KTSA was the 67th Radio Station to begin broadcasting in the United States. The Department of Commerce Radio Service granted a license to Alamo Radio & Electric Company on May 9, 1922 under the call sign of WCAR. The founder and owner of Alamo Radio & Electric Company was Mr. John C. Rodriguez. The station went on the air September of 1922 broadcasting from 324 North Navarro Street in San Antonio. KTSA is the oldest continuing operating broadcast station in San Antonio.
Early records show the original frequency of the station being 1130 KHz transmitting with 2 Kilowatts (KW) of power. In 1928, the station changed ownership and was licensed to Lone Star Broadcasting, Inc. In 1932, it was next assigned to Southwest Broadcasting Company and began operating on 550 KHz with a power of 5 KW daytime and 1 KW night. In 1939, the license was assigned to: KTSA Broadcasting Company. Express Publishing Company assumed control of the license in 1949, and transferred it to O. R. Mitchell Motors in 1954.
Legendary Texas broadcaster Gordon B. McLendon and the McLendon Investment Corporation purchased the station and assumed control in 1956 for a reported purchase price of $325,000. Waterman Broadcasting next purchased KTSA and KTFM in 1965 for 1.5 million dollars. Waterman operated both stations until they were sold to Infinity Broadcasting in 2000.
KTSA was the first station in the United States to commence AM stereo broadcasting at 7:14 PM on July 23, 1982. The pioneer transmission of AM stereo on KTSA was a broadcasting milestone that utilized the Kahn Laboratories AM stereo exciter.
The call letter progression and history of the station has been the following: WCAR / KTSA / KAKI / KTSA. McLendon briefly changed the call sign of KTSA to KAKI for three months in 1958. McLendon wanted all of his calls to say a name like KLIF, KILT, KEEL, KOST, KABL, WYSL, WAKY, etc. He thought that KAKI (khaki) would be a proper salute to the strong military influence in San Antonio. It did not take long for him to learn that the Hispanic community was calling the station Radio Caca. Gordon would later say that he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth to secure permission from the FCC to reinstate the historic call sign of KTSA.
Bruce Miller Earle
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