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KMJ Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

The Cumulus station in Fresno is playing it up

Archival photo of young Shirley Roberts on KMJ in 1944
Archival photo of young Shirley Roberts on KMJ in 1944 (read about her family history by clicking the image).

KMJ has turned 100.

Dozens of U.S. radio stations have hit their centennials in recent months, recalling the period in the early 1920s when the modern radio industry was born.

KMJ(AM) in Fresno, Calif., is the latest. The station today is owned by Cumulus Media and airs news/talk. Whereas some radio stations seem to run away from any on-air discussion of old formats or prior owners, KMJ is going to celebrate its anniversary all year. Plans include a documentary and a concert.

“KMJ began broadcasting on March 23, 1922, and is the 38th oldest licensed and continually operating radio station in America,” Cumulus said in a press release.

“Over the past 100 years of broadcasting, KMJ has provided listeners in Fresno and California’s Central Valley with news, current events, music, sports, religion, drama, comedy and most importantly, public service. Originally owned by the San Joaquin Light and Power Corporation, KMJ was later acquired by the McClatchy Newspaper Company in 1925 and has seen a handful of owners in the past century.”

[Related: “A Look Back at the Radio Newspaper of the Air.” ]

Today it is heard on regional frequency 580 kHz with 50 kW and a directional antenna array (it is also heard on FM at as well as 105.9 MHz).

Cumulus noted that between 1925 and 1932, KMJ operated on a number of other frequencies. “Eventually KMJ moved to 580 kHz in 1932, operating with 1 kW non-directional from a building rooftop in downtown Fresno,” it said.

“At the outset of World War II, the Department of War selected KMJ as the primary medium for alerting Central California residents. It is still used for this purpose today as a primary entry point for the Emergency Alert System.”

VP and Market Manager Patty Hixson has been working there for more than three decades, according to the press release. “I am truly grateful and humbled by the fact that I have been so blessed to serve our valued listeners — this is my home!” She highlighted the station’s work in the community and its “continued focus on relevant content, philanthropy and ethical business practices.”

PD Blake Taylor noted that the station “has covered everything from the Harding administration to the Biden White House. Terrible tragedies to inspirational triumphs and everything in between.”

See historical photos on the station website.

[Radio World’s Roots of Radio page has a selection of stories about the early years of radio including “Constructing the First ‘Real’ Radio Station.”]