|This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (August 2010)|
KXOA was a Sacramento, California, United States, radio station that existed on both AM and FM (in various incarnations) between 1945 and 2004. It was mainly a Top 40 station for most of its AM existence and programmed a very successful "light rock" format that lasted nearly two decades, but also experimented with other formats on both AM and FM.
KXOA began broadcasting in 1945. Originally, the station was located on the 1490 kHz frequency on the AM dial, but moved to 1470 a few years after its debut. The original programming can be described as traditional MOR/block programming.
In the early 1950s there was also KXOB (1280 kHz, Stockton) and KXOC (1060 kHz, Chico) which, along with KXOA, were affiliates of the Mutual Don Lee (MBS) radio network. It is likely these stations had common ownership. Later, KXOB became KJOY, and KXOC became KPAY. (Cf. various editions, White's Radio Log)
In the late 1950s, KXOA changed to a Top 40 format. The station battled KGMS (1380) and Stockton-based KGDM (1140) for success in reaching the teen audience. KXOA would beat both of these stations for ratings success. The aforementioned stations would change to MOR and Country (as KRAK), respectively, in the early 1960s. However, KXOA’s major battle took place when KROY (1240) changed to Top 40 in February 1960.
In the early 1960s, KROY easily beat KXOA in the ratings. By 1965, KXOA began to beat KROY in the ratings, by hiring some of its key talent. The station also featured a one-hour Progressive rock show nightly known as the Gear Hour, where the latest British music was featured. The show also included album cuts from established American artists. Notable members of KXOA's Top 40 air staff included
- Charlie Holliday,
- Sean O'Callaghan,
- Les Thompson – the station's program director during most of the period,
- Dick "Buffalo" Burch,
- Johnny Hyde - who programmed the "Gear Hour,"
- Buck Herring,
- Bob Early (real name Bob Elliott),
- Jerry Gordon,
- B. Winchell Clay, (Bud Zumwalt)
- Jeff Kingston,
- Tony King - real name Pete Gross, who later became the first "voice" of the Seattle Seahawks,
- Bill Whitman - who later became a "voice" at CBS,
- Brian Beirne, the station's news director in the late 1960s who later became "Mr. Rock n' Roll" at K-EARTH in Los Angeles,
- newscaster Mike Pulsipher, who later joined CBS Radio,
- Don Imus – whose first claim to fame came there.
In 1968, KROY altered its Top-40 format to be more fast-paced and slick, as it installed a “Bill Drake”-styled approach with the nickname “Music Power”. KROY also hired some of KXOA’s key air talent. KROY’s format adjustment had a drastic ratings effect on KXOA. By late May 1970, KXOA shifted its format from Top 40 to Adult Contemporary mixed with oldies.
It was about that time that KXOA was forced to move both its studios and transmitters from 1470 Leisure Lane to make way for an expanded Interstate 80 freeway and interchange that were eventually never built. Both the AM and FM station moved a mile to the west to Commerce Circle while the transmitters were moved a mile to the south into the American River floodplain. The AM station continued to broadcast 5,000 daytime watts with 1,000 nighttime directional watts. The FM transmitter was broadcasting at 100,000 watts. Listeners found the relocated AM signal weaker, especially at night.[not in citation given]
Sweet as KaNDiE
In December 1970, KXOA was sold to a group of investors associated with Progressive Rock-formatted KSJO in San Jose. On January 8, 1971 at 12:01 AM, the new owners changed the format to Progressive Rock. The call letters were changed to KNDE. As a progressive station, air personalities included Patrick Moore, Don Wright, and "The Kandie Man", a takeoff on Wolfman Jack, handled by Jon Peters. When the progressive format on AM failed to catch on, the station switched to Top 40, hiring former KROY personalities Dave Williams, Steve Moore, Kevin Manna, and Rick Rossi. During the mid-1970s, KNDE moved ahead of KROY but eventually lost the ratings war until September 28, 1978, when new owner Brown Broadcasting changed KNDE to Album Oriented Rock.
Back to KXOA
The call letters were changed back to KXOA, and the station named “AM 14, The Rockin’ Home”. The new station featured laid-back announcers and mainstream AOR. The owners began a television commercial blitz to promote the new station. The commercials were generally run during prime time news updates on network television stations.
The new station featured a former KZAP staffer (“Marla in the Morning”) during the AM drive time. Additionally, the station featured commercial-free Friday evenings as part of its programming. It also featured a syndicated AOR top-track countdown each Sunday evening called the Great American Radio Show. Mike Harrison hosted the show, and he eventually went on to publish Talkers magazine, which was aimed at the talk radio industry.
KXOA’s mainstream AOR format was not successful, especially with the emergence of KZAP-FM's Kent Burkhart/Lee Abrams consulted AOR format and only lasted until mid-summer 1979. At that time, the station began to move to a softer Adult Contemporary format similar to KXOA-FM.
Top 40 1470 KXOA goes oldies as 14K
By February 1980, the station was back to Top 40 with new Program Director Terry Nelson returning to Sacramento from KFRC in San Francisco. Nelson had great success at KROY as both an air talent and Program Director and brought in many deejays from that station including, Kris Mitchell, Bryan Davis, former KROY-FM Program Director Steve Michaels and Russ “The Moose” Martin. The lineup was Terry Nelson in morning drive, Bryan Davis in midday's, C.J. Stone of KREM in Spokane for afternoon's and former KNDE morning man Jeff Hunter at night. In September 1980, under pressure from those in control of sister station KGB AM known as "13K" in San Diego, KXOA began promoting itself as “The New 14K, Sacramento's Greatest Hits.” It was a Gold-based format playing a small rotation of current music. With the increasing popularity of FM as a vehicle for Contemporary Hits, the audience share for that station dropped (as it did for KROY). In February 1982, the station dropped the “14K” tagline and the management changed the format once again. Music Director Kris Mitchell moved on to New Mexico and became a station owner. Bryan Davis became Bryan Simmons, the long-running afternoon deejay at one of the nation's top Adult Contemporary stations, KOST-FM in Los Angeles.
On March 15, 1982, KXOA-AM became a MOR/Big Band station that carried the syndicated “Music of Your Life” format. The format was a success. The format appealed to people in the 35-64 demographic, and featured MOR artists and Big Band music. KGMS (1380) attempted a similar format a few months later, but was unsuccessful.
KXOA continued with the format until summer 1988 when the station adopted a syndicated “Business News” format. It was not successful. In 1990, KXOA again adopted a 1950s and 1960s oldies format, with the nickname of “Cruisin’1470”. The format continued until early 1999.
At that time, the KXOA call letters were transferred to 93.7 FM. 1470 AM switched its call letters to KRAK and took on a Classic Country/Western format along with the nationally syndicated Don Imus show during the morning drive.
- KXOA - 1971 to 1983