KROQ-FM (106.7 FM) – branded 106.7 KROQ – is a commercial alternative rock radio station licensed to Pasadena, California serving the Greater Los Angeles Area. The call sign is pronounced "kay rock." It was the flagship station of Loveline, hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky and "Psycho" Mike Catherwood, and The Kevin and Bean Morning Show. KROQ advertises itself as playing current modern rock hits, but its playlist consists mostly of recurrent tracks from the 1990s and 2000s.
The station has studios at the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in the Crestview neighborhood in West Los Angeles and the Lafayette Square neighborhood in the Mid-City region. The transmitter is based in the Verdugo Mountains.
Originally, 106.7 FM was KPPC-FM, owned by the Pasadena Presbyterian Church. They broadcast religious programming with a co-owned AM station. As the church encountered difficulties operating the stations, they sold the two stations to an outside company, Crosby-Avery Broadcasting, with the church retaining the right to broadcast its services over both stations. Until 1969, the station still broadcast from the basement of the church.
In 1967, Tom and Raechel Donahue created a freeform progressive rock format at co-owned KMPX in San Francisco. KMPX became a big success, and in 1968, the Donahues were sent to Pasadena to introduce the format to the ailing KPPC-FM.
The following year, after a few bounced paychecks, dress code regulations, and other rules changes, The Donahues and the disc jockeys at both KMPX and KPPC walked out on the stations in what was called by some at the time as "The Great Hippie Strike." The former KMPX and KPPC staffers were later hired at Metromedia-owned KSAN in San Francisco and KMET in Los Angeles. KPPC hired new staffers and kept the freeform format, though they floundered for several years following the strike. In 1969, the two stations were sold to the National Science Network.
In April 1970, the studios were moved out of the church basement. In September of that year, the FM transmitter was moved to Flint Peak, a mountaintop adjacent to Pasadena, and the station's power was significantly upgraded.
Country music station KBBQ (1500 AM) in Burbank became KROQ in September 1972, changing its format to Top-40 and hiring established disc jockeys from other stations. The new KROQ called itself the "ROQ of Los Angeles". In 1973 KROQ's owners bought the struggling KPPC-FM from National Science Network, which was forced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to sell their stations due to compliance issues, changed the calls to KROQ-FM and hired Shadoe Stevens to create a new rock format described as high energy "all-cutting-edge-rock-all-the-time" and began simulcasting as "The ROQs of L.A.: Mother Rock!"
KPPC (AM) was sold to Universal Broadcasting, and remained on the air with its limited-schedule of Wednesday evening and Sunday operation until subsequent owners took the station — by then renamed KBLV — off the air permanently in 1996.
The two stations were wildly successful initially with the new format, but poor money management plagued the enterprise. When concert promoter Ken Roberts (1941–2014) booked Sly and the Family Stone for one KROQ-sponsored show at the Los Angeles Coliseum and the station found itself unable to cover expenses, Roberts agreed to pay for the band to play the show in exchange for a small ownership stake in the station. Roberts joined a sprawling ownership group which included a doctor, two dairymen, a political lobbyist, a secretary, and several other minor investors. Roberts with his background in the music industry made him a logical choice for president of the struggling company in the minds of the other shareholders, and he was elected such at the first meeting he attended in 1974.
Unfortunately, by 1974 the station's finances were already untenable following a year of commercial-free programming — a stunt implemented in an effort to gain market share. The stations' debt load reached $7 million; paychecks began to bounce and Shadoe Stevens and the bulk of the staff walked out, shutting the stations down. The closure would last for nearly two years.
In late 1975, the FCC ordered KROQ to return to the airwaves or surrender the stations' licenses. With barebones equipment, KROQ returned to the airwaves, broadcasting initially from the transmitter location, followed by a penthouse suite in the Pasadena Hilton Hotel, then across the street from the Hilton (117 S. Los Robles).
Ken Roberts returned to the reborn station in a more forceful ownership role, buying out his partners one by one until he remained the sole owner of the station. Shadoe Stevens was re-hired as a programming consultant and air personality with others like Los Angeles radio legends "The Obscene" Steven Clean and Frazer Smith.
KROQ's 1976 rebirth was perfectly timed with the emergence of punk rock and new wave and KROQ quickly became the voice of the burgeoning Los Angeles scene, with disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer joining the station and introducing many new and local bands, including The Ramones, The Runaways, Stray Cats and The Go-Gos, on his massively influential shows. As punk expanded its hold on the music scene of the mid to late 1970s, KROQ steadily adding more of it to their freeform format, cementing their place in the Los Angeles market. The station's proximity to Hollywood and the Los Angeles punk rock scene gave it a unique place in the development of this newer music and much later with the alternative rock genre. In the late 1970s and early 1980s KROQ was quickly becoming one of the most influential radio stations in broadcast history.
