One of the few truly Legendary Rock Stations in the world.

KPPC FM, was the result of a mistake on the part of a church.
The Pasadena Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest religious entities in California, had been broadcasting church services on the radio since 1924. The license for KPPC-AM was the 35th one issed in the United States.

But in 1924, radio stations were hard to run. Parts were new and expensive, and, before sound recording was really practical, a 'radio ministry' didn't need to be on the air when the church was closed.

So, the powers that be at the Church decided to only ask for permission to be on 22 hours a week. From 7 to 11 On Wednesday for the Wednesday night prayer service, and from 6 AM to midnight Sunday.

And that's what they got. But it wasn't long before other stations grabbed the rest of the time, so when the Church decided to try and expand their broadcast schedule in the early '60's, they found other stations had filled in the time they left unused. This meant there was no way they could add more hours onto KPPC-AM.

But guess what ? FM Licenses were free for the asking, and FM stations could stay on 24 hours a day! So, the Church applied for an FM License, and after a minor competition with an applicant who wanted the same channel to play rock music, they were awarded the license.

So, KPPC-FM was born ! And it wasn't long before the Church elders found that running a 5,000 watt FM transmitter 24 hours a day was a LOT different than a 100 watt AM transmittter 22 hours a week. They quickly burned out on the FM idea and started looking for someone to buy the stations. Whoever bought it had to agree to carry the Sunday services from the Church.

And that, children, is how KPPC-FM fell into the hands of the National Science Network. Now, they're a story all by themselves. All THEY wanted to do was broadcast pharmaceutical ads on the station's subcarrier. (A hidden channel you can't hear with an ordinary radio.)

They could have cared less about what music the main FM signal carried. Can you imagine a better hotbed for the development of freeform, underground radio ??

(Circa 1971)

Dana Jones, in the KPPC-FM Air studio at 99 S. Chester, in Pasadena. Note the custom console; it was the first custom-built slide pot Air Console in the U.S.

The custom console in KPPC's production studio. While the Credibility Gap's "News" was being taped, the first 5 pots controlled mikes from the adjoining Announce Room. For production, they brought in tape decks.
In between the VU meters on the board, there was a 1" Millen oscilloscope. It displayed the phasing between the stereo channels,
and would dim itself when there was no audio. This board, as well as the one in the air studio, used Automated Processes slide pots.
The production studio, before the installation of the custom board. The Collins 212S-1 console on the right was a huge maintenance problem. It used lamps and photocells to control the audio. When the lamps came on, they would short out the input channel.
When they turned off, the channel would open. Levels depended on how bright the lamp was.
When it was an air console, our listeners heard some really strange sounds when the lamp supply blew a fuse and every input (and all the monitors) came on wide open at once.
The equipment racks in the Air Studio
The Marantz Tuner is the Air Monitor. The two Moseley Remote Controls are for the AM in the basement of the church, and the FM on Flint Peak.
Then the FM Frequency and Modulation Monitors.

The right rack has the Moseley PCL-303 STL transmitter, the Stereo Generator, two meters for Frequency and Modulation of the AM, a pair of line amps for remotes, the CBS Volumax processor and a studio selector for the air chain.

Then the Patch Bay and Conelrad
Monitor,and the SAE power amp for the monitors.
The On-Air board used Automated Processes 2420 Op-Amps, and featured automatic compression on the cue bus, Left/Right/stereo/mono switching for each channel, internal turntable and tape deck start/stop control logic, pan pots for each mike input, and a number of switchable effects .

Note the Harris/Gates Cart decks; these drove the statues in the church basement.

The same console, as rescued from KROQ in 1980. Most of the functions had been disabled, the wiring harness was hacked out, and dymo labels, phone numbers, and stickers were all over it. Only a small part of the original wiring remained. The automatic Cue Gain, Front Doorbell Light, Program/Audition swiches, and the custom card frame with the API 2420 Op-Amps had all been removed. This all happened when KROQ was transferring from Burbank Broadcasting, and the station was off the air for two years.

I kept the original E/V RE-16 mike used in the KPPC Studio. (The one in the photo with Dana Jones.) Many great people used this mike; Bill Slater, Ted Alvy, Steve Segal, Zach Zenore, Les and Susan Carter, Elliot Mintz, Rev. Roger DeCuir and Don Hall were just some of them.
An original KPPC 'AirPark Ranger' T-Shirt
from about 1972.

KPPC was very into the environment even then, and sponsored concerts, rallys, and smoke-ins in the name of Mother Earth.


Copyright 2005 by Vital Sounds - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED