum was killed when his car overturned. Weirum's wife and children filed a wrongful-death suit against both teenagers, the manufacturer of Weirum's car, and RKO General. One of the teenagers settled the case before the trial for the limits of his insurance policy. A jury found in favor of the car's manufacturer, but found both the second teenager and RKO General liable for the accident and awarded the plaintiffs $300,000 in damages. RKO General appealed to the California Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict in 1975. The higher court ruled that KHJ negligently created an undue risk to the public by causing a situation in which its listeners were encouraged to race on the roads, and that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that the contest's risk of harm to the public (including Weirum) was foreseeable.
End of an era
The format brought high ratings to the station until the late 1970s, when FM radio became the dominant form of music broadcasting. In November 1980, during the Bob Shannon show, and after the song "Rock and Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)" by Mac Davis was played, KHJ switched from top 40 to a country music format with the slogan "We all grew up to be cowboys". The change attempted to capitalize on the rise of pop-driven country, a trend driven in part by the film Urban Cowboy which was released that year. However, that format lasted only three years. On April 1, 1983, KHJ switched to an oldies format: "The Boss is Back", featuring the original Johnny Mann Singers' Boss Radio jingles. In 1984, KHJ launched "Car Radio 93", a top-40 variant targeted to commuters, featuring traffic reports every ten minutes.
On the evening of January 31, 1986, "Car Radio" DJ Dave Sebastian Williams was joined in the studio by Robert W. Morgan. Participants in KHJ's Boss Radio heyday (DJs M.G. Kelly, Bobby Ocean, and Jimmy Rabbitt, and program director Ron Jacobs) phoned in for a farewell broadcast, playing the songs which had made KHJ a popular AM station in the 1960s and 1970s. The last song played on KHJ was Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets. On February 1 at midnight, the station adopted new call letters KRTH to match those of its FM sister station and a format known as "Smokin' Oldies", featuring hits from the rock and roll era's first decade. The station used "AM 930" as its moniker. With the change, RKO General dismissed about two dozen staff members from both stations.
Switch to Spanish and call-sign problem
RKO General had been under investigation by federal regulators since the 1960s for unethical conduct at its television stations, including KRTH's television sister KHJ-TV (now KCAL-TV). The company was eventually ruled an unfit broadcast licensee, and was compelled by the FCC to sell its broadcast properties. In January 1989, RKO sold KRTH-AM-FM to Beasley Broadcasting for $86.6 million. That October, Beasley spun off the AM station to Liberman Broadcasting for $23 million; this transaction closed in March 1990. During this period, KRTH dropped Smokin' Oldies and simulcast KRTH-FM's broad-based oldies format. Upon closing, KRTH became a full-time Spanish-language station broadcasting a regional Mexican music format branded "Radio Alegria". Liberman changed the station's call letters to KKHJ in honor of its history as KHJ. From November 1997 to January 1999, KKHJ aired a Spanish all-news format, the only one of its kind in the United States. The station's ratings suffered, prompting a return to regional Mexican as "La Ranchera".
Program director Alfredo Rodriguez and chief engineer Jerry Lewine wished to bring back the original KHJ call sign; however, the FCC stopped issuing three-letter call signs to radio stations during the 1930s. Rodriguez and Lewine conceived a plan to convince the FCC to change the station's call sign. Since the Spanish pronunciation of KKHJ's first two letters ("kah-kah") sounded like caca (slang for "feces" in that language), the call letters were pronounced in English for a decade. This was awkward, so the station collected letters from listeners and lobbied the FCC to allow the station to drop one of its letters. The commission allowed the station to return to its original call, KHJ, on March 15, 2000.
Switch to Catholic Radio format
On July 15, 2014, Liberman reached an agreement to sell KHJ to IHR Educational Broadcasting for $9.75 million; the sale was consummated on November 6. At that time, KHJ began Catholic-oriented religious programming; the "La Ranchera" format moved to KWIZ (96.7 FM) in Santa Ana. The format change marked the station returning to English-language programming.
A low-power FM (LPFM) station in Madras, Oregon, KHJA-LP (102.1 FM), was a tribute to the 1960s–1970s era KHJ and used the Los Angeles station's logo, jingles, and "Boss Radio" slogans. (In 2008, it changed its call sign to KGBZ-LP and started re-broadcasting a Spanish Christian network called "Ondas DaVida" from California.) In 2016, a new LPFM in Albany, Oregon was issued the call sign KHJJ-LP on a frequency of 105.3. It adopted the nickname KHJFM as a tribute to the original "93 KHJ" as programmed by Bill Drake. Los Angeles area "Boss Jocks" who worked at the original 93 KHJ are heard on this station.
WKHJ-FM (104.5 FM), a hot adult contemporary station in Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, has always used the "KHJ" nickname. In Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, country station CKHJ used the moniker KHJ until 2019, when it rebranded as "Pure Country".
An aircheck sample of an old KHJ jingle is heard at the beginning of "AM Radio" by Everclear. On his Greatest Stories Live album, Harry Chapin refers to KHJ in "WOLD" ("I am the morning DJ at KHJ, playing all the hits for you, play them night and day") to the audience's delight; the song was probably recorded in a location served by KHJ.
The 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood features the Boss Radio era of KHJ. The movie and official soundtrack album include airchecks of boss jocks Humble Harve and The Real Don Steele as well as original 93 KHJ jingles and advertisements.
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- Los Angeles Times, Aug. 22, 2007, page D6
- Venta, Lance (July 22, 2014). "Immaculate Heart Radio Acquires KHJ". RadioInsight. RadioBB Networks. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Venta, Lance (November 5, 2014). "La Ranchera Moves To FM In Los Angeles". RadioInsight. RadioBB Networks. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Reed, Ryan (July 25, 2019). "Deep Purple, Simon & Garfunkel Highlight 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Soundtrack". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- Official website (Relevant Radio)
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KHJ
- Radio-Locator Information on KHJ
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KHJ
- Reel Radio KHJ 1931 Exhibit (one of the earliest known surviving sound checks of any radio station)
- Boss Radio Forever
- Inside Boss Radio (commercial)
- KHJA-LP in Madras, Oregon
- 93/KHJ Boss Radio: A Look Back A collection of promotional material from KHJ's Boss Radio years