HISTORY OF KGB Radio - compiled by David Leonard (leonarddla@earthlink.net)
Please contact him if you have corrections or inclusions

Licensed 1922

Origins of the Station

KGB is the oldest continuing radio station in the San Diego Market. The station was granted a license in July 1922 to W.K. Azbill under the call letters of KFBC operating at 10 watts on 1210 kilocycles. This license was assigned to Dr. Arthur Wells Yale in 1927.

Origins as KGB Radio

Pickwick Broadcasting Corporation bought the station in 1928 and installed George Bowles as Vice President and Manager of the station. The call letters were changed to reflect his name as KGB. Under the Pickwick ownership, the station began operating at 1330 kilocycles. Stations used a variety of slogans to promote their identity. Among those KGB uses during this time were "The Sunshine State of California" and "Music for the Sick".

Development of KGB

Don Lee, Incorporated bought KGB in 1931. Don Lee died in 1934 and the license was assigned to station manager Marion Harris. Art Linkletter got his professional start at KGB during this time serving as an announcer and program director. The station began operating at 1360 kilocycles in 1942. By 1949, KGB was operating at 1000 watts when Don Lee, Inc was merged with Mutual Broadcasting Company. The station was sold to Marion Harris in 1954 who increased the output to 5000 watts.

The Popular Music Era

On the Johnny Mann Singers web site Roj Jacobs said, "Willet Brown of Brown Broadcasting Company purchased the station in 1961 and operated it with his son Mike. Willet co-founded Mutual Broadcasting System, was pals with Howard Hughes, owned a cadillac dealership, a yaught, and his own Greyhound bus. He expected winners from his assets. By 1963, the station's middle-of-the road (MOR) program format was going nowhere and they began the search for a strong proven programmer. They initially sought out the programmer of KMEN in San Bernardino, but didn't find who they were looking for. (Ron Jacobs had already moved on to make history at KMAK Fresno). His rival, Gene Chenault of KYNO Fresno, was trying to branch out in his new radio consulting business. Chenault became the station programmer after meeting with the Browns. Chenault brought in his partner Bill Drake and several DJs from Fresno that eventually led to KGB leading the San Diego market. They experimented and developed a new format called Boss Radio".

Early Formats and Staff

Prior to the Chenault years, KGB's MOR format included Lawrence Welk, George Hamilton IV, Steve Lawrence, Nat King Cole, and other 'heavy rockers' on their play list.
The original Silver Dollar Survey was on an indistinguishable 8 1/2 X 11 sheet with the slogan You'll like the New KGB.


By the end of 1963, a more stylized bi-fold Silver Dollar Survey was being published introducing photos of the DJs as the Station of the Stars. The play list featured artists having more appeal to a younger audience. The staff lineup included a couple of recognizable names. Art Way was formerly with The Mighty 690 XEAK. A stint at KGB meant not having to drive to Rosarita Beach, Mexico to do a shift every day. Listeners were familiar with him prior to joining KGB, though he probably came from KDWD Minneapolis where he was on staff in 1961. After leaving KGB, Art had an afternoon show at KOGO Radio in 1969 where he was reunited former XEAK colleague Ernie Myers. Bill Wade was formerly with KDEO radio in San Diego and would remain with the station through numerous format and staff changes, anchoring the Noon 3PM shift. He did a brief stint with 93 KHJ in 1963 then came to KGB within a few months. In 1968, he went to KFRC San Francisco, then back to 93 KHJ, the state flagship of Boss Radio in Los Angeles. He later founded the Bill Wade School of Broadcasting. He now teaches at a business college in Mesa, AZ. Dick Drury was not known in the area before coming from WIL St. Louis in 1962. His career began at age 15 in 1950 at WSRS Cleveland, and moved into the dual role of DJ/Program Director at KISN Portland, OR, then at KQV Pittsburg in January 1960. He also did the morning drive shift as served as Program Director of KGB beginning in 1962. He continued to have successes at KLOS Los Angeles, KRQK Lompoc, and promo work at KHJ during the 1970s. By 1979 he was Director of Programming for the Susquehanna Broadcasting network, then moved into station ownership. He has since died. Other staff included Bill Masey and King Richard.

The KGB Beachboys

In 1964, the station Drake and Chenault team initiated their programming by experimenting with a Beach Boys format. The station published the KGBeach Boys Top 30 Survey of the top 30 songs of the week. All of the KGBeach Boys were pictured on the front of the survey. The station began making gains on KCBQ and KDEO, but did not emerge as the ratings leader.




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