Uncle Dale's replacement...

Scott Fybush scott@fybush.com
Sun Sep 21 01:28:47 EDT 2008

Paul B. Walker, Jr. wrote:
> AM 930 in Los Angeles got the "KHJ" call letters back on March 15, 2000 
> after almost exactly 10 years to the day of being KKHJ.

Yes, they did - but that has nothing to do with Joe's concerns.

In the case of KHJ, the three-letter KHJ base call had been abandoned 
completely - KHJ(AM) became KRTH(AM) in the mid-eighties, and then 
KHJ-TV became KCAL-TV a few years later. So there was NO "KHJ" left at 
all, and it took a special dispensation from the FCC (and some ca-ca 
excuses about how "K-K-H-J," when spoken in Spanish, started with 
"ka-ka," never mind that the station was doing its legal ID in English) 
to get the old calls back.

If CBS were to move the WBZ calls to FM, it could do so with no such 
special FCC permissions required. The Commission has long allowed 
holders of three-letter calls to use that same base call on other 
services in the same market. Recent examples have included the addition 
of WWL-FM in the New Orleans market, WGL-FM in the Fort Wayne market and 
KSL-FM in the Salt Lake City market, the return of WIL(AM) in St. Louis 
and WGH(AM) in Newport News VA (in both markets, the three-letter base 
call had survived on FM), and the return of WWJ-TV in Detroit.

CBS could put the WBZ-FM calls on any of its FMs in the market tomorrow 
with nothing more than a postcard form and a $65 fee to the FCC. And 
because the three-letter base calls would live on at WBZ-TV, it could 
change the calls on AM 1030 to something else tomorrow, and still flip 
an FM to WBZ-FM a year later, if it so desired for some reason.

The FCC has liberalized its handling of three-letter calls in the last 
few years. It's now possible to move a three-letter call from one 
station in a service to a co-owned station in that same service, as long 
as it's within the same market. In the last decade, we've seen the WHK 
calls on three Salem-owned AMs in the Cleveland market, for instance. 
KFH has been on two Wichita AMs. KOY has been on two Phoenix AMs.

The FCC still won't allow several other moves: you can't use a 
three-letter base call in another service on a co-owned station in a 
different market (so while you can have KCBS(AM) in San Francisco and 
KCBS-FM/KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, you can't have KNX(AM) in Los Angeles 
and KNX-FM in San Francisco); nor has it allowed owners to move a 
three-letter call to a different market altogether (so while CBS could 
change the calls of WBZ(AM) to WCBS(AM), it couldn't make the reverse 
move) - and with the exception of KHJ, WGH, and a handful of cases in 
the 1958-1972 time frame, it hasn't allowed owners to revive a 
three-letter base call once it's been withdrawn from use across all 

The canonical list of three-letter call changes lives here:



More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list