|City of license||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|Broadcast area||Oklahoma City Metroplex|
|Branding||News-Talk 1520 KOKC|
|First air date||December 24, 1922 (as KFJF)
October 28, 1932 (as KOMA)
August 27, 2004 (as KOKC)
|Class||A (clear channel)|
|Callsign meaning||OKlahoma City|
|Former callsigns||KFJF (1922-1932)
|Affiliations||CBS News, Westwood One, Talk Radio Network, WestStar TalkRadio Network, Sooner Sports Network, Radio Oklahoma Network|
|Owner||Ty and Tony Tyler
(Tyler Media, L.L.C.)
|Sister stations||KOMA, KRXO, KMGL, KJKE, KTUZ-FM, KEBC|
KOKC (1520 AM) is a talk radio station located in Oklahoma City. KOKC is an affiliate of the CBS Radio Network. The station's studios are located in Northeast Oklahoma City and a transmitter site is located in Moore. It is locally owned by Tyler Media. KOKC is a Class A station broadcasting on the clear-channel frequency of 1520 kHz.
- 1 History
- 2 OU Sooner sports
- 3 March 2015 tornado tower damage
- 4 Notable alumni
- 5 Other former hosts
- 6 Oklahoma City sister stations
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The early years
Founded by Dudley Shaw, KFJF, as it was first known, started transmitting its 15 watt signal on Christmas Eve, 1922. Originally, the principal function of KFJF was to rebroadcast the programming of larger eastern stations.
By late 1924, KFJF increased its power to 125 watts—reaching as far away as New Jersey, and claimed to have over 100,000 listeners. Three years later, KFJF boosted its signal to 5,000 watts and moved to 1480 on the AM dial.
Birth of KOMA
In 1932, the KFJF call letters were retired and the station became known as KOMA. During this time, KOMA took on its familiar frequency when the Federal Communications Commission moved all AM radio stations 10 to 40 kilohertz up the dial. KOMA 1480 became KOMA 1520, and was operating at 50,000 watts by late 1946. It was around 1932 that the station moved studio facilities to the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. AM facilities were constructed around the NE corner of Kelly and Britton where the present-day Oklahoma Centennial High School sits. KOMA-FM was granted a license on 100.1 FM and went on the air from the Biltmore downtown in the late 1940s.
KOMA was purchased in 1938 by J.T. Griffin, the founder of KWTV. Griffin's son John and his brother-in-law were half of a partnership that was awarded FCC permission to put Channel 9 on the air. KWTV went on the air December 20, 1953, initially broadcasting from a shorter temporary tower on the KWTV studio grounds while the tall tower was under construction. The tall tower was at one time the tallest tower in the world, hence the calls KWTV which stands for World's Tallest Video. From 1953 to 1956, KWTV was operated in conjunction with KOMA.
That relationship was renewed in March 2007 when KOKC ended its news and weather partnership with KFOR-TV in favor of KWTV.
The Storz years
KOMA was in a period of transition—the first of many—when in May 1958, the station ended its long-time affiliation with CBS to become "an independent". Thus was born Oklahoma City's true "Rock N' Roll" music station. (During this time, there was a brief affiliation with NBC.) KOMA was the third station in Oklahoma City to flip to a Top-40 format, behind KOCY and WKY.
In 1961, KOMA became a totally automated station, but by 1964, returned to "live" programming.
Battle with WKY
Even with its 50,000 watt signal, KOMA faced a serious challenge during the 1960s and '70s from cross-town competitor WKY.
Many times WKY was the ratings champ in the Oklahoma City metro area, while KOMA was much better known outside the market - due to nighttime "skywave" conditions on the AM band. 1974, however, was the year of KOMA, as Billboard magazine named the station medium market "station of the year" and Program Director J. Robert Dark was named Billboard's medium market Program Director of the year...finally knocking WKY off the top perch of Oklahoma City radio.
With little adjacent channel interference, KOMA had a tremendous reach with its directional antenna array. In many areas of the Plain States and the West, KOMA was the only Top 40 station serving some rural areas and small town markets.
At night, KOMA had a listenable signal in such far away locales as Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and even Los Angeles. Fans of Rock and Roll and Top 40 music living in North and South Dakota in the 1960s and 1970s, for example, frequently waited until evening to enjoy listening to music on KOMA (as well as KAAY in Little Rock, AR; KSTP-AM in St Paul, MN; WLS in Chicago; or KFYR-AM in Bismarck, ND) from a great distance away.
Changes over the airwaves
KOMA's Top-40 era officially ended on September 12, 1980 when "KOMA Country" was born. The first song played was John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." KOMA would remain in the Storz family until July 1, 1984 when it was purchased by Price Communications.
Price Communications kept KOMA's country format in place until September 1985 when it was determined that FM competition was too much to overcome. KOMA adopted the slogan "Forty Years of Favorites", and specialized in a beautiful music format.
On September 1, 1988, Chicago-based Diamond Broadcasting, Inc. purchased KOMA along with sister station KRXO. On September 22, KOMA returned to the "Glory Days", bringing back the hits of the 1950s and 1960s to a familiar spot on the dial for those who grew up listening to the station.
The KOMA call letters made the transition to 92.5 FM on June 22, 1992 after Diamond Broadcasting entered a local marketing agreement with Wilks Schwartz Broadcasting.
In May 1998, it was announced that KOMA and KRXO were to be purchased by Renda Broadcasting. New state-of-the-art digital studios in northeast Oklahoma City were constructed for the arrival of the legendary station. At 3 PM on November 9, 1998, KOMA began broadcasting from the new location.
