Powerhouse AM Top 40 Station: KRLA - Los Angeles [Now with vintage KRLA surveys!]

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Bob Lovely, Apr 19, 2004.

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  1. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Powerhouse AM Top 40 Station: KRLA - Los Angeles

    Friends,

    Time to move west and feature one of the more influential stations of the golden age of AM Top 40 Radio. When one thinks of vintage Top 40 Radio in Los Angeles, there were choices - the Bill Drake programmed KHJ with it's more tight playlists and and KFWB. However, based upon my research, the "cutting edge" Top 40 station in the "southland" was KRLA. KRLA [now KDIS] operated on a frequency of 1110kHz with daytime power of 50,000w and nighttime power of 10,000w [now 20,000w]. Both signal patterns are directional as KRLA has to "protect" KFAB in Omaha at night. Back the 1960's, KFAB complained to the FCC about nighttime interference from KRLA. Eventually, this mystery was solved. Here is an historical account:

    "KFAB had demanded a cancellation array for KRLA because of ongoing "interference" being received at Omaha, hence the 90, 135, 135 and 180 night array.

    "But, when the new array wouldn't prevent the observed interference, KRLA blamed it on the existing and new SCE 220 kV transmission lines running almost parallel to the KRLA night array. SCE said their transmission lines weren't the problem, and that the problem was actually self-caused, by the south towers (part of the new DA-D array) thereby compromising the DA-N array.

    Ah, a clue.

    Instability of the DA-N array was indeed observed and characterized. In order to prove SCE wrong, KRLA removed the two south towers! This was acceptable as KRLA always had a license to operate its night DA during days, and it always operated the night DA all day Tuesday, meaning, effectively, from local sunset on Monday until local sunrise in Wednesday, thereby giving them a LOT of time to take FIM measurements on the night DA.

    After the south towers were on the ground, FIM measurements were taken and there was no DA-N instability. Therefore, the south towers were NOT the problem, and SCE was f**ced to detune all its 220 kV transmission towers."


    The history of KRLA is not without some intrigue and drama. Here is an account:

    "KRLA was a legendary station in the Los Angeles market. Perhaps, around the country KFWB or KHJ are better known. But in Los Angeles, there was no more creative a spot on the dial as 1110.

    Especially during the late 1950s and early to mid-1960s, when it was battling KFWB for the "Top Rocker" spot, KRLA was indeed a major force. After KHJ introduced "Boss Radio" in 1965, KRLA found competing in the format rougher, and when the license was put in jeopardy, it got worse yet, financially. The license was "pulled" by the FCC and granted to Oak Knoll Broadcasting. This corporation was set up as a non-profit to hold the license when it was taken from Jack Kent Cooke for violations of the FCC Rules on contest fraud, and foreign control of a US radio station. Some of the most creative parts of KRLA history occurred during this time, both on the air and in the accounting department.Oddly, as is often the case, the financial difficulties opened the way for some very creative people to come through the station, and the programming in the later 1960s and 1970s ranged from "Bubblegum" rock to "underground" music to oldies and then talk. Possibly due to the "passing" of AM radio as a major music force, the station was never able to fully regain its former status, although several entrepreneurs made efforts to milk what they could from KRLA's image.

    Today, 1110 in LA is an affiliate of Disney satellite radio, KDIS, and seems almost disconnected from the earlier station history. But for those who worked there in the 1960s and early 1970s, KRLA was as exciting to work for as to listen to."


    Being located in the large and powerful southern California market, KRLA was blessed with some very talented on-air talent including: The "Real" Don Steele, Casey Kasem, Dave Hull, Bob Dayton, Chicago transplant - Dick Biondi and many others. You can listen to vintage KRLA airchecks here:

    http://www.reelradio.com/findit/findit.cgi Just type in: KRLA

    Personally, I never got to hear and experience KRLA. I would appreciate those of you who did to please share your remembrances of this "special" station with all of us. Many thanks!

