1150 KRKD: THE TOWER SURVIVES!
By David Fiorella and Jim Hilliker (Photo sent by Sal Garcia)
On Broadway in downtown Los Angeles there stands a 1920s-era building. Just north of that location is the old induction center for the armed forces. To the south, the old building on the roof has the call letters of a radio station great, KRKD. Both the Induction Center and KRKD have one thing in common: they are relics of the past.
KRKD went on the air in January 1927 as KMIC-Inglewood , changed calls in 1930 to KMCS, then moved to the Spring Arcade Building under new owners and became KRKD in 1932. The two towers with the KRKD calls on them first held a long-wire flattop transmitting antenna...Then later in the '30s and '40s, KRKD shared the transmitter of KFSG 1120/1150.
KFSG had shared/divided time with KMIC/KMCS and KRKD on 1120 and 1150 from November 11, 1928 until about 1960 or '61! The exact date is on the KFSG site.
The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, run by Aimee Semple McPherson, bought KRKD-1150 so they wouldn't have to share time with 1150 and own the whole thing...They simply ran KRKD as a regular secular station, but from 6pm till midnight, they would broadcast services from Angelus Temple at 1100 Glendale Blvd. in Echo Park. It was in 1970 that the church sold KRKD-AM and bought the KRKD-FM, which they changed to KFSG and still own.
Aimee Semple McPherson allegedly disappeared in May 1926, off Santa Monica -- but she set that up....she claimed she was kidnapped and taken to Mexico and was missing for weeks..At first, it was feared she drowned in the ocean...Others say Aimee had run away to Carmel or other spots in California with Kenneth G. Ormiston, who was married, and was KFSG's chief engineer from Feb. 1924 until the end of 1925....She turned up a few weeks later amid much speculation and gossip.
Before 1966, the two stations simulcast 24 hours a day. Afterwards, KRKD AM and FM simulcast only from 2 PM to Midnight. They were known as "Your Album Stations of Southern California" when simulcasting. When it was on its own, FM 96.3 would have theatrical plays sponsored by Valley State College, Pierce College, USC and UCLA. They would also feature some light classical and opera.
KRKD AM and FM would play showtunes and popular music of the 1950s and '60s while simulcasting or when the AM would be on its own. On Saturdays in the fall, AM 1150 would be an NCAA football outlet, featuring teams from Nebraska, Michigan State, Notre Dame and West Virginia, to name a few. Meanwhile, FM 96.3 would resume the Album Station format while the games were going on. After the games, AM 1150 would resume the Album Station format while the FM would switch to its normal format of theatrical plays and opera. On Sundays, the programming was completely separated throughout the day.
Weekdays, from 10 PM to Midnight, a rock and roll show hosted by Jack Nemo would be simulcast. Some of the featured tunes were I Was A Big Man Yesterday (The Four Preps); Just A Dream (Jimmy Clanton); Baby The Rain Must Fall (Glenn Yarbrough); Big Girls Don't Cry (The Four Seasons); I Don't Have A Wooden Heart (Duane Eddy); The Big Hurt (Tony Fischer) and car songs like My 409 and Beep Beep. The main start-off song would be Ernie K. Doe's Mother In Law.
The Album format featured showtunes such as Mr. Lucky (Henry Mancini); Singing In The Rain (Gene Kelly); The Godfather (Al Martino); My Kind Of Town (Frank Sinatra); Camelot (Richard Burton); and various James Bond tunes. Sometimes they would mix popular music in with their album format, with The Girl From Ipanema (Dean Martin); King Of The Road (Roger Miller); Who's Sorry Now (Connie Francis); I'm Sorry and Emotion (Brenda Lee); Have You Looked Into Your Heart (Jerry Vale); Wheel Of Fortune (Kay Starr) and Route 66 (Nat King Cole).
At the top of the hour the station would be identified as such: "At 1150 this is KRKD AM, and at 96.3 this is KRKD FM." When there was no simulcast the AM ID would be simply "At 1150 this is KRKD Los Angeles."; the FM would ID as "At 96.3 this is KRKD Los Angeles." Occasionally, you would hear the 1812 Overture, Moonlight Serenade or Swan Lake on the FM. After midnight the stations would go their separate ways until 2PM the next day.
For many years 1150 AM was known for many stations to occupy it. For over four decades KRKD of the Mutual Broadcasting System occupied it. It's sucessor was KIIS-AM. For a period of time from perhaps 1980 to 1984 a station called KPRZ occupied 1150 AM. At first it was a religous station known as K-"PRAY". This format was on for about a years time or so.
KRKD AM went off the air in the early '70s. The AM side was purchased by the owners of KIIS radio. For a while, they tried a soft rock format with noted sports writer and commentator Bud Furillo hosting a sports talk show in the afternoon on both stations.
In the mid-'70s, KIIS AM changed its calls to KPRZ "K-Praise" with a religious format. In 1981 or 1982, when KMPC switched from a its long time middle of the road format to an all-talk format, the star-studded radio host lineup was dismissed also. KPRZ changed formats and became known as "The Music of Your Life" a well known moniker of today. It acquired the services of the former KMPC crew. This in included longtime host Dick Whittinghill, Gary Owens (of Laugh-In television fame), Johnny Magnus and Pete Smith. All these were former record spinners from KMPC -- all-time professionals of radio greatness.
Some of the songs they played were Baby the Rain Must Fall (Glenn Yarbrough); The Last Farewell (Roger Whittaker); Mr. Lucky (Henry Mancini); From Russia With Love (Matt Munro) and You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra), as well as many standards from the 1940s and early '50s. Dick Whittinghill always would comment in disdain about "all that noise down the hall at sister station KIIS-FM". You could even hear KIIS-FM ever so slightly in the background on KPRZ, if the door was open at both stations.
Sometime in 1983 or 1984, KMPC returned to its tradition and reintroduced its standards format under The Station of The Stars. KPRZ was now in decline -- it changed calls back to KIIS AM and on New Years Eve 1984 played its last standards record. On January 1, 1985, it began simulcasting under the wing of KIIS-FM (for about ten years) with no real identity of the 1150 AM position. In 1997, KIIS AM became KXTA, the all-sports Dodger flagship station. They returned to the familiar KIIS calls in early 2000.
KRKD FM became KFSG, its present-day calls and format.
Aimee Semple McPherson died of an accidental overdose of pills in 1944 in her 50s. Her son, Rolf McPherson, is still alive and had run the church until a few years ago. There are lots of books on her that claim KFSG was the 3rd station on the air in L.A., but that's not true (more like the 19th) -- but if you count KFSG's time on 1120/1150 and on 96.3 FM after 1970, KFSG would be L.A.'s 5th oldest station today.
KIIS-FM is now the number one CHR station in the country as far as listeners (2 million plus), and will celebrate its 25th anniversary on October 22, 2000.
TRACKIN' THE CALLS: KPRZ call letters are in San Diego as a religious station. The KKDJ calls now reside in Fresno. AM 710 became KTZN and is now KDIS, owned by Disney. The heritage KMPC calls returned to Los Angeles (at AM 1540) in early 2000.
At last report, the KRKD tower was still standing in downtown Los Angeles.
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