KQV-AM to shut down


KQV-AM, which is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is shutting down at the end of the year. This is one of only two radio stations with a three letter “K” call sign located East of the Mississippi River, which gives you a sense of its history. It began as an experimental AM station in 1919, and acquired the KQV call sign in 1922, before AM radio was formally structured by the Hoover commission in 1928 when the invention of superheterodyne receiver by Edwin Armstrong made widespread commercial AM radio practical.

The station is located on 1410 kHz, a frequency set aside for local radio stations in the 1940s, not regional or clear channel 50 kW AM. As a result, it has no chance competing with cross town rival clear channel KDKA-AM (on 1020 kHz). [Westinghouse -> CBS -> Entercom]

The station goes back to the era when the radio networks didn’t exist and radio was done live, often with in-studio musicians.

By the time I was a listener in the 1960s, KQV was doing the “talking really fast rock and roll DJ” thing and had been owned by ABC radio since 1957 – but it was sold off to Cincinnati based Taft Broadcasting because of the then current FCC national ownership limits.

As the swamp of AM music radio was being drained by the new-fangled FM radio in cars, several DJs (including Rush Limbaugh and Jim Quinn) rode the airwaves until the end.

The station was sold by Taft to an operation funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the “right wing” heir to a portion of the Mellon fortune. In addition to funding KQV-AM, Scaife was the owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper, one of only a handful of major market papers with a strongly Conservative editorial bias. The long time station manager Richard Dickey Sr was given 20% ownership and Scaife took 70% of the stock and held back a $250,000 note.

Scaife’s children and sister objected to how he spent his trust fund money during his life and after he died in 2014. his kids got nothing – their grandmother had set up separate trust funds for them.

Knowing that he was dying, Scaife turned the station over to the two children of Richard Dickey Sr who had died in 2011. (Richard Dickey was not related to the Cumulus Dickey family). Scaife tore up the $250k note and the Dickey children paid $200k – essentially getting the station for free. The daughter has been running the station, but she died in November and her brother and the third generation don’t want the albatross of their grandfather. There are no plans to sell the station.

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5 Responses to KQV-AM to shut down

  1. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    Fascinating. So the FCC will have an open frequency available in Pittsburgh. It uses a directional antenna per the FCC rules to protect other stations, so unless the new station uses the same antenna at the same site, they will need to do a lot of engineering and complicated construction and permitting…. NOT WORTH THE INVESTMENT.

    Instead, I expect that other stations on 1410 will study their directional antennas and apply to the FCC to radiate more power in the direction of Pittsburgh than they wer allowed to while KQV was on the air.

    We all know Chris Christie, but how many know Jeff Christie? He was a DJ on KQV in the 1970s. Even if you know him, I find it hard to recognize his voice. Here are two sound checks of him on KQV for you to enjoy. What do you think of his voice?

    1974 identifying Terry Jack’s Seasons in the Sun and others (clear recording)

    “Where the good times roll”

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Yes, the 5,000 watt day/night station requires 8 antennas and the land is much more valuable as McMansions or an Amazon distribution center.

      The station is actually a Class B, which is a regional license. It has clear sailing out 100 miles on 1410 and 70 miles on 1400 and 1420. If the FCC allowed fiberglass antennas, it might survive as a lower powered omnidirectional station in Oakland or Downtown.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        True. What I have seen, however is for many AM stations to switch to FM. Where they can’t do that, they will apply for one or more FM translators to cover their city. Other times they will arrange for the AM signal to be simulcast on an HD2 or HD3 channel on a high powered FM sister station. AM is slowly being sunset, if you excuse the pun. 😉

  2. Fred Stiening says:

    A buyer has been found – the owner of a station in nearby McKeesport bought the license, but not the transmitter location for $55,000. KQV has a directional signal during the day (3 towers) and at night (5 towers) – instead it will be diplexed on a single non-directional antenna tower. I suspect it will get an FM translator to get reasonable coverage of the city. I really doubt the all news format will survive.

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      Probably simulcast. The additional coverage area should generate additional ad revenue that exceeds the additional cost of powering a transmitter at a facility shared by other stations.

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