Many well to due teens back in the 80's were handed over $10,000 or a gold card for back to school clothes. The poor preacher's daughter received $6500 in cash, crying all the way to the mall she did not get more like the rest of her friends.

On the 16th birthday; a brand new car was expected. One high school girl, stop by the studios, to show us her brand new Trans AM. The girl was beside herself that daddy did not buy her a BMW; like her friends got! The fact it was not red, really upset her! We all really tried to feel sorry for her; I even offered to take it off her hands as a donation!

The Westlake High student parking lot in the 80's often looked like a car dealership in Beverly Hills. Some cars in the parking lot costing well over $100,000. A BMW was considered bottom end to some students at Westlake High. One guy who use to hang around the station, had a $300,000 custom Corvette given to him by his parents; who worked in the porn industry.
Our own teen staffers wore $75 shirts and $85 pants daily to school, and he was one of the poor kids! Not all us enjoyed the rich spoils, those of us that moved to Thousand Oaks in the first wave back in 1964; were mostly middle class. The growth & wealth seemed to come in waves. The second wave was a result of white flight; to avoid forced busing in Los Angeles. GTE brought another wave, as did Amgen and other high tech companies that migrated into the area.

The median annual spendable income in the 80's, grew to well over $55,000 for Thousand Oaks & much higher for Westlake Village.

I must admit, it was great for an underground radio station. Where else, could you find a girl gladly hand over $250 of her cocaine allowance to buy stacks of records every week? In most towns, teens are begging for money; instead of trying to get rid of it! It's not every teen that can afford to handover a pair of new Tascam 32-2 reel to reels, just to get rid of the bulge in his wallet! One last thing about the youth that impressed us the most; was their willingness to share their wealth, and give hours of their free time for good causes. 

Outside of the theft & vandalism; at hands of the other station. The guest & fans that visited, never took or damaged a thing. In fact, most left the studio cleaner than they found it. You be surprised just how often a girl would come to file records or bring in lunch for the jock on the air. Girls would come in & clean the station from top to bottom; just to give back to their favorite station.

The guys would bring furniture they built in wood shop, build shelves, record racks or bins. All to just be part of the radio station. You might say KKTO became the community gathering point for one big family; it was not uncommon to have a few hundred people gathered around the studios inside and out.

Thousand Oaks has changed into a place for the extremely rich and famous!  It is often said: Once you leave Thousand Oaks, you can never afford to come back!

It is hard to believe, in the seventies and eighties; one could live in Thousand Oaks, on $8 bucks an hour. Now a bedroom rents for $1000, slum apartments run $2,500 a month and $3,500 gets you a track home (3 bedrooms 2 bath).

Now a family of four needs an annual income of $160k; just to get by!
Driving while poor around Thousand Oaks can get you arrested or beaten!

XRQK Worldwide
The History of KKTO FM Thousand Oaks
A Pioneering Underground Radio Station

KKTO FM began operation in September of 1984 on 99.3 FM in the back of a house on Old Farm Rd. in the heart of Thousand Oaks, California. In 1984 computers in a radio station were unheard of, instead KKTO FM, programmed the old fashion way; with live DJ's that used cassette decks, reel to reel and turntables as the primary programming sources. KKTO FM had broadcast 24/7, with live DJ's 18 hours a day and recorded programs overnight.

When KKTO FM, signed on the air back in 1984, quality FM transmitters in the USA was limited to just one from Panaxis, with its FME 500 PLL exciter and state of the art stereo generator. The KKTO FM, transmitter case also contained a Panaxis 10 watt RF amp; which used a pair of Motorola RTF133 mosfets. The KKTO FM, broadcast antenna was a large custom-made 5/8 wave collinear. The antenna produced a gain of 4db and was mounted 40 feet above ground.

With its antenna in the heart of Thousand Oaks; KKTO FM was able to cover all of Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, and parts of Moorpark, Santa Rosa Valley and Westlake Village; serving a population of well over 100,000. KKTO FM in 1985, added a two watt translator to better serve Westlake Village, and fill in some areas shadowed from KKTO's main transmitter. The translator fed a single dipole antenna mounted inside the attic of a single story condo; located at the busy intersection of Westlake Blvd and Hampshire Rd. From its location, the translator could be heard five miles deep into the canyons of North Ranch; with a portable radio, and west to the Hwy 101 & 23 interchange. The translator also covered Westlake High School. KKTO FM, added a second 1 watt FM signal to duplicate the AM (sometimes jammed by KDNF).

