KTRB Tidbits
(In no particular order)

1.  KTRB-FM became the 3rd broadcast station in Modesto in late 1947.

2.  Bill Bates business partner, Thomas R. McTammany  (T.R. McTammany) had health problems mostly stemming from his drinking.   Bates bought out McTammnay with Les Cleary's help (money) in about 1938 or 1939.  It was TRs money that built KTRB in 1933.  It was also Cleary's money that helped Bill build the studio on Norwegian Avenue in 1940. Cleary became a partner in KTRB at that time owning 1/5 of the stock while Bates retained 4/5s.  Cleary,  a local attorney in the law firm of William Zeff and Leslie Cleary, was the District Attorney in Stanislaus County in the early 40s.  He died around 1950 and Bates bought his share of the corporation and became sole owner of KTRB on September 29, 1950.

3. The KTRB partnership was formed on October 1, 1933 between Bill Bates and T.R. McTammany.  The K in the call letters KTRB came from the FCC license assignment, the "T and R" from T.R. McTammany and "B"  from Bill Bates.

4. The transmitter room addition to the original building on Norwegian was completed around 1948, about the time Max Sayre left to become chief engineer at KTUR in Turlock and build that station.  The addition coincided with the increase in power to 5 KW. Cliff Price was the engineer who installed the new 5 KW transmitter.   Prior to Max Sayre leaving Cliff installed the original KTRB-FM transmitter.

5. Cecil Lynch worked for Bates at the old location on McHenry and Sylvan, behind the Sylvan Clubhouse starting in 1934, about 1 month after the station went on the air.  He was not with Bates when the new station was built on Norwegian Ave.

6. Gene D'Accardo was KTRB's first newsman in 1941. Bill Bates sent Cecil Lynch to Modesto Junior College to pick the best candidate for the job from the students enrolled in radio classes there.  Gene was it, right out of the classroom and into the job.  A year later Gene volunteered for the service in February 1942 and subsequently flew 57 missions as a navigator of Liberator bomber in the South Pacific.    Home after the war he was back at KTRB for awhile then went to KFIV and then to NBC and KNBR to head the news bureau for the next 25 years. 

7. Chester Smith, age 12, walked into the KTRB control room during the Knick Knacks program with Cecil Lynch, saying he and his little friends had just cut a record on his Uncle Paul's machine in Turlock and asked Cecil to play it. It was the beginning of Chester's career.

8. KTRB dropped its country music format and switched to Spanish on November 1, 1993.

9. Fred Maddox, one of the Maddox Brothers and Rose country music band died at the VA Hospital in Fresno October 28, 1992. Rose Maddox became the first woman inducted into the Country Music Hall Fame.

10. Bill Bates was afflicted with polio at the age of 12.

11. When the Titanic sank in the Atlantic, wireless radio played a minor role in the rescue efforts.  From the disaster came radio antennas on every ship and the coded call tinged with terror.....three dots, three dashes, three dots "S O S"  "Save Our Ship."

12.  June 18, 1933.  The Central Valley listened to strains of the National Anthem and then the voice of Bill Bates saying "Good Morning, this is KTRB, Modesto."  Frequency, 740 kilocycles and power of 250 watts.  The antenna was a wire strung between 2 telephone poles. Location on McHenry Avenue at Sylvan behind the Sylvan Clubhouse.  This location was 3 1/2 miles out in the country from the city limits of Modesto. The only business in the distance was Conetto's Grocery.  The station was limited to daytime only operation.  

14. Eldon Barrick and the Swanee Cowboys were regulars on KTRB right after the station went on the air.

15. During the first World War open microphones to the public were not allowed by the government.  Many programs were recorded on 16 inch disks (transcriptions) ( see story >>).  Many of the recordings contained the voices of Doug McCreary doing the news and Barthol W. Pearce with his Footnotes to Headlines. 

16. Teenage brothers Pete and Mike Pappas originated the Teen Age Dance Time show on KBOX radio in Modesto in 1950.

17. KTRB's original phone number was 774.

18. The 300 foot KTRB towers on Norwegian Ave. were made of oil well pipes welded together and hoisted into the sky with great ingenuity using a home made jig. The pipe came from the oil fields of Bakersfield. 

