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
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