KMOD, Modesto, California, came on the air March 20th, 1950 on 1360 kilocycles AM with a power of 1,000 watts with studios located on Adams Ave off Old Oakdale road in east Modesto. The license was issued by the FCC to Radio Modesto, a corporation owned by Richard J. Giddings, W.W. Giddings Jr., John E. Griffin and John H. Suacut who was also the station’s general manager. Here is the press release from 1949:
Radio Modesto (KMOD) Is Given Tentative Federal Permit
September 20, 1949
The Federal Communications Commission in Washington, DC, today tentatively reinstated a grant to Radio Modesto, Inc., for a new standard radio station here. It is proposed to operate KMOD on 1360 kilocycles, one kilowatt, unlimited time. The announcement was made in the form of an initial decision which will become final within 40 days unless objections are filed. Frank M. Helm, owner of Helm Chevrolet in Modesto, withdrew his competing application last week clearing the way for the FCC action.
Robert Harrell was KMOD’s Chief Engineer coming to Modesto from the Chicago area. Gene D’Accardo, the news editor, came from KTRB in Modesto 5 years prior.
Later, for a brief period of time, their studios were located in the Hotel Covell in downtown Modesto. After that, they moved to a new building on east Orangeburg Avenue, just east of Oakdale Rd where their 3 towers were located. At the time the station’s location was five miles outside of the city of Modesto in the midst of peach orchards and pasture land. KMOD had up-to-date Ampex reel-to-reel tape machines and a combination of RCA and General Electric equipment ranging from microphones to the audio board. The studios also had a large room which held several transcription libraries and thousands of LP and 45 rpm records. Later, a workshop was added where the news teletype machines were housed. KMOD called itself “Variety Radio” which it certainly was, broadcasting from 5 a.m. to a little past midnight daily.
Numerous programs ranging from Portuguese, Italian and Spanish language programs aired in the early mornings, switching later in the day to live country and western music.
KMOD carried most of the ABC Radio Network’s offerings including “The Breakfast Club,” “The Lone Ranger,” and Walter Winchell. Paul Harvey and Martin Agronsky were featured with their unique brand of news reporting.
Local shows were primarily popular recorded music shows, local newscasts and special programs from time to time. One of the most popular evening shows was syndicated “Lucky Lager Dance Time,” a show produced by local KMOD announcers who followed a scripted format and music list. Listeners traveling north or south in California would hear the exact same show even though it was not a network program.
Local personalities heard on the station included Gene D’Accardo, who was the news director, chief announcer and part time programmer. He had been associated with the large independent radio station KTRB for years before KMOD went on the air. Mickey Hart, known on-air as Jim Brooks, was known as the host of “Teen Turntable Time” although he did numerous other shows. Gene Williams, an expert with regard to popular music and the recording industry, was a popular disc jockey. KMOD was sold in 1957 and the call letters were changed to KFIV.
The call letters KFIV, were chosen because it represented the 5 aspects of radio: music, news, sports, weather, and time. It was a strict Top-40 station, and was incredibly popular.
Bob Fenton bought the station in 1966, for a sum of $475,000.
He was a long-time broadcaster, including work at WMCA, New York City and KHJ, Los Angeles. He named the company, Kilibro Broadcasting, after his three daughters, Kimberly, Lindsay, and Brooke.
A sample of recording studio outtakes of K-5’s many jingles:
It was later sold again and became KZUN, “Modesto’s Country Cousin” station featuring popular country and western music in 1984. KZUN was unsuccessful against established country stations KTRB and KMIX AM and FM.
In September of 1985 KZUN changed its call letters back to KFIV and its format back to Adult Contemporary but this time they utilized the Satellite Music Network’s Starstation AC. In 1987, KFIV dropped Adult Contemporary and went to Contemporary Hit Radio which they simulcast on their FM sister station, KFIV-102.3.
Early in 1989, KFIV changed its call letters to KASH and its format to Business News And Talk. On October 15, 1989 to News/Talk. From AM KMOD, to KFIV, to KZUN, back to KFIV, then to KASH and again back to KFIV and again affiliated with ABC’s Radio Network and others.
KFIV acquired an FM station sometime in the mid 80’s when they acquired KITA -FM 102.3 MHz. KITA-FM signed on the air on July 4, 1977 with all Spanish programming. KITA operated from a mobile office type studio set up next to the KFIV studios on Orangeburg Ave. The original owners were a local Spanish couple and a major investor in the station at the time was Robert Fenton owner of KFIV.
Mr. Fenton eventually gained control of the station when financial problems beset the original owners. Fenton changed the call letters to KFIV-FM and did away with the Spanish programming and went to a rock format. Today the AM station is known as KFIV (all talk) and KFIV FM is known as Sunny 102 FM KJSN. Both stations are owned by the Clear Channel Company with studios at Oakdale Rd. and Lancey Drive in Modesto.))