Infobox Radio Station
name = KFI
Los Angeles, California
branding = KFI AM 640
slogan = More "Stimulating" Talk Radio
March 31, 1922
frequency = 640 (kHz)
format = Talk
power = 50,000
class = A
coordinates = coor dms|33|52|46|N|118|0|50|W|type:landmark
Clear Channel Communications
webcast = [http://www.kfiam640.com/cc-common/streaming_new/ Listen Live]
website = [http://www.kfiam640.com/ www.kfiam640.com]
callsign_meaning = K Farmer's Information
sister_stations = KBIG,
KHHT, KIIS, KLAC, KOST, KTLK, KYSR
:"For other stations which used the KFI callsign, please see
KFI is an AM
radio stationin Los Angeles, California. It began operating on March 31, 1922as one of the United States' first high-powered, " clear channel" stations. Currently, it operates as a talk radiostation, airing a mixture of syndicated and locally originated news and talk programming.
In the Spring 2006 quarter
Arbitronrating, KFI was the most listened to radio station in Los Angeles, averaging approximately 1.5 million listeners during any given weekday. In the Los Angeles market, this is extremely rare for an AM station, and more rare for an English-language station. The station is now the most listened to AM radio station as well as the most listened to news/talk radio station in the country, beating out WABC in New York City.
The station achieved this milestone while broadcasting at about half-power due to the antenna being destroyed (See below).
The original station used a 50-
watt transmitterbuilt by Earle C. Anthony, who operated it from his garage. In its early days, it was typically on the air only four and a half hours a day. The "FI" segment of its call sign was an abbreviationof "farmer's information." [Wallace, David Foster. "Host" " The Atlantic Monthly, April 2005.] Every winter evening between 1924 and 1956, KFI would deliver a frost report at 8 p.m. that would tell citrus farmers whether to turn on windmachines or light "smudge pots" to keep their orange and lemon groves from freezing. [Blackstock, Joe. "Pomona radio legend was citrus ranchers' savior - On frosty nights, Jack Benny lost ratings to Floyd Young". " Inland Valley Daily Bulletin", Dec. 8, 2002.] The frost warnings moved to 7pm until the late 1970s when they were removed from the schedule.
For many years, KFI was the
Los Angelesarea affiliate of the NBC radio network, most particularly the NBC RedNetwork, as distinguished from the NBC BlueNetwork of less powerful stations, which became the American Broadcasting Company. KFI's sister station, KECA, was the affiliate of the Blue network. The anti-trust decision that divested NBC Blue also forced Earle C. Anthony to sell KECA (which became KABC).
During this period the station carried such sporting events as the
World Seriesand the Rose Bowl. From 1960 to 1972, the station was the flagshipstation of the Los Angeles Dodgersradio network. Its programming transitioned during this period from block programming, often featuring 15-minute programs, to full service radio with disk-jockies playing records interspersed with aggressive local news coverage. In April 1972, KFI celebrated its 50th birthday with a 12 hour special, featuring new interviews and commentaries from many former NBC Radio personalities of the past.
In 1973, Cox Broadcasting headquartered in Atlanta, purchased KFI for $15 million, at that time the highest amount ever paid for a radio station. James Wesley, Cox's manager at WIOD in Miami and that station's Operations Manager, Elliott "Biggie" Nevins, were dispatched to Los Angeles to manage the station. Cox instructed Wesley to find an FM facility in the Los Angeles market and purchase it also. A deal was reached with Dallas broadcaster Gordon McLendon, to purchase his KOST-fm for $2.2 million. Wesley also decided against renewing the long term agreement for carrying Dodger baseball, positioning KABC to become the new Dodger station in Los Angeles.
Starting in the mid-1970s, KFI successfully programmed
Top 40music. Owner Cox Broadcasting hired John Rookas program director. Rook was considered the force behind WLS Chicago's success. His first staff included Al Lohman and Roger Barkley (top-rated in the morning), Mark Taylor and Eric Chase (mid-day), Bob Shannon (afternoon), Charlie Fox (early evening) and Dave Diamond (late night). By the late-'70s the staff was revised to Lohman & Barkley mornings, Tim & Ev Kelly in mid-days, Jack Armstrong afternoons, Big Ron O'Brien evenings and Charley Fox at night. Rook and several of the on air personalities left in the early-1980s with KFI softening to a more Adult top 40format (sort of in between Top 40 and adult Contemporary). By the mid-1980s the station was more news and personality intensive than music intensive with a Full Service format.
