From time to time in this space, we’ve touched on some of the signals in California’s Antelope Valley, the big swath of exurban sprawl that spreads out along state routes 14 and 138 in the desert some 50 miles north of Los Angeles. It’s one of those areas that we tend to pass through en route to someplace more interesting, and so it’s never gotten proper treatment here on Site of the Week…and, alas, this week’s installment won’t do it much more justice than the last time around, when we saw some of the Antelope Valley AM sites on the way south from Bakersfield.
This time, our pictures come from an April 2010 visit, wherein we found ourselves heading north on 14 to the Owens Valley, site of last week’s installment. Along the way, we realized that while we’d seen some AM towers in the valley, we’d never driven by the studios, and it seemed worth a short detour to fix that omission.
There are two big clusters that dominate this somewhat over-radioed market: Clear Channel has five signals coming from an office park on Avenue K-4 (they’re really, really unimaginative with their street names in the valley!) on the south side of Lancaster – top-40 KVVS (105.5 Rosamond) and rocker KSRY (103.1 Tehachapi) simulcast Clear Channel LA outlets KIIS and KYSR, KAVL (610 Lancaster) does sports, KTPI-FM (97.7 Mojave) does country and KTPI (1340 Mojave) does standards. This cluster is being dismantled, though; in December, Clear Channel announced it’s selling KAVL, KTPI and KTPI-FM to new owners, leaving only the two LA simulcasts. (We’re still in Los Angeles County here, believe it or not, and thus still in the LA radio market.)
High Desert Broadcasting has the other cluster here, operating from studios on 6th Street East and Avenue Q-9 near what passes for the center of Palmdale, south of Lancaster. This group includes two AMs – talker KOSS (1380 Lancaster) and regional Mexican KUTY (1470 Palmdale) – and five FMs, classic rock KQAV (93.5 Rosamond), regional Mexican KCEL (96.1 Mojave), modern rock “Edge” KKZQ (100.1 Mojave), AC “K-Mix” KGMX (106.3 Lancaster) and classic hits KMVE (106.9 California City).
From the Antelope Valley, 14 (the old US 6) heads north into the eastern Sierra region, meeting up with US 395 about an hour north of Mojave at the town of Inyokern, and it’s there that we turn eastward just a bit to check out the radio scene in Ridgecrest, the commercial center at the southern end of the eastern Sierra and the northern gateway to Death Valley.
Ridgecrest is a military town, closely tied to the adjoining China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, and it’s far enough away from everything, even the Antelope Valley, to have a fairly extensive radio landscape of its own.
There were two AM stations here at the beginning – KLOA (1240) in 1956, followed in 1974 by daytimer KZIQ (1360).
Both signals still exist as part of larger clusters in town. KLOA’s 1240 signal comes from an antenna right next to the studio building on Balsam Street just north of downtown, where it’s part of the Adelman Broadcasting cluster that also includes rhythmic top 40 “Heat” KRAJ (100.9 Johannesburg), adult hits “Bob” KGBB (103.9 Edwards), regional Mexican KEPD (104.9 Ridgecrest, the erstwhile KLOA-FM) and a “Franken-FM,” K06OL Inyokern, which runs country as “Kickin’ Country 87.7.”
Right in the center of town on Ridgecrest Boulevard, we find out what’s become of KZIQ: those calls are now on 92.7 FM, which was doing country as “The Coyote” in 2010 but is now hot AC. The AM signal on 1360 is now KWDJ, a talker, and both KWDJ and KZIQ come from a tower site behind an apartment complex over on the east side of town, off Ridgecrest Boulevard south of the naval air station. (The AM now has 31 watts of night power in addition to the kilowatt of daytime power it’s been running since its 1974 debut.)
Also adjacent to the air station, but at the north end of town, is a more recent standalone FM startup. KSSI (102.7 China Lake) has its studio and transmitter on Inyokern Boulevard, where it’s been doing rock as “I-Rock” since the mid-1990s.
There are also relays here for Family Radio (KFRJ 91.1 China Lake), EMF’s “K-Love” (KZLU 88.5 Ridgecrest) and “Air 1” (KGBM 89.7 Randsburg, a recent long-distance move from Redding up in northern California) and Living Proof’s Bishop-based KWTW network (KWTD 91.9 Ridgecrest). Those signals all transmit from El Paso Peak south of Ridgecrest. That site is also home to the KRAJ and KEPD transmitters, and we’ll have to come by and see it again another time, since we didn’t make it on this trip.
Don’t miss your chance to order the all-new Tower Site Calendar 2012, available now from the all new Fybush.com store!
And check out our sister site, Tophour.com, beginning Wednesday, January 25, for Ridgecrest legal IDs…
Next week: Santa Clarita Valley, California