KHTS FM 98.1 & AM 1220 – A Radio Station History
KHTS FM 98.1 & AM-1220, Your Home Town Station first debuted on the air in Canyon Country in July, 1989, under the call letters, KBET, “The Beat of Santa Clarita.”
The station was founded by a local television engineer, Larry Bloomfield, who in the mid-1980’s, saw an opportunity to squeeze in another local radio station into the Los Angeles area.
Bloomfield teamed up with his CPA, Howard “Scott” Howard, who along with other investors, formed Canyon Broadcasters. Bloomfield left KBET before the station went on the air. The February 1990 issue of Radio World Magazine, listed KBET AM-1220 Stereo as the first digital, tapeless, paperless radio station in the world.
The station opened studios at the corner of Sierra and Soledad, next to Waterwheel Carwash.
Andrew Castiglione was the station’s Chief Engineer when the station went on the air in 1989.
The station featured a mixture of the latest pop hits, along with local news, weather and sports. KBET’s staff included morning personalities, Barry & The Beast. The stations original lineup included:
5am-10am Barry & The Beast
10am-2pm Mike Levine (PD)
2pm-7pm Mark Morgan
7pm-12am Maggie McKay
12am-5am Steve Clark
News Director: Dave Ulmer
A.J. Morgan (Vytas Safronikas – later a news reporter at KNX-AM) started part time as a DJ Saturday’s 10am-3pm, then shifted to full time afternoon news soon after. Dave Ulmer left after about 6 months and AJ became the stations news director.
KBET covered High School Football, Basketball and many other local events.
After having difficulty turning KBET into a profitable enterprise, the company filed for bankruptcy in July, 1990, Carl Goldman & Jeri Seratti Goldman, took over operation of the station in July, 1990. They, along with several other investors, formed Saddleback Broadcasting, the parent company of KBET through 1998.
The station switched formats to “Good Time, Great Oldies.” It featured local morning show personality, AJ Morgan, along with a mixture of network programming, originating from Westwood One in Valencia and CNN News.
As the station matured, it became the voice of Santa Clarita, mixing in High School Sports, a variety of specialty shows, along with local news, traffic and weather. KBET became known for many weekly special features including a local on-air book report by elementary school students, the Student of the Month, the Pet of the Week, the daily Sheriff’s Report (Deputy Patrol), The Contractor Guys, A Local Real Estate show hosted by Gene Bleeker, to mention just a few.
Local personalities included AJ Morgan, DA Collins and Barry McKeever. The station also added play by play of the Los Angeles King’s hockey team to its programming line-up.
In January, 1994, KBET became the emergency outlet for the Santa Clarita Valley during the Northridge Earthquake. After the 5 and 14 Freeway interchange collapsed, the Santa Clarita Valley was sealed off from Los Angeles . The station provided around the clock news, traffic and emergency information for the many months it took for Santa Clarita to recover. The station also provided psychological comfort to our local residents, who could call in and express their feelings and concerns on the air and realize their fears were not unique or isolated. Needs such as diapers, portable heaters, water, etc., were instantly met as appeals were broadcast over the KBET airwaves and listeners would respond with assistance.
As the disruption of the earthquake settled down and the 14 & 5 Freeway Interchange reopened in June, 1994, KBET evolved from a News/Talk format, into a Full Service Radio Station, blending in Adult Contemporary music, along with news, traffic, weather and sports. Many local features were also part of the programming.
KBET added the Los Angeles Dodgers to its programming lineup for the 1998 season.
In September, 1998, Saddleback Broadcasting sold KBET to Jacor Broadcasting. Jacor was purchased by Clear Channel before the sale was finalized. KBET became KIIS-AM, weaving in a mixture of local programming, along with carrying Rick Dees in the morning and XTRA Sports throughout the remainder of the day. Sharon Bronson, who was the station’s sales manager under the Goldmans’ became the General Manager of KIIS-AM. Barry McKeever remained on-board to continue to head up the station’s local programming and sports.
