KBAY (94.5 FM, "K-BAY") is a radio station licensed to Gilroy, California, and serving the San Francisco Bay Area. Its current format is Adult Contemporary. It is owned by Alpha Media, through licensee Alpha Media Licensee LLC, along with sister station KEZR. Its studios are located at Park Center Plaza in downtown San Jose and the transmitter is based from a site in Santa Teresa County Park. KBAY switches to Christmas music every year on or around Thanksgiving until the 26th. The station competes with KOIT.
94.5 FM history
Prior to becoming KBAY, the station had undergone various incarnations. They are perhaps most notable as the former home of KFAT and its freeform country/rock format. KFAT left the air in 1983 when the station flipped to CHR. Santa Cruz-area station KPIG was heavily inspired by the legacy of KFAT.
KWSS, the successor of KFAT, was a well-regarded hit music station. They flipped to classic rock as KUFX in the early 1990s.
KBAY radio history
The KBAY call letters were originally assigned to a UHF television station (Channel 20), based in San Francisco, California. It ceased operation after a few years due to the scant number, in the 1950s, of Bay Area homes with UHF-capable television sets. Channel 20 returned to the air as KEMO, eventually becoming today's KOFY-TV.
Originally at 104.5 in the 1950s, KBAY 100.3 FM, became the market leader in San Jose and had a very strong listening audience in both the San Jose and San Francisco markets throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Its easy listening format gave way to light jazz instrumentals and by the early 1990s, pop music was introduced. The Snell family guided the station and its sister, KEEN Country 1370 AM through the decades as United Broadcasting.
The Snells sold their 2 properties in 1997, and KBAY became a part of the American Radio Systems group which included KKSJ (the former KEEN), KUFX, and KSJO. Shortly thereafter, a 3-way swap of frequencies landed KBAY at 94.5 FM. KBAY then became known as "The Bay" for a couple of years. American Radio Systems sold KBAY to Infinity/CBS in 1999. In the early 2000s, the KBAY identity was replaced by B-94.5 "The Bee". This was an attempt to distance the station from the perceived "stigma" of its earlier life as an "elevator music" station. In September 2003, KBAY's owner CBS-Infinity Radio removed its "World Music" format called "The Wave" from its 93.3 frequency in order for KBAY to simulcast on it. Infinity moved the KBAY studios to San Francisco and 94.5 became legally identified as KBAA. The simulcast experiment lasted only a year much to the relief of its staff, largely from the South Bay. 93.3 was sold and became KRZZ with a Regional Mexican music format, and the KBAY call letters returned to 94.5. CBS-Infinity Radio sold KBAY and its sister Mix 106.5 KEZR FM to NextMedia Group in 2005. Effective February 10, 2014, KBAY, KEZR, and the 31 other NextMedia radio stations nationwide became part of a new broadcasting group headed by Dean Goodman called Digity LLC, an affiliate of Palm Beach Broadcasting, LLC, for a purchase price of $85 million. The company ran about 60 locally programmed stations.
Effective February 25, 2016, Digity, LLC and its 124 radio stations were acquired by Alpha Media for $264 million.
KBAY maintains top ratings in the overall 6+ demographic, and in Persons 25 to 54 as well as the Persons 35 to 64 demographics. Its "listen-at-work" positioning and South Bay orientation are to its credit. Since 2005, Dana Jang has been its Program Director. Dana had significant success at legendary San Jose rock stations, KOME and KSJO, and most recently as the Chicago area Station Operations Manager for Next Media. Program Directors over the years include: Bob Kohtz 1970s-2001, Jim Murphy 2001-2005, Dana Jang 2005–present.
Some of the memorable voices from KBAY over the years have been Bob Kohtz (mornings or afternoons 1977-2006) (Bob also held the positions of Program Director and Music Director for many years, and was the Imaging Voice For The Famed "Good Morning Vietnam" Show), Dave Young (evenings 1975-1986), Hugo Schneider (weekends 1970s "Music from Germany and Around the World"), Lissa Kreisler (morning news and morning co-host since 1988), Bud Kelly (middays 1980s, began broadcasting in 1948 and was most recently on KLIV in San Jose), Brian Christian (middays mid-1990s), Don Potter (mornings mid-1990s, now on KUIC in Vacaville, CA), Kirk Patrick (mornings 2000-2005 now Program Director of WWWM-FM in Toledo, OH and the familiar voice of "Fry's Electronics" ads), Jona Denz-Hamilton (longtime South Bay announcer, KBAY middays 1996-2002 also from 2006–present), Sam Van Zandt (longtime San Francisco radio personality & host of TV's Candid Camera, now morning host 2005–present), Kim Vestal (longtime KARA morning host, KBAY middays 2002-2006, now working with her old radio company, Empire Broadcasting on KLIV and KRTY in San Jose And Sundays on Livermore's 101.7 KKIQ), and Steve Fox (2003–2008). Lovesong specialist, Delilah, had garnered top ratings in her daypart with her internationally syndicated show on KBAY from 7pm until midnight. Replaced by Nicci Ross in October 2014 (Mid 90s-2014)
This station's call letters were used in the Dean Koontz book "Fear Nothing" as a fictional radio station that employs one of the main characters. KBAY was used because the fictional setting is a small California beach town called Moonlight Bay.
Sam Van Zandt was the announcer for Candid Camera