75 Years of KTRB Memories
On the Air in 1933
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. -STORY-
KMOD 1360 KCs History
On the air in 1950
KMOD, Modesto, California, came on the air March 20th, 1950 on 1360 kilocycles AM with a apower 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. 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 for 5 years prior. Later, for a brief period of time,
their studios were located in the Hotel Covell in downtown Modesto. Later they moved to a new building built on
east Orangeburg Avenue just east of Oakdale Rd where their 3 towers were located. At the time the Orangeburg
location was five miles outside of the city of Modesto in the midst of peach orchard and pasture land. It 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. There was also a large room used to hold several transcription libraries and
thousands of LP and 45 rpm records and, later, a workshop was added where the news teletype machines were
The station called itself "Variety Radio" which it certainly was broadcasting from 5 a.m. to a little after midnight
daily numerous programs ranging from Portuguese, Italian and Spanish language programs in the early morning to
live country and western music. It carried most of the ABC Radio Network's offerings including "The Breakfast
Club" to "The Lone Ranger." Paul Harvey and Martin Agronsky were heard 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 done
locally by local announcers, but following a scripted format and music list so that a listener traveling north or
south in California would hear the exact same show even though it was not a network program. -STORY-
KBEE-FM a New Age In Modesto Radio
Researched & written by Bob Neira
On the air in 1948
Living in a time when any listening spectacle imaginable can be found, it's hard to believe that the advent of FM
radio had such an impact on Valley listeners.
But, such was the case back in the afternoon of April 3, 1948 when KBEE-FM began broadcasting. It was not
heard in stereo back then, since that mode of broadcasting was virtually unknown at the time. Modesto pioneer
broadcaster George Stevens tells us that KBEE was not even the first FM station to broadcast in this area; that
honor went to KGDM in Stockton.
However, KBEE was the first FM station in Modesto. It was located in the newly- remodeled former Capitol School
site at 14th and I Streets, adjacent to the old Modesto Bee newspaper plant.
During that memorable day, dozens of radio enthusiasts and just plain curious folks attended the official "sign-on"
ceremonies at the station at 2 PM. Local luminaries included Modesto Mayor Carl Shannon, Stanislaus County
Board of Supervisors Chairman Leo Hammett and Harry Marks, President of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.
At exactly 2 o'clock, listeners both in the audience and on the air heard: "This is KBEE, the Modesto Bee
station...broadcasting at 103.3 megacycles or channel 277. KBEE is owned and operated by the McClatchy
Broadcasting Company." The opening remarks were preceded by a catered luncheon for invited guests and a
prayer by Joe Tomes, of the McClatchy Broadcasting programming division.
The broadcast culminated months of frantic preparation by McClatchy Broadcast engineers and technicians from
Sacramento. Stevens stated that when KBEE originally went on the air, it was staffed by only two people---chief
engineer- announcer Bart Hancock and announcer-technician Granville Each. Bill Endicott was named the station
manager. The station was on the air only from 3 to 9 Pm daily, but later expanded the operation. Steven further
said that the first newscast on KBEE-FM was at 6 PM, written by a reporter from the Modesto Bee copy
department and delivered to the station at 5:45 PM.
Under McClatchy Broadcasting ownership, KBEE-FM was most successful in the late 70s and early 80s with its
"Beautiful Music" format. The easy listening music was one of the consistently-top leaders in the Arbitron ratings
for many years.
McClatchy sold KBEE-FM, along with its sister station KBEE-AM to Price Broadcasting in Utah in 1983. Both
stations were again sold in 1992 to Citadel Broadcasting.
Merle Haggard's boyhood home was made from an old Santa Fe
Railroad boxcar. According to Wikipedia Haggard’s parents, Flossie
Mae (Harp) and James Francis Haggard, moved to California from their
home in Checotah, Oklahoma, during the Great Depression after their
barn burned in 1934. They settled with their children, Lowell and Lillian,
in an apartment in Bakersfield, while James started working for the
Santa Fe Railroad. A woman who owned a boxcar located in Oildale
CA. just south of Bakersfield asked Haggard’s father about the
possibility of converting it into a home. He remodeled the boxcar and
soon after moved in. The property was eventually expanded by building a
bathroom, a second bedroom and a kitchen. It's where Merle Ronald
Haggard was born on April 6, 1937.
Over the many decades since the Haggard family moved out of the
boxcar house, others have owned it and/or lived there; but it eventually
fell into a state of disrepair, to the point where it was in danger of being
demolished as a hazard. Fortunately, a group of Merle’s friends, fans
and other concerned citizens launched an effort to save and preserve
Merle’s boyhood home from the bulldozer.
A website was created and funds were raised to purchase the home and
move it to the grounds of Pioneer Village at the Kern County Museum in
Bakersfield. In 2015, the structure was moved to the museum grounds
where it continues to undergo restoration.