Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
After all these years of regular visits to southern California, we’ve gotten to the point where we’re revisiting some sites we’ve seen before. But it’s OK – as long as the site in question is one as interesting as the six-tower array off North Alvarado Street nearly overlooking Dodger Stadium.
If you were reading this page back in 2006, you might already recognize this site as the 50,000-watt facility of KBLA (1580 Santa Monica), and indeed it is. But since the visit we chronicled here eight years ago, quite a bit has changed up here on this hilltop.
Yes, KBLA is still here, now with a Spanish-language religious format. But by the time we arrived for a tour in 2012 with a couple of fellow radio travelers who’d never seen this site before, there was some new company here (and more on the way, though we didn’t know it yet!)
Back in 2006, KBLA owner Multicultural Broadcasting had tried once to move KYPA (1230 Los Angeles) up here to this site from its very, very long-time home on a rooftop near downtown Los Angeles. (We showed you that site on this site in 2009.) By 2012, KYPA had made the move up here for good, licensed to operate with 1000 watts day and night from something you don’t see every day: a two-tower directional system on a class C “graveyard” channel, using two of the six 1580 towers.
While that new facility was licensed in 2011, KYPA has spent most of the time since then operating at reduced power under STA, in part because of the complexity of tuning up the 1230 directional system amidst the 1580 array – and in part because in the meantime, a third station began making plans to join KYPA and KBLA up here. KHJ (930) lost its own longtime site off Venice Boulevard to development in 2013, and as of last summer it’s now diplexed up here with 5000 watts day and night, non-directional by day and using three of the six KBLA towers at night.
KHJ hadn’t yet arrived (or even applied to move) when we made this visit in April 2012, though, and so what we saw was the “finished” KBLA/KYPA setup. including some new antenna control cabinets, a pair of rack-mounted 1 kW BE transmitters and a new KYPA phasor across from the KBLA phasor we’d seen on our previous visit.
(And now we’ll have to come back again to see where they’ve put KHJ in this building that was once both studio and transmitter for the old 1580, KDAY. Speaking of KDAY, we can now offer some corrections to our 2006 Site of the Week visit: the daytime-only 1580 site that preceded this one in the 1950s and 1960s was a little south of the “National Boulevard” location we gave; it was actually on the south side of Palms Boulevard, just west of Sawtelle and the 405 in West L.A., fed from studios in Hollywood. Before that, the original 1000-watt 1580 signal in Santa Monica, KOWL, was at Pico and Ocean, just a couple of blocks from the Pacific.)
The tail end of our April 2012 southern California trip found us at one Los Angeles-area AM site we’d only ever seen from the outside.
The station on AM 1260 in the San Fernando Valley has had lots of callsigns and two cities of license (San Fernando and Beverly Hills) since its debut in 1947 as KGIL, but it’s only ever had one transmitter site, at 14808 Lassen Street deep in the northern reaches of the Valley. The last time we showed this site to you here, way back in 2002, the station was called KJAZ and it boasted only three physical towers, with a fourth element in its directional array created by an insulated wire dropped from a messenger wire running between two of the physical towers.
It wasn’t too much later on when owner Saul Levine erected a physical tower in place of the dropped wire – it’s now the middle tower in a three-tower array – and today the station on 1260 is classical KMZT (“K-Mozart’), running 20 kilowatts by day and 7500 watts at night, in HD Radio digital audio. The original 1947 transmitter building still exists out here, attached in back to newer additions in front (a former KGIL AM/FM studio, now used for storage) and off to the side, where the current transmitter room boasts a pair of Nautel transmitters. “K-Mozart” is also heard on the HD-2 of Levine’s KKGO (105.1), the big FM signal that’s now “GO Country” but had itself previously been the main home of KMZT.
Thanks to Marvin Collins for the tour!
But the wait is over. The Tower Site Calendar, 2014 edition, is still shipping daily and ready for immediate hanging on your wall.
Need a calendar or two? Place your order today and we’ll send them right off to their loving homes, spiral bound, shrink wrapped and best of all, with a convenient hole for hanging!
This year’s gorgeous electronic pinups include the iconic towers of Catalina Island, a combiner system in St. Louis, the twin towers of KNRS in Salt Lake City, a historic rooftop site in Jamestown, New York and many more!
Click here to order your new calendar!
Then check out our store page for our other great merchandise, including the last-ever FM Atlas, the new NRC AM Log and a model of the KSAN tower.
And don’t miss another big batch of southern California next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: San Diego, 2012