Thursday, April 05, 2012

They took KBDG away

90.9 KBDG in Turlock, California broadcasts a variety of middle eastern music, concentrating on Assyrian music. As obscure as that sounds, there is a second Assyrian in the US. That station, 89.5 KBES is in Ceres, just south of Modesto, CA. But though the two Modesto-area stations simulcast, and are both owned by Bet-Nahrain, they have different histories.

KBES was founded by Bet-Nahrain, and their application was accepted by the FCC in 1977. The station signed on in 1979. The story is simple and the station has been on and has been operated continually by Bet-Nahrain, a corporation owned by an Assyrian American Civic Club. It's an organization no different in may ways from the Jaycees, the Elks, the Moose or your local Polish club.

Coincidentally KBDG was also founded in the 1970s, but it was formerly owned by Turlock High School. Turlock High School.It only passed into the hands of Bet-Nahrain in 1993. Schools sometimes sell their FM properties. But at 730 watts KBDG is no LPFM. Like all deceased educational FMs there is always the legend of the bad DJ. This was recorded on Wikipedia of all places. I quote that below:
"Turlock High School played various types of music and was DJ'd by the students in Mr. Hoskins electronics class. Unofficially, the station prohibited students from DJ'ing any longer when Andrew Pozner and Jeremy Hover played songs by the infamous rap group named The 2 Live Crew."
This data was added by mystery Wikipedia user Slelham. I've never actually found even one of these stories to be true... except WXPN. This is not to say that student DJs don't sometimes misbehave. They certainly do. But it is exceedingly rare that they are punished a as group in such a permanent way when the guilty party can be singled out. In the 1908s the station was once vibrant enough to get noted in Jazz Times. But most other references are dubious. A listing for the station from 2002 lists the station as 'Spanish.'  I doubt that was the whole picture. It's just a shame that Mr. Pozner and Mr. Hover get recorded when the founder of the station did not.

KBDG first signed on at 10 watts in 1975.  An article in the Mostesto Radio museum describes their first moments here. The station was founded by instructors Jack Heald and a senior student, Mark Douglas. That is the same Jack Heald that was on the air staff of 970 KBOX-AM, and also was the director of a student program on 1390 KTUR-AM in the mid 1960s. More here. Heald  had 20 years of experience before he built KBDG. The station still carried the call sign inspired by that high school's mascot, the bulldog. But the station didn't make another 20 years but at least you can say it stayed local.