KKHI, broadcasting on 1550 kHz., was the descendant of
the San Mateo radio station KSMO, which first went on the air on March
17, 1947. The station became KEAR in 1952, and increased its power from
1,000 watts to 10,000 watts in 1953 from its transmitting plant along
the Bayshore Highway in Belmont (pictured above around 1976; see below
on this page for a more recent aerial view).
Unable to reach profitability with a format of classical
music, KEAR was leased to Bartell Broadcasters in May 1956, with the
intention to convert the station to a popular music format as KACE; the
lease fell through, and Bartell later purchased KYA/1260. After having
its studios padlocked by the IRS, KEAR's owners sold the station in
1956, at which time it became KOBY, airing the first Top 40 rock'n'roll
music format in the Bay Area.
In 1960, KOBY switched to a "good music" format, and was
sold again to new owners who had its call letters changed to KQBY (with
the "Q" standing for "Quality"). Again facing financial distress, KQBY
went off the air in July 1961 before finding new owners and resuming
broadcasts as KKHI in November of that year.
KKHI began broadcasting classical music again in 1964, a
tradition it continued until May 30, 1994, when the station became the
property of Group W Radio, a subsidiary of Westinghouse Broadcasting. On
that date, KKHI became KPIX, sister station to KPIX-TV (Channel 5), and
began airing a news and talk format (with jazz music on weekends) dubbed
"The Express," which lasted until later that year.
In 1995, Westinghouse merged with CBS, Inc., and on July
1, 1997, KPIX/1550 became KYCY, simulcasting the "Young Country" music
format of co-owned KYCY-FM. In September 1999, KYCY/1550 began airing a
schedule of syndicated talk programs. In Spring 2005, the station
launched an "All Podcasting" format — the first of its kind anywhere —
playing pre-recorded short programs submitted by podcasters around the
world. While retaining the KYCY call letters, the station began
identifying itself as "K-You Radio."
On January 1, 2009, KYCY became the latest incarnation
of KFRC, as the call letters returned to the AM dial (where they last
appeared in 2005 at 610 AM) along with the syndicated "True
Oldies Channel" programming hosted by legendary disc jockey Michael
The station currently holds a construction permit that
will allow it to abandon the Belmont transmitter facility and move to a
new site near Milpitas, along with increasing its power to 50,000 watts
during daytime hours and 40,000 watts at night. The proposed move,
originally approved by the FCC in 1998, has met with opposition from
civic groups in the Southbay that have delayed the plan from being
ABOVE: An aerial view of the 1550 AM transmitter
site in Belmont as it appeared in
late 2008. The transmitter building is the grayish square in the lower
center of the
photo; the two objects near it are billboards. The three transmitter
towers are at
the right-center portion of the photograph. (From
SOURCE: KKHI transmitter plant photograph
by David Ferrell Jackson from the Bay Area Radio Digest Collection.
Aerial view from
copyright 2009 by Google.