Several years later, Clear Channel closed the Sierra and Soledad offices and moved the operation up to the Antelope Valley , as part of the Clear Channel Lancaster/Palmdale cluster of stations. The station had difficulty maintaining a local identity, despite opening a small studio on Bouquet Canyon in Saugus.
In 2001, the station eliminated its local programming and became a simulcast for KIIS-FM.
During the years Clear Channel operated AM-1220, the Goldman’s remained residents of Santa Clarita and committed to the Valley. Their children attended local schools and they remained active with many local charities and organizations. They sensed a need for a local station, and approached Clear Channel to repurchase AM-1220.
In October, 2003, the Goldman’s purchased AM-1220 from Clear Channel, under their personal corporation, Jeri Lyn Broadcasting. The station opened new studios at Soledad and Camp Plenty in Canyon Country (The transmitter site and towers remained at their original location on Sierra Highway, north of Vasquez Canyon in Canyon Country).
AM-1220, became KHTS, Santa Clarita’s Home Town Station. Carl Goldman and Jeri Seratti Goldman took over the day-to-day operation. Sharon Bronson returned as the station’s sales manager. KHTS once again featured local programming, mixing in news, traffic, weather and sports. High School Football and Basketball returned to the airwaves, as did the Los Angeles Kings and Dodgers. It went on the air as fires were ranging through Stevenson Ranch.
Jason Endicott, who worked at KBET as a traffic reporter in the mid-90’s came on board as the new station’s program director. Randy Keith and Dave Caldwell, who also worked at KBET, rejoined the station as on-air personality and production director (Randy), and Sports Director (Dave).
The station has won numerous awards over the years, including Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award in 1995 and in 2006 California Business of the Year by then Assemblyman Keith Richman for his district. Jeri Seratti Goldman was later named 2015 Calfornia Woman of the Year by Assemblyman Scott Wilk for his 38th California Assembly District.
The station has brought back many of the features that made it so popular in the 1990’s, including play by play of High School Football and Basketball, Deputy Patrol, the Elementary School Book Report, The Pet of the Week, The Real Estate Show and many new additions (see KHTS program schedule for our current line-up of personalities and shows (link here).
After only being on the air for eight months, the station once again became a critical emergency link to the Valley, as the Foothill fire raged through Placerita and Sand Canyon and the newly formed neighborhood of Fair Oaks . During the days residents remained evacuated, KHTS fed around the clock vital news on the fire, traffic and other critical information. Once again, the station acted as a conduit to round up volunteers to assist in evacuating animals and help with other needs.
Since returning to the airwaves in 2003, KHTS has served the Santa Clarita Valley through numerous disasters including fires, flooding and even a tunnel explosion when a 15-truck pileup occured inside the I-5/14 truck tunnel in 2007.
The KHTS website, www.hometownstation.com was launched also in 2003, when the station added a full newsteam to report Santa Clarita news over our airwaves, on our website, on social media and through our national award winning daily email news briefs.
On February 1, 2018, KHTS added their FM signal to the mix at 98.1 FM. The two stations now simulcast their programming throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
Today, KHTS continues to be a vibrant appendage to our community. As Santa Clarita’s only local commercial radio station, KHTS mixes in a combination of news, traffic, sports, along with your favorite adult contemporary and country cross-over hits by artists such as Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Pink, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. You can check out more information throughout this hometownstation.com website.
Our current on-air line up includes Tori & Kyle in morning drive and Aaron De La Torre in the afternoon. You may see a complete program schedule by clicking the “on-air” section of our website.
We invite you to tune in to Santa Clarita’s hometown station, FM 98.1 or AM-1220, KHTS for the only local commercial radio in our Valley.
Santa Clarita Radio / Santa Clarita News / Santa Clarita Traffic / Santa Clarita Sports