In 1986, a power increase at 99.5 in Los Angeles; forced KKTO FM to move from 99.3, up to 102.3. KKTO FM also relocated its studio in 1986, to an office behind the Thousand Oaks Masonic lodge on Crescent Way; a distance of about five miles from the original site. Since the transmitter was in an ideal location, it was left behind, using telco lines to feed the Old Farm site. One our staffers parents, worked for GTE's broadcast division; giving KKTO priority service; we ended up with better lines than the two legal stations; our telco lines were tested ruler flat from 15hz-15khz. The only draw back to the relocation besides the cost of the phone lines ($550 a month per an audio channel); was that it exposed our transmitter to theft: More on that latter on.
With the KKTO FM, original studios sandwiched between two High Schools and just down the street from the Park Oaks shopping center; a popular teen hang out at the time. With its New Wave/Dance format, KKTO FM, became an instant hit in the Conejo Valley, the station became so popular that it was played in many stores, including two grocery stores, and a movie theater during intermission. If you stood at the intersection of Janss & Moorpark Road, you would hear KKTO FM, emitting from most of the cars stopped or passing through the intersection. The icing on the cake came; when we found out the late Rick Carroll of KROQ fame; listened to KKTO FM, on the KROQ van radio; when it was parked in front of his house. The KNJO office radio was often tuned to KKTO FM; which really ticked off some of the DJ's. Case in point: KNJO's Harvey Kern's daughter, stop by the KKTO studios for a visit; telling listeners how much she loved listening to KKTO. Harvey Kern blew a fuse; till this day still holds a grudge. KKTO FM, had the rich and famous listening as well, many calling in or stopping by the studios; including: the Dr. from Little House On The Prairie, Olivia Newton-John, the late Michael Jackson, Belinda Carlisle, of the Go Go's, The Bangles and Heather Locklear; just to name a few.

KKTO FM, was talent driven; with all the DJ's coming from local high schools and colleges. The KKTO FM, covered high school sports as well as community events; including: Help start a food bank, safe rides and a suicide hotline run by other teens. KKTO staffers enjoyed great success with never having to buy anything; you name it! It was delivered to the studios. The word "Pizza" on the air, would net no less than three large Piping hot pizzas; including soda and a 12 pack of beer in our studio in thirty minutes or less! The record stores knew giving us records; meant increased record sales. Clothing stores knew to dress our jocks in the latest fashion. A car without gas; was not going to get the DJ to the station. We even had listeners spending their cocaine allowance buying us more records and furnishings for the station. One guy bought us two Tascam 32-2 reel to reels; just to say thanks! Another teen produced a thousand KKTO FM Tee-shirts; just because he had nothing else to do with his money.

KKTO FM, became so popular; that we started to show up in the ratings big time! With 4+ share according to a Birch/Arbitron staffer we met. He told us a side note in the book; noting that the station was not a subscriber. With KKTO FM on top in late 87 early 88; you got to know what happens next! While making a lunchtime trip to the transmitter site on Old Farm Rd; an unmarked beiges Ford Granada (with two Asian men sitting inside), was observed  parked out in front of the house. After going inside for a check of the transmitter; we heard a  knock on the door. Through the glass; we saw those same Asian men at the door. We first thought they were Jehovah Witnesses; paying us a visit again. No such luck! Those two Asian men; were agents for the FCC; paying us a special visit. They requested a inspection of the transmitter; which we allowed. The agents did some test and filled out some paperwork; then gave us a spiel about the rules and handed us copies of the paperwork. A nice letter arrived a couple days later; saying we owed them $750. One note of interest: The agents; told us they knew we had been on the air for years, but ignored it; because their kids listened too! The reason for the visit: Someone kept filing complaints; thirty in total. We asked if it was KNJO? NO! Was it KGOE? NO! Much to our surprise; we were told it was not a legal radio station filing the complaints; however the agents refused to disclose who did. 

After taking a station break for a couple months; the itch and demand was growing for KKTO FM's return to the air. After scouting for a new location and returning to the air; KKTO FM was back on top in no time; four phone lines; started ringing 24/7 right away. Things were going great for a few months; until we got a call and a certified letter in the mail on the same day. The call came from one of agents children "GET THE TRANSMITTER OUT!" "You are about to be raided!". Because of the tip off about the pending raid; the transmitter was removed from house hours earlier. Since KKTO FM was off the air at the time of the raid; all of our studio equipment was returned and charges finally dropped.

