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|City||San Antonio, Texas|
|Broadcast area||San Antonio metropolitan area|
|Branding||550 AM KTSA|
|Slogan||Stay connected San Antonio|
|Frequency||550 kHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||550: September 1, 1922 (as WCAR) |
107.1: March 13, 2015
|Power||550: 5,000 watts|
|ERP||107.1: 250 watts|
|HAAT||107.1: 186 m (610 ft)|
|Class||550: B |
|Facility ID||550: 71087 |
|Callsign meaning||Keep Talking San Antonio (Call letters were originally randomly assigned.)|
|Former callsigns||WCAR (1922-circa 1930)|
|Affiliations||ABC News Radio|
Westwood One Network
|Owner||Alpha Media |
(Alpha Media Licensee, LLC)
|Sister stations||KJXK, KLEY-FM, KTFM, KHHL, KZDC|
KTSA (550 kHz "107.1 and 550 KTSA") is a commercial AM radio station in San Antonio, Texas. KTSA is owned by Alpha Media and airs a talk radio format. The studios, offices and three-tower transmitter are on Eisenhauer Road in San Antonio. KTSA programming can also be heard on an FM translator at 107.1 MHz, K296GK.
Weekdays feature mostly local talk hosts by day, with some syndicated shows in afternoons and nights, including Dave Ramsey, Lars Larson, Dana Loesch and Red Eye Radio. Weekends include programs on money, health, home repair, cars, gardening and pets. Some weekend shows are paid brokered programming. Most hours begin with world and national news from ABC News Radio.
The station began on September 1, 1922, as WCAR, founded by John C. Rodriguez of the Alamo Radio & Electric Company in September 1922. WCAR was the second radio station in San Antonio, taking the airwaves shortly after WJAE which only lasted a few months. WCAR originally broadcast on 1290 kilocycles, sharing time with WFUL in Galveston. (Before 1923, radio stations in Texas were given call signs beginning with W.) The station's full-time operation was approved April 29, 1933, when the Federal Radio Commission approved WCAR's purchase of WFUL and it was taken off the air. Several years later, WCAR's call letters were changed to KTSA.
In the 1930s, KTSA moved to 550 kHz, increasing its coverage area by going from 1,000 watts to 5,000 watts. KTSA, which was owned by Southwest Broadcasting Company at that time, became an affiliate of the Southwest Network and the CBS Radio Network. KTSA carried the network's schedule of dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows and big band broadcasts during the Golden Age of Radio.
On October 28, 1940, KTSA played host to the first and only meeting between noted science fiction author H.G. Wells and radio dramatist Orson Welles, which occurred nearly two years after the panic created by Welles' broadcast of The War of the Worlds. An advertisement in the 1949 edition of Broadcasting Yearbook said KTSA had been a CBS affiliate for 20 years, delivering 25.1% more radio families in the daytime and 20.6% more radio families in the nighttime. The ad was aimed at advertisers who might otherwise want to buy time on NBC Red Network affiliate 1200 WOAI, which remains KTSA's rival to this day.
Top 40 Era
For a time the San Antonio Express-News Corporation owned the station. In 1956, rock and roll radio pioneer Gordon McLendon bought KTSA. He made it one of the first full-time Top 40 stations in America. KTSA became an overnight sensation because of the music and outrageous, for the time, promotions. One included a flagpole sitter at the O. R. Mitchell Dodge used car dealership on Broadway, and the KTSA Easter Egg Hunt, which swamped San Pedro Springs Park with thousands of listeners searching for a $1000 KTSA Golden Egg.
In 1957, KTSA got competition from AM 860 KONO, which changed to a top 40 format and hired several of KTSA's disk jockeys. By this time, McLendon had successful stations in El Paso (KELP), Dallas (KLIF), and Houston (KILT), and used the El Paso and San Antonio stations as farm teams for his larger markets. Because KTSA was located at 550 on the dial, his station promoted on the air that it played the "Top 55 Hits." Under McLendon ownership, KTSA obtained Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permission to use the call letters "KAKI-FM" on KTSA's planned FM station, reportedly to honor San Antonio's military personnel (with "KAKI" meaning "khaki", a type of fabric used in military uniforms). KTSA's call letters were also briefly switched to KAKI. After KAKI-AM-FM letterhead and promotional materials were printed, management learned that the call letters could be pronounced as slang in Spanish for baby feces. AM 550 quickly returned to its KTSA call sign. And plans to put the FM station on the air were scrapped.
McLendon sold KTSA in 1965. The FCC had a rule at that time that a single owner could not own more than seven radio stations nationally. When McLendon bought his eighth radio station, San Antonio was one of his smallest markets. So he sold KTSA to Waterman Broadcasting, with Bernard Waterman as the president. KTSA remained one of San Antonio's most listened-to stations until contemporary music listening switched to FM radio. In 1969, KTSA signed on an FM sister station, 102.7 KTFM (now KJKK).
Switch to Talk Radio
In the 1980s, the Top 40 format moved over to KTFM, while KTSA switched to a full service adult contemporary sound, with some talk programming at night. By 1986, the music had been eliminated and the station became a fulltime talk outlet.
In 2000, KTSA and its FM station, then with the call letters KSRX, were acquired by the Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, a division of CBS. Then in 2007, KTSA and its FM station, 102.7 KJXK, were bought by Border Media Partners (BMP Radio) for $45 million. On July 27, 2009, Border Media Partners was taken over by its lenders in an "amicable manner," according to an FCC filing. Border Media had not made a debt payment in two years, according to the San Antonio Express-News. This resulted in BMP selling the station to L&L Broadcasting (now Alpha Media) in 2013.
Former On-Air Staff
KTSA staff inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame include Ricci Ware, Brad Messer, Don Keyes, and Barry Kaye. Popular 1950s and 1960s rock and roll disk jockeys also included Bruce Hathaway, Pat Tallman and Charlie Vann. Mark Velasco was a popular KTSA host in the 1980s.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1935 page 58
- "KTSA Gets Full Time" (PDF). Broadcasting. May 15, 1933. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1949 page 263
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1960 page 239
- Durkee, Rob. American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century. ISBN 0-02-864895-1. New York City: Schirmer Books, 1999, p.14. Accessed December 10, 2007.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1974 page B-212
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 2009 D-540
- "KTSA San Antonio Adds FM Translator - RadioInsight". 26 February 2015.