KSON Retrospective



In 1947, an AM radio station signed on to the frequency of 1240, broadcasting popular music and transmitting from a tower in National City where Interstate 5 and 15 now merge.

In 1962, along with his brother Mike, local businessman and U.S. Navy veteran Dan McKinnon purchased KSON AM Radio. In 1963, KSON AM began broadcasting Country and Western Music from studios situated on the mezzanine level of the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

In 1964, McKinnon put an FM station on the air at 97.3 with the call letters KSEA, broadcasting, as the station slogan put it, "Tunes, News, Time." At first, the station was automated, with equipment located inside a picture window in the lowel level of College Grove Center, at College Avenue and Highway 94. Throughout the remainder of the 1960's and early 1970's, KSON-AM 1240 was the premiere Country Music station serving San Diego County, and broadcast live from local concerts, sports events, rodeos and store grand openings.

Listeners to the station in these early days may remember names such as Mike Larsen, Boots Rabell, Jerry Peterson, Chuck Owen, Chuck Cooper and Jimmy Mack.

In the early 1970's, KSON AM moved its studios into the picture window at College Grove and KSEA-FM went live from studios downstairs adjacent to the Post Office at College Grove.

After simulcasting KSON AM for a time, plus stints with a Rock music format and Gospel, KSEA changed its call letters and switched to its own Country Music format in the mid-1970's, first calling itself "Sun 97 FM," then simply "KSON-FM." Ed Chandler, Rod Hunter, newsman Richard Mock, Jim Knight, Ron West, and a host of other names played Country Music on both KSON AM & FM throughout the 1970's, including Nick Upton who started full-time with KSON-FM in 1978. 2013 marks Nick's 35th year with KSON.

In the early 1980's, McKinnon sold the KSON stations to Jefferson Pilot Communications, which later became part of the Lincoln Financial Media Group. KSON departed College Grove Center for a studio complex on El Cajon Blvd. in La Mesa. In 1989, the stations made the move to the same Mission Valley building that they still call home today.

The stations maintained their own band for some years -- the popular "Al Turner and the KSON Flatbed Show" who opened numerous country concerts and toured to every corner of San Diego County for KSON Events and Appearances. Al Turner passed away on August 1, 2014. Read more here...

As technology changed, and the AM band was no longer preferred for music listening, the 1240 AM signal was sold and KSON's Country Music focused on 97.3 FM. In 2003, Lincoln Financial Media added a simulcast signal at 92.1 FM, serving the growing communities in North San Diego County. Today, in addition to KSON, Lincoln Financial Media owns and operates Alternative Rock formatted FM 94/9 and San Diego's only Adult Contemporary station, Easy 98.1.