KBLA (1580 AM) is a radio station that is licensed to Santa Monica, California, United States and serves the Greater Los Angeles area. The station airs a religious radio format in Spanish as "Radio Esperanza 1580 AM". KBLA broadcasts with a power of 50,000 watts day and night. Most of the station's signal is dumped over the Pacific Ocean to avoid interfering with KQFN (also on 1580 kHz) in Phoenix, Arizona; prior to 2015, that station had operated with 50,000 watts day and night as authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Consequently, the station is heard on a regular basis in Hawaii, via AM nighttime skip. However, neither KBLA nor KQFN is considered a clear-channel station because they are classified as Class B using directional antennas.
|City||Santa Monica, California|
|Broadcast area||Greater Los Angeles|
|Branding||Radio Esperanza 1580 AM|
|First air date||July 30, 1947|
|Power||50,000 watts day and night|
|Former callsigns||KOWL (1947-1956)|
|Owner||Multicultural Broadcasting |
(Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Licensee, LLC)
In 1956, KOWL changed its call sign to KDAY, representing the fact that it was a daytimer. At first, the station played pop music; also in the late 1960s, KDAY received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate at night. The studio and transmitter site were moved to a new facility on North Alvarado Street north of downtown L.A. KDAY flipped to top 40 a short time later, then to album-oriented rock (AOR) in 1972. During the AOR era, the station was programmed by Bob Wilson, who would later launch the media magazine Radio & Records. KDAY reverted to soul/R&B in January 1974.
KDAY was the first radio station in Los Angeles area to play hip-hop music in the 1980s. This change in musical direction from soul/R&B was due in part to the rise in popularity of similarly formatted stations on the FM dial early in the decade, such as KJLH. Under new program director and disc jockey Gregory "Greg The Mack Attack" MacMillan, hired in 1983 from KMJQ in Houston, added hip-hop to the station's playlist to appeal to mostly young black and Latino listeners. Dr. Dre and DJ Yella Boy became the first mixer DJs at the station.:214–216 Def Jam acts such as Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Whodini, The Fat Boys, 3rd Bass, and Public Enemy became popular in the United States; KDAY brought their sounds to a new audience on the West Coast. In 1987, KDAY was the first station to introduce N.W.A, a Compton-based rap group that had the fusion of both Ice-T's gangster energetic rhymes and Public Enemy's black powerful political radicalness. In the first ratings period under MacMillan's leadership, KDAY's ratings beat another Los Angeles black AM station, KGFJ, and "began to enjoy a second life as the only rap-friendly station in town and, frankly, in the entire country.":217
KDAY raised awareness about the growing problem of gang violence in Los Angeles. Lee Marshall, known on-air as "King News", gave news and commentaries relevant to the African-American and Hispanic communities, often warning about the troubles caused by gangs. After violence in the stands forced the cancellation of a Run-DMC concert at the Long Beach Arena for the group's Raising Hell tour, KDAY organized a "Day of Peace" on October 9, 1986.:218 In a two-hour special, KDAY featured Run-DMC, singer Barry White, and boxer Paul Gonzales appealing to rival gangs to stop feuding and opened phone lines for callers to describe gangs' impact in their communities. There were no murders or incidents of gang violence that day. Within two weeks, the Bloods and Crips, the two largest gangs in Los Angeles, signed a peace treaty.:218
By 1990, hip-hop appeared on the FM dial, forcing KDAY to adapt. The station upgraded its sound to AM stereo, described by Dan Charnas as "sounding like two tiny AM radios playing side by side.":293 MacMillan left KDAY that year to work for FM rival KJLH. Realtor Fred Sands, who also owned iconic heavy metal station KNAC, bought KDAY the next year.:293–294.
On March 28, 1991 at 1 p.m., KDAY switched to a business format with new call letters KBLA.:294 During this time, it was also the flagship station of the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA. KBLA ended the business format in 1997 and beginning selling air time to broadcasters of different ethnic backgrounds.
On March 31, 2004, KBLA became the original West Coast affiliate of Air America Radio, airing talk shows hosted by Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, and Janeane Garofalo among others. On April 14, the shows were no longer available due to a payment dispute between Air America and KBLA's owner, Multicultural Broadcasting. Air America shows would not return to the L.A. area until February 1, 2005 on KTLK (1150 AM).
- "Directory of AM and FM Radio Stations in the U.S." (PDF). 1971 Broadcasting Yearbook. Broadcasting Publications Inc. 1971. p. B-29.
- "KOWL Goes on Air, Is Owned by Croghan" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications Inc. August 11, 1947. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
- Wagoner, Richard (February 23, 2016). "The secret meaning behind call letters of Los Angeles radio stations". Los Angeles Daily News. Los Angeles News Group. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
- "Directory of AM and FM Stations and Market Data for the United States" (PDF). Broadcasting Yearbook. Broadcasting Publications Inc. 1957. p. 68. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
- "Call Sign History: KBLA". FCC Media Bureau CDBS Public Access Database. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- Charnas, Dan (2010). The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop. New York: New American Library. ISBN 9780451229298.
- Rosen, Craig; McAdams, Janine (April 13, 1991). "Rap Music Has The Blues As KDAY L.A. Calls It Quits" (PDF). Billboard. pp. 1, 13. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
- Ramos, George (August 19, 1986). "'Rap' Musicians' Concert Is Canceled at Palladium After Long Beach Fights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Boyer, Edward J. (October 10, 1986). "Celebrities Use Airwaves to Take On Street Violence". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- Claudia, Puig; Hochman, Steve (February 27, 1991). "KDAY Says R.I.P. to Rap Format". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2009.