Sunday, July 26, 2009

The "Other" 1090 Stations

There has been mention here and there of "the other" 1090 radio stations from KAAY's Top 40 era. I just thought I'd look into the history of those stations from the '60's to the '80's, and Wikipedia was one easy source (there's most assuredly others!) and I thought I'd share a little of their history.

KING-AM (now KPTK): (from Wikipedia)

King Broadcasting Company

"For several decades the 1090 kHz frequency in Seattle was home to KING-AM, founded in the late 1940s by broadcasting pioneer Dorothy Stimson Bullitt, which itself focused on left-leaning political talk during the final years as KING. During the 1970s, the station was known as 11/KING and was in a heated Top-40 music battle with KJR. When KJR unveiled its "Sunshine" window sticker, KING followed with its own red "Sunburst" sticker. The line-up at included such Seattle radio personalities as Gary Lockwood (who later defected to KJR) and Bruce Murdock, with the "Murdock in the Morning" show. As AM music radio lost young listeners to FM, KING eventually gave up on Top-40 (around 1980) and moved to a softer Adult Contemporary approach, described in its slogan as "Soft Rock and More." This format was parodied on one April Fool's Day by rock station KISW.

On October 4, 1982 [5] KING adopted a talk format, primarily with local personalities, including Jim Altoff, Mike Siegel and Pat Cashman. Following a complicated series of transactions between 1994 and 1996 that involved several Seattle-area radio stations changing owners, formats, call letters, and even frequencies, the 1090 frequency was acquired by Infinity Broadcasting (later called CBS Radio), which was either used to simulcast one of the three Country stations that were Infinity-owned in the mid-90's (KMPS, KRMP (now KBKS), or KYCW (now KJAQ), or as a Classic Country station, a Talk-Station, or a different type of Classic Country station, before before changing the station's call letters to KPTK and returning liberal talk radio to the Puget Sound airwaves in 2004."

XERB: (also from Wikipedia) "XERB was also the original call sign of a border blaster station in Rosarito, Baja California, which was branded as The Mighty 1090. That station continues to broadcast today with the call sign XEPRS"

XERB: The Mighty 1090

1090 AM started out as XERB.

In the early 1960s, Bob Smith (a.k.a. Wolfman Jack) was living in Del Rio, Texas and appearing on the "border blaster" AM radio station XERF. After several violent incidents at XERF's transmitter, Smith and partner Marvin Kosofsky (referred to as 'Mo Burton' in Wolfman Jack's autobigraphy) purchased daytime-only AM station KUXL in 1964 in Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota. Smith relocated in Minnesota, and never appeared as Wolfman Jack on KUXL, but rather worked as the station's general manager, while shipping Wolfman shows on tape to XERF.

In 1965, Smith made an arrangement with the U.S. agent for XERB in Baja California. Smith began selling ad time on the Mighty 1090 and recording Wolfman Jack shows for his new affiliate. Initially, Smith controlled the station's affairs from Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1966, Smith, along with fellow KUXL staffers Ralph Hull (a.k.a. Preacher Paul Anthony and The Nazz) and Art Hoehn (a.k.a. Fat Daddy Washington) relocated to Southern California to run XERB full-time.

Wolfman and his associates were able to make the station turn a huge profit by selling programming to radio proselytizers in 15-30 minute blocks. Because they had such a large following and made so much money, the radio evangelists were never too hesitant about paying huge fees for airtime.

As if being on one border blaster wasn't enough, Wolfman began broadcasting pre-recorded shows on three different Mexican stations at different times of the day, XERB, XERF, & XEG 1050 kHz in Monterrey, Nuevo León.

According to his biography, by 1971 Wolfman was making a profit of almost $50,000 a month. The Mexican company executives that leased XERB noticed this and got greedy. They wanted to throw him out and make all the money themselves. So, the owners bribed Mexican officials into politically squeezing Wolfman off the air. The Mexican government did this by passing a law that stated there could be no more Pentecostal or religious programming on Mexican airwaves. Since XERB made most of its profits from airtime sold to the prayer-cloth preachers there was no way Wolfman could continue to make payments to the owners each month. “That was it." Wolfman remembers, "In one stroke they cleaned out 80 percent of all the money we were expecting to make." So, he and business partner Marvin Kosofsky had to turn control of the station back over to the Mexican owners."

And WBAL: (also from Wikipedia)


"WBAL began broadcasting after being dedicated on November 2, 1925, as a subsidiary of the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company, a predecessor of Constellation Energy.[1] WBAL's initial broadcasting studio was located at the utility's offices on Lexington Avenue, and it operated as part of the Blue Network of the National Broadcasting Company. On January 12, 1935, with radio becoming more commercialized, there was little justification for public service company ownership of a radio station, and WBAL was sold to the Hearst-controlled American Radio News Corporation.[1] In the 1930s, WBAL became the flagship station for the international broadcast of radio evangelist G. E. Lowman, which originated in Baltimore until 1959. During the 1960s and 1970s, the station had an adult contemporary music format in most day-parts. Among its personalities during that period were program host Jay Grayson, Harley Brinsfield (who had a long-running Saturday night jazz music program, The Harley Show), and White House-accredited newsman Galen Fromme. By the 1980s, WBAL had transitioned to its current news-talk format, winning 19 national Edward R. Murrow Awards since then – the most of any local U.S. radio station."

To be sure, the "clear channel" stations of the Cold War era had some of the tightest, well-maintained coverage patterns...they had to, because, of the massive power they were emitting, they couldn't (and didn't need to) interfere with one another. With the exception of the Mexican "border blasters" (which sometimes got up to 150,000 watts or more), these stations were limited to 50,000 watts.

Doing a search on clear channel stations was very frustrating, to say the brought up the huge conglomerate "Clear Channel" again and again, BUT, once more, Wikipedia does come up with some history:

Listed are a number of stations, but, if my memory serves correctly, wasn't there ONLY five specific frequencies, to begin with? Does someone know? But, one other reference, other than Wikipedia, is, who lists 25 stations:

This is where WBAL, KTHS ("perhaps the last 1-B added in the United States"), KTPK and XEPRS are listed...not KING, KAAY or XERB...odd, in my opinion!

Enough for now, this can turn into another post!

Bud S. (


  1. Fat Daddy Washington/Art Hoehn later worked for KSJR and later for KSJN, Minnesota Public Radio, as the all-night classical music host, using the name of Art Hoehn.

    I wonder where he is now? Anyone know? He is no longer on the air at MPR.

  2. KING/KPTK isn't really a factor on 1090 at night because they protect most of the Continental United States. KING/KPTK also received significant interference form XETRA at night. Sometimes All-Sports XETRA is so loud that I can hear the sports scores under KING-KPTK.

  3. Fat Daddy Washington/Art Hoehn just passed away... March 12, 2011, at the age of 72

    A wonderful man....

  4. What happened to Marvin Kosofsky