KOA is a clear-channel AM radio station licensed to Denver, Colorado. Owned by iHeartMedia, it serves the Denver-Boulder and Colorado Springs, Colorado markets. Nicknamed "the Blowtorch of the West", KOA has studios in Southeast Denver, while the transmitter site is in Parker. KOA broadcasts a news/talk format, and is also the flagship station of the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, and Colorado Buffaloes.
KOA was first owned by General Electric and began broadcasting in 1924. The station started with 5,000 watts, and in 1927, increased to 12,500 watts. On July 7, 1934, power was raised to the current level of 50,000 watts. KOA is the dominant clear-channel station on 850 AM; at night, the signal can be heard in over 30 states of the U.S. and over most of Canada and Mexico. KOA sometimes can be picked up in California, and is usually picked up in Central Washington state, both locations are west of the Rocky Mountains, an obstacle that prevents most east coast radio stations from traveling west of the Rockies. As of November 1, 2015, KOA also broadcasts on 94.1 FM via K231BQ in Golden, Colorado, which is licensed as a translator of KBCO-HD3's simulcast of KOA.
Former Rocky Mountain News columnist Mike Rosen is the long running host of the 1-3pm show. Mike is a fiscal conservative/social libertarian who occasionally has been substitute host for Rush Limbaugh. The Colorado governor and Denver mayor are regularly scheduled guests on his show. Common Rosen-isms are "tell me where you sit before you tell me where you stand" and "a politician asks what you want, an economist asks what you want more." Rosen's philosophy is reflected in his recommended reading list which includes Ayn Rand, Adam Smith, Paul Johnson and Thomas Sowell.
Also, Alan Roach, stadium announcer for the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies and Colorado Avalanche, is featured in the morning program as the sports anchor. He, in conjunction with Adele Arakawa from KUSA-TV (news at 5,6,& 10) are the voices for the trains at Denver International Airport (DIA). Roach is recognized as being the identification voice for many radio stations nationwide, and also has served as the Super Bowl stadium announcer since the 2006 game in Detroit.
Weekend programming on KOA includes local shows hosted by Lou Pate, Joe Pagliarulo, Fred Ebert and a rotating group of guests hosts. KOA also broadcasts a handful of syndicated weekend shows, including Brian Kilmeade and Friends and Bill Cunningham.
Radio host Alan Berg broadcast his talk show from the station, but was shot and killed by members of the white supremacist group The Order on June 18, 1984. Another host from an earlier era was Leigh Kamman, who hosted jazz programs during World War II. Kamman returned to his home state of Minnesota after the war. The Sports Zoo with Dave Logan and Scott Hastings ran for 12 years until Hastings left in April 2005 for the Altitude Sports and Entertainment network. Hastings resumed sports radio broadcasting on KKFN in January 2006 alongside former Denver Broncos lineman Alfred Williams. Ken Hamblin, "The Black Avenger," also hosted a popular and long-running show during the 1980s.
Also in the 1980s, during the weekend evening hours on KOA 85 AM, Larry Cox, and his dog Wilbur, would host the radio program, The National Recovery Act, a listener-friendly call-in show. A certain topic was announced and people from all over the nation, picking up the KOA signal at night, would call in with their memories. Big band music from the 1930s and 1940s was also played. The program would always end with the song "And So To Bed". In December 1987, Cox began a new radio program, No Place Like Home, broadcast from his home on Chicago Creek. Listeners would often hear the fireplace crackling and Cox's dog, Wilbur, snoring.
The late Rick Barber worked for the station for 30 years before being replaced by syndicated programming.
The station was one of 10 stations honored at the 2007 NAB Crystal Radio Awards for public service awarded by the National Association of Broadcasters. Winners were honored at the Radio Luncheon on April 17, 2007, during the NAB Show in Las Vegas. The station was named Large Market Station of the Year at the 2008 National Association of Broadcasters' Marconi Radio Awards.