Reverend Paul J. Pietsch, founder of Missionary Gospel Fellowship in Turlock, suggested in 1946 that some Christian businessmen in Turlock start a new radio station in Turlock. The first thought of the Turlock group was to establish the station on Colorado Avenue on four acres acquired for this purpose. Eventually this site was abandoned when the group decided to a rent a larger site on approximately 10 acres on Quincy Road, between Hawkeye and Tuolumne where they eventually erected towers and built their studios. The first Washington D.C. representative retained to help with the license application made a trip out to California, and in his spats inspected the site. He inquired how high on the tower base the snow would be in wintertime.
Application for a construction permit was filed in 1946 and after contending with at least one competing application for another
city, a construction permit was issued. The group applied for and received FM license at the same time but since there was only small listener interest in FM at the time, the group did not pursue it and let it lapse. Studios, offices and two antenna towers were erected. Two antenna towers were required for nighttime directional operation in order to protect KGER in Long Beach and a station in Oregon. After construction was completed and extensive signal pattern testing done the application for actual broadcasting was filed in Washington, D.C. on October 7, 1949. A permit to go on the air was received Friday, October 14, 1949 . Though the station was limited to 1,000 watts , there was good coverage in the primary area and at times could be heard from Carson City, Nevada to Ridge Route and Gorman in the south.
The first broadcast was the Turlock-Lodi football game at Lodi, with sports announcer Claire Rampton calling the game. An open house was held shortly after going on the air attended by a full house of interested citizens.
There were about 10 to 15 employees at the time and Max Sayre, was the station's Chief Engineer . Some of the early programming on the station included a Portuguese program by Frank Mendonca and the farm broadcasts by Buck Clausen.
When broadcasting started the owners and board members were Wallace Lindskoog, Chairman; Gilbert. Moody, Secretary; Elwood Swanson, Treasurer; Luther Boone; Elmer Hyer; August Lindblom; Herbert Lindgren; Wilbur Merrill; H. A. McMillen; Gordon Mowrer; Clarence Soderstrom; Melvin Soderstrom; and Bill Tell.
In about 1960 KTUR was sold to some men from Ohio who preferred to emphasize network baseball and changed the name from KTUR to KCEY to tie in with "Casey at the bat". The call letter change occurred on 2-24-62. Before the sale, the original owners had completed engineering to increase the power to 5,000 watts and move the transmitter site SE of Turlock at Montpelier. The FCC granted the increase application after the new owners took over control of KTUR who completed the improvements. At the same time the new owners purchased a piece of property on Geer Road at Santa Fe Ave. and built a new studios also installing a nearly 400 foot tower on which to install the antenna for their new FM station.
Courtesy of Scott Atherton and the Turlock Historical Society archives.
Turlock Tribune June 14, 1946
Eight Turlock area men have filed an application with the FCC for a commercial AM broadcast station for Turlock. The group comprises the Turlock Broadcasting Group and include chairman , Wallace N. Lindskoog. Luther G. Boone, Gordon E. Mowrer, Elmer A. Heyer, August Lindbom, C.H. Lindgren, secretary, Wilbur Merrill and Gilbert Moody, legal adviser. The station manager H. Ansel McMillian said the group is a general partnership.
Mowrer and Lindblom are Turlock merchants, Moody an attorney and the others turkey raisers, farmers and dairymen.
According to McMillen. a 5 acre tract of ground has been purchased on Colorado Ave. a half mile northeast of the Turlock city limits. The transmitter will be placed 2112 feet due south of Minnesota avenue and 330 feet due east of Colorado at 107 feet above sea level. The studios will at the same location.
The tentative call letters will be KTUR with a power of 250 watts at 1450 Kcs with expected "blanket" coverage of 25 miles in any direction from Turlock. The total range would encompass approximately 50 miles.
McMillian said a competing application from a Modesto group for a station in Modesto on the same frequency may delay the granting of a license by the FCC for several weeks and may require a hearing.
The initial investment of the Turlock group will amount to approximately $30,000 according to McMillian.
Turlock Tribune 5-20-49
Country Planners have approved the site for Turlock's own commercial radio station which will on t he air within 100 days according to H.A. McMillen, spokesman for the owners. The station's application to erect towers and a studio on the W.J. Glaze residence on Quincy Road between Tuolumne and Hawkeye has been approved by the Stanislaus County planning commission.
The towers have been purchased and delivered to the Quincy Road site and bids are now being accepted to erect them. Preliminary plans have also been completed for the construction of a studio at the same location.
The FCC has granted the local group a license to operate an AM station on 1390 Kcs. The group has also received an FM station license. It will be simulcast with the AM station programming if the group decides to put it on the air.
