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1 thought on “AM 1360 Tacoma FCC History Cards”
December 25, 2016 3:42 pm at
I wonder what the story is regarding the application for 660 with 50kW?? It’s not clear but I think the next card shows Midnight Sun Broadcasters Inc as the owners & a petition to dismiss this application. 660 would go to KAPS in Mt Vernon seeking relief from it’s 1470 daytimer license
Steven Smith says:
December 25, 2016 10:18 pm at
I cannot give a definitive answer, but know the basics. This was of interest to me, in the early 1980s, when I learned that Kaps might go to 50k. They had always been low power, like 500 watts and high on the dial so, being in Mt. Vernon, they were not heard in the Bellingham market. I was concerned that since they were a country format, as was KBFW, that they might hurt our market share by eroding audience and sponsors. I know that two WA stations had applied for 660 kHz at 50k, but only one could get it. We were hoping the decision would not go to Mt. Vernon. So this must have been the other broadcaster Kaps was competing with for the freq and power boost. I do not know just how it was that Kaps won. The irony is that, even after the power boost and a strong signal into our market, any loss of audience or revenue to Kaps was negligible. I think the prob for them was that, by the time Kaps had that 50k improvement complete, the erosion to FM as the go to place for music programming had begun. Our real competitors for country format were Kmps FM from Seattle and JR Country from Vancouver, BC. Those stations took audience from our AM signal, but they did not successfully sell ads in our market…..I am not sure they even tried to.
December 26, 2016 11:28 am at
I would hazard a guess that had KMO not withdrawn it’s application for 660, they would have been awarded the frequency & power increase. Perhaps the cost of doing this were prohibitive. Perhaps the inability to find suitable land in the face of increasing urbanization of the Puget Sound region may have been a factor. Your observations regarding the FM takeover of music formats are bang on. “JR Country” sign-on in ’84 was probably a more significant threat to KBFW than KMPS-FM. At the time I was a weekend jock at Vancouver’s C-JAZ 92.1 and the AM side was “Supercountry” CKWX 1130 which I’m sure was a direct competitor for listeners in Bellingham, although there was no attempts to solicit advertising which would have been illegal under CRTC rules. ‘WX threw in the towel after JR stole their listeners & switched to all-news, which they continue to have success with to this day. However, the difference between JR & KBFW was like night & day! JR was a slick, urban city station & KBFW was a lot funkier & had a nice small-town feel to it plus a much better selection of music. I’m not the only one north of the “Dotted line” who preferred KBFW to JR or WX when looking for my country fix. I know of others who didn’t like the slick sound of JR, preferring AM 930
Steven Smith says:
December 26, 2016 1:59 pm at
WX for some reason never bothered us much. We knew they were there all right. And they did show in the surveys. The station had a great signal and we heard more about it from listeners in the north county. In some of those areas WX certainly had a stronger signal than we did at KBFW. What years would you say you were listening to KBFW? We had a number of different sources for our country format, home generated to automation and satellite. I am trying to figure when you were listening.
Steven Smith says:
December 26, 2016 2:12 pm at
I wonder if back then it would have been legal for one broadcaster to pay another to withdraw an application? I do not know if there would be anything illegal about it, although it might raise eyebrows. I will see if some of my contacts recall just how Kaps ended up with it. They were a tiny family run station….Jim Keene the owner but he had a brother involved. I know for quite some time KBRC did not think Kaps would get the boost, but they did. Anyway, I am sure the power boost was a big cost. It cost us lots of money to add night hours to KBFW. All we had to do was buy more land , pay for directional array engineering and erect a tower. That was way less than Kaps project, and it still cost us about 50k with me building and installing all the directional tuning units…One for each tower.
Steven Smith says:
December 26, 2016 2:15 pm at
My 50k figure above did not include land purchased…Just engineering, tower and related equipment. Land cost about the same, but we bought that on monthly payments.
Steven Smith says:
December 26, 2016 2:52 pm at
Regarding Kaps….This article below ties in more with my memory. One reason we all were surprised when Kaps got 660 and the boost is because they had been competing with a minority group in Portland. We thought the minority would win. Also, in refreshing my memory, Kaps did not go to 50k…It went to 10k….Which still makes it a powerhouse per US standards. I think night power was lesser. It was KOQT that went to 50k, but they were not a station that competed with mine. Below is from Broadcasting mag, mid 80s. This is what I recall, so do not know what transpired with the Tacoma station and 660.