For nearly 20 years during the 1970s and 1980s, KFI boasted one of the most listened-to shows in
Los Angelesradio history, "The Lohman and Barkley Show," featuring the comedy duo of Al Lohmanand Roger Barkley. During this time, throughout the day the station featured a hybrid format combining adult contemporarymusic with comedianhosts. Other hosts included Hudson and Landry(of "Ajax Liquor Store" fame), Charlie and Mitzi ( Charlie Brilland Mitzi McCallof " Laugh-In)," and Gary Owens. In the early-'80s, KFI began broadcasting in stereo, with the C-QUAMsystem (continued until January 2000) [http://users.hfx.eastlink.ca/~amstereo/offenders.htm] .
By the mid-1980s ratings began to slip. KFI moved the music to more of a Soft Gold-based AC and began to play less and less of it. The
talk showsmoved from a blend of entertainment, comedy, and lifestyle to more political issues. The music was dropped in 1988 and KFI evolved to an issue-oriented talk format. The first hosts were Dr. Toni Grant, former disk jockey Geoff Edwards, doing talk in the midday, and Tom Leykis, with a politically oriented "combat radio" program. ["Rosen, Craig. RADIO NEWS & NOTES -COMPETITION HEATS UP ON AM DIAL". " Los Angeles Daily News", July 18, 1988. Page L20] Competitor KABC, which had been doing talk radio for some time, sued KFI in U.S. District Court to have KFI cease and desist using the term "Talk Radio" with the call letters. Therefore, the slogan "More Stimulating Talk Radio" was created. ["KFI GRANTED CONDITIONAL OK TO LABEL ITSELF 'TALK RADIO'." "Los Angeles Daily News", May 6, 1989.] Rush Limbaughreplaced Edwards in 1989 after Edwards refused to play promo spots for the controversial Leykis show.
The station was owned by
Cox Radiountil 1999 when Chancellor traded 13 stations to Cox for it along with KOST103.5. Cox opted to exit the Los Angeles market and focus on medium market radio stations and its TV stations.
Chancellor merged with
Capstarin 1999 and became known as AMFM Inc.In 2000, they merged with Clear Channel Communicationsmaking KFI Clear Channel's flagship AM radio station in Los Angeles. The legal title of the station continues to be held by a subsidiary of Capstar. [http://eqs.sdrdc.com/eqsdocs/000050D5.pdf]
KFI is a
talk radiostation owned by Clear Channel Communications, the largest U.S. radio owner. Syndicated personalities who began on KFI include Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Bill Handelwith "Handel on the Law", and Leo Laporte. Local programs include "The Bill Handel Show", "Kennedy & Suits" and "The John and KenShow". The weekend lineup includes tech expert Leo Laporte's The Tech Guyshow (originally local-only, now nationally syndicated via Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networkssince February 2007), topical-talkers Wayne Resnickand Armstrong & Getty, a local version of the John Batchelornews magazine, and Jillian Michaels, fitness guru of the hit television show "The Biggest Loser". The John and Ken show was once syndicated but the show has reverted to being a local program. KFI carries other well-known syndicated programs such as " The Rush Limbaugh Show" and " Coast to Coast AM".
Like that of most talk radio stations, programming on KFI has a reputation for political
conservatism. However, while KFI's highest-rated syndicated hosts Rush Limbaugh and Laura Schlessinger are traditionalists, in general the local hosts on the station in recent years would more accurately be described as tending towards libertarianism.
KFI also has an extensive news department, and produces news updates for other Clear Channel stations in the Los Angeles market. KFI employs 20 broadcast journalists. [http://eqs.sdrdc.com/eqsdocs/000050D5.pdf] KFI's newscasts air at :59 and :29 past the hour, with brief headlines approximately halfway between the fuller newscasts during local programming. The newscasts primarily focus on local news with relevant national and international stories included. KFI also has traffic reports four times an hour. Only two news reports and traffic reports an hour are provided during the overnight hours on "Coast-to-Coast". KFI is a member of the
Fox News Radionetwork and Fox News reporters appear on the station (but not its commentators, who have shows on competing stations in the market). However, the entire Fox News Radio newscast is not aired.
For its efforts, KFI was named the "
Radio & Records" News & Talk Radio Station of the Year in 2004.
Today, KFI broadcasts from its Burbank,
Californiastudios on 640 kHz on a 50,000- wattnon-directional AM transmitter which is located in nearby La Mirada at 33° 52' 47" N, 118° 00' 47" W. As a class A signal, KFI can be heard throughout Southern Californiaand some distance into Nevada, Arizona, northwestern Mexico, and, at night, in some parts of Hawaiiand most of the western United States. According to a May 1, 2004broadcast by Art Bell, this station can even be heard by sensitive receivers in parts of the Eastern United States. In Summer 2004, KFI became the most listened to talk radio station in the United States, beating New York City's WABC in cumulative audience during the rating period.
