KLS Radio, Oakland
“Radio Village” Promotional Brochure
This promotional brochure — originally intended to introduce the new “Radio Village” broadcast center in 1937 — was pressed into service as an over-sized and makeshift “verification card” for Oakland radio station KLS in August 1940. The brochure was first printed in early 1937 to announce the “preview and grand opening America’s really unique broadcasting studios and merchandising center” for KLS, which was owned by brothers Stafford and Eugene Warner — hence, the “Warner Brothers” noted on the brochure cover (unaffiliated with the movie studio bearing the same name).
The Warners had established one of the first radio parts stores in the Bay Area in 1919, then launched their own experimental radio station, 6XAM, at their store in Oakland in 1920; the station began voice transmissions a year later. 6XAM was licensed as commercial station KLS on March 10, 1922, and began broadcasting with 250 watts on the shared 360-meter wavelength from the First Baptist Church at 2201 Telegraph Avenue (near West Grand Avenue) in Oakland.
In March 1937, after several previous frequency changes, KLS was moved from 1440 to 1280 kilocycles with a full-time power of 250 watts and began broadcasting from the new “Radio Village” at 327 21st Street in Oakland, near Lake Merritt. “Radio Village,” as depicted in the brochure’s illustrations (see below), included eleven cottage-style shops around a central courtyard, constructed by the Warner brothers at a cost of $30,000.
In addition to housing KLS’ studios and offices and the Warners’ radio supply store, a 179-foot Blaw-Knox self-supported steel vertical antenna at the site transmitted the station’s signal into the ether. (Note that the section of 21st Street that Radio Village occupied was remapped by the city of Oakland as 22nd Street in 1952, resulting in an address change — but no physical change — in the station’s location.)
KLS became KWBR (for “Warner Brothers Radio”) in September 1945, and was sold by the Warner family to Sonderling Broadcasting in July 1959. On September 4, 1959, KWBR changed call letters to KDIA, under which it gained its greatest popularity with music and programming directed toward the Eastbay’s African-American listeners.
KDIA remained at Radio Village until 1965, when its studios and transmitter were transferred to a new facility near the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. (A photograph of this facility as it appeared around 1976 may be viewed by clicking here.)
Radio Village was subsequently razed and the site became a parking lot adjacent to Oakland’s landmark Kaiser Center on the lakefront.
ORIGINAL SIZE: 9 inches x 12 inches (when folded).
SOURCE: Bay Area Radio Museum Graphic Images Collection.