Culture / The Story of Classical KDFC

The Story of
Classical KDFC

After 6 decades and multiple owners,
KDFC was reborn in 2011 as a listener-supported
non-profit radio station, securing a future
for classical music in the Bay Area
for generations to come!

KDFC: Where Love of Classical Music is Born.

  • Established In 1948

  • KDFC tower

    KDFC first hit the airwaves on Sept 1, 1948 broadcasting from the transmitter building on Historic Mt. Beacon in Sausalito on 102.1FM. The station’s current signal at 90.3FM transmits from this same building.

  • image-3-staff

    Bill Crocker founded the station and was its first general manager. Sales were handled by Ed Davis who later became the station’s long-running GM. Engineering was handled by Herbert Florance. The names of these three gentlemen, Davis, Florance, Crocker, created the acronym for the call letters KDFC.

  • image-4-records

    The hosts would make the announcements about the music, and the engineering staff would spin the 78 rpm records. With the evolution of technology the station eventually was able to broadcast for more hours in the day, and the programming became mostly automated with a small group of recorder announcers.

  • image-2-ships

    In the early days the broadcast originated from the transmitter site, and visitors could enjoy the view of the endless procession of ships through the Golden Gate. Very few people had FM radios in those days, and the station only broadcast from 3:30pm-10:30pm, but it was a start for the Bay Area’s first classical music station.

  • image-5-new-staff

    In 1997 the station was purchased by Bonneville International. The created an accessible classical format with live announcers. Bill Lueth was the Program Director and morning host, joined by Dianne Nicolini in middays, and Rik Malone in afternoons. Hoyt Smith joined a couple years later. In the fall of 1999 and the Fall of 2000 KDFC reached the unprecedented high mark for classical radio as the highest- rated music station the Bay Area.

  • kdfc-air-studio

    A decade later, after the financial collapse, and the continued consolidation of commercial radio, the 102.1 signal was flipped to a rock format, and the core staff of KDFC was hired by the University of Southern California to create a new non-profit, listener-supported classical service for Northern California.

  • image-7-napa

    In an effort to keep KDFC on the air in the Bay Area, USC invested over $10 million dollars in start-up costs to buy signals available signals at 90.3FM in San Francisco, 89.9FM in Napa, and 92.5 in Ukiah. The new KDFC was launched January 18, 2011.

  • Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

    The following January the 90.3 signal was upgraded and moved to Sausalito - the same site of the original KDFC.

  • image-9-silicon-valley

    In May of 2012 with the help of a $7.5 million loan from USC. 104.9FM in San Jose was added to the network.

  • Sea

    KDFC was able to add coverage to Monterey and Carmel.

  • Balloons Celebration

    KDFC celebrates 70 years of broadcasting classical radio to the Bay Area!

Our Mission Today

To make classical music and the arts a more important
part of more people’s lives by presenting high quality
classical music programming, and by producing and
presenting programming featuring the arts and culture
of Northern California.


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