R.I.P. KKDA-AM: The Dallas Soul Station Goes Off the Air Permanently

zzhillbrandnew.jpg
No more Z.Z. Hill on KKDA
It was one thing for KKDA-AM to replace most of their on-air staff last year with an automated computer. That was sad, but the great tunes kept playing and Willis Johnson kept his morning show. So it's incredibly sad (and infuriating) to see KKDA-AM go completely off the air.

If you turned on AM 730 yesterday and were perplexed by what you heard, you were not alone. The sounds of classic soul, R&B and blues have been permanently replaced with Korean music. And, understandably, this has outraged many around town who were loyal to the station for years (and, in many cases, decades).

As much as KKDA-AM felt like a member of the community, dominated by citizens of all ages who would listen to the station for hours a day, it was still susceptible to the nature of the radio business. Economics led to the decision to let most of the on-air DJs go, and it was probably the reason why the frequency was sold. When a station switches formats (or gets "blown up" in industry terms), there's usually no warning or remorse. It's a simple message of, "We've changed and there's nothing you can do about this."

When I read soul730.com yesterday with the line, "This sale is final, and cannot be changed," my heart sank. As cold as this message sounds, business reigns supreme over anything else. No matter how many years this station was on air, and how much it meant to people.

There are reasons why a station like KKDA-AM will be fondly remembered. Like how people still speak fondly of Q102 and The Zoo, the stations that truly matter to the listeners never truly go away. (I have yet to meet anyone who misses Sunny 97.1.) I can't help but feel bad for those who found the station as something that truly spoke to them. This was a place that played hits, but the hits were beyond the typical and obvious ones. It wasn't just "Let's Stay Together" when it came to representing Al Green; it was also "Tired of Being Alone" and "I'm Still in Love With You."

KKDA-AM dug deep into a sound that it is timeless and is not restricted by age, race, gender, or income level. If you're currently in love, been in love, or dealing with a broken heart, then Levi Stubbs and Teddy Pendergrass are speaking to you.

I was not a loyal listener to the station, but when I did midday traffic reports for Bobby Patterson between 2010 and 2011, it was the highlight of my day. Whenever I put my headphones on, I usually heard songs I had never heard before. There were times before I'd talk about construction woes and accidents, and I'd ask Bobby, "Who sings that song?" Thanks to this station, I discovered greats like The Dells and Z.Z. Hill. And I heard songs from artists I already knew, but they were songs that I never heard anywhere else, like Chairmen of the Board's "Everything's Tuesday" and Archie Bell's "My Balloon's Going Up." I had a desire to hear more, so I dug, paid attention, and was often rewarded.

Not too long after most of KKDA-AM's on-air staff was let go, I created a station on Pandora called "KKDA-AM RIP." I called it that as a tribute to all the great songs they played, and hoped I would have the "Who sings that song?" reaction again. But this is a Pandora station, something that's for personal use and not mass consumption. I might enjoy this music for hours a day, but I miss the communal atmosphere of talking and sharing with people that I don't know.

KKDA-AM filled a hole in the listener's hearts and minds. Without it around anymore, it feels like a crucial part in preserving the history of soul, R&B and blues has been silenced.

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22 comments
mtr03
mtr03

I was really shocked this past weekend.  I came home after working sometime in ATL (btw:  two excellent stations that are on the web...1010 AM and 91.9 FM) and was hoping to listen to some tunes on KKDA as I traveled around DFW.  At first I thought my radio got set to another station by mistake.  My wife said that she didn't touch it.  After continually trying and repeatedly getting the a foreign language on the dial; the realization hit me...Best case: KKDA was on a shared format; worst case: they are off the air.  

Curtis McLean
Curtis McLean

so sad, like loosing a community friend. A lot of people my age know about Little Milton, Johnnie Taylor, ZZ Hill, etc b/c our parents, or grandparents listened to that station when we were kids

Curtis McLean
Curtis McLean

word is Millie just walked away from her show.

