KFNS
CityWood River, Illinois
Broadcast areaGreater St. Louis
Frequency590 KHz
Branding590 The Fan
Programming
FormatSports
AffiliationsFox Sports Radio
Ownership
OwnerMarkel Entertainment LLC
History
First air date
October 5, 1961; 60 years ago (1961-10-05) (as WBBY)[1]
Former call signs
WBBY (1961–65)
WRTH (1965–88)[2]
WKLL (1988–89)[2][3]
WCEO (1989–91)
KEZK (1991–93)
Call sign meaning
FaNS
Technical information
Facility ID13505
ClassB
Power1,000 watts
Transmitter coordinates
38°55′43″N 90°05′08″W / 38.92861°N 90.08556°W / 38.92861; -90.08556
Links
WebcastListen Live
Website590thefan.com

KFNS (590 AM) – branded as 590 The Fan – is a commercial sports radio station licensed to serve Wood River, Illinois. Owned by Markel Entertainment LLC, the station services Greater St. Louis and is the market affiliate for Fox Sports Radio. The KFNS studios are located in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Missouri, while the station transmitter resides in nearby Wood River, Illinois. In addition to a standard analog transmission, KFNS is available online.

History

Early years

WKLL ad after its transition in early September 1988.
WKLL ad after its transition in early September 1988.

On October 5, 1961, the station first signed on as WBBY, a daytimer broadcasting at 500 watts.[1][4] WBBY was owned by Madison County Broadcasting Company and served the Wood River area with local news, sports and other programming. It began nighttime operations in 1964.[4] In 1965, WBBY changed its call sign to WRTH and its format switched to beautiful music, targeting the St. Louis market.[5][6][7] Its easy listening music format was among the most highly rated stations in St. Louis.[8] Among the best known announcers were Grant Horton, Paul Warner, Frank Akers, Jim Scanlan and Ed Goodman.

In the 1980s, WRTH transitioned to an adult standards format,[9] which it aired until September 1988, when it flipped to oldies as WKLL, Kool 590.[2] On November 1, 1989, the format changed again to all-business news and talk under the call letters WCEO,[10][3] which stood for Chief Executive Officer. On January 1, 1991, the station adopted an easy listening format[11] with the call sign KEZK adopted that January 29;[3] at the time, Adams Communications Corporation owned both KEZK and KEZK-FM, a soft adult contemporary outlet.[12]

In February 1993, KEZK began simulcasting the soft AC programming of its FM sister station.[13]

KFNS' logo as "590 The Fan", used from 1993 to 2013. A similar logo would be utilized upon the format's relaunch in late 2015 until September 2016.
KFNS' logo as "590 The Fan", used from 1993 to 2013. A similar logo would be utilized upon the format's relaunch in late 2015 until September 2016.

Move to sports talk

On April 5, 1993, KEZK switched to a sports radio format as 590 The Fan;[14][15] the call sign changed to KFNS that July 9.[3] KFNS held the affiliation for One-on-One Sports (now SB Nation Radio), and at different points, had aired St. Louis Steamers indoor soccer, University of Illinois football and men's basketball, the Gateway Grizzlies minor-league baseball team, and selected Mizzou Tigers football and basketball games, along with the weekly "Tiger Talk" radio coaches show. In 2009, KFNS was the radio home for the Frontier League's River City Rascals baseball games; KFNS-FM was the radio home for the club in 2006, before losing out to KSLQ-FM in 2007 and 2008.

KFNS had also broadcast on an FM radio station, KFNS-FM, based in Troy, Missouri, from 1999 until July 15, 2009. It was heard in Lincoln, St. Charles and Warren Counties in eastern Missouri, with the same programming as its AM partner. Currently, 100.7 FM is a classic rock station, known as "100.7 The Viper."[16]

Brief experiment as "The Man"

On May 1, 2013, KFNS flipped to a talk/comedy format, branded as 590 The Man.[17][18][19] In addition, sister station KXFN flipped to a female-centric talk format as 1380 The Woman. In 2014, KFNS shifted back to sports (but retained the "Man" branding), with the previous format shifting over to KXFN as 1380 The X. Its investors included former St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace and former St. Louis Blues player Keith Tkachuk. 1380 The X was subsequently subject to significant turmoil, including lawsuits against the ownership, physical fights behind the scenes and verbal attacks on-air.[20]

KFNS went off the air on October 31, 2014 after the station stopped paying its bills, resulting in the local utility company Ameren turning off the power to its transmitter site.[21][22] Following the shutdown, Grand Slam Sports announced that the company would focus on sister station KXFN and sell KFNS to a religious group.[21] Since 2009, the station had faced increased competition for the sports radio audience in St. Louis from WXOS, WGNU, and WQQX.[22] After payment was made on the power bill, KFNS resumed broadcasting with NBC Sports Radio programming on November 10, 2014. But shortly afterward, Grand Slam Sports' investors, at the urging of the company's operations manager, chose to again take the station dark until the completion of the sale.

