The KWFM Timeline


Tucson's first FM Stereo rock station was in the makings as early as 1969, but officially went "on the air" the first of April, 1970. Those early times were, to say the least, a period of growth for the station.

A strong base of loyal listeners grew as home stereo improved and prices came into reach of the masses. With the advent of FM car stereo, the strength of KWFM began to manifest itself: the audience could tune in during the commute, and so listening time expanded dramatically. KWFM became a station that did not just depend on 7 PM to 12 noon.

We ran promotions with stereo (and car stereo) outlets such as Jerry's Audio, The Stereo Pad, and North Hollywood Car Stereo, offering FM radio adapters for thousands of Tucsonans' cars. It was a brilliant move that precipitated a ratings climb. In the spring of 1979, just after the KWFM 9th birthday celebration at Reed Park, KWFM became not only THE #1 STATION for males 18-34 and 18-49, but also became Tucson's #1 STATION with a 12+ share.

Needless to say it was a great day for the station and all of the hard-working people that made the station successful.

Near the end of the seventies, FM radio grew across the country, while AM saw its last days of glory in music formats... And it was at this time that FM stations caught the attention of small corporations, and soon the family-owned operations disappeared.

In 1981 KWFM was sold by the Korngold family to Sandusky Newspapers, a well-run FM rock radio company that had demonstrated its ability to win in markets such as Phoenix (KDKB) and Denver (KBPI).

TV promotional campaigns with commercials produced in L.A. became standard for the ratings sweeps, creating larger audience shares. KWFM was again propelled into the #1 ratings position.

As has always been the case in radio, changes were on the horizon. In a move to enter the lucrative San Diego market, Sandusky sold KWFM in 1983 for the largest sum an Arizona station had ever garnered: $4.1 million.

What we all had at KWFM will never happen again. The costs involved make such operations prohibitive. Many have criticized consolidation, but the fact of the matter remains that by 1995 70% of radio stations in the country were drowning in red ink with the majority of these on the verge of going dark.

I'm very pleased to have been able to live the KW experience and to have worked with the best talent I have ever known.

Lee Dombrowski, May 2004