Alxandro_
Alxandro_

I'm a talk show junkie and KKDA was on my presets. Everytime I would flip to 730 AM, all they would ever talk about was "my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other is cheating on me". If the topic wasn't about cheating, sports or entertainment, I would start
counting to 60 to see how long it would before I would hear the words "black, white,
the man or Obama"

LaSherra Green
LaSherra Green

I wish they could have held on to Millie Jackson. She was great in the afternoons.

Willie Terrell
Willie Terrell

Sad sad sad. This station was the soundtrack of many lives from back in the day. Will be missed! Soul Sockin' '73!

Chris Churchman
Chris Churchman

That station was dead to me when they fired all the oldschool DJ's. I LOVED THAT STATION with all of my heart.

notmadeomoney
notmadeomoney

And you thought the blacks and koreans in south dallas didn't get along before...

Claudine Bendeck Hoy
Claudine Bendeck Hoy

Hey Jetta Davis 1-H well is producing enough oil- he is a bizillionaire!

Roger Northup
Roger Northup

I know it's not the same, but when I first saw the headline, in my head I heard "K104 is Disco Soul!!".

moniejaie
moniejaie

I like KKDA and noticed that the late afternoon disappeared in 2011 ( Millie Jackson and the sports show), but I kept listening. I used to sleep with KKDA because the music at night was next to none.  It was a very clear frequency, even when it stormed.  I cannot get a clear signal for 94.5 and 105.7 in my house - not that it matters, they play old school top 50.  You hear the same old songs daily - boring!  And to top it off, 94.5 plays some rap - we alreadty have that!  

I am not one to sit back and complain, so let's start our radio station with the same type quality of music.  There is no reason to rely on some detached millionaire who showed no respect for the station's listeners.  If it was about business and there was any minuscule amount of respect, the owner would have put the news out there to give us listeners an opportunity to act. 

monstruss
monstruss

....So the Soul station was replaced with a Seoul station? 

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

one more thing eric, the commenters here, i would not invite them to a party or a funeral.

Halldecker
Halldecker

FCC approval pending,  sale of the AM for $1.9 mil.  730 is a Canadian Clear Channel frequency.     KKDA has to protect it before local sunrise,  after local sunset,  when skywave kicks in.  The lower the frequency the further the signal carries.    730 is a good one.

Back when Dallas stations were going for $60million,  $80million,  legend is that Hyman Childs was offered $80mil  CASH for the two stations.  Turned it down.  Rough guess is today the FM would bring $20mil.

 There's a couple third-tier stations that are leased by the month,  at one point there were a couple programming to the Desi (Indian Pakistani Bangladesh)  community.   Somebody with not a lot of money can lease one of them for  not very much money,  reassemble the KKDA programming.



Alxandro_
Alxandro_

Pretty ironic that the station was fully supportive of Obama, ...now they seem to be yet another fallen victim of his economic policies.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

beautiful eulogy, really. i'm missing Soul 73 already.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

@Halldecker screw the money play me some Otis and Marvin

MountainBiker
MountainBiker

@Alxandro_ sooner or later were all gonna be a victim, esp those that follow main stream news...... crazy how we're kept in the dark much as possible no matter what the costs

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

@Alxandro_ not really because alot of radio and tv stations would have 'fallen victim' by now.much as i admire youre crossing the delaware hairstyle, you're full of shit

halldecker
halldecker

@ChrisYu Radio is a business;  details of the sale haven't been reported.  Truth is,  $1.9mil is way below what I (after a half century in radio) would have expected.  That's called "stick value" or "naked stick."    

 My other observation,  there's an opportunity for somebody to pick up the pieces and do it better.    There's a couple frequencies that can be leased;  a half dozen empty local studios from programmers who didn't last.  Instead of griping,  start collecting coins.  I'll up the ante and contribute my Arthur Alexander and Big Maybelle. 


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