Our story really begins in the 50s, when Rock and Roll merged with the willing-and-ready Baby Boom. Thousands of ears and eyes turned to the gyrations of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and jukeboxes of others. They wanted their own culture, and Rock and Roll was it Daddy-O.
But as the 60s evolved, so did radio listeners... great songs on Motown bought AM some time, but the audience wanted more than the limited and repetitive AM format. They also knew there were albums out there filled with new music, just waiting to be discovered.
Previously unused, FM radio stepped into this niche; offering longer cuts and more variety, all with a laid-back delivery. It caught on.
Here in California – Tom Donahue created KMPX in San Francisco and, later, KPPC in Pasadena (which was, literally an ”underground” station – being in the basement of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church “PPC").
But there wasn't a progressive, underground radio station just for the Monterey Bay area. And why not? Just two hours south of San Francisco, Carmel/Monterey had the history of Monterey Pop and Big Sur, as well as many musicians who called it home. Plus eager listeners living in the redwoods or surfing at the beach.
So, an intrepid group established KLRB, FM 101.7 and went on the air April 24, 1971 (see "The PR/KLRB in the News"). The first song played was "Long Time Coming" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The second song was more revealing: "Stage Fright" by The Band.
In the beginning the programming was pretty loose, the wages were low, and the revenue was slow in coming. But thanks to the commitment of the staff and a management who, to their credit, bought new equipment and never bounced checks (both real advances in the radio world), KLRB blossomed.
With an audience longing for a station that played new music and a signal they could receive, KLRB took flight.
The 70s were a wonderful time for music and KLRB was on it. Also, almost organically (how 70s), what we would now call the KLRB brand was established.
Featuring deep album cuts of music, unusual station IDs, and special programs, it was clear the DJs were having a good time (and so were the listeners - see "The Sounds" for examples).
Advertisers came on board too, eager to adopt the unique approach to reach an audience head-on (you should excuse the expression).
In 1976 KLRB moved into sparkling new quarters in the Barnyard Shopping Center in the mouth of Carmel Valley.
That there was going to be a Rock and Roll radio Station right over the Thunderbird Bookstore didn't occur to anyone until later.
Browsing for a book on macramé while the Allman Brothers blasted through the ceiling was tough for the bookstore and us.
Also, we changed how we referred to ourselves by rounding up to FM102, since 101.7 took so long to say (!) and 102 was close enough for radio. The music and approach stayed the same, thank goodness.
We also got some new owners who, like the bookstore proprietors, didn't know exactly what they had gotten themselves into!
Over the years a new group of DJs came on board, all with the same commitment and reverence for the format, as well as the same logo.
In early 1983 the offices moved to downtown Monterey.
In May 1983 the call letters changed...to KWST, an identity that had been kicked around California for years, but a good one. Until...
September 1983: the music officially died: KWST became country.
The last two songs were "The Song is Over" and "Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock", both by the Who.
Many of the staffers went on to work at KMBY-FM, but that's another story.
Some of our compadres have gone on to other jobs in radio, some have gone into the music business, while others left the industry, or retired. Sadly, some have left us completely.
Many of us still stay in touch and we were able to have a great reunion in 2015 as you an see from this picture. (Photo by Fred Arellano, a good friend of the station.)
For all who remember KLRB and Progressive Radio in general; welcome and enjoy your stay.
And, as always, thanks for listening.
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