WKBF (AM)

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WKBF
WKBF LaJefa1270-105.7 logo.jpg
CityRock Island, Illinois
Broadcast areaQuad Cities
BrandingLa Jefa 1270
Frequency1270 kHz
Translator(s)(see section)
First air dateFebruary 1925 (as WHBF)
FormatTraditional Mexican Music
Power5,000 watts
(1 tower Day)
(2 towers Night)
ClassB
Facility ID8593
Callsign meaningWhere Historic Blackhawk Fought (original callsign)
Former callsignsWHBF (1925[1]-1987)[2]
OwnerLa Jefa Latino Broadcasting

WKBF is a radio station licensed to Rock Island, Illinois, and carries a Spanish Regional Music format. The station's frequency is 1270 kHz, and broadcasts at a power of 5 kW. Its transmitter is located on 22nd Avenue (Old Colona Road) in Moline, alongside the Moline–East Moline border just off 53rd Street and Avenue of the Cities.

WKBF is currently owned by La Jefa Latino Broadcasting.

Station history[edit]

Early history[edit]

The history of the station dates to 1925, when businessman Calvin Beardsley purchased an experimental radio transmitter that operated in Cambridge, Illinois. He took the equipment and set it up at the rear of his store in Rock Island.

The station was first licensed on February 20, 1925, using the callsign WHBF and broadcasting 100 watts at 1350 kHz.[1] The letters were said to stand for "Where Historic Blackhawk Fought."[3]

The station changed frequency to 1210 kHz in November 1928.[1] The station moved to the Harms Hotel in Rock Island in 1932. In November of that year, Beardsley sold interest in his station to the John Potter family, which operated the Rock Island Argus.[4] In 1939, the station changed frequency to 1240 kHz, and increased power to 1,000 watts, 24 hours a day, with a directional array at night.[1] In 1940, the station's power was increased to 5,000, with a directional array, day and night, and in 1941, the station changed frequency to its current position at 1270 kHz.[1]

WHBF was joined by a sister FM radio station - WHBF-FM, the first in the Quad Cities - in October 1947, and a television station went on the air in July 1950. By now, all three facilities were located in the Telco Building in downtown Rock Island.

WHBF underwent many format changes since the end of the Golden Age of Radio. During the 1960s and early 1970s the station aired a middle-of-the-road, adult standards format.[3]

1974-1995: 'Country Sunshine' Era[edit]

The station's signature format for many years was country music. From 1974 to 1995, the station was known as "Country Sunshine Radio", and aired both current and classic country music.[3]

WHBF first adopted the country format in 1974, and for years was among the top-rated stations in the Quad Cities market, alongside powerhouses KSTT and KIIK 104.

But by the mid-1980s and the explosive growth of FM radio, WHBF's listenership began to wane. WLLR-FM, which began broadcasting its country format at the Quad-Cities market's 101.3 MHz in 1983, began to erode WHBF's listenership and by the end of the 1980s, WLLR was the overall top-rated overall station in the market. Meanwhile, 1270 kHz - which changed to WKBF in March 1987[2] - would never regain its former popularity.

WKBF's country format struggled through the early 1990s, getting most of its programming from the ABC Radio Networks' "Real Country" satellite service. In 1994, management was in negotiations with Steve Bridges of 99.7 KFMH to move its progressive music format and its staff to 1270 after that station was sold, but nothing ever came of it. By 1995, with WKBF at the bottom of the ratings for several years, station managers finally decided to lay the country station to rest.

Format shuffle[edit]

For a year, WKBF simulcasted WHTS-FM's Top 40 format.[3] In September 1996, the station premiered an adult standards/MOR format at the frequency,[3] although virtually all of its programming was from ABC Radio Networks. However, this format's listenership remained minimal.

In February 2004, programmers with the Quad-City Radio Group - which by now was operating the station - decided to use the frequency for a country recurrents format. WKBF played country favorites from the 1970s through 1990s, but the station's format failed to entice listeners.

WKBF's next format - a liberal talk format - premiered on the frequency in March 2005. The station's primary programming came from Air America Radio,[5] with hosts including Al Franken,[3] Stephanie Miller and Mark Riley. Despite all the format changes, one carryover program remained: "Croonerville", a Sunday morning program of adult standards hosted by local personality Charlie Honold;[5] the program premiered on WKBF in 1996 and ran for 10 years. While the switch to progressive talk provided a modest boost to WKBF's ratings (reaching a 2.6 share in the fall 2005 Arbitron) the station was sold and promptly became an outlet for Christian talk.

