|Broadcast area||Oklahoma City Metroplex|
|Branding||Talk Radio's New Generation|
|Affiliations||CBS News Radio, Fox News Radio, Radio Oklahoma Network, Sooner Sports Network, WestStar TalkRadio Network,|
|Owner||Tyler Media Group|
|KEBC, KJKE, KMGL, KOMA, KRXO-FM, KTUZ-FM|
First air date
|December 24, 1922 (as KFJF)|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|K OKlahoma City|
|Class||A (clear channel)|
|Power||50,000 watts |
10,000 watts (Special Temporary Authority)
|Translator(s)||95.3 K237GE Oklahoma City|
KOKC (1520 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in Oklahoma City. It is locally owned by the Tyler Media Group and airs a Talk radio format. The studios and offices are located on East Britton Road in Northeast Oklahoma City.
The transmitter site is off SW 4th Street in Moore. KOKC is a Class A clear channel station, broadcasting at the maximum power for commercial AM stations, 50,000 watts. By day, the signal is non-directional. But at night, to protect WWKB Buffalo, New York, the other Class A station on AM 1520, KOKC must use a directional antenna. With a good radio, KOKC can be heard across much of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states at night. It is Central Oklahoma's primary entry point station for the Emergency Alert System.
KOKC carries mostly syndicated conservative talk programs. Weekdays begin with America in the Morning, a news and information show. That's followed by Brian Kilmeade, Markely, Van Camp and Robbins, Dana Loesch, Chad Benson and Red Eye Radio. On weekends, the station features shows on Health, Money, Home Repair, the Outdoors and Pets. Syndicated shows on weekends include Clark Howard and Kim Komando, as well as repeats of weekday shows. Most hours begin with world and national news from CBS News.
Founded by Dudley Shaw, KFJF signed on 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, claiming to have over 100,000 listeners.
Three years later, KFJF boosted its signal to 5,000 watts and moved to 1480 kilocycles. It was owned by the National Radio Manufacturing Company. It was around 1932 that the station moved its studios to the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.
KOMA was purchased in 1938 by J.T. Griffin, who also owned the Griffin Grocery Company, which made condiments and baking products for distribution around the region.
Birth of KOMA
In 1932, the station switched its call sign to KOMA. In 1941, the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) was enacted. That moved KOMA to 1520 kHz. KOMA became an affiliate of the CBS Radio Network. It carried the CBS line up of dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows and big band broadcasts during the "Golden Age of Radio."
KOMA began operating at 50,000 watts by late 1946. The towers were constructed around the northeast corner of Kelly and Britton where the present-day Oklahoma Centennial High School sits. KOMA-FM was granted a license on 105.9 MHz and went on the air in the 1948. It mostly simulcast the AM station, but management didn't see much future in FM broadcasting and gave up the station by the late 1950s.
KWTV went on the air December 20, 1953. J.T. Griffin, along with Griffin's son John and his brother-in-law, were all involved in securing a construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission to start the television station. It initially broadcast from a shorter temporary tower on the studio grounds while the permanent tower was under construction. The new Channel 9 tower was at one time the tallest tower in the world, at 1572 feet (429 meters). The call sign KWTV was chosen, instead of KOMA-TV, to stand for World's Tallest Video.
Top 40 years
By the late 1950s, network programming was moving from radio to television. In May 1958, KOMA ended its long-time affiliation with CBS to become "an independent." (There was a brief affiliation with NBC Radio.) KOMA management decided to turn from serving adults to focusing on the growing youth market. The station became the third in Oklahoma City to flip to a Top 40 format, behind KOCY and WKY.
Todd Storz, one of the early pioneers in Top 40 radio, purchased KOMA in 1958. He added it to his list of hit radio stations, included WHB in Kansas City, KXOK in St. Louis, WTIX in New Orleans, WDGY in Minneapolis and WQAM in Miami.
Prior to the sale to Storz, a preliminary agreement was reached with Gordon McLendon in February 1958 to purchase the station. Had the McLendon sale been approved, KOMA would have been co-owned with KLIF in Dallas and KILT in Houston. McLendon is widely credited for perfecting, during the 1950s and 1960s, the commercially successful Top 40 radio format created by Storz.