“Upgrade granted. In initial decision, FCC Administrative Law Judge Byron Harrison has granted application of daytimer KAps(A i Mount Vernon, Wash., to upgrade from 1470 khz to full -time operation on 660 khz. Judge denied mutually exclusive application of Northwest Indian Women Broadcasters Inc. for same frequency for new station in Portland, Ore. KAPS prevailed because its application would bring service to lesser -served area. KAPS will bring second nighttime transmission service to Mount Vernon. Judge said Northwest Indian’s would have provided 20th radio service to Portland. “
December 26, 2016 3:53 pm at
The Portland application looks like a THIRD bid for 660, but no, that would never work with a Pacific NW grant for 10-50 kW. The FCC’s arguments in favour of a small market are interesting & perhaps KMO would NOT have received 660 had they applied. Your costs to bring night service to KBFW are about what I’d expect from that time period – minus the cost of land. Ouch! My main listening periods to KBFW would have been ’68, late 70’s/early 80’s & for a bit in the mid & late-80’s. I listen to a lot of different stuff as I have somewhat eccentric/eclectic multi-genre tastes& knowledge of music, so I tend to ‘sample’ stations a lot & KENY & KBFW was always one of those. KAPS has a great signal on 660 to the northwest & can be easily & clearly heard on a car radio as far north as Campbell River on the eastern central coast of Vancouver Island. Both their 10 kW Day signal & Night 1 kW signal have a lobe that shoots straight up the waterway between Vancouver Island & the BC mainland
Steven Smith says:
December 26, 2016 7:23 pm at
In the first years you were listening to KBFW all the programming content was locally picked music based on charts, local jocks…Lan Rogers who became Lee Rodgers in Seattle and Portland, Johnny Hayden, Little Rollie, Chuck Kirk, Don Patrick, Ron DeHart, Mark Williams, Larry Shaw, Brian Keith, Jay Hamilton, David James, Bill Taylor, Steve Lewis, Dale Hansen, Al Sande, Pete Kremen, etc. SRO decided to automate about 1977. First we had TM tapes and that was boring. Then they went with BPI/IGM tapes. That was repetitive too. When I became GM, I signed with Concept in Sacramento. It was a fairly sophisticated voice track. But we made mornings live with Brian Roc. And afternoons we had Lorraine Galbraith who became Stubbs at KMPS. When we went 24 hours we signed up for Satellite programming, but we had Chet Cory and Greg Mills, locals in the morning, and we hired a few different jocks for afternoons. When Saga took over in 1999, they threw away virtually all of our studio equipment and the station is now basically a table in their building with a computer.
December 26, 2016 8:18 pm at
I certainly do remember a few of those names plus Lorraine in the afternoon. Yes, there were periods when KBFW wasn’t so hot to listen to – likely the early attempts to TM, BPI & Bellingham’s IGM to provide the content. But the live jocks were great, the production had a down-home feel to it that just didn’t come across on the urban country stations. I also know that at times whoever was MD at KBFW was open to country records submitted by a few BC artists whom I recall got some airplay, unlike the Vancouver country-casters who gave these deserving musicians & bands the snub.
December 26, 2016 8:34 pm at
FYI Steven – there IS now a 660 in Oregon: KXOR Junction City rimshotting Eugene with 10 kW day & 75 watts nights. It programs Spanish language religion & is never heard up here at nights except on rare occasions when something goes awry & the 10kW doesn’t shut off at sunset. I’ve heard it here in the islands at home a few times now while “DXing” evenings
Steven Smith says:
December 26, 2016 10:30 pm at
Mike, the FCC had this bright idea about 1990 to eliminate daytimers all together. It was probably in response to industry bitching. So they gave us all this post sunset power, no directional pattern required. At KBFW we were given 92 watts as I recall. It was crummy coverage in most of the town but actually we were assigned more power than many stations got. As to the station in Oregon, dropping from 10k to 75 watts would suck. I know of other stations running with tiny night power…more like 20 watts. At Kbfw we used 92 watts for awhile, but went through with upgrading to 500 watts directional at night. In so doing, we no longer used the 250 watt pre-sunrise authority. We were 1k days non-directional and .5k directional from sundown till sunup.
