96.7 FM:

Compiled from Various Internet Sources; bulk of information provided by K.M. Richards

Popular Music fans in the Simi Valley/Santa Paula/Ventura area had a station of their own in the 1980s: 96.7 KKBZ.

KKBZ went on the air in 1976 as KAAP-FM. After co-owned AM 1400 pulled the plug on all-news, when NBC's News and Information Service bit the dust in 1977, they started simulcasting. Format was the Drake-Chenault "Contempo 300" which still sounded very MORish, since D-C had only changed the format name from "Hitparade" around the time the FM went on the air.

K.M. Richards was hired as KAAP's PD in 1978 and worked with D-C to make "Contempo 300" more of a true AC. They did a lot of format experimentation, ending up with an all-locally voicetracked format, 50% currents, three recurrents an hour, and the rest 60s and 70s soft rock gold.

In 1981, the stations were sold to Pac West Radio, which ripped the AC format off the air rather unceremoniously, installed a beautiful music format on the FM, and switched the AM to KKBZ as a personality-based MOR. That move proved disastrous on both stations, and they went back to simulcasting before year's end, making the format more AC while trying to be "personality", and changing the 96.7 calls to KKBZ-FM.

It was in 1982 that KKBZ-AM/FM went AOR, first with the Century 21's "Z Format" and then live. It was during the AOR years that Pac West went bankrupt and Wagontrain Communications purchased the station. In 1984, the simulcast ended, AM 1400 went back to KAAP running the Toby Arnold automated "Unforgettable" format (their version of "Music of Your Life"), and on Labor Day, 96.7 went CHR as "The New 97 FM".

Mr. Richards had left the station right before the 1981 ownership change, but came back to do weekends on the FM when the format flipped. He was upped to mornings/PD (as he had been 1978-81!) around the end of the year but left when Craig Powers was brought in to consult; he had been transitioning them back to AC at the request of corporate management, but [according to Mr. Richards] "their rebellious GM wanted them to go to an even-tighter CHR and brought Craig in. (They were both gone inside of a year.)"

The switch to Hard Rock/Metal delighted those who had trouble picking up KMET or KLOS. One metal fan said he liked the fact that you could listen to it in your car on AM, then on FM when you got home.

A local band called Rager was interviewed on KKBZ, and had some tunes in the rotation. The band, now known as Fair Warning, also played many benefit concerts for charity and for people who had been injured or lost family members.

In the mid-1980s, Jesse Torrero (from KFXM San Bernardino) worked the 3-7 PM air shift and was MD and Powers' assistant. Tom Hanson (Carter) did overnights 12-6. Kaedi Kiely's voice was heard on traffic reports. Mark Weinsoff, later to become UCSB Optimist Club President in 2003-04, did sales at KKBZ for a time.

Wagontrain, like its predecessor, went bankrupt, and both 96.7 (which, ironically, did end up AC) and AM 1400 (which switched to the Drake-Chenault oldies format several months after Richards' departure) went off the air for a while in 1986 as checks started bouncing. The license was cancelled while the station was dark (a consequence of the second bankruptcy). In fact, Jeff McMurray, who replaced Richards in mornings at 96.7, ended up doing mornings at K-Star.

The FM returned to the air when Wagontrain emerged from Chapter 11, as automated soft AC KIEZ (call change 8/15/86). KIEZ was a new license, operating with the transferred facilities of the KKBZ license. It was later sold and (on April 5, 1989) became KXPT The Point, which was a "Wave"-like soft AC format. KXBS "The Bus" became the calls on August 10, 1990. The KXBS format was oldies. (AM 1400 stayed dark until it was sold to KZTR's owners, who installed an automated country format as KCZN "Country Cousin 1400"). The AM calls changed to KKBZ in the early 90s when they flipped (back) to big band/MOR; that format moved to AM 1590 in the late 90s, which is when 1400 went Spanish language.

KXBS also had a classic rock format known as "The Bus". Terrie Richards was one of the DJs. In 1996, a local college student named Kohli became an intern at KXBS, shortly before they changed to an alternative format.

In 1997, the station was sold to Lazer Broadcasting Corporation for $1 million, and on January 16, 1998, the FCC granted Lazer the license from KXBS Broadcasting Company. On August 18 of that year, the calls became KCZN ("Corazon 96.7").

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 96.7 became KLJR on September 2, 2004, and is successful as La Mejor Romantica, a Spanish-language station. AM 1400 is now KUNX Radiovisa, Spanish news/talk.

The KKBZ calls went to an FM station in Clarinda, Iowa, at 99.3, and are now at an active rock station in Fresno, 105.1 The Blaze.

Some sources used in this research:

About McGill International
Kohli's Music Pit pg. 2
Jesse Torrero's Page
Fair Warning
Corazon 96.7
FCC Broadcast Actions 1/23/98
Optimist Club UCSB