2006-2007: Christian Talk era[edit]

Prior to 2006, WKBF (and sister station WHTS) were owned by Mercury Broadcasting, and was operated by a joint sales agreement with Clear Channel Communications.[5]

In October 2006, it was announced the station would be acquired by Quad Cities Media, for a purchase price of $150,000 and would go Christian talk by the end of the year.[5] On December 5, the station switched to an all-Christmas format, the prelude to a Christian-oriented lineup. Known as "Truth 1270," the primary focus was on Christian preaching and teaching; sacred music was provided by AbidingRadio at night and early morning.

The format lasted until June 21, signing off at 11:59 p.m. with a 100-year-old recording of Ira Sankey singing "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."

During the "Truth 1270" era, WKBF became the Quad City market's first radio station to go digital, with the CAM-D technology.

2007-2018: Regional Mexican era[edit]

On June 22, 2007, WKBF debuted "La Pantera", a regional Mexican format,[3] thus becoming the first full-time Spanish radio station in the Quad Cities. While most of the broadcast day featured regional Mexican music, in the mornings, from 6am to 7am, WKBF broadcast Spanish religious programming like Gracias a Vosotros and Enfoque a la Familia.[3]

During 2007, WKBF broadcast high school and Iowa State University sports broadcasts, and Quad Cities River Bandits baseball games in the English language, alongside its Spanish-language programming; the sports programming has since moved to other stations in the market, and the station is now exclusively Spanish language.

From March through June 2008, WKBF dropped Regional Mexican for all-Christian Spanish programming from the Bible Broadcasting Network's Spanish network Red de Radiodifusión Bíblica.

In June 2008, WKBF was sold to La Jefa Latino Broadcasting,[6] for a purchase price of $680,000.[7] La Jefa continued the Regional Mexican format, under the La Jefa brand as opposed to the La Pantera brand. By January 2010, WKBF was the 2nd most listened to AM station in the entire Quad Cities market with a 1.9 share.[8]

The station currently calls itself "La Jefa" (Spanish for "The Boss Lady")[6]

In early 2013, WKBF – which had been broadcasting on an FM translator at 105.7 MHz in the Quad Cities, applied to the Federal Communications Corporation to move the transmitter to Moline, Illinois (from Davenport) and upgrade its power from 10 watts to 250 watts.[9]

2018-present: Recent developments[edit]

In the fall of 2018, the translator frequency (along with 1270 AM) went silent; that December, announcement of the sale of the FM translator to Augustana College was made, with plans to relocate the transmitter and serve it as the repeater for WVIK’s forthcoming HD2 programming.[10] Meanwhile, nothing has been announced about the status of 1270 AM or its future, or why the frequency has been silent.

History of call letters[edit]

The call letters WKBF were previously assigned to an AM station in Indianapolis, Indiana. That station became WIRE in the 1930s.[11]

Translators[edit]

Call sign Frequency
(MHz)
City of license ERP
W
Height
m (ft)
Class FCC info
K289BI 105.7 Davenport, Iowa 250 126.8 m (416 ft) D FCC

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e History Cards for WKBF, fcc.gov. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Call Sign History, fcc.gov. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Burke, David. "WKBF radio flips to Spanish format", Quad-City Times, June 22, 2007. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  4. ^ "Newspaper Buys WHBF" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 1, 1932. p. 11. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Burke, David. "WKBF goes Christian talk", Quad-City Times, October 20, 2006. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Burke, David. "WKBF-AM radio sold to Hispanic broadcasters", Quad-City Times, June 18, 2008. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  7. ^ Asset Purchase Agreement, fcc.gov. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Burke, David, "Why the Q-C mentions in recent movies, TV?" Quad-City Times, January 5, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Jacobson, Adam, "Unkefer Unloads A Silent FM Translator," Radio and Television Business Report, December 5, 2018. Accessed 12-26-2018. [2]
  11. ^ "WIRE on Basic Red" (PDF). Broadcasting. May 1, 1935. p. 6. Retrieved May 28, 2018.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°29′40″N 90°28′00″W / 41.49444°N 90.46667°W / 41.49444; -90.46667