KNBA Radio 1190 AM
ABOVE: A rare photograph of Lou Ripa, owner of Vallejo’s
KNBA (1190 AM) from 1961 until 1992, in front of the station’s
longtime headquarters at 3267 Sonoma Boulevard.
(Courtesy of Jay Arnold)
KGYW went on the air for the first time on Saturday, November 29, 1947, from facilities at 141 Highway 29 in Vallejo, operating with 250 watts during daytime hours only. The original licensees of the station were Hubert Q. Joucken and David McKay, co-partners in California-Nevada Broadcasting Co. (Mr. McKay was also president and general manager of KOLO in Reno, Nev.)
KGYW moved to a new studio-transmitter facility at 3267 Sonoma Boulevard in Vallejo in 1949; the station would maintain its studios there until 2001. (The station’s transmitter continues to operate from this location, as of March 2010; see photo below.) The station’s power remained at 250 watts until May 18, 1970, when it was increased to 1,000 watts.
On May 1, 1953, the station was sold to Vallejo Broadcasting, co-owned by Ellsworth Peck and A.J. Krisik. Peck and Krisik also served as co-general managers of KGYW until July 24, 1958, when they sold it to Mary Elizabeth Gunberg, owner of the local Buick dealership, for $150,000. In August 1958, the station’s call letters were changed to KNBA (“Kovers North Bay Area”).
On June 1, 1961, KNBA was sold to Louis J. Ripa for $70,000 plus expenses. A native of Holyoke, Mass., and a resident of Vallejo since 1945, Mr. Ripa was a 1935 graduate of Syracuse University, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Mr. Ripa would serve as president and general manager of KNBA until his death at the age of 81 on February 20, 1992.
Following Mr. Ripa’s death, KNBA was sold in a probate sale for $50,000 to North Bay Broadcasters, owner of KUIC (95.3 FM) in Vacaville, in late 1993. FCC approval of the ownership transfer was granted on October 12, 1993. In January 1994, the venerable KNBA call letters were changed to KXBT; on June 1, 1998, the station became KDYA.
NOTABLE KGYW/KNBA ALUMNI: Jay Arnold, Rick Batiste, Tom Benner, Jim Bryan, Don DeFesi, Larry Ickes, Walt Jamond, Bob Melrose, Dave Paulson, Stefan Ponek, Floyd Pouncey, Roy Storey, Rick Thomas, Doug Wulff.
FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE…
A live remote from Payless Sleep Shop in Vallejo, featuring Lou Ripa and Bill Lauderdale, as well as a magnificently botched intro of the song “The Guitars of Sonny James” by the popular singer Maria Elena. (Or is it the other way around?) Aircheck courtesy of KNBA alums Doug Wulff and Jim Bryan.
ABOVE: The original KGYW/KNBA transmitter site in Vallejo, with the tower left of center,
in a 2010 photograph. Sonoma Boulevard is to the right; Sacramento Street is to the left.
SPECIAL THANKS to Jay Arnold, Jim Bryan, Doug Wulff and the other members of the KNBA Radio Station Preservation Society on Facebook for their assistance in developing this exhibit.