Beginning July 19 KYNO will begin broadcasting with a 50,000-watt transmitter. Image via KYNO Facebook page

published on July 12, 2021 - 8:00 AM
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A classic Fresno radio station will have listeners changing frequencies for its oldies starting July 19 as it increases its power 10-fold.

KYNO is moving to a new frequency and increasing its power from a 5,000-watt transmission to the maximum legal limit of 50,000 watts — one of only four radio stations in the Central Valley to do so. 

This comes as the station celebrates 75 years, when then owner Gene Chenault petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to build a new radio station in 1946 at 1300 kHz. 

The current station set to 1430 AM will move to 940 AM, stretching its broadcast signal from Sacramento to Bakersfield and throughout the Central Coast. It will become the most powerful oldies station in America, featuring music from the late ‘50s through the early ‘70s all day. 

Currently KYNO is not within listening range in Los Banos or the coast, but Owner John Ostlund of One Putt Broadcasting said the increase in power will boost ratings significantly. 

It’s a market that’s underserved, and beyond talk radio, there’s not a radio station that plays oldies full time, he said. 

There are only 12 full-time 50,000-watt radio stations in California, and only 48 full-time, 50,000-watt stations in the country. 

“And of all those, there isn’t one full-time, 50,000-watt radio station that plays full-time oldies,” he said.

In the first quarter of this year KYNO had 35,000 streaming session starts, which Ostlund says compares favorably with just about any radio station in the market.

“It’s remarkable that we have as many people outside the market that are streaming,” he said. 

The legendary Fresno station has set the course for other stations in the state, including in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

In the early 1960s KYNO and cross-town rival K-Make battled for supremacy – a battle that went on for about two years with outrageous station promotions and high-profile DJs. Ultimately KYNO won the battle, said Ostlund. It forced K-Make to change formats to country music.

People who listened at the time in Fresno are very familiar with the rivalry, Ostlund said. KYNO’s success granted the Program Director Bill Drake and Chenault the credibility to consult more than 300 other radio stations.

They consulted KGB in San Diego, KFRC in San Francisco and KHJ in Los Angeles. Drake and Chenault took each station to No. 1. 

“It was really fascinating to watch four stations within a year become No. 1,” said Ostlund. 

People that worked at KYNO went on to do great things, Ostlund said. Mike Novak is the president and CEO of KLOVE. Les Garland went on to create MTV. 

“KYNO was the proving ground for great radio promotions, great radio personalities,” said Ostlund.

Ostlund’s passion for radio began at a young age after seeing his older brother in the radio business. Watching him DJ on air grew his affinity for broadcasting when he was 13 years old. By the time he got his driver’s license he commuted from his hometown in Turlock to Fresno just to hear music on KYNO.

He eventually started the Jeffrey Scott Agency in Fresno, then built KJWL in the early ‘90s, and went on to purchase KYNO.

“It was really just a hobby that became a career,” Ostlund said.

KYNO’s new home station on 940 AM will take listeners down memory lane with the greatest hits throughout the Central Valley and beyond.

“It’s one-of-a-kind. I’m really looking forward to it,” Ostlund said.  

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