Radio #TBT: KLIF, KFJZ, WFMF, KSMB

The analog-to-digital revolution continues…

This week, we will start with a couple of legendary top 40 outlets back in the day from Dallas and Fort Worth — KLIF 1190 Dallas and KFJZ 1270 Fort Worth.  Until 1973, Dallas and Fort Worth were separate markets and each station ruled their side of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.  Both had well-regarded top 40 competitors (KBOX 1480 Dallas, KXOL 1360 Fort Worth) they would outshine and outlast.  In 1973, with top 40 now on FM (KLIF’s sister, KNUS 98.7), and both stations now having to pull listeners from both sides of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, both KLIF and KFJZ started declining in the ratings. In the first combined D/FW ratings, both KLIF and KFJZ fell under a 10 share.

KLIF 1190 “Mighty 1190, Big Cliff″ Dallas

KLIF first signed on the air in November 1947. The call letters were an homage to the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. KLIF changed radio in the US by defining the top 40 format from 1953 to 1977. At its peak, KLIF had mammoth radio ratings as the #1 radio station in Dallas, often beating the #2 station by more than 10 shares. KLIF flipped to AC after the top 40 run in 1977. A format change to country came January 1 1981. KLIF would add blocks of talk in the mid-1980s and would flip to general talk “Talk Radio 1190” in 1986.  Unlike most talk stations today that are mostly political talk, KLIF’s talk programing was blocks of sports, general talk, and a lot of advice shows (“experts in various fields for you to talk to on ‘At Your Service'”, for example).  KLIF’s owners bought oldies KLDD 570 Dallas in 1990, and the KLIF calls and programming moved from 1190 to 570, where it remains today.

The 1190 signal would go on to have many calls and formats under several owners. Several incarnations of talk stations continued on 1190 after KLIF under the calls KYII (1990), KUII (1991), KGBS (1992), KDFX (1995), and KOOO (1997). From 1998-2000, the station was an AM sister to KLUV-FM 98.7 and ran a 1950s-1960s oldies format as KLUV “the Mighty 1190,” playing tribute to the original KLIF (it was also the second time 98.7 would come to be co-owned with the 1190 facility). Following a sale to Radio One, the calls were changed to KJOI in 2000 (many assumed a black gospel format named “Joy 1190” would come, but it never did). KJOI flipped from oldies to Fox Sports Radio. The calls changed to KTRA “Xtra Sports” in 2001. The calls would change again to KFXR by year-end. KFXR, itself, would go on to have multiple formats: Fox Sports Radio, oldies, classic country “Cowboy 1190,” various attempts at talk and brokered talk formats. KFXR relaunched its talk format yet again this month as “Talk Radio 1190.”

KLIF 1190 Dallas “Mighty 1190, Big Cliff.” 07 July 1969.  DJs: Mike Selden, Paxton Mills.

KFJZ 1270 “the Big 1270″ Fort Worth

KFJZ’s history dates back to the 1920s when it signed on the air on 1180 kHz. As was often the case with many early AM outlets, it would go on to have multiple spots on the dial, including 1370, 1240 (1939-1941), and then to its current address at 1270 in March 1941. The 1270 facility has now been running Spanish-language formats for 30 years, but most radio historians will remember it for being one of two legendary top 40 stations in Fort Worth. In the 1960s, KFJZ and KXOL battled it out for top 40 supremacy. Although they would be close in the ratings in the mid-1960s, KFJZ would end up pulling ahead to be the dominate top 40 outlet in Fort Worth until 1973 when the Dallas and Fort Worth markets were combined.

KFJZ would change formats from top 40 to standards in 1980. Following a sale, in 1984, KFJZ would change calls to KSSA and change to the first of several Spanish-language formats. Today, the station is KFLC and runs Univision’s Spanish-language talk programming.

KFJZ 1270 Fort Worth “the Big 1270.” 07 July 1969.  DJs: Mark “Marky Baby” Stevens.

WFMF 102.5 Baton Rouge

WFMF traces its history back as an off-shoot of WJBO 1120 Baton Rouge (now at 1150 kHz today). It was originally licensed as W45BR on 44.5 MHz in May 1941. The calls changed from W45BR to WBRL in the mid-1940s. When the FM band in the US was moved post-WWII to 88-108 MHz, it would move to 98.1 MHz. WBRL laregly served as a FM repeater of WJBO. The calls would change to WJBO-FM in the late 1950s. In the mid-1960s, it moved from 98.1 to 102.5 and began separate programming. (Note: FCC actions and the 1965 Broadcasting Yearbook show WJBO-FM as being granted a move from 98.1 to 101.5 and then a move from 101.5 to 102.5 shortly thereafter. I am not sure if WJBO-FM actually temporarily moved to 101.5 or went straight to 102.5). The 98.1 spot on the dial became occupied by WAFB-FM (now present day WDGL) in the fall of 1967. In the 1970s, WJBO-FM would be a progressive rock outlet that used the monicker “Loose Radio.” WJBO-FM would switch calls to WFMF in the mid-1970s.

WFMF bumper sticker 1970sThe WFMF calls and top 40 format have been together for the last 30 years, except for a hiatus between 1996-1999. In 1996, WFMF changed calls to WLSS and went to a modern-leaning hits format under the name “Loose 102,” paying tribute to the station’s past. WLSS would evolved back to a standard top 40 and it would drop the “Loose 102-5” handle for just “102.5, Today’s Hit Music” before reclaiming the WFMF calls.

WFMF 102.5 Baton Rouge. May 1983.  DJs: Mike McCarthy, Scott McAllister.

WFMF 102.5 Baton Rouge “Triple the Music WFMF.” 26 December 1989.  DJ: Hollywood.

KSMB 94.5 “Hit Radio 94 1/2” Lafayette

KSMB signed on the air in July 1965, beating KPEL-FM 99.9 by a few months to be Lafayette’s first commercial FM station. KSMB would run a rock format in the 1970s and into the 1980s. KSMB changed from rock “K94” to top 40 in October 1984 and has remained in the format ever since. This aircheck is a composite of KSMB from right after the flip to top 40.

Cumulus, KSMB’s current owner, has been trying to relocate KSMB’s 94.5 facility from Lafayette into the Baton Rouge market via a transmitter move east and city of license change to Baker LA.  Guaranty Broadcasting, which owns a cluster of stations in Baton Rouge including WTGE 100.7, has opposed the move.  This month, the two settled the dispute.  In a FCC filing, Guaranty drops its opposition, KSMB stays put in Lafayette, and Cumulus agreeing to not file for any relocation of KSMB into Baton Rouge during the next 18 months.

KSMB 94.5 Lafayette “Hit Radio 94 1/2 KSMB.” November 1984.  DJs: Scotter B, Ronnie O’Neil, Rock & Roll Animal.

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