19.  The population of Modesto was slightly more than 18,000 when KTRB came on the air in 1934.

20.  Bill Bates himself uttered the first words on KTRB.  It went something like this as best we can determine.  " Good Morning. This is KTRB, Modesto.  Well, here we are, on the air, back in your own backyard."  The inaugural record played on that bright June 11, 1934 was "Back in your own backyard" recorded on a  10 inch shellac disc at 78 RPM by Jan Garber's orchestra.

21.  Cecil Lynch came to KTRB in July 1934 a month after the station signed on the air. 

22.  In 1940-41 Bill Bates purchased 40 acres of wheat land on the southside of Norwegian Ave between McHenry Ave and Coffee Rd. to build a new station.

23.  The founder of KTRB, Bill Bates, had been a shipboard radio operator,  a radio amateur experimenter and an early broadcast engineer before he obtained the license for KTRB in 1934.  He and an associate  built the transmitter and all the equipment while they were working at radio station KLS in Oakland.  When the station went on the air in 1934 Bates only had enough money left to purchase a handful of records. Just enough to play one side one day, turn them over and play the other side the next day.

24.  KTRB listeners got an earful when they tuned in Friday morning October 19, 1990 in time to hear fired disc jockey J.W. Ford being physically removed from the studios by new general manager Jon Bellizzi.  Although vehemently denied at the time, it was a staged event to boost ratings. 

25.  After several years as a  country music station, KTRB announced a switch to all Spanish talk Radio Labio effective November 1, 1993 according to owner Bessie Pappas.  The station stayed with the format for 16 months before switching to all talk in May of 1995.

26. The application to move KTRB 860 KHz to San Francisco was granted by the FCC on  8/25/2004.

27. KTRB came on the air in 1934 just 14 years after the first station in the country, KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA,  which came on in October of 1920.

28. Ruth Sipes (now Ebbers), was the first woman radio announcer on KTRB and in the valley .

29. Cecil Lynch was the first KTRB employee who conducted interviews for the "Man on the Street" programs in the 40s. Modesto sidewalks were crowded with shoppers and idle teenagers who congregated after school in the drug store soda fountains .

30.  Don Lapan and his "Knick Knacks'" record request hour, one of the most listened-to shows in northern California during the 1950s.

31. Another popular program was hosted by Cal Purviance which included daily weather wrap-ups over a pot of breakfast coffee. Reports came from Ralph King on Echo Summit and ham radio operators calling in reports from all over the western United States. Cal hosted the birthday program and was widely known at "Cal Your Birthday Pal". 

32. The Rev. Don Weston's conducted weekly radio sermons on KTRB from the sanctuary of St. Johns Chapel of the Valley in downtown Modesto.

33. The Swanee Cowboys  "Arkie Stark and the Blocher family were the first country music artists on KTRB in the 30s and 40s. 

34. The Maddox Brothers and Rose,  and a few years later Chester Smith,  became the second and third country music personalities on KTRB.

35. Cousin Andy (Leonard Anderson) and Uncle Eldon (Eldon Barrick) were two of radio's first "personality" DJs  heard on KTRB.

36. Cicely Roddy was the second hostess of the  "Tots and Teens"  radio amateur hour using the air name of Cicely Price.  Carol Glass was the first and the program was call the Children's Amateur Hour.

37. May Damrell and her KTRB radio reports of interest to women were regulars features of KTRB.

38. "Little Benny Stewart," really Ben Pedego who lives across the street from the station, performed on Harold Hinman's variety hour".  Maxine Jeffries and Mildred Downing Van Norman, the "little girl with the great big voice" were audience favorites on KTRB.

39. Sunrise Serenade  "The Birthday Show,"  "Melody Matinee," "Disc Hits and Tid Bits,"  "Swap Shop" and "Jukebox Jamboree" were regularly scheduled programs on KTRB.

40. Cliff Price was the KTRB chief technician who put KTRB-FM on the air in 1947.

41. Bill Bates operated a radio repair shop in Modesto for few years prior to putting KTRB on the air in 1934.  He was one of the first operator-engineers licensed  by the FCC in the state.

