Radio Pioneer and KTRB Owner Bill Bates dies at 68

William H. Bates, Jr.
Oct. 18, 1900- April 3, 1969
April 3, 1969

William H. (Bill) Bates, Jr. died Thursday April 3 1969  of an apparent heart attack while at his daughter's home in San Jose. He was 68 years old and had been ill and off work for the past three weeks. The apparent fatal heart attack occurred shortly afternoon at the home of his daughter, Delores Williams in San Jose, He had been staying with her following his release from a hospital where he had been several weeks.  He was a native of Freedom, CA (Santa Cruz County),

Mr. Bates entered Oakland Technical High School in 1919 where he studied for his commercial broadcasting license he obtained a year later.   He became interested in Amateur (Ham) radio and a year later earned one of the first Amateur radio licenses issued in the country. The call sign was 6KL, which, in later years was changed by the FCC to W6CF.  He was widely known in Amateur radio circles and belonged to the Century Wireless Association as well as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).  

Mr. Bates worked for RCA corporation and as a  radio technician for the Mexican Navy in the early 1920s.   From 1925 to 1928 he owned and operated a radio repair business in the Covell building in downtown Modesto before building KTRB in 1933.

Mr. Bates,  and his partner Thomas R.  McTammany,  put  KTRB, Modesto's first commercial broadcast station,  on the air on June 18, 1933 operating from studios at the corner of McHenry Ave and Sylvan Rd. in Modesto.  A location, at the time,  that was nearly 3 miles out in the country from the then city limits of Modesto.   In 1941  Mr. Bates purchased 40 acres of wheat-land on Norwegian Ave. in Modesto and built a new facility.  In 1949 he added an FM station,  KTRB-FM,  to his business. 

Mr. Bates had been heard on the station for more than 30 years with his "Old Time Tunes Program" from 8:15 to 10:30  Monday through Saturday mornings. He was active in the Elks lodge and the originator of the Fourth of July parade in Modesto.  Through the years he remained as the general chairman of the event. 

Bates is survived by his widow, Maxine Bates; two daughters, Delores Williams and Carmelita Lockbaum, both of San Jose, and six grandchildren. Final rights were held at the Franklin and Downs Funeral home April 7, 1969  with the Rev. Donald G. Weston of St. Johns Chapel of the Valley officiating.   Interment was at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson.