Demolition crews began demolishing the original studios of radio station KTRB on January 25, 2016 following the sale of the property. KTRB’s home for 75 years (1941-2016) sat on what originally was 40 acres of farmland station owner Bill Bates purchased on Norwegian Avenue just west of Coffee Road in 1940. Three cylindrical antennas structures, a studio building and Bates home were constructed on the southwest corner of the property. The new owner has announced she intends to build an independent and assisted-living facility on the property.
Bill Bates died in 1969 and the station operated under the auspices of Bates estate administered by the Crocker National Bank from 1969 to 1973 when it was sold in 1973 for $675,000 to a corporation headed by the Pappas brothers (Mike, Pete and Harry) of Visalia (formerly of Modesto). Other members of the purchasing group included Bob Piccininni (Save-Mart Super Markets) and Mike Sturdevant among others.
In 1981 Pete Pappas bought out his fellow investors for $1110,000 and operated the station until 1986 when he passed away of a heart attack while visiting in Price, Utah. The station was inherited by his wife Bessie who subsequently sold KTRB-FM to a Sacramento based broadcast company for 6.5 million in cash.
In October, 2002 Mrs.Pappas tired of the business and sold KTRB-AM to her brother-in-law Harry Pappas, the only surviving brother, who at that time owned several TV and radio stations across the country. The local staff was let go at that time and the programming for KTRB came from Harry’s news-talk station KMPH-FM in Fresno. The microwave programming feed continued from Fresno until September 2005 when origination control returned to KTRB on Norwegian. Satellite receivers were installed and the news-talk format continued.
In 2004 Harry Pappas applied for, and was granted, a permit by the FCC to move KTRB-AM 860 KHz to San Francisco and to replace it with KMPH, 840 KHz in Modesto. In preparing for KMPH in late September 2005, workers began repairing and remodeling the KTRB studios on Norwegian with the intent to return the building to it’s original appearance and design in 1941. Once completed, it was to house the new KMPH and the Modesto Radio Museum, which was the brainchild of Harry Pappas.
However, the economic downturn resulted in Harry Pappas being forced in bankruptcy and becoming unable to provide a home for the museum. The KTRB building and 1.5 acres of land on Norwegian was put up for sale in 2009. (Asking price $800,000) On June 18, 2006, KTRB in Modesto went off the air and was replaced on July 10, 2006 with KMPH on 840 KHz officially ending the history of Modesto’s Pioneer broadcast station.