42. Four years after Bates death in 1969, the station was purchased for $675,000 by Big Valley Broadcasting, a seven-man corporation that included brothers Pete and Mike Pappas.   The stations FM channel became KHOP, power was increased to 50,000 watts and the transmitter was moved to Black Butte Mountain west of Tracy, Ca.  KTRB's power was increased to 50,000 watts  and the transmitter was move to a new site on Claribel Road NE of Waterford, CA.   In 1971 Pete Pappas bought out the other investors in Big Valley Broadcasting for $1,110,00 and took sole ownership of KTRB/KHOP.  

43. KTRB scrapped its familiar music, news and audience participation format for a brief fling at 24-hour talk radio in the early '80s but returned a few years later to Country- Western music, punctuated with news and special events programming.
44. KTRB was Modesto's only 'radio station for nearly two decades. Then Jud Sturtevant started KMOD (now KFIV) in 1950, and later KBOX (later KBEE and KHYV) was founded by Ralph Brown, an attorney and state legislator.  It hit the airwaves on  Thursday November 1, 1951. 

45. Chester Smith went on the air from Ceres, CA with his own station, KLOC on October 17, 1963.

46. Some of the earliest KTRB advertisers - Lee Brothers,  J .S. West,  Asbill's , Velvet Ice Cream, Rice Furniture, Hub Service, Mel Cardwell Motors, Fred Seely, Riverbank Hay, Helm Chevolete,  Den Dulk Warehouse,  National Dollar Store, Graystone Block, Green and Berry, Gallo Wine,  Langendorf Bread,  Stanislaus Implement,  Topper Jewelers, Knudsen Milk, Halford Cleaners and others.

47. Bill Bates is remembered as "a man who loved every aspect of radio." He was a consultant to the Mexican Navy while working for RCA  and later  chief engineer at KNX in Hollywood before he came to Modesto.  Bates was happiest behind a microphone.

He was host of the Old Time Tunes show - but about the only tune listeners heard some days was the "Beer Barrel Polka" sign-on theme song. Bill would get to talking about politics or world affairs with listeners who called in and there was no stopping him.   Bates  frequent on-the-air pauses and reflective "uh huhs" was his trademark among co-workers and long-time KTRB listeners.

When Bates appealed on the air for afghan donations for wounded servicemen at Oak Knoll Hospital in Oakland, listeners responded with enough lap robes to fill two semi truck- trailer rigs. A plea for harmonicas to be sent to servicemen overseas filled boxes and boxes at the studio.

Hundreds of pairs of eye glasses came in when Bates plugged the Lions club sight conservation program. A radio offer of Kerr canning jars brought 2,600 requests to the station.

48. For years, KTRB would donate between 50 and 75 Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys to needy families Bates learned about from listeners. 

49.  Bates loved the mountains almost as much as he loved broadcasting, especially when he would get snowed in at his cabin at Dardanelle in Tuolumne County east of Sonora, CA and would have to call in his morning reports by ham radio.

50. When Bates died 1969,  Cal Purviance, Turlock furniture dealer Irwin Vrh and other friends organized a "Pennies for Pines"  memorial. The State of California matched some $4,000 in contributions from KTRB listeners and 25-30 volunteers spent two weekends planting thousands of pine seedlings in the area between Cold Springs and Pinecrest in Tuolumne County. A plaque at the site memorializes Bates contributions to valley radio.

51. Bates and KTRB also were spark plugs in organizing Modesto's Fourth of July celebration soliciting advertisers and other merchants for funds in the early years and providing parade-to-fireworks radio coverage for decades.

52. Bill Bates had two daughters,  Carmelita and Delores by his first wife Maria. 

53. Bates built KTRB's original 250 Watt transmitter at the studios of KLS in Oakland where he was an engineer.  Prior to KLS Bill was an engineer for KNX in Los Angeles.

54. KTRB on McHenry Ave. was on the air during the daytime only with 250 watts of power. The antenna was a wire 50 feet off the ground strung between 2 telephone poles behind the studios. 

55. In 1927 Bill Bates was a radioman admiral for the Mexican Navy.  Not a real admiral, but a radioman admiral. Rank was tied to the pay scale.  The job entailed dits and dahs of Morse code, ever on the alert for emergencies and disaster calls. 