Others connected with the station besides McMillen include Gilbert Moody, Wallace Lindskoog, Herbert Lindgren, Wilbur Merrill, Luther Boone, August Lindblom, Gordon Mowrer and Ralph Hyer.
Turlock Tribune 10-7-49
KTUR Goes on the Air Next Week
Turlock's radio station, KTUR, will go on the air during the early part of next week according H.A. McMillian, station manager. All test have been completed and the station has been inspected by the FCC. All that remains is for formal approval from the FCC in Washington, D.C. which is routine.The approval should be telegraphed by the FCC by early next week and the station will go on the air as soon as it is received. Formal opening ceremonies will be aired on the following night. The station's frequency is 1390 Kcs.
During the building of KTUR in Turlock, CA. that went on the air last month, station officials were approached by a prominent local resident to be the station's first sponsor. Reason for the request dates back to 1913.
At that time, the same man, then in his teens, participated in the earliest transmission of voice and music by radio. Transmissions occurred regularly between the National Wireless Telephone Co. in the Garden City Bank building in San Jose and a similar station in San Francisico. One of the operators was C.K. Sanders, now the Turlock Cadillac-Oldsmobile dealer.
Mr. Sanders realized his wish to be a sponsor and also was the first person to push the switch when KTUR went on the air Oct 14, 1949. It was his first close contact with commercial radio since he retired from the field following service in the Navy.
After serving in the Navy Signal Corp. during the first world war, Mr. Sanders retired from radio until a year ago when he acquainted himself with vacuum tubes, crystal oscillators, Class B modulators and similar modern terms and was issued amateur license, W6DVS.
KTUR operates full time on 1390 Kcs with 1 KW and is licensed to the Turlock Broadcasting Corp.
Present as KTUR Turlock, CA switch is thrown are (L-R) H.A. McMillian, Station Manager; Emile J. Rome, Raytheon San Francisco sales engineer, C.K. Sanders (hand on the switch) ; Maxon B. Sayre, Chief Engineer; Carl Pendergraft, Assistant Engineer.
Shown in the insert photo station operators, left, C.K. Sanders, as a young man, right Emile Portal, both working at the transmitter.
Pioneer Radioman is Outlet's First Sponsor
(November, 1949 Newspaper Article)
Came on the air October 14, 1949. KTUR owned by the Turlock Broadcasting Group, a group of Turlock business people and later sold to a subsequent group of owners, including the producer of the Beverly Hillbillies. The switch was thrown to put the station on the air by local businessman C.K. Sanders.
Original KTUR studios on Quincy Ave. in Turlock taken in 1972 when the station was known at KCEY.
Photo courtesy of Steve Pacheco
Assistant Chief Engineer Carl Pendergraft (seated) and KTUR General Manager H.A. McMillian The control board was built by Max Sayre, KTUR Chief Engineer and Carl Pentergraft, Asst. Chief.
L-R Unknown, Unknown and H.A. McMillian KTUR station manager.
Cecil Lynch announcer and engineer
L-R Unknown and H.A. McMillian KTUR station manager
Carl Pendergraft, assistant Chief Engineer KTUR
Unknows in front of KTUR's 1,000 watts Raytheon transmitter.
KTUR booth at the Stanislaus County Fair in the '50s.
References and sources:
Turlock Tribune newspaper May 20, 1949.
Turlock Tribune June 14, 1946
Turlock Tribune 10-7-49
Backyard reception for Governor Goodwin Knight in backyard of the Enoch Christofferson home on Berkeley Ave. in Turlock between 1953 and 1959. L-R Governor Knight, seated Mrs. Knight.
This photo was believed taken in the 50's at Alves Electric Company in Los Banos, CA. which was located across the street from the Crest Theater. Seated on the left is the business owner Frank Alves and seated on his right is his salesman Joe Ferry. We have not been able to ID the man standing on the left. Standing on the right is Frank Mendonsa who for many years hosted a Portuguese program on KTUR called "Frankly Speaking". Joe Ferry handled remote broadcasts from the business on KTUR weekly.
Photo courtesy of Len Mendonca and Charmaine Mendonsa.
Forty-eight years ago a young man of 18 sat at the controls of a small wireless set in the Garden City Bank Building in San Jose. Claude K. Sanders - now a Turlock Cadillac-Oldsmobile dealer did not realize it at the time, but he was the chief operator of what is believed to be the first attempt at radio broadcasting.
