KYMS was one of the first "album rock" FM stations in Southern California, before becoming the first contemporary Christian music station, broadcasting at 106.3 MHz FM, based in Orange, California, and licensed to the city of Santa Ana, CA. It broadcast Christian programming for twenty years, from 1975 until its sale in 1995.
At its peak, KYMS was one of the two most popular Christian music stations in the United States.
KYMS's rock format was similar to that of Los Angeles-based KMET during that period.
In its early days as a Christian broadcaster, KYMS was a reflection of the Jesus Movement, including the music, teaching, and culture of those new believers. The station focused on the "Jesus Music" that had been growing during the first half of the decade. Featuring artists of the Maranatha! Music label, as well as other ground-breaking Jesus music publishers, the station featured music, but did much more. Other program content focused on evangelism, Christian apologetics (defense of the faith), and Bible study. Some of the DJs would ask for phone-in prayer requests, and then take a time during their program to actually pray for the requests that were called in.
A popular program on Saturday nights in the late 1970s was The Bible Answer Man, hosted by Walter Martin. A Monday through Friday daily broadcast at 9:15 am featured "A quarter-hour-of-encouragement with Brother Roland " (Roland Henderson). Brother Roland became a KYMS staple within six weeks of its first broadcast. A mix of contemporary Christian music (such as Chuck Girard) blended with live call-ins from listeners needing encouragement or simply "praise reports". The tonality of this program was evangelistic, warm and very personal. Brother Roland represented a local church, Crossroads Of Revival, a Pentecostal persuasion. Brother Roland turned the program over to Pastor Chuck Kruse in the spring of 1977.
The feel of the station in this era was not always polished, and never fast-paced, but was intensely sincere, a good match for the style of music that was available for them to play.
The music was rather mellow, known as Adult Contemporary. Artists then included Chuck Girard, Phil Keaggy, B.J. Thomas, and Albrecht, Roley, & Moore. The Saturday night live weekly concerts from Calvary Chapel continued, but were later replaced in 1982 by an alternative rock program called "Real Radio," hosted by Gord Driver. He also produced an album for a band called The Imitators. Around 1983, the program name "Real Radio" was changed to "The Edge," with no obvious change in the format.
In 1983, Program Director Greg Fast changed the direction of the station by giving it more of a "Top 40" feel. Still playing Christian music, the music was more upbeat, and the morning show was comical, entertaining and known as "The Breakfast Club." 1983-1985 were the most popular years of KYMS. They were then known as "Radio With Love." Popular groups and artists were Randy Stonehill, Steve Taylor, Undercover, Allies (band), Steve Camp, Amy Grant, Twila Paris, 4-4-1, Youth Choir, U2, Rez (formerly Resurrection Band), Cruse, Steve Archer, Kathy Troccoli, and Quickflight. Air personalities included Greg Fast, Jami Mayberry, Bill Ewing, Jimmy Hodson, Bob Turnbull, Lane McAllister, Roger Marsh, Curt Morse, Don Murray, Steve Peterson, Kevin Allison ("The Ground Floor" radio program), Mark Martinez, Robin Keith, Rick Dolezal and Mike Reynolds.
Reynolds even produced a radio ad for Harrison Sales And Leasing and wrote "The Larry Harrison Rap," borrowing beats from a 1984 Steve Arrington tune (Turn Up the Love). Other major sponsors through the years included Dr. Dale Rosenblum (a podiatrist), Metro Car Wash (featuring the characters "Bubbles" and "Suds"), Rings of Gold (jewelers), and Fountain Valley Skating Center. Many young people flocked to Newport Beach on Friday nights as "Lighthouse One," a daytime-food-court-turned-dancing-establishment existed. KYMS music was played, later adding some non-Christian songs which caused a little controversy. However, no alcohol was served.
Many skating rinks in and around Orange County featured a weekly "Christian Music Skate Night" in which KYMS hits were played. In addition to Fountain Valley, there was Skateway in Placentia & Cypress, Holiday Skating Center in Orange, Skate Depot in Cerritos, and Skate Station in Anaheim. Most skate nights were either on Mondays or Tuesdays.
By 1985, KYMS slowly dropped the hit-sounding format, and returned to more of an Adult Contemporary feel. Their new slogan was "Someone To Turn To".
The on-hour station identification "jingle" in 1976 was also characteristic of the evangelistic enthusiasm of new believers belonging to the Jesus movement. It featured a brief clip of a song (singing, "Jesus is coming back!"), and then the announcer (Station Manager and architect of the format, Arnie McClatchey) said, "It's a new song: The Gift of 106, KYMS, Santa Ana. Call a friend now, and tell them the Good News!"
Other clips that ran between songs or at station identification breaks took the approach of a man-on-the-street interview, asking the question, "And how do you know that Jesus is real in your life?" They would then play the recorded response from someone who had been asked this question, sometimes ending with the same encouragement to the listener to call a friend and tell that friend about Jesus.
During 1977, the musical announcements gradually changed to say "There's a new song going on, on the Gift of 106, KYMS, Santa Ana". And by late in 1977, the station identification was professionally produced and performed, becoming more of a true radio jingle. Rather than voicing over an existing piece of music, this music and singing was specifically created for the station:
- There's a brand new song going on
- And the notes reach up to heaven
- To hear, you just turn it on
- Your heart will reach towards heaven
- The Gift of 106 (the gift of 106),
- [spoken] Santa Ana
This style ran through the remainder of 1977 and into 1978-79.
In the early 1980s, their slogan was "Bringin' A New Song."
- We're bringin', we're bringin',
- We're bringin' a new song
- We're bringin' a new song (bringin' a new song)
- We're singin' a new song
- He puts the song inside
- When He sets you free
- One oh six point three, K-Y-M-S
- We're bringin', we're bringin',
- We're bringin' a new song!
This on-the-hour station identification jingle took nearly forty seconds to deliver its message.
By the mid-80's, the station began to brand itself as "Someone To Turn To," with an expanded jingle:
- If you're feelin' lonely
- And there's no one to turn to,
- There's always an answer,
- and it's right in front of you.
- Call upon my voice,
- Let me guide you in the dark.
- Help's around the corner,
- if you open up your heart.
- I am someone you can turn to,
- I am someone, someone you can turn to,
In the early 1990s, the station referred to itself as "Eagle 106.3", and its on-the-hour ID mentioned the Interstate Broadcasting System.
End of an era
In 1995, Interstate Broadcasting sold KYMS to Multi Cultural Broadcasting for $9.1 million. The new owners promptly converted the station to international programming. Today the station is known as KALI-FM, Santa Ana, CA.
- ."Multi Cultural Broadcasting to buy KYMS-FM, Santa Ana, California, for $9.1 million"