KWUN Radio, Concord
The FCC license for KWUN was first granted early in 1961 to the Service Broadcasting Co., owned by Frank M. Helm, Frank M. Helm, Jr., and Donnelly C. (Don) Reeves. By late 1963, despite ongoing construction, KWUN had yet to go on the air. It was sold by Service Broadcasting on October 24, 1963, to a group headed by Dr. Robert A. King and Nancy S. King, who had incorporated as KWUN, Inc.
The station went on the air for the first time on November 17, 1963, from studios at 2086 Willow Pass Road in downtown Concord, with its 500-watt transmitter located near the present-day site of the Chronicle Pavilion (formerly the Concord Pavilion), adjacent to the Naval Weapons Station. Victor Ives, who held a minority ownership stake in KWUN, served as its first general manager.
KWUN operated daily from 5 a.m. to local sunset early in its life, broadcasting a middle-of-the-road music format. It was sold in May 1967 to Kestner & Goldman, Inc., for $165,000, with Norman Kestner (holding a 50% ownership stake) taking over as the station’s president, and Vic Ives retaining his post as general manager.
At about the same time, in the Spring of 1967, stalwart local broadcaster Doug Pledger (formerly with KNBC/KNBR) joined KWUN as its morning-drive program host. Mr. Ives remained as general manager until he resigned in January 1969, replaced by Fred “Red” Pfeiffer, who had also been a program host and sportscaster at KWUN.
On February 1, 1971, KWUN was sold to Adler Communications, with new owner William Adler taking over as both president and general manager. The station changed its MOR music format to “Variety” programming in 1972, then switched to Oldies music in 1975.
KWUN was relocated from its original studios in downtown Concord to its transmitter site at 300 Holly Drive (near Myrtle Drive) by 1978, calling itself “K-15 AM Radio.” On December 21, 1977, the FCC approved the sale of KWUN to Arthur C. Youngberg for $475,000.
Mr. Youngberg, as sole owner, took over the station on January 1, 1978, installing himself as president and general manager. Shortly thereafter, K-15 dropped Oldies and adopted an Adult Contemporary music format. In May 1978, Mr. Youngberg changed the station’s corporate name to Contra Costa Radio, Inc.
In September 1978, the FCC approved KWUN’s application to add nighttime operation; three months later, in December, it began broadcasting with a separate 500-watt directional signal at night, while also modifying its format back to the middle-of-the-road sound that had sustained it through its earlier years.
That format lasted until 1980, when KWUN signed on with the ABC Contemporary Network, playing a mix of Oldies and Adult Contemporary hits. Wolfgang W. Klamp became the station’s general manager the same year.
KWUN was sold to the Burgundy Broadcasting Corp., owned by San Francisco-based lawyer/movie producer/talent agent Richard Helzberg, for $1-million on October 6, 1981. (As a motion picture producer, Mr. Helzberg is perhaps best known for the 1980 horror thriller “Cardiac Arrest.”) He retained Wolfgang Klamp as KWUN’s general manager, and switched the station to SMN’s satellite-delivered Adult Contemporary programming in early 1982.
In April of that year, Greg Everett became KWUN’s general manager, a job he kept until resigning in November 1984, at which time Richard Helzberg added GM to his list of responsibilities at the station. (Please click here to read a 1982 Oakland Tribune profile of Mr. Helzberg and KWUN.)
Mr. Helzberg sold KWUN for $714,000 to Concord Area Broadcasting — co-owned by media broker Chester P. Coleman and veteran broadcaster Joe Buerry — on March 1, 1986. Buerry, a Providence, R.I., native who had previously operated television stations in Los Angeles, Florida and Georgia, also served as general manager of KWUN.
Now silenced, KWUN nonetheless became KKIS early in November 1993, taking over the popular call letters abandoned the previous month by the local stations (990 AM in Pittsburg and 92.1 FM in Walnut Creek) that changed to KATD AM and FM. Joe Buerry, who co-owned the dark Concord station, would manage KATD AM and FM from 1993 to September 1999; he subsequently moved to Las Vegas, where he became an account manager for the Clear Channel radio stations based there.
While still authorized by the FCC to remain off the air, KKIS became KRHT on January 29, 1996, then in March, two months later, the FCC reinstated the construction permit to raise the station’s nighttime power to 5,000 watts from a new transmitter location.
In order to assure that the station would not be stricken from the FCC’s records, KRHT was returned to the air on February 1, 1997, using a special temporary authorization (STA) which allowed it to broadcast with a minuscule 25 watts from a makeshift transmitter north of Highway 4 near the Contra Costa Canal in Concord. Beginning on this date, the station began rebroadcasting NOAA weather reports from the National Weather Service around the clock to fulfill its requirement as an active station.
KRHT was sold to Immaculate Heart Radio for $1.2-million on February 17, 1999, but the transfer of ownership was not completed despite receiving FCC approval. In the meantime, KRHT changed call letters again, to KCKC on June 27, 2001, and to KABN on November 22, 2002.
As of June 1, 2004, the station was reported as silent once again. On December 21, 2005, KABN’s license was terminated by the FCC and the station was deleted from its records.
LISTEN TO KWUN 1480 ON THE AIR!
A very brief snippet of Concord’s K-15.
— Exhibit includes text and audio.