Who turned us in? Belive it or not! According to court documents and through discovery; it was learned that it was a couple of DJ's from another pirate radio station in Thousand Oaks (KDNF) that turned us in. Beat that! But wait there is more! KDNF was on the air at the time of our raid; broadcasting on AM with 100 watts, and our frequency too. Knowing KDNF was on the air (as pointed out by listeners who happen to be visiting our studios during the raid); we thought the FCC agents, would head over to KDNF next. Much to our amazement; the FCC has never done anything to KDNF. In fact KDNF, stayed on the air for  another 15 years after our bust. Can we say: "selective law enforcement"! In fact KDNF's operator, is now part of KDSK; in Grants, New Mexico. Prior to the raid: KKTO FM, was suffering extensive and expensive vandalism by DJ's of KDNF. You name it! They damaged or stole it! Including: destroying several cars, cutting antenna & phone lines, mail theft and stealing the transmitter from the Old Farm Road site. Then there was the endless prank phone calls (they finally got busted after two years when the phone company installed a trap on our lines). Our listeners and staffers caught KDNF DJ's red handed multiple times; turning them over to the law a few times. We think they were upset that KKTO FM, ended up with almost all of their listeners! Spoiled Sports!

Those caught vandalizing and stealing from KKTO FM; turned out to be members of the LDS. The fathers of the little brats like: Mike Denton, were well ranked LDS Bishops. Later, it was learned that Mike Denton; was caught stealing sensitive documents from church members out of his dads offices. Mike Denton, would then threaten fellow LDS members, with the release of the sensitive information; if they did not pay up (blackmail).

 These same fools; vandalized the vehicles of two of our DJ's parents cars. Big Mistake! The parents just happen to be LDS members in very good standing. They were the nicest people you would ever want to meet; but were not to be crossed like that. It was payback time! We heard that they messed with the wrong DJ's Parents and paid a very hefty price. Word is they served their mission in a pretty nasty place!.

The KKTO call letters, are now used in Tahoe City, California. KKTO-TV, is a New Mexico. Founders of KKTO FM, went on to be founders of the Radio Brandy Broadcast Workshop & XRQK Media Group; spawning a new generation of broadcasters.

Side note: The KKTO call letters were originally assigned to a new Thousand Oaks AM station; but were never used on the air. Prior to signing on in September of 72; the call letters were changed to KGOE.
KKTO FM's main studio was originally used by KKTO AM, we continued to use this studio, long after we acquired genuine broadcast gear; because the set up was so flexible. The five band EQ above the Tascam 3 mixer was used for the AM signal; giving the 5 watt KKTO AM a very loud and big bottom sound.
KKTO AM 1200, studio 2 in 1984, was also used for news
by KKTO FM Three Harris cart machines, and two
Pioneer reel to reel's were rack mounted to the left.
KKTO AM production in 1982, just before KKTO AM, began broadcasting in 1983. This studio later became KKTO AM, air
located to the left of what became KKTO FM's main studio.
The KKTO FM, production studio was added later on. It is all stereo,
including Pioneer Reel to Reel and Harris cart machines.
Studio 4, was used by KKTO FM towards the end. The three rim drive turntables, were mounted into a concrete base. We have more photos of this studio and our KKTO production studios we have added below. For some reason, we did not take more photos of the KKTO main Old Farm Road studio or the one behind the
Masonic Lodge. Our expensive camera was stolen
keeping us from taking more photos.
The studios of KKTO FM, were located in an add on behind the garage of this Old Farm Road home. Rutgers St. Teed into the KKTO Old Farm Road studios, the other teed into the KNJO tower behind the Park Oaks shopping center (about a five minute walk). The original KNJO studios and tower site are now a Vons Super Grocery.

The house purchased outright by us for $30,000 in 1975, has
since sold for well over $750,000. I would hate to be stuck
with the current house payments with todays economy!
Radio Brandy Homepage
Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, listened to
KKTO FM, whenever she was in
Thousand Oaks buying musical equipment.
The Go GO's listened to KKTO FM, as did their
family members
The Park Oaks, shopping center is located on Moorpark Rd. between Janss & Columbia Rd. American Top 40 DJ Casey Kasem, lived on Columbia Road with his mother in the Conejo Hills track, just across Moorpark Rd. An aerial photo is available on the KNJO site.
Belinda Carlisle
was a student of
Newbury Park High School.
Lessons learned from our experience
We learned allot about broadcasting; while operating KKTO. From the technical side; to the office politics that are bound to occur, staffing a radio station.

Our goal is to share our experience; with as many would be micro broadcasters as possible. We hope others can learn and benefit from our experience.

One thing we learned about broadcasting: What works in market; may bomb in another. You can't just plop a successful format in another market and expect the same results.

