North East RadioWatch: May 28, 2001

AAA Spins 'Em on Long Island

by Scott Fybush

Two weeks ago, we recounted the first half of our April trip out West, starting in Phoenix and ending up with a Saturday night stop in St. George, Utah. So what happened next?

We spent Saturday night watching local TV from Salt Lake City, fed in by microwave from some 300 miles away. Cable systems all over Utah carry not only the "big 4" from Salt Lake, but also smaller stations like Brigham Young University's KBYU, a secondary PBS outlet, and Ogden's KUWB, the UPN station. St. George also has its very own Pax outlet, KCSG (Channel 4) from Cedar City, as well as KUSG (Channel 12), a relay of CBS owned-and-operated KUTV from Salt Lake.

The radio dial in St. George is an interesting one, too. DXers all over the West know KDXU (890), the class-B station that's been on that (formerly clear) channel since the late eighties. We saw their three-tower array on a ranch southeast of town, which also appears to carry KTSP (1450), the sports station that occupies KDXU's original dial position. KUNF (1210 Washington) is the third AM in town, with a single stick alongside I-15 north of St. George. On the FM dial, St. George's KSNN (93.5) and KEOT (99.7) are joined by translators for stations from Cedar City (40 miles north), Brian Head (30 miles north) and Kanab (60 miles east).

Sunday morning found us driving south on I-15, through the wonderfully scenic corner of Arizona through which the highway passes, and into Nevada for the NAB convention (with a quick stop along the way at the towers of KXNT 840 North Las Vegas, along US 93 about 15 miles north of Sin City!)

We covered our experiences at the convention in some detail on NERW Online, but we also spent some quality time seeing Las Vegas radio and TV up close and personal. Fans of directional arrays won't find too many there; in addition to KXNT, there's the four towers of KSFN (1140 North Las Vegas) on the north side of town; the three towers of KDWN (720) out in Henderson, southwest of Vegas; six towers of KNUU (970) in the fast-growing southwest side of the city (in fact, the station has a CP to move when construction of the new 215 beltway claims its tower site in a few years, or so it appears); and a three-tower self-supporting array on the west side of town that's home to KENO (1460) and KBAD (920).

Diplexing, in fact, seems to be fairly common in Vegas: KRLV (1340) and KKVV (1060) share a tower as well. Clustering has set in there, as everywhere, with Infinity, Clear Channel and Lotus splitting most of the market's revenue.

On TV, Las Vegas looks like the fairly small market that it actually is (despite the rapid growth): there's local news on the "big three" (KVBC 3/NBC, KLAS 8/CBS and KTNV 13/ABC), with Fox affiliate KVVU (channel 5) the new kid on the news block. KVVU does a morning show and a rather unusual 10 PM: no sports or weather anchors, just a fairly solid block of news. Spanish speakers get local news on Univision's KINC (Channel 15) and Telemundo's KBLR (Channel 39), and there's independent fare on KFBT (Channel 33), duopoly partner (Sinclair, of course) to "WB Las Vegas," KVWB (Channel 21).

TV and FM come mostly from Black Mountain, high above Henderson and far past the end of any paved road. We saw it only from a distance, alas.

We'll document all these sites in more detail in an upcoming Tower Site of the Week series, of course.

Wednesday morning saw the rental NERW-mobile heading out of Las Vegas towards Hoover Dam (neat tour!), then through the emptiness of Arizona before arriving around dinnertime in Kingman. We stopped briefly at KAAA (1230), with some regrets that its sister FM station on 94.7 is no longer KZZZ, having taken the KFLG-FM calls that used to be on 102.7 in nearby Bullhead City (that facility is being rimshotted into the Vegas market soon, and is dark for the moment).

With some time left before sunset, the open road (in this case I-40, old US 66) beckoned, and so we headed south and west towards the California state line just in time to catch a legal ID from KTOX (1340) in Needles, California, some 55 miles down the highway. (We were hoping for one from KNTR 980 down in Lake Havasu City, too, but they forgot to insert their own over the Phoenix station carrying the Diamondbacks game...oops!)

And after Needles, we still had a little bit of daylight left, so we drove north along the Colorado River in hopes of grabbing just a bit of light by which to see the current KZZZ (1490) in Bullhead City. The map directed us off Arizona 95 to a dirt road that snaked up and down the hills for a couple of miles before depositing us next to the little KZZZ stick. With the last rays of daylight behind us, we snapped the picture, put the car in gear to get out of the dirt lot next to the tower -- and heard the sickening crunch of a rock wedging itself under the front passenger side of the car.

Careful experimentation in the declining twilight showed us that neither rock nor car was going to move without outside assistance, and so we picked up the cell phone and called AAA, which dispatched "Ronnie" the tow truck guy a short time later.

Some cursing, some shoveling, and $75 later, we were back on our delayed way, crossing briefly over the river to see the explosive growth of casinos in Laughlin, Nevada, then over the hills and back to Kingman, 45 minutes away.

Kingman, Bullhead-Laughlin and Lake Havasu-Needles are all one big, strange radio market; each community has its own AM stations (talk KAAA in Kingman, talk KZZZ and standards KFLG 1000 in Bullhead, and talk KTOX and sports KNTR in Lake Havasu-Needles), but pretty much every one of the FMs in the market has translators in each community. Further confusing matters is that many of the FMs are in the midst of swapping calls and formats; in addition to the KFLG-KZZZ thing, there's KLUK, recently moved from 107.9 Laughlin (another Las Vegas move-in, now running jockless rhythmic oldies as KVGS) to 97.9 Needles, ex-KNKK; not to mention KJJJ (92.7 Lake Havasu City), which was announcing its own upcoming move to 101.1, now "K-Rock" KRRK. Confusing? Oh yeah...

And on Thursday morning, we awoke early for the four-hour trek down US 93 back to Phoenix, broken up only with a quick stop in the town of Wickenburg to see the tower that carries oldies KBZG (1250) and country KSWG (94.1), both running off the satellite.

Pulling into Phoenix, we used the hour or so before returning to the airport to see a few things we'd missed the first time through: the single stick of all-news KTKP (1280) near US 60 and I-17, still marked with the old KHEP calls from its religion days; the "Uptown" studios of KTAR (620), KMVP (860) and KKLT (98.7), the Emmis stations; the unmarked studio building of independent KTVK (Channel 3) nearby; and a few spots just north of downtown. KPNX (Channel 12) sits a few blocks up Central Avenue from the 60-year home of KOY radio at 840 N. Central. We had seen the KOY calls on the recently-vacated building the week before; it was a surprise to see they'd been removed during our week away, leaving a blank wall to photograph. Oh well...

A block away from KOY sits the soon-to-be-vacated home of KFYI (550) and KKFR (92.3). KFYI used to be on 910, and years ago used to be KPHO(AM), and when it did, it used the old tower atop the adjacent Westward Ho hotel. The tower still stands, and if it looks familiar, well, it should: you see it in the famous opening shots of Alfred Hitchcock's classic, Psycho!

A quick drive past the studios of Fox's KSAZ-TV (Channel 10) downtown, an even quicker stop at the KOY (1230) tower on the west side, and we were back at the airport, returning the car and catching the flight back home.

Stay tuned...we'll feature many of these sites in more detail on the Site of the Week page later this summer.

That's it for this week; we'll be back with a regular NERW next Monday before embarking on this summer's travels. Check out the Travel page at to see if we'll be in your neighborhood!

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