56. Bates was the chief engineer of then 5,000 watts KNX, Los Angeles, in 1930.  Sometime between 1930 and 1933 Bates moved to Oakland, CA and worked on the air for KWBR owned by the Warner Brothers.

57. Bates partner in KTRB, Thomas R. McTammany was a local businessman in Modesto. Bates lawyer was Frank Damrell who later went on to be a superior court judge in Modesto.  His son Frank Jr. currently sits as a federal judge in Sacramento.

58. The National Anthem was the first sound to be heard on KTRB when it signed on the air in 1934. The second was the voice of Bill Bates saying "Good Morning, this is KTRB Modesto."    The first musical selection was "Back in your own backyard" believed to have been the version done by Jan Garber's Orchestra.  "Knick Knacks on the Mantel of Memory" by Ray Noble's Orchestra was the first tune to introduce the afternoon request program which spanned two decades on the station.  The "Beer Barrel Polka" was another of the initial tunes played and became Bill Bates theme song for over 40 years.

59. It was traditional at sign off time each evening for KTRB to play "God Bless America" by Kate Smith before going off the air between 11 pm and 1 am. Sign on was at 5 am each morning.

60.  Prominent Turlock businessman C.K. Sanders, who owned the local Cadillac dealership,  received the honor of throwing the switch putting KTUR on the air in Turlock in 1949.

61.  KTRB called itself the "Voice of Central California"  from its beginning in 1934.  Later when their power had been increased to 10,000 watts the station plugged itself as "Northern California's Most Powerful Independent"  broadcasting station.

62.  Bill Bates met his first wife Maria, who was of Mexican aristocracy, while serving in the Mexican Navy as a radio operator.

63.  The Children's Hour,  and later Tots and Teens program,  were first hosted by Mrs. Carol Glass.

64.  Carol Glass and Eleanor Lynch hosted a weekly show in the 30s called Melody Maids.   Mrs. Glass was a member of the pioneer Bangs family of Modesto for whom Bangs Ave was named.

65.  KTRB, when it was located on McHenry Avenue,  was in the McHenry Telephone Company service area which owned all the lines along McHenry Avenue and on Norwegian Avenue until Pacific Telephone bought them out.  Bill Bates. in order to preserve his interest in acquiring extra lines into the station, acquired an interest in the McHenry Telephone Company after he tried to get a local loop to the Sylvan Clubhouse and was told they did not have enough lines to provide him service.

Telephone service to the McHenry Avenue studios,  and the early years of KTRB on Norwegian Avenue,  were provided by open wire lines pole to pole. Overhead cable service did not exist until sometime after World War II.  Copper wire was scarce at the time and very hard to get unless it was essential to the war effort.  Beyond the regular phone lines into Norwegian Avenue there were three circuits for the news wire services (INS (International News Service)  and UP (United Press) and two telephone lines for local loops and out-of-town broadcasts with rudimentary dial-up arrangements. All of the local and out-of-town remotes terminated at a junction box inside the Strand Theater  in downtown Modesto which was full of cobwebs. When the phone company personnel complained about conditions when they had to service the equipment the phone company offered to provide termination services at KTRB.  It was decided that it  would cost too much for extra cable pairs from the downtown telephone office out to KTRB. 

66.  Bill Bates first wife Maria, and the mother of his daughters,  passed away in 1983 at the age of 82 in San Jose, CA.   According to her obituary, Mrs. Bates family financed the building of KTRB's first transmitter when they went on the air in 1934.   Mrs. Bates father was the Mexican consul to the United States from the state of Guadalajara.  Bill was assigned as a radio technician aboard Mexican President Obregon's boat at the time he met Mrs. Bates.  They divorced in 1946. 

67. Pete and Mike Pappas' fifth grade teacher thought that her class would learn more about the world by taking field trips to see how local businesses operated.  One of these trips was to radio station KTRB in Modesto in the late 40s,  a trip that would leave an indelible mark on the twins.  Pete and Mike were impressed by the men working at KTRB, dressed in white shirts, suits, and ties.  Here was a profession that commanded respect, they thought.  Moreover, the building was air conditioned, (water coolers) a far cry from the hot summer sun under which their father toiled in the fields.