In recent years, especially since the
2003 California recall, afternoon drive hosts John and Ken have become actively involved in several political causes, most notably that of illegal immigration. In the months leading up to the 2004 election, the hosts instigated several political rallies advocating the defeat of Congressmen David Dreier(a Republican) and Joe Baca(a Democrat), both of whom they felt were wrongly supportive of illegal immigration. As a result, the John and Ken show was the subject of a Federal Election Commissioncomplaint filed by the National Republican Congressional Committeealleging that John and Ken engaged in an illegal campaign against Congressman Dreier. Although the large amount of publicity received was quite amazing, the "Political Human Sacrifice" campaign as they dubbed it was not successful, since both Dreier and Baca were re-elected, albeit Dreier by a substantially smaller percentage than in past terms. On March 16, 2006, the complaint was dismissed. [http://eqs.sdrdc.com/eqsdocs/000050DC.pdf]
December 19, 2004at 9:45 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, Jim and Mary Ghosoph were killed when their rented Cessna 182P single engine airplane, travelling from the El Monte Airportto Fullerton Municipal Airport, struck KFI's Ideco transmission tower, located in the City of La Mirada. The solid steel truss, originally built in 1948, collapsed upon itself, mostly landing in a parking lot to the north of the site. KFI's signal was knocked off the air for approximately one hour. Pilots had complained for years to KFI management that it needed to put strobe lights on the tower and highly reflective balls on the guy wire. KFI and Clear Channel Communications management responded by saying the tower was in compliance with FCC and FAA regulations and that it did not need to make any changes. Until a replacement was erected, the station transmitted from a 200-foot auxiliary tower at a power of 25,000 watts. Work was conducted at the site on November 19, 2006, temporarily interrupting a broadcast of Leo Laporte's talk show KFI Tech Guy at 11:55 AM [http://leo.am/radio/ShowNotes/Show302] .
Tower destroyed again
March 18, 2008at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Timethe replacement tower collapsed while under construction. [http://www.ocregister.com/articles/tower-radio-construction-2001491-tall-clear] The tower was about 300 feet tall (the final height was to be 684 feet) when a guy wire support failed, causing the tower to tip over the opposite direction. There were no major injuries, and only limited collateral damage. [http://quickwired.com/stories/20080319_kfi_collapse]
Third tower completed
A new tower began construction at the end of July of 2008 and was completed on August 14, 2008. The station returned to full power (50,000 watts) on September 25, 2008 at 17:00PST. The new tower has a 50 foot wide
capacitance hat, which effectively extends its length another seventy-five feet without actually needing more tower sections. The new tower is also equipped with high intensity strobe lights due to its proximity to the Fullerton Municipal Airport, and safety upgrades because of the previous plane crash. [ [http://sakrison.com/radio/KFITower3.html Construction of the new tower in Aug. 2008] ]
Former hosts and on-air alumni
Tammy Bruce- Hosted weekend talk show from 1993 to 1998. Bruce was fired for making unflattering comments about Bill Cosbyand his wife Camille who had recently lost their son Ennis in a murder. Tammy is now syndicated on 153 stations including KABC in Los Angeles.
Michael Castner- News reporter, Now hosts the Castner and Walensky show on WRNO-FMin New Orleans, Louisiana
Joe Crummey- Hosted an evening talk show from 1988 to 1994.
*Mark Denis - Worked the KFI Traffic Center from 1986 until his death in April 2000 from a viral infection at the age of 59. Mark was the imaging voice of "KFI, More Stimulating Talk Radio" and was the voice of the
*Syndicated Internet news personality
Matt Drudgeran on KFI Sunday nights 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. until he left radio at the end of September, 2007.
*Ken Gallacher -- Former News Anchor for the Bill Handel Show
Daryl Gates-- The former LAPDchief replaced Leykis as part of the station's shift toward conservative politics.
Phil Hendrie- Hosted an evening issue-oriented talk show from 1989 to 1990 (sometimes alternating with Joe Crummey), and his syndicated comedy show " The Phil Hendrie Show" from 1996 to 2006.
Dave Hull- 1960s–1970s
Tom Leykis- Hosted a talk show from 1988 until 1992, which was more political issue-oriented than his syndicated show is today.
Rabbi Mentz- Before The Jesus Christ Showfound a home on KFI, Rabbi Mentz provided a religious-based perspective in the late-1990s on weekends.
Tracey Miller- Co-hosted "TNT in the Morning" with KFI News' Terri-Rae Elmerfrom 1990 to 1993. The show was the first morning-drive show in a major market to feature two women in the lead roles. Miller died in 2005 from complications due to brain cancer.
