SHARE

Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH

Our look back at the second piece of "Big Trip 2011" pulls into Albuquerque in this week's installment - but along the way, we seem to be doing almost as much jumping around in time as Sam Beckett on a "Quantum Leap" episode. When we left off last week, as you may recall, we were heading out of Grants early in the morning on the way east to Albuquerque to catch the noon start of an Isotopes baseball game.

South side of I-40
South side of I-40

North side of I-40
North side of I-40

We found ourselves a little crunched on time to get to the Isotopes' park (cleverly named "Isotopes Park") on the east side of Albuquerque...and so we didn't get a chance to stop along I-40 on the way down into town to get shots of the FM towers that line the highway up on the mesa that delineates the city's western edge. And we didn't get back up there during this April 2011 visit - so these pictures come from another trip three months later, heading westbound at sunset on the way to an overnight stop in Gallup.

On the south side, we see a line of towers that I believe includes the original site of KOAT-TV (Channel 7), but the ABC affiliate has long since moved up to Sandia Crest to join most of the rest of the city's TV and FM stations. What's left here, on the leftmost (and thus westernmost) is Clear Channel's KLQT (95.1 Corrales), a relatively late class C1 move-in to the market that was doing "K-Lite" AC when we were here in 2011, but has since flipped to top-40 as "Channel 95.1." There's also an aux site here for sister station KBQI (107.9). To the right is Univision Radio's KKRG (101.3), another late class A drop-in to the market.

Across the highway and just a bit to the west, we find the last of the FMs up here: KNKT (107.1 Armijo) is a religious signal that also was dropped in back in the late 1980s.

Lunch with the Isotopes
Lunch with the Isotopes

Hot pepper race!
Hot pepper race!
Isotopes Park
Isotopes Park
KANW's STL tower
KANW's STL tower

Back to April we go - and back to Isotopes Park, where we're enjoying a delicious plate of green-chile fries and hoping the spice can help cut through some of the allergies we're experiencing, not to mention the dust that's hanging heavy in the valley on this spring day.

The green chiles aren't just on the plate, they're on the field: the race here between innings involves a green chile, a red chile, a bottle of salsa and what I think must have been a taco. I don't recall which costume won, but I know the 'Topes lost this game to the Iowa Cubs, 10-6.

(The Isotopes did indeed get their name from the fictional "Springfield" ball club of the same name in "The Simpsons," by way of a vote by fans to pick a name for the former Calgary Cannons when the Pacific Coast League team relocated in 2003; there are statues of Marge and Homer Simpson on benches in the concourse of the park.)

With the game over, we head off to see what's in the neighborhood, and right around the corner from the park (which sits on the edge of the University of New Mexico campus), we find the compact brick building that's been home to a very distinctive public radio station ever since 1969.

KANW (89.1) had already been on the air for twenty years as the state's oldest educational FM voice, licensed to the Albuquerque Public Schools, when it moved here to 2020 Coal Ave. SE from Albuquerque High School. At the time, it was a pretty standard high school station, with educational programming and student DJs, but within a few years KANW had begun to stake out a more distinctive niche.

KANW's building
KANW's building

KANW's studio
KANW's studio

It's called "New Mexico Music," and it's been a KANW specialty for almost four decades now, with many hours of the broadcast week devoted to the local artists playing mostly Spanish-language tunes that are unique to the region and the state. In a wonderful symbiotic relationship, KANW not only plays the music on the air, but also sponsors concerts and runs its own record store to help connect the music to the listeners.

When KANW's not playing music (mornings, mostly), it's carrying some NPR programming, including "Morning Edition" and the "Diane Rehm Show," but it's the music that's really made the station famous - and anyway, the full NPR lineup is just up the dial at UNM's KUNM (89.9).

KANW's pledge room...
KANW's pledge room...

...and looking into the studio
...and looking into the studio

KANW was just about to go into pledge-drive mode when we stopped by, so the big conference room/studio that looks into the smaller air studio and production rooms was set up as a phone bank for the impending drive. And as for that STL tower out back, I think it was the KANW broadcast tower for at least a little while before KANW moved up to Sandia Crest.

AGM Albuquerque
AGM Albuquerque

KIVA/KRKE
KIVA/KRKE

We'll close out this week's Albuquerque installment with two east-side studios we didn't get to visit in depth. Heading north from the KANW studios, a drive up Carlisle Avenue takes us just past the studios of KOAT-TV (which we showed you when we profiled Albuquerque's TV studios last year in this space) and over to American General Media's cluster. AGM has assembled a collection of rimshot signals over the years, spanning the format wheel from classical (KHFM 95.5, licensed up in Santa Fe) to rhythmic top-40 to regional Mexican; in all, there are five FMs (KHFM, "Radio Lobo" KLVO 97.7 Belen, oldies KABG 98.5 Los Alamos, rhythmic "Power 106" KAGM 106.3 Los Lunas and top-40 "OMG! Radio" KDLW 106.7 Los Alamos; the latter two swapped formats earlier this year). There are also two AMs based here: KKIM (1000 Albuquerque) was simulcasting with KARS (860 Belen) and also with KKIM-FM (94.7 Santa Fe) in 2011, though the latter two signals have since split off with news-talk and a "Lobo" simulcast, respectively.

Also over this way, a mile or so east of the UNM campus on San Pedro Drive NE, is the studio building for Don Davis' Albuquerque AMs. As we'll see in more depth when we go visiting AM tower sites in next week's installment, the stations that had become KIVA (1550) and KRKE (1600) by 2011 had moved around a lot to get where they ended up - and where they ended up, at least back then, was with talk on 1550 and classic oldies on 1600. The formats and calls have shuffled again since then: today, it's 1550 that's KRKE oldies, but it identifies mostly as "Kool 94.5" for its Sandia translator, while the talk is on 1600 as KIVA.

Thanks to KANW's Michael Brasher for the tour!

It’s 2013! Do you have your Tower Site Calendar 2013 yet? It's now on sale at clearance price - and shipping right away from the all new Fybush.com store! Order now and your wall can be festooned with Florida and much more all through 2013. (We’ve also got the very last FM Atlas copies available for sale.)

Want access to more than a dozen years’ worth of Tower Site of the Week? All our archives, fully searchable, are available to Fybush.com subscribers – and you get full access to NorthEast Radio Watch, too! Subscriptions start at just $15. Sign up here!
Want access to more than a dozen years’ worth of Tower Site of the Week? All our archives, fully searchable, are available to Fybush.com subscribers – and you get full access to NorthEast Radio Watch, too! Subscriptions start at just $15. Sign up here!

And don’t miss a batch of Orlando IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!

Next week: Albuquerque, NM, 2011 (part II)

5 COMMENTS

Comments are closed.