KBFB (97.9 FM, "97.9 The Beat") is a Dallas/Fort Worth-based radio station with an Urban Contemporary format. It is owned by Radio One with sister station KSOC-FM. Its studios (alongside KSOC) are located in the Galleria Area in North Dallas, and its transmitter is located in Cedar Hill.
The Belo/Anchor Media/Cox years
The station traces its history back to the October 5, 1946 launch of the first FM radio station to sign on in Texas, "KERA-FM" (no relation to the current radio and television stations known under the same call letters), although its roots go back to an experimental FM station "W5X1C" that signed on October 15, 1945, and another experimental trial dating back to 1939. By 1947, it had moved from its original home at 94.3 FM to a preferred location in the center of the dial at 97.9 FM under the WFAA-FM callsign, initially simulcasting its AM sister station WFAA (570 AM). With FM broadcasting in its infancy, WFAA-FM signed on and off the air for months and even two years at a time before settling on a permanent broadcast schedule by 1965. It later programmed MOR and Beautiful Music until 1973, then flipped to album oriented rock (AOR) as KZEW-FM (known to listeners as The Zoo) on September 16, 1973. Featuring talent such as John LaBella and John Rody ("LaBella and Rody"), George Gimarc, Charley Jones, Dave Lee Austin, John B. Wells, Nancy Johnson, John Dew, John Dillon, Doc Morgan and Tempie Lindsey, the station's concept and programming were initially under the direction of Ira Lipson. The FM station shared studio locations with WFAA-AM on the second floor of the facility.
In September 1973, WFAA-FM changed its call letters to KZEW and played classic and progressive rock music for 17 years with the on-air slogan The Zoo. In 1987, KZEW and KRQX (the former WFAA radio, now KLIF) were sold by A.H. Belo Corporation, which retained ownership of the Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV (channel 8), to Cox Radio. Three years later, KZEW switched formats to soft rock, changing both calls and branding to KKWM (Warm 97.9). A year later, the station changed its callsign and station nickname again to KLRX (Lite 97.9) while maintaining its soft rock format.
The Infinity/CBS years
In 1993, the station was sold by Cox to Infinity/CBS Radio, and on October 15, KLRX flipped to classic hits, branded as KRRW (Arrow 97.9). On April 3, 1997, the station switched formats back to soft rock/adult contemporary music and renamed to the current KBFB, and the slogan became B-97.9. Programming during the AC format included Delilah during the nighttime hours via satellite before she was shifted to then-sister station KVIL.
KBFB made the change to Urban Contemporary as 97.9 The Beat on September 26, 2000 after the station was sold to Radio One. Since The Beat's launch, the station has been in direct competition against longtime heritage Urban station KKDA. In addition to KKDA, they also had a competitor with former Rhythmic Contemporary rival KZZA until the station flipped to Spanish Oldies in 2008. Today, KBFB competes with KKDA, along to an extent with CHR formats on KHKS-FM (106.1 Kiss FM), and KLIF-FM (Hot 93.3). Throughout the years as "The Beat," the station has shifted between Urban Contemporary and CHR/Rhythmic. As of November 2013, KBFB reports as a Rhythmic station to Mediabase.
In the beginning, the morning show on the station was hosted by Russ Parr (who started his radio career at defunct KJMZ in the Metroplex). Later, it was home to Steve Harvey in the mornings from 2003-2005 through a syndicated simulcast from its sister station in Los Angeles, KKBT (also nicknamed "The Beat"). Eventually, Radio One let Harvey go and KBFB now airs the Rickey Smiley Morning Show.
KBFB also broadcasts on HD Radio since the mid 2000s, though they never had a secondary HD multicast until March 2014. As of that time, KBFB HD2 simulcasts Gainesville-based sister station KSOC (Boom 94.5) for those in the immediate DFW area and its southern neighbors who are not in .