KWIZ AM 1480
By Joe Talbot, former KWIZ CE (1981-87)
KWIZ started out before the communications act of '34 from the home of a doctor and early radio hobbyist in Santa Ana.
It was later sold to the Register newspaper and renamed KREG. Still later,
a man named Ernie Spencer bought he station (about 1947) and
changed the call to KVOE, the "Voice of the Orange Empire", it was also
moved from 1490 khz with 250 watts, to 1480 with 1kw and
a two tower directional antenna system located at the present location at
3101 W. 5th street in Santa Ana (willowick golf course).
Sometime in the late fifties, the station's call was changed to KWIZ to reflect a contest format, Spider MacLean and Ed Nix were actually working at the station at this time (these great radio guys were still there when I worked at the station until 1987!).
About 1962, the station added another tower (that came from the 1580 in Santa Monica) and added 5kw days and an FM class "A" station (RCA transmitter, 250 watts I think, horizontal polarization only from what I can tell). The FM antenna was mounted on the side of the new tower.It was later replaced with a horizontal/vertical antenna and a 4200 watt Collins transmitter at the 5th street site.
The FM carried various formats including "business radio" that was played from a rack mounted giant loop tape device called a 'KRS' machine. At some point the stations were bought by the Davis Broadcasting company and Mr. Bill Weaver was GM/PD. Mr Weaver tried (and often succeeded for a time) some ideas far ahead of their time: local network broadcasting (KWIZ and KLOK, San Jose's Buddy Clyde show simulcast on both stations by equalized phone line, with local spots and liners), "All request radio" where listeners called in to the station (714) 839-4444 and operators in tiny booths (6 of them) would take calls and determine the playlist, and "yes/no radio" in 1986 which was the beginning of the end.
The stations were doing well in the early seventies with many LA area personalities "doing their time" at the station between "major gigs", they include: Danny Martinez, Bob Shannon (Adams), Charlie Fox, Jim Bain, Mike Villanni (the Di-Tech guy) and so many others that I'm embarrassed to forget. Dr. Laura Schlessenger did a show from out "B" (for bad) studio Sunday nights until there was some discussion of the vagina on her popular program, which was promptly cancelled.
Folks that were working there during my watch included: Ronnie Richards, Ed Nix, Spider MacLean, Patty Martinez (Bill Weavers daughter), John Novak, Mary Price, Steve Gonzales, Casey Piotrowski, Ed MacKey, Gary Marshall, Bill Reitler, Ed Berger, Micheal Sullivan, Pat Tyler (Patty Peich), and lots of other great people. The GM's were Pat Micheals, followed by Dave Armstrong.
In 1985, one tower was moved and another added (along with a new phasor) to provide 5kw full time service, and the FM station moved to a new location in the Orange hills to boost coverage (this took a few iterations as KCAL-FM in Redlands had a strong signal that was difficult to "Cover up".
In 1986, the stations were sold to Leiberman Broadcasting who took the AM Spanish (Radio Exitos) and tried various versions of an AC format on the FM until finally putting the Spanish on the FM and Asian programming on the AM.
Strange facts about the station: Everybody remembered the "Kay - double you - "pop" - Eye - Zee" Jingles!
The building, an often remodeled 'A' frame structure was claimed to be haunted. Work in it over night a few times and see what you think! The sales office was located in a former golf course grounds keeper's house, lovingly called the "sales house" or "geek house" The stations 150' FM monopole tower, fell down in strong Santa Ana winds.