KPEN 101.3 FM, San Francisco: The Complete KPEN Collection
"Proud to be Northern California's most-listened-to
FM station, according to Western Union survey..."
founded KPEN with
Gary Gielow in 1957
At noon on Sunday, October 27, 1957, from a 120-year-old
adobe hut on Kings Mountain overlooking the San Francisco Peninsula,
Stanford University students James Gabbert and Gary Gielow fired up
their transmitter and placed KPEN on the air with 1,490 watts at 101.3
megacycles on the FM band, launching a radio station that would become a local
On August 25, 1959, KPEN's power was increased to 35,000
watts from its new transmitter site on San Bruno Mountain, making its
high-fidelity monaural signal available to a greater number of audio
enthusiasts around the Bay Area.
KPEN began test broadcasts in multiplex stereo in July
1961 (receiving FCC authorization on August
10, 1961), becoming the first station west of the Mississippi using this
method of transmission, at which time "Excursions In Sound" became
"Excursions In Stereo." In December 1968, KPEN became KIOI and began
announcing itself under the trademarked "K-101" identifier to more
closely associate itself with its position on the FM dial.
continued as principal owner of the station until October 1980 when it
was sold for $12-million, at the time a record for an FM station. He
would later own San Francisco's KOFY-TV (Channel 20) and two Bay Area
radio stations that were also known as KOFY (1050 AM and 98.9 FM), as well as the
legendary Oakland soul station, KDIA.
Note that another local station, originally known as
KPGM, adopted the KPEN call letters in December 1969, one month after
they became available. That station, located in Los Altos and
broadcasting on 97.7 FM, was not related to Mr. Gabbert's station.
The KPEN Stereo Drama Workshop, under the direction
of James Gabbert, presents an updating of Orson Welles' historic
"War Of The Worlds" broadcast, transplanted from New Jersey to the
Bay Area. The KPEN version features several well-known radio
personalities, including Wayne Jordan and Terry Smith, and KPEN
co-general manager Gary Gielow. The recording
was made in 1964 by John Bigbee, who generously provided a copy to
the Bay Area Radio Museum for presentation here.
An alternate version of "War Of The Worlds,"
presented on KPEN presumably sometime late in 1965. (A song featured
in the broadcast, "The Sound Of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, was
released in September 1965.) This recording, which features Bill
Browning as the music program host from the KPEN Penthouse, was
generously provided to the Bay Area Radio Museum by Michael Santo.
Mr. Gabbert notes that he has moved to mornings after
doing afternoons on Stereo 101 for the past nine years. In this fair
recording (in mono), he plays a familiar mix of good music and is
joined by Hap Harper for airborne traffic reports and Michael Barrow
with news. (The date of this recording was triangulated, based on
the news item item announcing Frank Sinatra, Jr.'s engagement to an
airline stewardess "yesterday.")