KLOC 920 KHz Ceres, CA History
By Chester Smith
KLOC went on the air October 17, 1963. I had been with KTRB from January 2, 1947 until some time in March 1963. After leaving KTRB I immediately began working on the construction and opening of the station. To kick it off, I did a daily television series on KOVR Channel 13 for thirteen weeks. It was a live music show, and featured some local musicians, a gospel quartet, and an unknown new singer (Merle Haggard), as well as numerous other celebrity guests who were known at the time.

For agreeing to do the television series--with which I was reluctant to become involved--KOVR agreed to promote heavily the opening of KLOC, which was quite effective.

It was magic from the beginning, since it never saw an hour on the air without being profitable, and created the basis to build KLOC TV Channel 19, then keep it operating beginning August 26, 1966. As you know, it became a giant in northern California, since it was the first 5 million watt UHF station, as well as the original Spanish language station north of Los Angeles. Later, it became the flagship for stations in all markets in northern and central California and northern Nevada.

Frankly, though, without KLOC radio, it  probably couldn’t have happened. It featured a strong line-up of radio talent, including the veteran newscaster from KTRB, Charles McEwen, who was assisted by veteran Louise Flint from KFIV radio.


Glenn Stepp also came over from KFIV and Glenn was well-known in the area. There were numerous other strong personalities who joined us, including Ramona Adams.  KLOC radio was also a key player because of an IRS window of opportunity in 1981, when it was sold to McKitrick Oil, principals headed by the late Armor Smith, a well-known and respected citizen of Modesto. The monies derived from the sale were used to build the second Spanish TV station, KCBA, in Salinas-Monterey.

Although KLOC was a 500 watt daytime station, it was well-located on the dial at 920 AM, between KTRB and KBEE, owned by the McClatchy Broadcasting, and it had the loudest bark on the block due to a veteran talent and former employee of KTRB, Cecil Lynch. Its loudness on the dial, in comparison to other local stations, was a real show-stopper. In fact, if it had not been for Cecil Lynch, there would not have been a KLOC, the last AM station built in the market at a time that no one thought that any radio frequency could possibly be available, but Cecil found it.

It was 100% country music with gospel insertions until shortly before the sell-off, and during the last months of our ownership it was half-day Spanish and the remainder Christian programming. Today it is an oldies station in the market.


Magic strikes occasionally, sometimes from pure happenstance and on other occasions being contrived. The KLOC super loudness was probably child of both.

When the FCC Construction Permit came thru authorizing 500 watts daytime only on 920 kcs as the first station to be licensed to Ceres, getting on the air at the fewest possible dollars became a considerable challenge. Fortunately, KTUR had recently increased power to 5 kw, moving its transmitter into the low foothills beyond Denair, and its original Raytheon one kw transmitter could be had for $1200.

KLOC constructed a small concrete block transmitter building on Iowa Avenue, refurbished an old farmhouse as a studio, and the props were all there ready to roll. Towers were lined up in a row, ground system plowed in phasing constructed (for the most part using electronics surplus obtained from the Nichols brothers warehouse at Fresno), and the transmitter was hauled into place. The Raytheon transmitter was a masterpiece of of spacious and sturdy construction, lending itself well to modifications with a circuit I had come across that would allow the positive peaks of modulation to continue uninhibited while controlling negative peaks so they would not exceed cutoff with resultant distortion. The result was a box with a really loud boom.

1954 Wait a little longer please Jesus.                                                       1958 Saturday Night                                                       2005 Old Fashion Love
KLOC and the Magic of Super Modulation
By Cecil Lynch, Consulting Engineer
Chester and his partner Red Pearce had heard rumors that KTRB was monitoring the KLOC signal while we were testing on the air with the antenna proof and during the after midnight program material sequences, so we purposely kept the modulation level low at these times. When the telegram came from Washington authorizing program test, we hit the air full force with modulation off the peg at 130 and 140 percent. Word came back that the KTRB windows were rattling. Chester and Red with their little 500 watter were in orbit.

FCC regulations in effect at that time looked at transmitter performance largely in terms of measured audio distortion, specifying that an audio proof of performance be taken annually. I was never quite sure whether our super modulation was in violation of a 100% rule, but measured audio distortion was well within limits. Several years later the FCC initiated a proposed rulemaking inquiry to define levels of modulation.

Meantime, I had revised our concept of positive/negative waveform processing, removing it from the high level, high voltage section of the transmitter to the low level audio input. We decided to introduce our system as a presentation into this study, using a Gates transmitter we had recently installed at KPOP in Roseville. Our study was accepted, along with others, by the FCC and referenced in the Decision setting a value of 125% as the positive peak limit. Industry manufacturers took up this or similar ideas in the design of limiting amplifiers currently in use.

Our device was simple in design, with no active components. When viewed on an oscilloscope a sine wave continues above the base line without blemish while the lower portion dwarfs noticeably. The KPOP transmitter was especially clean and we were able to achieve 140% modulation before exceeding the distortion constraints.

A copy of the FCC Decision is being supplied to the museum library, and a unit of our wave shaper constructed by Jerry Moore is being provided as an artifact.



Cecil Lynch  in May 2008
(Photo courtesy of Frank Azevedo)
 
Courtesy of Jack Hamilton,  El Dorado Hills, CA