The Big 610 Becomes Magic 61
Monday, August 11, 1986
After a nearly twenty-year run as the Bay Area’s spot on the dial for Top 40 hits, KFRC — The Big 610 — went away in the Summer of 1986 and became an “adult standards” station, known as Magic 61.
Playing nostalgic middle-of-the-road pop classics of the Forties, Fifties and early Sixties aimed toward the 40-and-older audience, Magic 61 took over from The Big 610, which had found its audience for Top 40 hits eroded as listeners in the Bay Area finally began jumping over to FM competitors such as KMEL and KITS.
Ironically, KMEL (106.1 FM) had for many years been KFRC-FM, but was cast off to Century Broadcasting in July 1977 by RKO General, in a move that managed to create a powerful competitor and, at least in part, helped to bring about the demise of The Big 610. (Originally an Album-Oriented Rock station due to a non-compete clause in its sale contract, KMEL switched to Contemporary Hits in July 1984 and quickly became a ratings leader.)
While KFRC’s solid 5,000-watt signal was among the best in the Bay Area, it could not compete with the fidelity of its FM stereo cousins, despite broadcasting in glorious Kahn/Hazeltine AM Stereo. (The audio accompanying this exhibit is, in fact, presented in its original AM stereo version.)
Jack Silver carries us through the final fifteen minutes of The Amazing AM — the first half of the recording — and closes with Journey’s “Lights.” Then, following a news report anchored by Joanne Green, it’s time for Magic 61’s debut under the deft morning stewardship of the incomparable Dr. Don Rose. DDR opens this new era in KFRC’s history with a quick primer on what listeners can expect from the format. He would leave the station several months later.
KFRC-AM remained Magic 61 for nearly seven years before taking the Big 610 moniker out of mothballs and beginning to simulcast the Oldies programming of sister station 99.7 KFRC-FM, beginning on August 12, 1993.
In April 2005, the AM station was sold to Family Stations and began broadcasting Christian-oriented programming. On October 17, 2005, the KFRC call letters were removed from 610, and the station became KEAR.
1986 The Big 610 Becomes Magic 61 (30 minutes)
Special thanks to Carter B. Smith for
the audio included with this presentation.
Text by David Ferrell Jackson