On November 1, 1951 a new radio station, KBOX, sprang up in Modesto.  Full of moxie, Pete and Mike asked the station manager, Milt Hibdon, if they could have their own radio show.  They had been turned down at Modesto's leading station, KTRB.  Milt laughed as he  spread  a stack of contracts on the desk telling  them they would have to sell their own advertising to have a show.  Within two weeks, the brothers returned the contracts -- they had sold all of the ads for their first program, and "Pete's and Mike's Dance Time" was born.

The show grew from one hour on Saturday nights to two hours, six nights a week, and eventually was broadcast on two stations simultaneously, Pete at KBOX and Mike at KGDM in Stockton.  A Friday night television variety show on Stockton's KTVU channel 36, produced and hosted by the twins, followed shortly thereafter.

Pete and Mike's success as on-air personalities led to their sponsorship of dances at the California Ballroom each Saturday night.  Crowds of 500-800 teenagers would pack the hall to hear covers of the new music of the day -- Rock & Roll -- performed by a large, live band.  Young Harry got his first taste of entrepreneurship here, working for his brothers running the soft drink concession, while sister Mary sold the tickets in the box office.  Here, Harry learned an important business lesson: control the cash.

After graduating from high school, the twins entered the military, Pete in the Navy and Mike in the Marine Corps.  Upon their honorable discharge in the late 1950s, they accepted positions as salesmen-announcers at separate radio stations.  Undoubtedly, that fifth grade trip to KTRB had firmly planted in the boys' minds the notion that this was the profession for them.  Before long, Pete established himself as the top-billing salesman at his station, and Mike became the manager of yet another station.

68.  Don Lapan left KTRB in 1959.

69. Milt Hibdon started at KTRB in 1943

70. Cal Purviance started at KTRB 1951

71.  Bates returned to California from working in Mexico in 1925.   He settled in Modesto and opened Bates Radio Repair shop the same year.  He operated the shop until the fall of 1928 when he closed it.
72. KTRB -AM increased power of 50,000 watts in 1986. 

Law suit filled in 1938 involving Bates and McTammany.

Bates v. McTammany (1938) 10 C2d 697

[Sac. 5139
Cal Sup Ct
Feb., 16, 1938]
WILLIAM H. BATES, Jr., Respondent, v. T. R. McTAMMANY, Appellant.

WILLIAM H. BATES, Jr., Respondent, v. T. R. McTAMMANY, Appellant.

Cleary & Zeff and Joseph J. Young for Respondent.
Griffin & Boone for Appellant.



The plaintiff and the defendant formed a co-partnership for the purpose of conducting radio station KTRB in the city of Modesto. Subsequently the plaintiff commenced two actions against the defendant. In one he sought to establish a trust for the benefit of the partnership in the real property occupied by the radio station, title to which was held in the name of the defendant. In the other he prayed for an accounting, payment of accrued and overdue partnership debts out of accumulated partnership funds, and equal division of the surplus between the partners. In the first action the defendant joined issue by answer and filed a cross-complaint setting up a claim of sole ownership in himself of the property. In the second action he filed an answer and a cross-complaint claiming 67 per cent ownership of the partnership funds and assets and alleging lack of cooperation on the part of the plaintiff. He asked for an accounting and a division on the basis of his alleged ownership. By a supplemental cross-complaint he sought a termination of the partnership on the ground of the plaintiff's lack of cooperation theretofore alleged. By an amended supplemental cross-complaint he prayed for a dissolution on the theory that it was a partnership at will, and based on an election by him to terminate the partnership and wind up its affairs.

The trial court found that the parties were equal partners; that the real and the personal property were owned by the parties equally, and that title to the real property was held by the defendant as trustee for the partnership. It adjudged the plaintiff's right to a conveyance of the real property to the partnership. It found against the defendant on the issues presented by the cross-complaints, denied the defendant's prayer for dissolution, ordered payment of the partnership debts, and a division of the remaining funds, with the exception of approximately $2,000, equally between the partners. {Page 10 Cal.2d 699}

The defendant appealed from the judgment in each action. The appeals are consolidated in one transcript and are now considered together.

The defendant does not appear to question the correctness of the judgment in the first action, nor the conclusion of the court that the parties are equal partners. The only ground of appeal is that the court erred in denying the defendant the right to a dissolution of the partnership.