Shadoe Stevens once again left the station and Rick Carroll took over as program director in 1979 and took all of the new music and combined it in a Top 40 formatic structure. For a time the station mixed punk and new music of The Ramones, Devo, The Weirdos, Sparks, Fear, X, Berlin, and Blondie with huge mainstream artists such as The Beach Boys or even The Rolling Stones. By 1980 the station had fully committed to a post-new wave modern rock orientation. KROQ became an even greater success as the "Rock of the Eighties" was born.
By the late 1980s, the station started dipping in the ratings. New wave declined in popularity and electronic dance bands, such as Depeche Mode and New Order, started getting more airplay on the station. Listeners, confused about the lack of rock music on the station, started turning away, many to competitor AOR station KLOS.
In 1986, KROQ was purchased at a then record $45 million by Infinity Broadcasting, which merged with CBS in 1997, and is now owned by CBS Radio. Trip Reeb, a veteran radio program director, was brought on board. He made major changes, including terminating many long time DJs, streamlining the playlist, and bringing back more "guitar-based" rock music, including staples of the Long Beach heavy metal radio station KNAC: Guns N' Roses, Metallica, The Cult, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. Gradually, the format switched from AOR freeform to Alternative Rock, which the station still follows today.
The station experienced similar popularity to their early 1980s heyday during the early and mid 1990s. The rise of alternative rock, grunge, punk pop, and britpop bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Green Day, The Offspring, Blink-182, Oasis, Blur and others, combined with new shows such as Kevin & Bean and Loveline, as well as concert events such as "Weenie Roast" and "Almost Acoustic Christmas", helped the station surge back to number one in the ratings, which it remained until the mid 2000s, when it slipped to the middle of the pack ratings wise for Los Angeles area radio stations.
KROQ helped launch the careers of previously low-key Southern California bands, such as Suicidal Tendencies, The Offspring, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, No Doubt, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Blink-182, System of a Down, Bad Religion and Social Distortion. They pride themselves on being "world famous" for their discovery of up-and-coming artists and are often the first US station to promote new rock bands before their large-scale success.
Originally located at 117 S. Los Robles Avenue in Pasadena, the station moved to 3500 W. Olive Avenue in Burbank in 1987 as part of the purchase agreement and to be closer to the music industry. In 2002, the station was moved to a facility at 5901 Venice Boulevard in the Crestview neighborhood in West Los Angeles.
Unlike most other (Class B, but with grandfathered greater than B facilities) FM stations in Los Angeles whose transmitters are atop Mount Wilson, KROQ's (Class B) transmitter is located on Tongva Peak (which replaced Flint Peak in Glendale at an altitude of 2500 ft), which results in somewhat weaker signal coverage.
In 2004, KROQ began broadcasting in HD Radio. On February 20, 2006, KROQ added streaming music from the radio station to its website. On June 9, 2006, KROQ launched an HD sub-carrier, KROQ HD-2, which airs new wave and alternative tracks from the 1980s which were popular during KROQ's heyday (and is also branded "KROQ 2: Roq of the 80s"). This somewhat justified the dropping of the long-running Flashback Lunch, until then nearly the sole remnant of the new wave and 1990s modern rock days.
In February 2010, CBS Radio, which controls the live stream, blocked access for listeners outside of the United States.
In February 2015, KROQ severed ties with both Boyd R. Britton aka "Doc on the Roq" and Lisa May after deciding to drop news and traffic. The news came as a shock for longtime listeners as Doc on the Roq had been reporting news for the station for 27 years while Lisa May had been reporting traffic for the past 24 years. Fans took to Facebook to boycott the station for not renewing their contracts.
Although considered one of the legendary radio stations in the country and still a strong revenue generator for parent company CBS, ratings for KROQ have been rather depressed over the last couple of years. In fact, competitor ALT-98.7 moved ahead of KROQ in 2015 including a 3.4 to 2.3 lead in the most recent August 2016 Nielsen ratings.
The station was awarded Radio Station of the Year in 1992 and 1993 by Rolling Stone magazine readers poll issues.
In 2007, the station was nominated for the top 25 markets Alternative station of the year award by Radio & Records magazine. Other nominees included WBCN in Boston, Massachusetts, KTBZ-FM in Houston, Texas, KITS in San Francisco, California, KNDD in Seattle, Washington, and WWDC in Washington, DC.
KROQ was the recipient of an Alternate Contraband Award for Major Market Radio Alternative Radio Station of the Year 2012.
KROQ was inducted into the Rock Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.