The studios ironically once housed KOMA's rival, WKY. Danny Williams, Ronnie Kaye and Fred Hendrickson all worked in the building during the 1970s when they were jocks for WKY.
After 37 years of broadcasting in Moore, KOMA's studios became vacant. The station's three towers and transmitter remain active there.
On July 15, 2012, Ty and Tony Tyler's Tyler Media entered into an agreement with Renda Broadcasting to purchase that company's Oklahoma City radio cluster (KMGL, KOMA, KRXO and KOKC) for $40 million. In accordance to limits imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on the number of radio stations a single broadcasting entity can own in a single market, Tyler sold KTLR and KKNG to WPA Radio for $1.6 million. Tyler's purchase of KOKC and its sister stations was consummated on November 13, 2012.
Transition to talk
In 2002, the station added The Radio Factor and CBS News at the top of the hour, fueling speculation about a move to a news talk format. Late that year, KOMA's parent company, Renda Broadcasting, announced it was discontinuing the simulcast with KOMA-FM.
The launch date for News Talk 1520 KOMA was originally set for Monday, February 3, 2003. However, the disintegration of Space Shuttle Columbia on re-entry prompted the change two days earlier.
End of an era
In an effort to distinguish the station from KOMA-FM, 1520 KOMA changed its call letters to KOKC on August 27, 2004. The call letters had previously been used since the 1950s at KOKC 1490, a station based in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
In February, 2011, KOKC dropped its network affiliation with ABC in favor of CBS. During the 1930s and 1940s, CBS provided the station over 90% of its programming. The station has been affiliated with the network on several occasions, most recently when KOKC (then KOMA) flipped to a news-talk format in 2003. That relationship ended in 2004 in the wake of Rathergate, a disputed CBS news report involving the military service record of then President George W. Bush.
OU Sooner sports
KOKC is the flagship sports station of the University of Oklahoma, covering OU football, men's and women's basketball as well as baseball. In 2007, the locally-produced "Total Sports" debuted in the 4:00-7:00 PM slot with hosts James Hale and former OU 2-time All-American Jimbo Elrod. That program was canceled in July 2009.
KOKC's sister station KRXO is also a flagship station for OU Sooner football.
March 2015 tornado tower damage
On March 25th 2015, two of the station's three towers were destroyed, one other was heavily damaged when a tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma. KOKC's programming was temporarily moved to sister station, KEBC 1560 kHz. KOKC'S owner Tyler Media plans to repair the partially damaged tower and have it operational within the first two weeks of April, while plans are made to replace the other two towers. KOKC engineers were able to utilize the remaining standing, but damaged, tower to transmit the signal at reduced power the following evening. Plans are to bring in a temporary tower to keep the station on the air while the damaged tower is taken down and replacement transmitting towers built.
- Paul Harvey (1918–2009) -- The Rest of the Story
- Curt Gowdy (1919–2006) -- was hired in 1946 by KOMA for play-by-play coverage of OU Sooner football, as well as Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M) basketball games. His distinctive style during his broadcasts in Oklahoma City earned him a national audition and then an opportunity with the New York Yankees in 1949.
- Rod Roddy (1937–2003) -- Announcer, The Price Is Right (1985-2003)
- Charlie Tuna -- KRTH-FM 101.1, Los Angeles, CA
- M.G. Kelly --  Actor/Syndicated DJ
- John Peel aka John Ravenscroft (1939–2004) -- KOMA's "Beatle Expert" from 1964–1966; later a respected disc jockey, radio presenter, and journalist in the U.K.
- Danny Williams (1927-2013) Program Director of 1520 KOMA's Top-40 rival, WKY. He began his legendary career in Oklahoma City in 1950, and would stay at WKY until his first "retirement" in 1979. He returned to the airwaves in June, 1992 on KOMA AM-FM. At the age of 81, he retired from 92.5 KOMA on August 29, 2008 after spending the last 16 years as the morning drive personality.
- Ernest Istook, a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for the 5th District of Oklahoma. Istook was a member of the Appropriations and the Homeland Security committees. He was the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2006, running against incumbent Democrat Gov. Brad Henry. Istook lost the gubernatorial race. During the 1970s, Istook worked as a radio news reporter at KOMA.
Other former hosts
Former local news and talk show hosts include Billie Rodely, Jim Palmer and Carol Arnold.
Oklahoma City sister stations
- KOMA 92.5 FM - Classic Hits
- KRXO 107.7 FM - Sports
- KMGL 104.1 FM - Adult Contemporary
- KJKE 93.3 FM - Country
- KTUZ 106.7 FM - Spanish
- KEBC 1560 AM - Sports
- "KFJF Now KOMA" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 1, 1932. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- Is Renda Cashing Out?, RadioInk, July 16, 2012.
- In Oklahoma City, Tyler spins two so it can buy four from Renda (for $40M), RadioInfo, July 16, 2012.
- "1520 AM Signal off the air".
- Brewer, Graham Lee (March 26, 2015). "Moore radio towers destroyed in tornado had been standing for decades". The Oklahoman. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Talk Radio 1520 KOKC Website
- Old pictures info and airchecks
- Query the FCC's AM station database for KOKC
- Radio-Locator Information on KOKC
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for KOKC
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with Danny Williams. First person interview conducted on June 18, 2009 with Oklahoma broadcast legend, Danny Williams. Original audio and transcript archived with Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.
- WABC and KOMA jingles by PAM's of Dallas, TX being created