XEPRS-AM, known as The Mighty 1090 (formerly XX Sports Radio), is an American-operated sports talk radio station targeting English-speaking listeners in San Diego. Its signal originates from Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico, and it broadcasts in English out of studios in San Diego. XEPRS is the flagship station of the San Diego Padres, San Diego Toreros men's basketball, San Diego State Aztecs football and basketball, and the San Diego Gulls. The station also used to air games for the Anaheim Ducks. Wolfman Jack immortalized XEPRS in the George Lucas movie American Graffiti.
XEPRS is a Class A, 50,000 Watt clear-channel station with a non-directional antenna daytime, and a three-tower array (directional) during nighttime hours (sunset to sunrise). XEPRS broadcasts on the frequency of 1090 kHz, a United States and Mexican clear-channel frequency.
XERB: The Mighty 1090
Today's 1090 AM started out as 150,000-watt XERB on 730 kHz. The original concession was awarded to Manuel P. Barbachano, grandson of one-time governor of Yucatán Miguel Barbachano. The concession was sold to Radiodifusora Internacional, S.A., in 1939; not long after, the station moved from 730 to 1090. XERB was sold to Interamericana de Radio, S.A., in 1950.
In the early 1960s, Robert Weston Smith (a.k.a. Wolfman Jack) was living in Del Rio, Texas and appearing on the "border blaster" AM radio station XERF. After several violent incidents at XERF's transmitter, Smith and partner Marvin Kosofsky (called "Mo Burton" in Wolfman Jack's autobiography) purchased daytime-only AM station KUXL in 1964 in Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota. Smith relocated to Minnesota and never appeared as Wolfman Jack on KUXL, but rather worked as the station's general manager while shipping Wolfman shows on tape to XERF.
In 1965, Smith made an arrangement with the U.S. agent for XERB in Baja California. Smith began selling ad time on the Mighty 1090 and recording Wolfman Jack shows for his new affiliate. Initially, Smith controlled the station's affairs from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1966, Smith, along with fellow KUXL staffers Ralph Hull (a.k.a. Preacher Paul Anthony and The Nazz) and Art Hoehn (a.k.a. Fat Daddy Washington), relocated to Southern California to run XERB full-time.
Wolfman and his associates were able to make the station turn a huge profit by selling programming to radio proselytizers in 15-30 minute blocks. Because they had such a large following and made so much money, the radio evangelists were never too hesitant about paying huge fees for airtime.
Wolfman began broadcasting pre-recorded shows on three different Mexican stations at different times of the day: XERB, XERF, and XEG 1050 kHz in Monterrey, Nuevo León.
According to his biography, by 1971 Wolfman was making a profit of almost $50,000 a month. The Mexican company executives that leased XERB noticed this and got greedy. They wanted to throw him out and make all the money themselves. The owners bribed Mexican officials into politically squeezing Wolfman off the air. The Mexican government acquiesced by passing a law prohibiting Pentecostal or religious programming on Mexican airwaves. Since XERB made most of its profits from airtime sold to the prayer-cloth preachers, Wolfman could no longer make payments to the owners each month. "That was it," Wolfman remembered. "In one stroke they cleaned out 80 percent of all the money we were expecting to make." He and Kosofsky had to return control of the station to the Mexican owners.
XEPRS: The Soul Express
With Wolfman out of the way, the station owners tried to duplicate his successful formula. They changed the letters to XEPRS-AM and programmed soul music, calling the station “The Soul Express.” Wolfman still broadcast for over a year while under the new ownership but left soon afterwards. April 15, 1972 was the last day Wolfman ever held sway over the Mexican border airwaves. Airchecks of that last show are still available online. Taped versions of the Wolfman could be heard on the station around 1980.
In the summer of 1972, George Lucas and crew would film Wolfman on location at station KRE/AM in Berkeley, California, playing himself for the film, American Graffiti. Although the movie shows Wolfman broadcasting live from California, the Brinkley Act made such broadcasting impossible. Artistic license was taken with the subject material for the sake of the script.
Soon afterwards, the Mexican government repealed their own law and put the preachers back on the air. But, without Wolfman Jack howling over the airwaves, the station never even remotely saw the success that he had achieved.
The XERB callsign was recycled in 1986 for a radio station in Cozumel, Quintana Roo with no relation to the old XERB.
1980s through 2003
XEPRS aired a variety of formats, all of them in Spanish, with one exception. From 1976 to the early 1980s, Rick Ward, along with his business partner Ron Beaton (KIEV Glendale, California), programmed oldies and controlled the 6 PM to 6 AM skywave signal. Ron Beaton is retired and still in Glendale, California, and Rick Ward is retired, living in Little Rock, Arkansas. Wolfman's old shows were broadcast from 11 pm to 1 AM PT on Saturday nights during this period. Early in the 1980s, DJ Sean Green (no known relation to former Major League Baseball players Sean Green or Shawn Green), calling the station XPRS (after the name International Record(s) / XPRS incorporated), as Wolfman Jack had, or "1090 Express Radio", hosted a daily oldies show, originally from 7 PM to midnight Pacific Time, in English. The show's advertisements, announced by Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg, were invariably for oldies albums that appealed to the Lowrider culture.
The last format was salsa, merengue and other forms of Spanish-language tropical music and was called "Radio Caliente." From 2000 to 2002, XEPRS was the radio station of the Anaheim Angels in Spanish, including its championship year of 2002.
The Mighty 1090/XX Sports Radio/XX 1090
With XTRA Sports 690, a Clear Channel-operated radio station based out of San Diego sold to their Los Angeles counterpart in December 2001, several of the on-air talent were released, including Bill Werndl, John Kentera, and others. Filling the void of what would have been a lack of a sports station focusing on San Diego, former head of programming of XTRA Sports 690 John Lynch formed Broadcast Company of the Americas, and launched The Mighty 1090 in March 2003 with most of the on-air talent released from Clear Channel after the sale of XETRA-AM.
Beginning February 1, 2006, XEPRS started simulcasting its sports talk programming on a Mighty 1090 sister station, XHPRS 105.7 (La Pantera) out of Tecate, Baja California. This operation was aimed at bettering the station's signals to Eastern San Diego County and other California listeners. The station then became known as XX (Double X) Sports Radio.
The company responsible for the station's programming and sales, Broadcast Company of the Americas, was founded by John Lynch, a businessman and father of the Denver Broncos defensive back of the same name. Lynch was also once the owner of XETRA, a/k/a "The Mighty 690" and introduced Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton to San Diego sports radio.
The station also includes news updates produced by fellow San Diego television station KUSI, whose owner, Mike McKinnon, and XX Sports Radio owner John Lynch Sr. have a personal relationship.
On April 15, 2008 at 9:00 AM, XX Sports Radio stopped broadcasting programming to 105.7 FM, which became an oldies radio station branded as "105.7 The Walrus." This was the first FM oldies station in San Diego since XHOCL-FM flipped to a Spanish language format on September 1, 2005. As a result of the simulcast's break-up (except for Padres games), XX Sports Radio was renamed XX 1090.
On October 6, 2010, XX 1090 became a part-time affiliate of ESPN Radio simulcasting sister station ESPN Radio 1700 in overnights and weekends, dropping the Sporting News Radio affiliation XEPRS held since 2008.
The Return of the Mighty 1090
On December 17, 2012, the station re-branded as "The Mighty 1090" to coincide with the return of the Scott & BR Show. On January 2, 2013, the station became the San Diego station for CBS Sports Radio with a line-up featuring Jim Rome with other San Diego hosts.