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!

Our Roots

KDFC: Where Love of Classical Music is Born.

established-image
1948

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.

1948
1948
Davis, Florance, Crocker, created the acronym for the call letters KDFC

Bill Crocker founded the station and was its first general manager. Sales was 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.

1948
1948

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 recorded announcers.

1948
1949

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.

1949
1950

KDFC acquired KIBE 1220AM in Paso Alto and simulcast the FM signal on that station until the 1990s

1950
1997
KDFC was purchased by Bonneville International

In 1997 the station was purchased by Bonneville International. They 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 the afternoons. Hoyt Smith joined a couple of 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 in the Bay Area.

1997
2003

KDFC wins the national Marconi Award for Classical Station of the Year and would repeat again in 2005. Hoyt Smith, John Evans and Linda Cassidy joined in the early 2000s. Smith, Nicolini, Lueth and Evans would all go on to be elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.

2003
2008

KDFC launches Classical Kids Discovery Days. Thousands of families attended this music fair at the Tech Museum in San Jose. Local arts partners joined in to offer interactive music booths and special concerts for kids. These events continue to this day.

2008
2011
KDFC merged with KUSC

With the continued consolidation of commercial radio, the owners of the 102.1 signal flipped the station 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. Bill Lueth (on the right) was named President of KDFC.

2011
2011

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

2011
2012

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

2012
2012

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.

2012
2016

KDFC was able to add coverage to Monterey and Carmel.

2016
2021
KDFC move to San Francisco's Arts District

KDFC moves to its new home in the heart of San Francisco's Arts District! With the help of many in this community, we have been able to create a wonderful space to create more ways to nurture the love of classical music for all.

2021
2022

After being sister stations since 2011, KUSC in Los Angeles and KDFC in San Francisco began to be known together as Classical California. The 10 station network across the state all became part of this new brand as well as the many new digital content offerings.

2022
2023
KDFC celebrates 75th anniversary

KDFC celebrates 75 years of broadcasting classical radio to the Bay Area!

2023
Our Mission Today

KDFC nurtures a love of classical music, inspiring people to make it an enduring part of their lives. The station curates beautiful music, creates compelling experiences, and welcomes all on the journey.

FM
90.3 San Francisco89.9 Napa Valley92.5 Ukiah104.9 Silicon Valley103.9 Monterey