We know from experience: We dropped KKTO, (with new calls) into Los Osos/Baywood Park: A seaside community; west of San Luis Obispo. First off; the musical taste of the youth were different; and that included college students. The youth in Los Osos were very different; they preferred straight rock & roll. The maturity & social economic level was dramatically different from Thousand Oaks youth. The 16 year old in Los Osos, did not expect a brand new car on their birthday; as they did in Thousand Oaks. New school clothes, were limited $100; if they were lucky in Los Osos.  We adapted and enjoyed great success; with praise not only coming from listeners, but other broadcasters; who lived in the area and listened.

One nice thing about out time in Los Osos; was the fact we did not have to deal with another hostile pirate broadcaster in the area. Another nice thing; was our upstairs studios, which had a picture window overlooking the beach and Morro rock in the distance!

Mega broadcasters like Cheap Channel; still treat radio like a fast food joint. Still dropping in franchised formats in markets; like they are hamburgers and expect them to work.
Here is another view of studio 4, A triple deck ITC cart machine, and one of the rim drive turntables.
Studio 4 had three rim drive turntables
KKTO FM Production, with view of both turntables,
and a corner of a Harris stereo cart machine.
Location of our sister station KWLV Westlake Village, which provided KKTO FM coverage not only into Westlake Village, but some back fill into some canyons in the Thousand Oaks shadowed from KKTO's main signal. KWLV was also capable of originating its own programming, as was done on some Saturdays.
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Supersized KKTO FLYER
KKTO Flyer
Updated April 11, 2019
What happened to all the KKTO equipment and records?
Much of the equipment from the KKTO main studio is gone now; as a result of many moves and thefts. One of our so called trusted staffers: John P Gorham Jr. who is the founder and Executive Director of Conejo Valley Cares, stole our entire 10,000 disc record collection. We found a small part of our record collection at Salzer's Records in Ventura, where it was documented that John Gorham had sold some of our collection for $100.

Note: John P Gorham now concedes he illegally sold the records to Salzer's; after he was presented with documentation from Salzer's Records in Ventura to prove it
! To this day: John continues to try and justify the theft and does not feel he needs to make restitution or apologize for the theft of our property; according to e-mails received from him in May of 2011. Once a thief, always a thief !

John "JP" Gorham of Thousand Oaks, is trying to convince members of Radio Brandy; that KKTO sold 10,000 valuable records for just $300. One would have to ask: Why would KKTO sell the whole collection for $300; when KKTO had a standing offer of $1000 for just one disc?

John's mother's garage also contained some of our collection; unfortunately the useless Ventura County Sheriff's, wouldn't allow us to go and retrieve our record collection; despite a police report filed by LAPD. The fact that a very rare Hollywood Argyles promo LP was in John's mother's garage; meant nothing to the useless deputies. Good Ol' Boys always covering for other useless boys.

Items that survived all the moves and theft some how are: The Radio Shack microphone, a BSR 8 track deck, one Visonik turntable and the Philips cassette deck.

The replacement FM transmitter found new life in Eagle Rock, CA. The station signed on the air; just two weeks after Thousand Oaks went dark. The 1 & 2 watt FM's, were sold to other micro broadcasters. The AM transmitters also ended up in Eagle Rock, on 1500 AM it covered well into Glendale, with a very good signal for just 5 watts.

Our Eagle Rock station was located in a high crime ridden area, yet nothing was taken from our studios. There was weekly murder every Friday night; but nothing stolen! Thousand Oaks, is where all the thefts and vandalism occurred.
Some Of The KKTO FM Crew
Ken Cole
Sports Now in Vegas
Heather Davis Promotions
Steve & Aaron Scott
Roland Van Zandt
Blaine Alexander
Fronts L.A. band: Idiot Stare
Rich Knife Rob Boyle, now Asst D.A. in Irvine CA.
Justin Tyme
Bonny Torkko
(Turned out to be spy for the other station)
Carrie Sayer Promotions
Lynn Blume Promotions
Karis Lawson Voice Overs/Liners
Mike Cook Theif, who broke into transmitter room with Scott Worsham
and stole KKTO FM's first transmitter
Scott Worsham As above, his boyfriend Keith Cinedella informed us they were all guilty.
Larry King Consulting Engineer/Mentor
Plus 35 field reporters, covering breaking news from around the county.
More names will be added as time and memory serves.

Radio Brandy Homepage
Radio Outlaw The Indie Artist Station
XRQK FM Bullhead City
John P Gorham
The man who ripped
off the KKTO
Record Collection
John P Gorham in
his younger days
Strawberry Switchblade
Stephen Tin Tin Duffy Kiss Me
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