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 put.
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
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.
On June 18, 1933, KTRB-AM,
740 kHz, became the first
commercial broadcast station
on the air in Modesto and
Stanislaus County.The station
changed frequency to 860 kHz
in a frequency swap with KCBS
in San Francisco. 20 additional
stations have joined them since