KHJ Radio in Los Angeles, California broadcasts Spanish-language entertainment programming
as La Ranchera.
KHJ transmitter in 1927
It was also one of America's most
formidable Top 40 radio stations
in the 1960s and 1970s as
before changing its format in 1980.
KHJ went on the air in 1922. It shifted frequencies the lower half
of the radio dial like most stations of the day, in response to the
growing interference problem standard broadcast stations faced as
their numbers grew. The new Federal Radio Commission established
order on the AM band in the late 1920s, forcing some substandard
operations off the air, pushing others to merge, and assigning
others to stable and permanent channels with predictable signal
power in 1927-28. As part of that effort to bring order from chaos,
KHJ was assigned the regional-service channel of 900 kHz
, with 1000 watts of power, and remained on
that channel and that power level until 1941. At that point another
reorganization of AM broadcasting by the Federal Communications
(successor to the FRC), in conjunction with a
multinational North American treaty agreement, saw KHJ permitted to
raise power to 5,000 watts and move to a frequency of 930 kHz,
where it continues to operate today.
Originally owned by the Los
newspaper, KHJ even served for a short time
in the late 1920s and early 1930s as the Los Angeles affiliate and
West Coast production hub of the fledgling CBS
radio network, functioning
as the originating station for programs like Bing Crosby's first
national network radio show in 1931. CBS would eventually
purchase its own more powerful West Coast flagship station, 50,000
watt KNX, and part company with KHJ. Then, KHJ was
purchased by Don Lee, a
well-known local luxury automobile dealer who also owned KFRC in San Francisco.
Lee eventually accumulated 21 radio
stations. In 1949, the entire broadcasting company, including KHJ
and other stations, was merged into RKO General
The call letters were said to stand for "Kindness, Happiness, and
During its Don Lee ownership, KHJ became the West Coast flagship station
of the Mutual Broadcasting System
of the "Big Four" networks in radio's classic era of the 1930s –
1970s. Famous entertainers of the period, such as George Burns
, and Steve Allen
, appeared on
KHJ. At one point the station employed its own 50-piece orchestra
to back up musical guests. In an historic 1931 broadcast (which
partially survives today), KHJ introduced the world to an
up-and-coming singer named Bing Crosby
(the president of NBC
, creator of The
and The Tonight
, and the father of actress Sigourney Weaver
), worked there as an
In April 1965, programming consultant Bill
was brought in to craft KHJ's new top-40
format. Drake hired noted program director
, who had built
stations in Hawaii and California to No. 1 in the ratings and would
go on to co-create American Top 40
with Casey Kasem
in 1970. The new format
featured a very "tight" sound built on a restrictive music playlist
and restraints on on-air commentary by the announcers (although a
few superstar announcers, such as Robert W. Morgan
, Humble Harve, and The Real Don Steele
were allowed to
develop their own on-air personalities). Also part of the format,
which came to be known as "Boss Radio
was a package of memorable jingles performed by the Johnny Mann Singers
. "Boss Radio"
subsequently spread throughout the nation and brought high ratings
and acclaim to stations such as KFRC
Francisco, WQXI in Atlanta, CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, and WRKO in Boston.
Drake, teamed with Gene Chenault, brought up many of their "Boss"
announcers through KYNO in Fresno,
California, which they used as a proving ground for
famous for its call-in request number, which used the Los Angeles area code 213,
conflict exchange 520, followed by
the current year.
For example, in 1974, the phone number to
call the station would be (213) 520-1974, then the next year it
would change to 520-1975.
late 1970s and early 1980s, the station competed with three other
local stations with similar formats: KFI, KTNQ and San
Diego-based XETRA-AM, which
operated under the servicemark "The
The other nicknames for KHJ radio was "Boss 30"
and "Double colon" as in "//".
competed against four other "soul radio" stations serving the Los
Angeles radio market at the time: KDAY and
KGFJ both of Los Angeles, and the "border blasters" XERB
and XHFHJ-FM both based in Rosarito, Mexico located
south of San Diego.