Kevin Mitnick- The infamous computer hacker co-hosted a two hour show early Sunday mornings titled 'The Dark Side of the Internet' with Alex Kasperfrom 2000 to 2001.
*Mr. KFI -
Marc Germainhosted a question and answer talk show from 1993-1996. He was fired from KFI in 1996 and then hired by competitor KABC. Marc hosted a similar show as Mr. KABCfor ten years before leaving KABC for KTLK (AM 1150) and now broadcasts using both his name and a new shortened "Mr. K." moniker.
The Scott and Casey Show- A live call-in talk show, hosted by Scott Hasickand Casey Bartholomew, aired from 1994-1997, and again from 1998-1999. Scott Hasickwas involved in The Stephanie Miller Show during her time on KFI, performing many of the character voices heard on the broadcasts, as well as serving as production guy, and board operator. Casey Bartholomewwas involved in the John And Ken Show as their board operator, as well as writing and performing many popular "updates", and imaging for KFI. The pair exited KFI in 1999, for weekday afternoons on New Jersey 101.5. After leaving New Jersey, Scott and Casey served stints in Detroit, St. Louis and San Francisco. Casey spent some time on the airwaves in Charleston before the duo re-united in St. Louis. Scott recently resurfaced at Bonneville's WMVN/ WARHin St. Louis. Casey recently resurfaced at New Jersey 101.5 as the afternoon replacement for Craig Carton. Carton and Boomer Esiason replaced Don Imus on WFAN in New York.
*The Tim & Neil Show - Tim Kelly and Neil Saavedra hosted a weekend show, then replaced Tammy Bruce on weeknights. From 1997-2001, Tim and Neil hosted various shifts and often filled in for Bill Handel. Tim Kelly was a longtime contributor to the Bill Handel Program, penning and recording the bits and parodies that the show featured under the moniker "Dick Cabeza." Neil Saavedra is currently still with KFI as Marketing Director and on air with the Jesus Christ Show on Sundays.
Ted Rall- Yacked-up Saturday evenings on KFI for a spell, and can still be heard on the Bill Handel Showtime and again.
Deborah Rich- Hosted a weekend, topic-driven show on Saturday evenings.
Turi Ryder- Hosted a weekend show for KFI in the late 90s.
Paul T Wall- Former board op for the Bill Handel show and on-air contributor to Handel on the News. Paul left KFI in February 2008.
April Winchell- Hosted a variety talk show from 2000 until 2002.
*Bruce Wayne (on-air identity... real name BRUCE F. TALFORD
Roy Talbott) - "KFI in the Sky" traffic reporter. Killed on June 4, 1986 plane crash just after take-off from Fullerton Airport in KFI plane.
*John Ziegler Hosted a Political Talk Show from (10:00 PM PST to 1:00 AM PST) From 2004 until 2005. And from (7:00 PM PST to 10:00 PM PST) from 2005 until
November 13, 2007.
Mike Nolan- known as KFI In The Sky and also employed by sister station KOST 103.5 to do airborne traffic reports in the morning and evening drive times was let go after 20 years with the station due to a restructuring on November 30, 2007. As of January 14, 2008 he was back on air with KFI and KOST as a ground based traffic reporter with an occasional KFI In The Sky from his own plane. He also serves as a subject matter expert for aviation related topics and news stories.
*The News Intro currently used on KFI is "Round and Round" by the
hard rock/ glam metalband Ratt
*The John Ziegler Show ended each show with a remembrance of the
September 11, 2001 attacks.
*KFI offered $100,000 to help find the arson(s) responsible for the 2007 California Wildfires.
* [http://www.kfi640.com/ KFI homepage]
* [http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2008/01/john_ziegler_fires_at_joh.php/ Article on John Ziegler's time at KFI from LA Observed]
* [http://www.dailynews.com/search/ci_8068244?IADID=Search-www.dailynews.com-www.dailynews.com/ Article from LA Daily News about Bryan Suits and John Ziegler]
* [http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX05FA054&rpt=p National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report on the plane crash]
19 December 2004
* [http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX05FA054&rpt=fa National Transportation Safety Board factual Report on the plane crash]
19 December 2004
* [http://www.blogofcrappyness.com/2007/12/on-this-day-in-2004.html KFI Radio On-Air Report about the 12/19/04 airplane crash] (In
* [http://oldradio.com/archives/warstories/640.htm Pictures of the fallen KFI tower]
* [http://www.earthsignals.com/images/kfi/ Additional Photos of the fallen Tower]
* [http://www.k6rix.com/ Pictures of the NEW KFI tower construction and failure]
* [http://sakrison.com/radio/KFITower3.html KFI Tower Completed in 14 Days]
August 14, 2008
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