In 1961, KOMA became an 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. In 1974, Billboard magazine named KOMA the 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 50,000 watt signal. In many areas of the plain states and the West, KOMA was the only Top 40 station serving some rural areas and small towns. At night, KOMA could be picked up in such far away locales as Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Phoenix. Fans of rock 'n' 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 from a great distance away.
Country, Adult Standards, Oldies
KOMA's Top 40 era officially ended on September 12, 1980, when the station flipped to country music, and "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. By the 1980s, many country music listeners were shifting from AM to FM stations.
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 an adult standards format.
On September 1, 1988, Chicago-based Diamond Broadcasting, Inc. purchased KOMA along with sister station KRXO. On September 22, KOMA returned to its glory days by switching to an oldies format, 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 (LMA) with Wilks Schwartz Broadcasting, which owned that FM station. It was the first agreement of its kind in the OKC area; listeners now could hear their favorite oldies on either the AM or FM station.
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 p.m. 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 disc jockeys for WKY.
After 37 years of broadcasting in Moore, KOMA's studios became vacant and remained unoccupied until 2016, when the building was razed. KOKC's tower and transmitter facility remain at the former site.
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.
Switch to Talk
In 2002, the station added The Radio Factor with Fox News Channel star Bill O'Reilly as well as CBS Radio News at the top of the hour, fueling speculation about a move to a talk format. Later that year, KOMA's then parent company, Renda Broadcasting, announced it was discontinuing the simulcast with KOMA-FM. The oldies format would remain on the FM station while the AM station would switch to all-talk.
The launch date for the talk format was originally set for Monday, February 3, 2003. However, the disintegration of Space Shuttle Columbia on re-entry prompted the change two days earlier.
In an effort to distinguish the station from the oldies programming on KOMA-FM, 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 2004, KOKC switched its news network to ABC a short time later.
In February 2011, KOKC dropped its network affiliation with ABC, returning to 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.
In September 2017, KOKC dropped CBS News once again, and changed network affiliation to Westwood One News. On August 30, 2020, KOKC returned to CBS after Westwood One News ended operations. In January 2020, the station laid off its local morning and afternoon hosts, and now airs primarily syndicated talk programming.
For more than 20 years, KOKC was the flagship station of University of Oklahoma sports, covering OU football, men's and women's basketball as well as baseball. Much of that programming has been shifted to KOKC's all-sports sister station, KRXO.
March 2015 Tornado
On March 25, 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. KOKC engineers were able to utilize the remaining standing, but damaged, tower to transmit the signal at reduced power.
- 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 (1944–2016) – KRTH-FM 101.1, Los Angeles, California
- 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.
Oklahoma City sister stations
- KOMA 92.5 FM – Classic Hits
- KRXO-FM 107.7 FM – Sports
- KMGL 104.1 FM – Adult Contemporary
- KJKE 93.3 FM – Country
- KTUZ 106.7 FM – Regional Mexican
- KEBC 1560 AM – Sports
|City of license||Facility
|K237GE||95.3 MHz||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||143059||250||302 m (991 ft)||D||FCC|
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1935 page 50
- "KFJF Now KOMA" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 1, 1932. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1950 page 246
- Broadcasting Magazine, "Closed Circuit", page 5 February 10, 1958
- Is Renda Cashing Out? Archived 2013-12-16 at the Wayback Machine, RadioInk, July 16, 2012.
- In Oklahoma City, Tyler spins two so it can buy four from Renda (for $40M) Archived 2012-07-22 at the Wayback Machine, RadioInfo, July 16, 2012.
- Renda Sells Oklahoma City Cluster RadioInsight July 16, 2012
- Talk Radio 1520 KOKC Website
- KOKC in the FCC's AM station database
- KOKC on Radio-Locator
- KOKC in Nielsen Audio's AM station database
- FCC History Cards for KOKC
- K237GE in the FCC's FM station database
- K237GE on Radio-Locator
- Old pictures info and airchecks
- 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
- Gordon McLendon's obit