December 27, 2016 11:02 am at
Steven – I remember well the FCC’s ill-thought granting of night flea-power operation to daytimers. My on/off enthusiasm for night AM DXing was renewed by this as I love the challenge of pulling out marginal signals under impossible conditions. Living on one of the islands due west of Bellingham, KBFW was one of those that I tried for. I’m sure it was buried way in the background a few times at night on 930, but I never was able to confirm receiving it. Nowadays, I get a strong, clear 500 watt signal from KBAI. This ill-fated decision by the FCC increased night interference a bit, but I gather many of these flea-powered daytimers gave up after a short while. Ironically, renewed interest has recently occurred in operating these due to the enhancement of web streaming & now – in some cases – FM translators. ( a question about these shortly) Even KBAI has one of these now: K55DC on 98.9 with coverage likely similar to your 92 watt post-sunset operation.
I still chase post-sunset flea powers & it’s amazing how a few of these with decent ground conductivity put out! Regular examples: 72 watt KRKT 900 Wenatchee, 39 watt KWNC 1370 Quincy, 83 watt KBAM 1270 Longview
I have a ton of questions I’ve always wanted to ask about flea-power night operation: Did this require a 2nd transmitter or were you able to run an AM exciter only? Or…did the TX run at a higher power & ‘shunt’ some of the RF to reduce the wattage into the feed-line & tower? Here north of the “dotted line” the CBC for decades ran 20, 40 or 60 watt AM translators & these were mostly made by Collins, although I think they also ran some Continentals. Therefore, I know some lower powered AM equipment was being made at the time. How was the bottom line? Was this really a cost-effective implementation or more about trying to keep listeners post-sunset?? Did you need to reduce your ad rate for reduced coverage at night or was there no real increase in ad sales? When you say ‘crummy coverage’ I’m guessing you had problems getting into Fairhaven, Puget & perhaps Lake Whatcom?? Now a theoretical question: had you been able to obtain & run K55DC in addition to full-time on AM, would you have added this to improve reception & bottom line?? Thanks Steven…your insights & stories are much appreciated!
Meanwhile…the FCC appears poised to create even MORE interference on AM by reducing protection to the ‘clears’ when they should be doing quite the opposite. Ya just can’t mess with & defeat the gods of the ionosphere!!! :-)) Skywave rules!
Steven Smith says:
June 4, 2017 4:36 pm at
Often I do not receive notices of comments, so I just saw this. We had a fully solid state Harris 1k transmitter that was fairly new. Just inside the main door were two pots…just simple ones with no exceptional rating required. One was to tweak main power and the other was for another power…250 watt pretty sunrise in our case. You had low and high power switches on the transmitter. When the 93 watts came into being, I drilled a hole and put another pot in for a third power. So from the studio remote control we would determine which of the three powers were in use and it was controlled by relays. When we went to 500 watts, we only used two power levels.
Having been a day timer forever, we just used night hours as a few bonus spots. You know…buy this package and you get 15% more free ads at night. That was the case for the very few months we ran at 92 watts. I do not think the Fcc gave much thought to it, other than allowing stations to state they had gone full time. Honestly, people know so little about it that sponsors almost never asked about your night power. They probably thought it the same, not even realizing that Kpug and Kgmi also dropped power at night. Decreased power levels were not secrets, and were available to those who cared, but none of us bragged about it. We were just silent as to power and called it night hours unless someone asked. When we boosted to 500 watts at night, we did sell a few ads in those night hours. But those were mainly spots for sporting events we ran at night like hockey, car races. You are about right on the dead spots. And some nights were better around town than others depending on sky wave. I do not think the night hours helped much directly EXCEPT we were no longer known as that daytime station. It eliminated that factor as a handy criticism used by our competitors to sell against a daytimer.
June 5, 2017 2:18 pm at
Steven – no problem! I dropped email notifications from here as they were driving me nuts…I visit here daily so scroll down to see comments from threads of interest & was hoping you’d revisit some of our past convesations. Thank you for responding to the 5000 questions I’ve always wanted to ask of a US daytimer owner. I figured that much of these upgrades were to escape the stigma of being a daytimer. I am sure the sales teams at KPUG & KGMI were quick to point out the reduced exposure potential advertisers would face at KBFW & KOQT. Your comment about nightly variations in skywave vs ground-wave signal propagation is bang on: rarely are there two nights that are the same. The variation is not only different every night, but can change for the better or worse over a few hours due to turbulence & disturbance from the sun. Had it been available then, perhaps an FM translator would have also boosted night listening & potential sales. I’ve put a few of these on air for $20,000 & that includes everything – transmitter, co-ax, antenna & IP-based STL which makes the cost of these attractive to even a small mom/pop operation