Return to sports format

The sale to the religious group never followed through. Instead, the station returned to air on November 5, 2015, after being leased out to Markel Radio Group, operators of talkstl.com, which had already been leasing KXFN.[23][24] TalkSTL programming was simulcast on both stations until December 2015, when KXFN went silent, with KFNS continuing to air TalkSTL programming. The station was sold to Markel Radio Group, effective February 22, 2016, for $300,000.[25][26]

In September 2016, Markel leased the station's broadcast day to former KFNS host Tim McKernan and his company, InsideSTL Enterprises;[27] McKernan had previously leased WGNU on weekdays.[27] As a result, KFNS took over as St. Louis' CBS Sports Radio and Fox Sports radio affiliate. As part of the lease arrangement, the station's license was transferred to McKernan Radio Group, LLC, which was 75% owned by Markel and 25% owned by McKernan.[27] In 2018, Randy Markel acquired total ownership under Markel Entertainment LLC for whom the station is licensed.

References

  1. ^ a b 1963 Broadcasting Yearbook. Broadcasting, 1963. p. B-61. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Ross, Sean; Olson, Yvonne. "Vox Jox", Billboard. September 17, 1988. p. 15. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Call Sign History, fcc.gov. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b History Cards for KFNS, fcc.gov. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  5. ^ "Stations By Format", Billboard. November 4, 1989. p. 16. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  6. ^ "The Fourth Annual Billboard Radio Programming Forum Chicago, Aug. 19-21", Billboard. September 11, 1971. p. 27. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  7. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1979. Broadcasting, 1979. p. C-71. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  8. ^ Duncan, James H. "St. Louis: 12+ Metro Share", An American Radio Trilogy 1975 to 2004. Volume 1: The Markets. Duncan's American Radio. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  9. ^ "Fall Arbitron Results", Billboard. January 21, 1984. p. 18. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  10. ^ Ross, Sean. "Vox Jox", Billboard. November 4, 1989. p. 16. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  11. ^ "WCEO NOW B /EZ; B /EZ KEZK Switches to AC Format", Radio & Records. January 11, 1991. p. 38. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  12. ^ The Broadcasting Yearbook 1991. Broadcasting. 1991. pp. B-108, B-195. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  13. ^ Stark, Phyllis; Boehlert, Eric; Borzillo, Carrie. "Vox Jox", Billboard. February 13, 1993. p. 73. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  14. ^ Caesar, Dan. "KEZK To Make a (Station) Break From the Approach of KASP", St. Louis Post-Dispatch. April 2, 1993. Sports p. 5D.
  15. ^ "Format Changes", The M Street Journal. Vol. 10, No. 13. March 31, 1993. p. 1. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  16. ^ Radio-Locator.com/KFNS-FM
  17. ^ "Two St. Louis Sports Stations To Become The Man & Woman", RadioInsight. April 30, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  18. ^ "Format Changes". Your Midwest Media. Archived from the original on March 17, 2013.
  19. ^ Dan Caesar (March 8, 2013). "Caesar: KFNS, 1380 to drop all-sports format". St. Louis Post‑Dispatch. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  20. ^ Caesar, Dan. "Media Views: KFNS mess now has Pace, Tkachuk being sued", St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 1, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "KFNS St. Louis Goes Dark; To Be Sold To Religious Group", RadioInsight. November 3, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Caesar, Dan (November 3, 2014). "KFNS off the air and not coming back". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  23. ^ "KFNS Returns Just Prior To Last Rites", RadioInsight. November 6, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  24. ^ Caesar, Dan (November 11, 2014). "KFNS briefly returns to airwaves, but plug to be pulled again". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  25. ^ "Illinois AM Part of Court-Ordered Sale", Radio & Television Business Report. November 16, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  26. ^ Application Search Details – BAL-20151109FSZ, fcc.gov. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  27. ^ a b c "Station Sales Week Of 6/10", RadioInsight. June 10, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2019.