KIOZ, also known as Rock 105.3, is an active rock station in San Diego, California. It is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc.. The station's studios are located in San Diego's Serra Mesa neighborhood on the northeast side, and the transmitter is located in La Jolla.
105.3 went on the air in 1954 as KSON-FM, co-owned with KSON AM radio. It broadcast initially on 101.5 MHz and then moved to 104.7 before 1954 ended. It changed callsigns twice in 1957; the second callsign, KDFR, reflected owners Dorothy and C. Fredric Rabell.
In March 1958, the newly renamed KITT, a beautiful music station, began broadcasting on 105.3 MHz. The transmitter was downtown on the Bank of America building. The station struggled financially for many years; the station was perpetually for sale, at one point for as low as $100,000. In 1981, KITT was bought by KCBQ and turned into a simulcast of 1170. KCBQ-FM changed formats many times. KCBQ-FM signed on as "KCBQ Country" to compete with KSON, that failed and it switched to "The Eagle", the Eagle flopped, and KCBQ became an oldies station (which did well). KCBQ then hired back former program director Rich Brother Robbin, Rich changed the format to "Modern Oldies", it was at this point that Compass Media (owner of KCBQ AM/FM) sold the stations to Par Broadcasting.
Par immediately sold its stations to Jacor (now iHeartMedia, Inc.). It was under Jacor in 1996 that the "Rock" format on 102.1 KIOZ was moved from 102.1 to 105.3, and the KCBQ-FM call letters removed. KIOZ was chosen for the former 102.1 because KIOZ looks like 102. The move came as part of Jacor's divestment of 102.1.
Under Jacor, Rock 105.3 thrived. Howard Stern was on mornings, Shannon Leader on middays, B.C. and Woody afternoons, Mikey Esparza (later of The Mikey Show) in the nights, and Mark The Shark in the over nights. It also had controversial moments, such as the "head up your ass" billboard of the late 1990s.
The Mikey Show replaced Howard Stern on the KIOZ lineup in 2004 after Clear Channel Communications, KIOZ's current parent company forced the cancellation of Stern's morning show from the six Clear Channel-owned stations that carried it, owing to the "Nipplegate" incident at Super Bowl XXXVIII. (Stern would move to KPLN that summer, then ultimately out of all Federal Communications Commission (FCC) jurisdiction when he moved to Sirius Satellite Radio in January 2006.) The Mikey Show itself left KIOZ in 2010 when Esparza moved to KBZT.
From 2005 to the team's relocation after the 2016 NFL season, KIOZ was the flagship station carrying San Diego Chargers football events during the regular season. Staffing the microphones for the pre-game shows were Eddie "The Oracle" Pappani (from the KIOZ morning drive The Show) and former NFL players Lew Bush and Jim Laslavic, of San Diego's KNSD.