    Bob :)

    Below is the KRLA nighttime signal pattern. Please note the directional nature of the signal and the extended propagation over the Pacific Ocean caused by the high conductivity of sea water:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Back in the the golden years of KRLA, the transmitter was located in El Monte [pictured below]. The transmitter is now located in Irwindale...
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    For a time, KRLA was automated and the main board was moved and set up at the transmitter site...
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Great stuff Bob. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I have very fond memories of KRLA from the mid 60's to the early 70's. Fantastic pictures!!!
     
  5. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Thanks Rocky!

    Bob :)
     
  6. diskguy

    diskguy Member

    Location:
    so cal coast
    Great Info Bob. Really jogs my braincells.

    My most vivid memory of KRLA was listening to Dave Hull "The Hullabalooer" about the time the Beatles made their appearance. If memory serves me correctly, they claimed exclusive debut to Beatles songs in the LA area. At least that's where I heard most of them first.

    Didn't KRLA turn to "talk-radio" in the 70's?
     
  7. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    I believe KRLA went through a number of format changes after it's Top 40 run...

    Bob :)
     
  8. Stax Fan

    Stax Fan Active Member

    Location:
    Midwest
    Thanks for the KRLA lowdown, Bob! The first time I heard of KRLA was from the Bobby Fuller Four "KRLA King Of The Wheels" LP.

    Sounds like they had a pretty colorful staff out there. LA radio must've really been something back then.

    If somebody could only come up with a time machine, mid-1960's LA would definitely make for a nifty visit! :)
     
  9. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    I think most of us would enjoy this opportunity!

    Bob :)
     
  10. Stax Fan

    Stax Fan Active Member

    Location:
    Midwest
    Yeah, maybe a stop by Philly for an episode of American Bandstand, too! :p
     
  11. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Cameo/Parkway Arin! Getting back to KRLA, I read where KRLA DJ Dave Hull would "throw out" the regular playlist on his afternoon drive time shift and play strictly British Invasion tracks during the mid-60's. Anyone remember this?

    Bob :)
     
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Music Mastering Your Host

    My all time favorite radio station! KRLA was my station of choice from 1962 until the FM daze in 1970. That means almost the entire 1960's music scene was heard by me through the KRLA transmitter.

    My mom was taking me to the dinosaur museum in 1962 and I was sitting in the front seat of our 1954 Buick Century and twiddling the (vacuum tube) radio dial and hit upon "SHERRY" by the Four Seasons. WOW! A new sound! I left the station on until the call letters came on: KRLA 1110. When we got home I found it on our little radio and I was hooked from then on. The world of rock and roll had begun for me. I used to stay up at night once a week with the transistor crammed to my ear in bed to listen to the Top 30 Countdown. Silly, but I was a kid. I remember my joy when SURFIN' USA/SHUT DOWN made number one... A long friggin' time ago!

    Those of you old KRLA fans, do you remember Cy Holiday? She was like the first woman DJ or something. She was also (along with Casey) a member of Emperor Hudson's crew, performing little funny skits during his morning shift. Man, I loved that stuff.

    The first time I heard the Beach Boys, Beatles, Stones, DC5 all the way up to the end of the 1960's was on KRLA. The DJ would whisper into the microphone during the unveiling of a new song: "KRLA EXCLUSIVE!" I remember hearing it over the intro of I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND. Almost fell off my bed with excitement.

    When I finally got the complete BEATLES AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL discs and could hear the KRLA DJ's opening speech at the 1964 concert it gave me quite a thrill. I loved those guys!

    In the 1970's, most of my friends who were in radio got jobs at KRLA. In 1986 I did an interview live on the air at KRLA and was really jazzed to meet Johnny Hayes and a bunch of people who hung out there from the old days. Janis Nelson, Chris Hayes, Doug Brown and much of the staff were old friends from college. Most moved over to KRTH (K Earth 101) when KRLA was sold.

    I think it was 1969 when KRLA went "progressive". I remember BMR (B. Mitchell Reed) and some other FM jocks doing an FM type show on AM. That's how I first heard Leonard Cohen and It's A Beautiful Day, on the "new" KRLA...

    Ah well, memories. KRLA was the best station back then though.

