|(March 1, 2013, 6:15 p.m.) -- Two classic 1930's era radio towers that once beamed KHJ radio (930 AM) across the southland, including its "Boss Radio" format that dominated the market in the mid-to-late 60s, were torn down on Weds. Feb. 27.
A bulldozer's cable pulled down the twin towers (one used in daytime hours, two used at night to produce a directional signal) that propelled the 5,000 watt AM signal from Fairfax Ave. at Venice Blvd. into L.A., LB, OC and beyond.
KTLA/5 covered it as a news story. To view Jim Castillo's well done story via KTLA.com, click image below:
The towers used an elegant self-supporting design, more expensive than single-pole guyed AM antennas common today. KHJ's towers were located roughly 80 years ago by savvy engineers at one the lowest spots in the L.A. basin above highly conductive soil with a high water table near Ballona Creek. This produced a dense groundwave (many listeners assumed KHJ was a 50,000 watt signal, which it never was) that carried especially well along the coast.
KHJ, owned in its early years by the L.A. Times (using a wire antenna downtown) shifted to the Fairfax/Venice transmitter site in 1938 when it was the flagship station for the "Don Lee/Mutual Radio Network." When network radio faded after WWII, KHJ's ratings did too...until in May 1965 it adopted a "More Music" format created by programmer Bill Drake, delivered at KHJ by program director Ron Jacobs, showcased by production director Bill Mouzis...and communicated by talented broadcasters including Robert W. Morgan and "The Real" Don Steele. Within months, "93/KHJ" went from near worst to first place in the nation's second largest radio market...and remained there for years.
In the 1960s, the Venice/Fairfax site had a green neon sign displaying it was KHJ and also housed KHJ-FM/101.1 (which later became KRTH-FM). One night, a transmitter engineer answered its doorbell and was stunned to find Elvis Presley and his entourage outside. The engineer patiently explained that KHJ's studios were a few miles away in Hollywood and Mr. Presley took off (and never showed up in Hollywood).
KHJ radio has undergone several ownership changes and is now owned by a Spanish language broadcaster carrying a format it calls "La Ranchera." Although KHJ's two Venice/Fairfax towers were custom cut to a height equal to 5/8 of KHJ's wavelength -- ensuring the most efficient transfer of power from transmitter to antenna and maximizing the radiated signal -- a person answering the phone today in the Spanish broadcaster's engineering department told us he believes KHJ now uses towers at a site built for an AM station at 1580 kHz.
He didn't say, but we are independently aware, that this site is near downtown L.A. on a slight hilltop, very different from the high water table area at Fairfax/Venice. The towers were built for 1580 kHz and not 930 kHz, so they're considerably shorter than KHJ's former towers were. In addition to requiring sophisticated impedance matching via coils and capacitors (can be done, not uncommon), they also have less length from which to radiate the station's signal.
Some years ago, KHJ's Spanish language owner sought permission from the FCC to retain KHJ's historic three letter call sign. The FCC no longer issues three-letter call signs and on ownership changes ordinarily requires adding a fourth letter; thus, the former WOR-TV New York became WWOR-TV, Secaucus, NJ. KHJ's owner said that being required to identify each hour as
Ka-Ka in Spanish means the same thing as ka-ka in English. The FCC granted the owner's request.
We don't know what the owner of the Fairfax/Venice site plans for the real estate.
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