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KTNQ AM 1020 -- "THE NEW TEN Q"


Additional source material: David Fiorella
Corrections: David Gleason, Tom Eshbaugh

Fans of bubblegum radio received a nice Christmas surprise in 1976 when Country outlet KGBS changed the format of their AM side to top 40. The new station was called KTNQ -- and what a station it was!

What college radio and KROQ-AM did for progressive music, Ten-Q did for top-40: they gave new and obscure artists exposure they couldn't have gotten elsewhere, at a time when other stations stuck to familiar faces and were reluctant to take these kind of risks. The station's Program Director, Jimi Fox, put together a winning combination of talented jocks and wide musical variety.

KHJ shunned punk rock; Ten-Q embraced it. While Slash Magazine, one of the first publications dedicated to the punk movement, was complaining in their premiere issue about the "dreadful, dripping sounds of disco music", Ten-Q was playing the two mortal enemies side-by-side. Songs like Punk Rock Christmas, Pretty Vacant and Sheena Is A Punk Rocker received regular rotation right alongside the likes of The Bee Gees and Donna Summer.

Boyd R. Britton was Ten-Q's News Director. The disc jockey lineup included such luminaries as Dave Conley, Nancy Plum, Joe Nasty, Willie B, Rich Brother Robbin, "Beaver Cleaver" (b.k.a. Ken Levine), and even snagged the Real Don Steele and Machine Gun Kelly from KHJ. Some of these jocks were already famous; others would make names for themselves on Ten-Q.

The station (and Steele) were prominently featured in the Ron Howard film Grand Theft Auto. Once in a great while, KTNQ would be advertised on the television series The Rockford Files. The scenes were of a billboard with KTNQ call letters on it. Another scene would show Rockford sitting reading a newspaper with Ten-Q advertisement in the newspaper. (He never was on the billboard itself.) They also boasted something called the World Famous Ten-Q Duck, and for a time in early 1978 you could even go to any Stop-N-Go Store and pick up your very own Ten-Q cup, featuring a photo of the DJ of the week.

With perhaps the best top 40 playlist in the history of L.A. radio, they were partly responsible for keeping KHJ on its toes in the late '70s. Ever the innovator of contests, KHJ was inspired to try a few new gimmicks. They hired "The Unknown Disc Jockey" (later revealed to be Pat Garrett). Their single-sheet top 40 playlists became eight-page foldouts with song lyrics, artist profiles and station information. And in the summer of 1977, KHJ added a second female DJ, Sally Adams.

In 1979, KTNQ was purchased by Julio, Elias and José Liberman. For one day, they simulcast their sister FM station, Storer's KHTZ 97.1, to which the entire Ten-Q staff migrated. KTNQ flipped to Spanish on July 31, 1979. Like with KLVE (which stayed K-love to this day), the Libermans did not care for call letter and name changes. So they left KTNQ as Ten Q and just went into Spanish with former XEGM-950 morning guy Humberto Luna and a bunch of the DJs from KALI-1430.

Following is an example of the music that Ten-Q played during their short, but worthwhile, time on the air. On the list, the names and tunes of established pop, bubblegum, soft rock and R&B artists have been placed amid the songs of the new or seldom-played musicians, much like the manner in which they were played on the air. Hopefully this will give you more of a feel of the way the station sounded.

KTNQ PLAYLIST SAMPLE (Programming like this is sorely missed):
Rod Stewart The First Cut Is The Deepest
Engelbert Humperdinck After The Lovin'
Champagne Rock & Roll Star
John Travolta All Strung Out On You
The Runaways Cherry Bomb
Cat Stevens Old School Yard
The Babys If You've Got The Time
Stevie Wonder Sir Duke
Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant
Elton John Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Ramones Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Boz Scaggs What Can I Say
Ramones Rockaway Beach
Bee Gees Stayin' Alive
Queen Don't Stop Me Now
Q Dancin' Man
Fotomaker Miles Away
Elvis Presley Way Down/Pledging My Love
Elvis Costello Watching The Detectives
J. Travolta & Olivia Newton John You're The One That I Want
Thin Lizzy Dancin' In The Moonlight
Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio Jack & Jill
Stephen Bishop On And On
Robert Gordon Red Hot
Andrea True Connection New York, You Got Me Dancing
Ram Jam Black Betty
The Hollywood Stars All The Kids In The Street
Dickie Goodman Kong
Leo Sayer How Much Love
Starz Cherry Baby
Fleetwood Mac Don't Stop
Starz Sing It Shout It
Dean Friedman Woman Of Mine
BOLDFACE indicates a Ten-Q EXCLUSIVE - song not played on any other L.A. station


WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: KTNQ retains its call letters and is faring well as a station serving the Hispanic community. In 1984, they sold to H&G Broadcasting, which became Heftel Broadcasting in the early 90's. KTNQ's one-time rival, KHJ, went Spanish around 1991, and the two stations competed until KHJ was purchased by Immaculate Heart Radio in 2014. Veteran KTNQ announcer Humberto Luna enjoyed over 19 successful years at KTNQ before signing on to do mornings at 97.9 KLAX.

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