KMOX (1120 kHz) is an AM radio station broadcasting from St. Louis, Missouri. It is a 50,000-watt clear channel radio station, which permits its nighttime signal to be heard in most of the central U.S. and into Mexico and Canada. KMOX operates as "NewsRadio 1120" and refers to itself as "The Voice of St. Louis."
KMOX is affiliated with the CBS Radio Network and licensed to a CBS Corporation subsidiary, CBS Radio. KMOX's transmitter is located in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. The KMOX studio is located at 1220 Olive Street in the Park Pacific Building at Olive Street and Tucker Boulevard. CBS Radio also has studios and offices there for its two other St. Louis radio stations, KYKY (Y98) and 102.5 KEZK-FM.
For many years, KMOX broadcast using C-QUAM AM stereo, but stereo transmissions ended in the spring of 2000. The station now broadcasts an HD Radio signal. The Federal Communications Commission requires a digital (hybrid) license for HD broadcasting.
KMOX was started in the early days of broadcasting by a group of businessmen incorporated as The Voice of St. Louis Inc. According to the station's official website, the "KMOX" call letters were assigned by the Federal Radio Commission. The station's owners had hoped to be assigned "KVSL", for "Voice of St. Louis." The owners also applied for "KMO" (with MO the abbreviation for Missouri), but those call letters had been in use by KMO in Tacoma since 1922. KMOX signed on December 24, 1925. The "X" was added because the starting date was Christmas Eve, or "X"mas eve. Although a local legend states the call letters mean Kirkwood, Missouri On Xmas, the K was the assigned first call letter of all new radio stations west of the Mississippi River.
In 1927, the station gave prominent coverage to the Charles Lindbergh flight across the Atlantic, in his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis. That same year, KMOX became one of the first 16 stations in the CBS network. Two years later CBS bought KMOX, and began the process of getting approval to build a 50,000-watt transmitter tower. When completed, it gave the now-clear-channel station a signal that could be heard as far away as New Zealand and the Arctic Circle, making it one of the first international radio stations. Its signal has been picked up in Scotland and South Africa.
During the 1930s and 1940s, KMOX was one of several St. Louis stations broadcasting Cardinals and Browns baseball games. KMOX lost broadcasting rights in 1948 when a new Cardinals radio network was formed by the team, but by the 1950s, it became the flagship station of that network (in part due to its clear channel status).
During the 1950s, the station's slogan was "k-mocks", pronouncing the way the station's call letters are spelled.
In 1955 Robert Hyland Jr became KMOX's general manager, a role he held for nearly forty years. It was Hyland who emphasized and leveraged KMOX's relationship with the Cardinals; he also made the decision in 1960 to eliminate the station's afternoon music programming in favor of talk radio, a critical change which led to the station's subsequent dominance of the St. Louis radio market. On February 29 of that year, Jack Buck hosted the first "At Your Service" program, which included an interview with Eleanor Roosevelt. That program, like the sports talk programs that soon followed, pioneered a format for radio heavily dependent on interviews, guest appearances, and calls from listeners.
After Hyland died in 1992, Rod Zimmerman was named general manager. He departed in 1998 to manage WBBM Radio in Chicago.
Karen Carroll was general manager from 1998 until 2003, when Tom Langmyer was promoted to the top position. Langmyer left in 2005 to become vice president/general manager of WGN Radio in Chicago. Dave Ervin managed the station from 2005 to 2008. John Sheehan, who also oversees sister stations KEZK and KYKY is the station's current Market Manager for CBS.
The station's emphasis had shifted away from broadcasting St. Louis professional sports teams. In 2000, the St. Louis Blues hockey team moved to KTRS after having been on KMOX for all but three of the team's 33 seasons (1967–2000), but it would return starting in the 2006–07 season. In 2006, the Cardinals' broadcasts moved to KTRS 550 AM after 52 seasons on KMOX (1954–2005) after the team purchased controlling interest in KTRS.
On September 1, 2010, the Cardinals announced the return of broadcasts to KMOX, starting in the 2011 baseball season.
On January 30, 2012, Jon Grayson's "Overnight America", based at KMOX, and also airing on CBS stations WCCO Minneapolis and KDKA Pittsburgh, became a nationally syndicated program with several dozen stations airing it across the country.
KMOX has had a long history of broadcasting sports. In 1926, it broadcast the Cardinals-Yankees World Series, and starting the next season the station was regularly carrying Cardinals' games. KMOX's most famous sports figure was Jack Buck, who was the station's year-round sports director during the years he was also calling baseball and football for the CBS radio and television networks. Another famous figure was Harry Caray, who did play-by-play for Cardinals' baseball from 1945 through 1969. Bob Costas did play-by-play on KMOX for the Spirits of St. Louis of the American Basketball Association from 1974 until the ABA-NBA merger in June 1976.
The station continues to host sports programming such as "Sports on a Sunday Morning" with host Ron Jacober, and "Sports Open Line." Kevin Wheeler and Ron Jacober host "Sports Open Line", which airs every weekday night.
While the station has been a leader in sports play-by-play, KMOX is best known in St. Louis for its format of news and talk. The station offers news, weather and traffic updates throughout the day. KMOX held the distinction of holding the record for consecutive number one Arbitron ratings books in the United States. The station was consistently the number one radio station with listeners 12 and older from 1972 to 2010, when music station WARH (106.5 FM) took over the top spot in the Arbs.
KMOX has carried the Rush Limbaugh show weekdays 11am-2pm for many years. The program is pre-empted by St. Louis Cardinals' afternoon games. This is one of the very few non-local shows broadcast on the station.
For the past eleven Decembers, KMOX has hosted a holiday radio program, in which KMOX personalities perform an old-time radio show in front of a live audience.
Live play by play sports on KMOX
- St. Louis Blues hockey (1967–1985, 1988–2000, 2006–present)
- St. Louis Cardinals baseball (1928–1948, 1954–2005, 2011–present)
- St. Louis Cardinals football (1960–1987)
Notable current and past KMOX broadcasters include:
- Buddy Blattner
- Jack Buck
- Joe Buck
- Harry Caray (1945–1969)
- Jack Carney
- John Carney
- Kelly Chase
- Bob Costas
- Rex Davis
- Dizzy Dean
- Dan Dierdorf
- Art Fleming
- Joe Garagiola
- Bob Hardy
- Charles Jaco
- Randy Karraker
- Dan Kelly
- Dan P. Kelly
- Gus Kyle
- France Laux, The Sporting News first recipient
- Emmett McAuliffe
- Bernie Miklasz
- John Rooney
- Mike Shannon (1970–present)
- Bob Starr
- Jim White