    I did like (rival) KFWB as well 'cause they broadcast live remotes from the mall near my house every weekend in 1964 (Topanga Plaza) right in front of Music City. Anyone else remember that? Gene Weed, Joe Yocum, etc....

    The good old daze!
     
  13. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Steve,

    Very interesting and informative post! :thumbsup: Your "relationship" with KRLA is very simliar to what I experienced with WLS in Chicago during the same time period...

    Bob :)
     
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Music Mastering Your Host

    I think kids back then felt that the DJ was like their father or trusty big brother or something. Someone we could look up to Silly but true.
     
  15. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Here is a photo of a then KRLA engineer and their 50kW tube-based transmitter...
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Music Mastering Your Host

  17. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Steve,

    Nice site and one I missed while doing my research. It is interesting to note than in the station's earlier days, Tennesee Ernie Ford and Cal Worthington were announcers there...

    Thanks!

    Bob :)
     
  18. Charlie990

    Charlie990 Active Member

    Location:
    Perrysburg Ohio
    All of my LA radio memories from 60s are from the perspective of a part time listener who could only hear KRLA -KFWB-KBLA and KHJ when travelling in the area or visiting friends and relatives with the family. Lucky for me my family made several trips per year.

    KFWB always sounded good circa 1960-65. Very professional and tight. I always thought KRLA sounded more "with it" , more cutting edge and slightly more vibrant compared to KFWB. KRLA had an aura of excitement about it. You kept listening because you never were sure what they would do next. Many of the KRLA DJs sounded more in tune with the younger set than the DJs over at KFWB. Of course the KFWB fellows were still some of the best in the biz . But the loose cannon approach of KRLA really sounded better to my (then) young ears .

    However when "Boss Radio" KHJ popped up April of 1965 I was totally converted to the Drake format as it was then.

    The introduction to the Beatles by KRLA DJ Dave Hull at the Hollywood Bowl mentioned earlier by Steve is quite amazing.

    A good read on KRLA is a book titled "Dream House" by Bill Earl a life long KRLA fan . Lots of photos and memorabilia and a complete history of KRLA up to early 1989.

    Charlie
     
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Music Mastering Your Host

    Somebody wrote a BOOK about KRLA?
     
  20. Charlie990

    Charlie990 Active Member

    Location:
    Perrysburg Ohio
    Yes . The book is kind of an amateur job ( I could not do any better) . The author is a long time KRLA listener who got tons of help from the station and people who worked there. This is an obvious labor of love from a man KRLA named as the officia " KRLA Historian" at some point in the 70s or 80s. It is long out of print but can be found searching used book stores , online at Gemm or even better online at Abebooks.com .

    Dream House by Bill Earl M.A. circa 1989

    Printed by Delta Lithograph Company

    I can't find a Library of Congress number or an ISBN number anywhere on my copy.

    Charlie
     
  21. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Charlie,

    Great memories and that book sounds like a fun read...

    Bob :)
     
  22. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    Big brother, to me. Cousin Brucie, Dick Biondi, Dale Dorman, Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, many others....what a time that was!:righton:


    :ed:
     
  23. Jeff H.

    Jeff H. Well-Known Member

    What an incredible site. I just spent over an hour listening to airchecks! KRLA definitely had some great jocks on their station. I have to say though the ones I enjoyed most were the KHJ airchecks with "The Real Don Steele". Not only for his personality and energy on air, but he played excellent music as the airchecks show. What a wonderful time it had to be to listen to the radio then. Only downside, too many commercials!!!!
     
  24. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    I've got that Bobby Fuller tune runnign through my noggin - "K-R-El-Yay, Keeeeeeeng of the Wheeeeeeeeels"...... Big city radio sure was fun - I'm with Bob on the WLS wavelength, although my memories are more 70's oriented.
     
  25. billh

    billh Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    To this day everytime I hear "New York's a Lonely Town" by the Tradewinds I expect to hear a voice come on at the Pasadena part and say something about missing KRLA (you only heard that on KRLA). And Dave Hull introduced me to all the new Beatle songs. And before KHJ KFWB was also really big...Channel 98. Color radio.
     
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