In 1941, while KHJ-AM was shifting
frequencies from 900 to 930 KHz, Los Angeles was about to get its first FM
station signed on the dial. As the United States stood on the brink of a
major war, who would have imagined that just 24 years later that station
would be simulcasting a legend?
Don Lee Broadcasting launched K45LA on August 11, 1941 at the frequency of 44.5 MHz (in the early '40s, the FM band existed at 42.1-49.9.) After the war, the FM band was moved to the current 88-108 range to allow TV channel 1 to operate at 44-50. Consequently, Lee had to move his station to 99.7 MHz, where it became KHJ FM. By 1948, they had settled at 101.1 and TV channel 1 was history. (Today, the biggest stars on the old K45LA frequency are crying babies and people talking on cordless phones.)
*KHJ-FM simulcast KHJ-AM until 1967, when the FCC mandated separate programming on co-owned AM/FM combos. Bill Drake launched an automated format called "HitParade" (not only on KHJ-FM, but also on other RKO FMs)....a blend of pop hits that was 60% gold and 40% currents. Bill Drake and Robert W. Morgan's were the most frequently heard voices....with Drake himself back-announcing the music and doing the IDs ("Stereo 101...KHJ-FM, Los Angeles.")
*"HitParade" became "HitParade '68" and "HitParade '69"....reverting to "HitParade" for 1970. In 1971, KHJ -FM began airing a new Drake automated format, "Solid Gold Rock and Roll". That remained until 1973, when Bill Drake was fired as national PD for the RKO chain. "Solid Gold Rock and Roll" was by then syndicated nationwide by Drake and his partner Gene Chenault. The station dropped that format, and though still automated, created its own oldies format with new call letters that remain to this day....KRTH.
The timing couldn't have been better. The movie American Graffiti was hugely popular (and nominated for Best Picture but lost to The Sting); and the TV series Happy Days premiered on ABC in March 1974. This wave of '50s nostalgia helped the new KRTH establish a solid listener base.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?:Since 1973, "K-Earth 101" has enjoyed respectable ratings as L.A.'s foremost oldies station. Toward the end of the 1980s, with deregulation in full swing, the simulcast came back in reverse. This time, KHJ-AM, having abandoned its choice call letters (a stupid move) gave up on the "Smokin' Oldies" format and began simulcasting KRTH.
In 1989, competition came by way of KODJ (formerly KNX-FM), but KRTH persevered and KODJ became KCBS-FM, later forsaking the fifties for the '70s-based Arrow 93 format. KRTH has since added legend Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg from KRLA.
KRTH-AM's simulcast lasted until 1991 when AM 930 became "Radio Nueve Treinta" KKHJ.
Before his death in 1997, The Real Don Steele worked at K-Earth, bringing back his inimitable style. The late Robert W. Morgan had also worked there recently. Famed announcer Charlie Van Dyke (also a KHJ alum) is now working at the station, on the air for AM drive time and recording his famous voice-overs in the afternoon. We wish him all the best.
NEWS FLASH - "KHJ" 3-letter calls have RETURNED TO AM 93!