The End of an Era
The format brought high ratings to the station through the late
1970s until FM radio
became the dominant
way to broadcast popular music. At 5 pm on September 20th, 1980
during the Bob Shannon
"93/KHJ" switched from Top 40 to Country
. The country format which boasted, "we all grew up to be
Cowboys" lasted three years before changing to an all oldies
format, "The Boss is Back" using the original Johnny Mann "Boss
Radio" jingles. In 1984, KHJ tried a Top 40 format called "Car
Radio," highlighted with traffic reports every ten minutes, 24
hours per day.
From English-language to Spanish-language Broadcasting
KHJ, in its original English-language form, signed off on January
31, 1986. That evening, regular "Car Radio" evening jock Dave
Sebastian Williams was joined in studio by Robert W. Morgan
. Many disc jockeys from throughout
KHJ's heyday of Boss Radio phoned in (including M.G. Kelly
, Bobby Ocean
, and Boss Radio-era Program Director
) for a farewell
broadcast, playing the songs that had made KHJ a popular AM station
in the 1960s and 1970s. At the stroke of midnight, the station
changed its call letters to KRTH to match those of
its FM sister station, KRTH-FM
playing a format called "Smokin' Oldies" that featured hits of the
first ten years of rock and
The station used "AM-930" as its on-air ID.
Switch to Spanish, and problems with new call letters
General was under nearly continuous investigation by federal
regulators from the 1960s onward due to unethical conduct at its
television stations, including KRTH-AM/FM's television sister,
KHJ-TV (channel 9, now KCAL-TV).
It was eventually ruled unfit to be a
broadcast licensee and forced by the FCC to sell off its broadcast
properties. In the summer of 1989, KRTH AM/FM were sold to Beasley
Broadcasting, which immediately turned around and sold KRTH-AM to
Liberman Broadcasting. It became a full-time Spanish-language
station, adopting the call letters KKHJ
of its historic calls.
As time went by, program director Alfredo Rodriguez and chief
engineer Jerry Lewine wanted to bring back the legendary
three-letter call sign. However, the FCC hadn't issued three-letter
calls to radio stations since the 1930s. So they came up with a
plan to convince the FCC that KKHJ could not use the Spanish
pronunciation of its call letters on the air. This was purportedly
because the pronunciation of the first two letters in Spanish
(kah-kah) sounded like «caca», the Spanish vulgar slang word for
feces. As a result, whenever the call letters were used, they were
pronounced in English. This proved somewhat awkward over a decade,
so the station collected letters from listeners and community
listeners and lobbied the FCC to allow the station to drop one of
its Ks. The FCC allowed the station to return to its original
three-letter calls, KHJ. The change became official on March 15,
New Dodgers baseball contract
See also Los Angeles Dodgers
On August 21, 2007, the Los Angeles
announced that their Spanish-language broadcasts would
come to KHJ for the 2008 season, leaving KWKW
after 20 years.
unrelated low-powered FM station in Madras,
Oregon, KHJA-LP 102.1 FM  was a tribute to the 1960s and 70s era
KHJ, using the Los Angeles station's vintage logo, jingles, and "Boss Radio" slogans.
In 2008, it changed its call sign to
and switched formats.
Meanwhile, the former KKHJ callsign that was
used during the 1990s by Liberman was assigned to an FM station in
They also use the legendary station's
"93KHJ" on-air name. The classic 93KHJ jingles are also regularly
played on the station.
also used as the branding of a country music station in Fredericton,
New Brunswick, Canada -- CKHJ.
Lake Park, Maryland has always used the "KHJ" moniker.
however, plays an adult
An aircheck sample
of an old KHJ jingle
can be heard at the beginning of the song
" by the band Everclear
On his Greatest Stories Live
album, singer Harry Chapin
in the song W*O*L*D
("I am the morning DJ, at KHJ. Playing all the hits for you; play
them night and day"), much to the audience's delight (this version
was likely recorded in concert in a locale served by KHJ
- Los Angeles Times, Aug. 22, 2007,