KABC (790 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station licensed to Los Angeles, California. It serves as a West Coast flagship station for the Cumulus Media company. A pioneer of the talk radio format, the station went "all-talk" in September 1960, the second radio station to do so, a few months after KMOX in St. Louis. Despite different owners, 790 KABC, 710 KSPN (ESPN Radio) and Channel 7 KABC-TV (the local ABC owned-and-operated TV station) all maintain an informal partnership. KABC's studios and transmitter are both co-located on La Cienega Boulevard in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.
KABC broadcasts in the HD (hybrid) format. The station airs local talk shows and news updates weekdays, with the nationally syndicated shows Jonathan Brandmeier and Red Eye Radio airing at night, from co-owned Westwood One Network. National news from Westwood One News is heard at the beginning of some hours. KABC also airs Los Angeles Kings professional hockey games.
KABC operates at 5,000 watts with a non-directional signal in the daytime but uses a directional antenna at night to protect other stations on 790 kHz. While the 790 signal adequately covered the Los Angeles media market in the 1960s and 1970s when KABC was often #1, the market has expanded greatly since then and the 5,000 watt signal may not be received clearly in all sections of the metropolitan area today.
KABC began in August 1925 as KFXB in Big Bear Lake. The station moved to Los Angeles in 1927 and became KPLA. On November 15, 1929, KPLA was sold to Earle C. Anthony, a Packard automobile dealer and owner of KFI. Anthony changed the call letters to KECA. In August 1939, Anthony purchased KEHE-780 (formerly KTM) and took that station off the air. KECA's call sign and programming were moved from 1430 kHz to 780 kHz. KECA moved to 790 kHz as part of the NARBA frequency shifts of 1941.
In 1944, new FCC rules went into effect prohibiting any entity from owning more than one radio station in the same market area. The Blue Network (originally owned by NBC but soon to become ABC) bought the station in July, 1944, for $800,000. The call sign was changed to KABC in 1954, after those call letters were released by a station in San Antonio.
KABC switched to a full-time talk format in 1960, becoming the nation's second "all-talk" station. Though a prominent Los Angeles news-talk station, KABC has declined in the ratings over the years. The station has fallen behind 640 KFI, another major talk station which has focused on serving Orange County more than the core Los Angeles market. KABC, which was owned by The Walt Disney Company's ABC Radio came under ownership of Citadel Broadcasting when the companies merged in 2006. Citadel then merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.
In October 2011 Cumulus Broadcasting took over ownership of KABC and sister station 95.5 KLOS. Airborne traffic reporter Jorge Jarrin, son of Dodgers Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, was let go after 26 years. Also fired were imaging voice Howard Hoffman and news director/morning newsman Mark Austin Thomas.
As of July 2015, KABC's audience share was at a historic low of 0.3%, below Salem Media's KRLA (870) for the first time, which is notable as KRLA has hired many personalities let go from KABC since the end of ABC ownership.
Current KABC personalities include Doug McIntyre, Terri-Rae Elmer, Peter Tilden, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Michael Catherwood, Jillian Barberie and John Phillips. The nighttime schedule includes syndicated shows from Jonathan Brandmeier and Red Eye Radio. On weekends, shows on money, health, real estate, cars and wine are heard, some of them paid brokered programming.
From 1974 to 1997, KABC was the flagship station of the Los Angeles Dodgers and their hall-of-fame broadcaster Vin Scully. After some years on 980 KFWB, the team returned to KABC in 2008. On September 28, 2011, the final broadcast of Dodgers Baseball on KABC was aired at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, before the games moved to 570 KLAC for the 2012 season. In August 2014, the station became the flagship for the NHL Los Angeles Kings' radio broadcasts.
KABC has been the base of operation for many influential radio hosts, including early talk radio pioneers Joe Pyne and Louis Lomax. The station has also served as the home of Michael Jackson, whose talk show attracted celebrities, politicians, and newsmakers of all types, pioneering radio psychologist Dr. Toni Grant and psychiatrist David Viscott, history buff Ira Fistel and more recent syndicated hosts including Dennis Prager and Larry Elder (now both with NewsTalk 870 KRLA and the Salem Radio Network) and John and Ken (on KFI before their stint on KABC and currently back on KFI). In the 1980s, Jackson, Grant, Fistel and Viscott were also syndicated nationwide on ABC Radio's Talk Radio Network.
A lawsuit alleged that school employees of Academia Semillas del Pueblo (ASDP) received death threats, and that the school was the target of a bomb threat, because of Doug McIntyre's extensive on-air criticism of the school, in which he accused ASDP of espousing a racist and separatist Anti-American philosophy. The suit was dismissed in January 2008.