.According to Sanders, the first successful attempt at airing a radio broadcast was not made in 1909 as originally believed, but in 1913. The transmission of the human voice was not new, what was new was the transmitting of recorded music. Credit for this goes to Dr. Charles D. Herrold with whom Sanders worked. Dr. Herrold, Sanders recalls, was hired by the National Wireless Telephone and Telegraph Company to build an experimental station on the third floor of the Garden City Bank Building. The station, Sanders added, was powered by an arc oscillator transmitter. The equipment belonged to , National Wireless, but Dr. . Herrold must be given credit for making several important improvements on it.
Dr. Herrold maintained a station at the college where he taught radio operation, Sanders explained. He added that he was one of the two Herrold students hired by National Wireless to aid in building the station. Sanders is the only surviving member of the team.
“Professor Herrold was chief engineer," Sanders stated. Sanders was the chief operator because he was the only one of the three that had a commercial operator's license. The license, one of Sanders' prize possessions, was issued on May 3, 1912, by the Department of Commerce and Labor. On November 11 of that same year, Sanders went to work with Herrold. The first station was a far cry from the modern installation of today, Sanders explains. "We would broadcast a few hours during the day and evening to a very small audience." "There weren't any receiver sets in those days," Sanders said, "so Dr. Herrold built sets and would sell or rent them to people around town so we would have a listening audience. The major part of our broadcasts consisted of recorded music playing on a Victor phonograph."
After Professor Herrold and his associates established the San Jose station, they experimented with a portable transmitter at the Mare Island Naval station and the naval station at Point Arguello. On September 30, 1913, the San Jose Mercury-Herald reported, “According to a radiogram received yesterday from the Bremeton Navy Yard, Washington, the voice of C.K. Sanders was plainly heard from the Mare Island Navy Yard." The article continued by saying, "Sanders was recently placed in charge of the Mare Island station by Prof. Herrold." The article also reported that E.A. Portal, (the third member of the team) was detailed to Point Arguello to assume his duties there on the Herrold Wireless telephone installed at the Government station.
The article further reported that the team's fourth member, Frank S. Schmidt, laboratory expert for the National Wireless Laboratory in San Jose, placed both these stations in operation." Continuing,” the article said, "The voice of the operator at Mare island was plainly heard at Point Arguello. Schmidt and Portal stated that the sound of the voices from the Mare Island station was loud at San Jose. Waves of a frequency of 250,000 per second were sent out from the Mare Island station and about 300,000 per second from Point Arguello. The report concluded by saying, “A station 900 miles away heard the music of an orchestra, transmitted by phonograph, plainly and distinctly."
The first station operated on a five-day-a-week schedule, Sanders said. The programs played the latest hit tunes such as "By the Light of the Silvery Moon." During November of 1913 Sanders left Dr. Herrold and radio broadcasting. He took a job as a mechanic in a garage, and thus was the beginning of his career in the automobile business. Sanders said he returned several times to visit Dr. Herrold, who continued in radio, but he himself has never returned to radio broadcasting as a profession, although he is currently an amateur operator with an Advanced Class license.
Veteran Turlock Auto Dealer Was Pioneer In Radio Field
By Bob Christman Turlock Daily Journal
June 28, 1960
Claude K. Sanders, W6NTV, in his ham radio station located at his Cadillac dealership in Turlock.
(Somenotes from George Stevan, K6SNA, who knew Mr. Sanders.)
Claude K. Sanders (nickname of Sandy) died Feb.26,1982 at the age of 86. His call was W6NTV. Sandy had the Cadillac dealership in Turlock for many years and after he died his sons operated the business. Sandy was the guy that punched on the transmitter for KTUR when it went on the air in 1949. He also had a complete ham radio station at the dealership plus at home. For awhile he had a second call sign at the dealership which was W6DVS.
He was also a great friend of Frank Jones, who was a pioneering VHF - UHF genius. Sandy was very active on 2 meters and 440 Mhz. He had two complete Collins stations at home and work locations. He had a complete personal workshop at the dealership where he built numerous VHF - UHF and antennas. He also had a 100 foot tower at his central Turlock home. The interesting epilog to his death was that in his will he offered to give his all his amateur gear to his grandson if he got a ham license within 6 months of Sandy's death. The grandson did not do it. He would have had four complete Collins stations plus all of the VHF - UHF gear and antennas. Incidentally, on the tower at home, he a motor driven bucket that he could ride to the top of his tower to work on his antennas. Sandy worked for "Doc" Herrold at his station in San Jose in 1908 which he claimed to be the first broadcast station (non commercial) on the air in the country. It was a ship to shore station but converted for broadcast use from time to time. Picture of Sandy at that station and at the inaugural KTUR broadcast exist in the Modesto Radio Museum website. (see photos above) Those pictures also appeared in Broadcasting magazine.