The partnership was formed on October 1, 1933. A year later the parties reached an accord concerning the status of the partnership assets and liabilities, which disclosed that the plaintiff had contributed to the partnership about $300 more than the defendant. On October 1, 1936, undisbursed and undivided partnership funds to the extent of $16,572.46 had accumulated on deposit in banks. Partnership obligations, in addition to the excess contribution of the plaintiff, amounted to nearly $4,000. The partnership was liable for 7 per cent interest on that sum, but its funds on deposit were not drawing interest. The trial court found that the defendant, whose signature was required on all checks, had refused to sign or countersign checks for the payment of the partnership debts, although there was ample money on hand for the purpose, and refused to sign any checks dividing the profits between the parties.

The court also found that the plaintiff had not refused to render an account or to cooperate in handling the partnership affairs, but that the defendant had so conducted himself toward the partnership that it became extremely difficult to carry on the business of the partnership in a practical, economical or businesslike manner; that the defendant denied to the plaintiff the use of the key to the partnership mail box; that he kept the partnership books under lock and key and refused access thereto to the plaintiff; and that his refusal to pay the partnership debts had caused considerable loss. On the issues raised by the application of the defendant for dissolution, the court expressly found that the defendant had not come into equity with "clean hands"; that to order a dissolution at the time would destroy a large part of the value of the business due to the fact that a federal license to operate the radio station was under the control of the federal communications commission and could not be sold at a dissolution sale. The court further found that the "partnership was formed for {Page 10 Cal.2d 700} the purpose of building, constructing, operating and maintaining radio station KTRB so long as the license therefore could be obtained from the federal government", and that the station was operating on a license that must be renewed every six months.

[1] The evidence, including that referred to by the defendant, supports the foregoing findings. However, the defendant contends that the partnership was one at will and that, without any further consideration, he was entitled to a dissolution pursuant to sections 2425 (1) (b) and 2426 (2) (b) of the Civil Code. The first of those sections states that a dissolution is caused "by the express will of any partner when no definite time or particular undertaking is specified". The other permits a dissolution by decree of court under prescribed circumstances if the partnership be one at will. The finding that the partnership was formed for a definite undertaking, namely, for the construction, operation and maintenance of the radio broadcasting station KTRB, and so long as the federal license therefor could be procured, is fully supported by the record, and negatives any conclusion which otherwise might be drawn that the partnership was one at will. A finding now as matter of law that the partnership was of that nature would not be justified.

[2] Equitable principles apply in determining the rights of the parties to an action for an accounting between partners, for dissolution of the partnership, and settlement of its affairs. (Freeman v. Donohue, 65 Cal.App. 65, 79 [223 P. 431].) No serious contention may be made that the defendant, himself at fault, may prevail on his application for a dissolution if it would cause loss to the partnership. Equity may refuse dissolution and act to prevent the loss to the partnership if it is expedient to do so, rather than to relegate the plaintiff to his action for damages for breach of the contract. (Gerard v. Gateau, 84 Ill. 121 [25 Am. Rep. 438].)

In Karrick v. Hannaman, 168 U.S. 328 [18 S.Ct. 135, 42 L.Ed. 484], it was said: "A court of equity, doubtless, will not assist the partner breaking his contract to procure a dissolution of the partnership, because, upon familiar principles, a partner who has not fully and fairly performed the partnership agreement on his part has no standing in a court of equity to enforce any rights under the agreement," {Page 10 Cal.2d 701} citing Rutland Marble Co. v. Ripley, 10 Wall. 339, 358 [19 L.Ed. 955]. (See, also, Josephthal v. Gold, 104 Misc. 137 [171 N.Y. Supp. 1041, 1042].)

[3] It is true that the foregoing cases necessarily recognize that there can be no such thing as an indissoluble partnership, and that circumstances may arise which would make it inexpedient for a court of equity to prevent the dissolution. Nevertheless the grounds for premature dissolution must be serious, and will not be recognized as justifiable when the suit is by the partner found to be at fault and when such dissolution will cause losses to the partnership or destruction of the value of partnership assets or property.

The defendant has not shown error or abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court.

The judgment is affirmed.

Houser, J., Waste, C.J., Curtis, J., and Edmonds, J., concurred.