At the end of my sophomore year of college, I returned to my family’s home in Naperville, Illinois, and worked for the summer. I was not successful in locating a program that played Jesus music for me, although undoubtedly there was a station somewhere in the Chicago area within range of my receiver that would have provided it. But at this stage of my Christian life, it was not a high priority for me. I was back home, and while working at my summer job, I returned to enjoying music from WLS, “the Rock of Chicago”, and the DJ’s I used to hear when i was in high school.
When I returned to college again in the fall, there was again The Scott Ross Show to listen to on Sunday mornings, before and after church. But a major change had happened in my life that was destined to have a major effect on my music preferences and on my Christian growth.
My father had taken a different job that required moving my parents and my sister to live way out in California, specifically in Tustin, which is in Orange County. The west coast was a long, long way away from the midwestern U.S. where I had grown up. But I remained in college in Nebraska, and it didn’t have an effect on me until I came to my new home for Christmas break.
KYMS – 1976
I was interested in tuning through the radio dial to see what I could find in the vastness of Southern California’s broadcast offerings. And at the far right end of the FM dial, at 106.3, I discovered this amazing station with the call letters KYMS. It played teaching and ministry based Christian programming in the morning, and then in the afternoon and part of the evening it played Jesus music, similar to what I’d heard on the Scott Ross Show. But because it was a station dedicated to playing this type of music all of the time, it was a smorgasborg I had not dreamed was available anywhere. Not only did they play Jesus music, in stereo, but they did something that Scott Ross was unable to do with his nation-wide audience. They interacted with the local listeners, much like Scott had done when he started his programs on the CBN-Northeast network in New York State. The disk jockeys played the music, but they also prayed on the air for people’s needs. In fact, there was a prayer time in the afternoon specifically addressing prayer requests that had been called in during the day. In the evening there were call-in programs much like the talk-radio stations of today, either with a topic or free-form.
At the time I was getting my first listen to KYMS, it was the Christmas 1976. The on-hour identification jingle was taken from Bill & Gloria Gaither‘s Alleluia! A Praise Gathering For Believers album, specifically from the song There’s Something About That Name. I had never heard it before, and the truncated version that I heard moved me deeply. It still has the same affect on me that it did thirty years ago when I first heard it:
The on-hour station identification “jingle” in 1976 was also characteristic of the evangelistic enthusiasm of new believers belonging to the Jesus movement. It featured a brief clip of a song (singing, “Jesus is coming back!”), and then the announcer voice-over said, “It’s a new song: The Gift of 106, KYMS, Santa Ana. Call a friend now, and tell them the Good News!”
A longer version of the station identification involved a fairly long clip from the Jamie Owens‘ The Victor, followed by the jingle as the above clip:
Here are a couple of other station identification airchecks from 1976:
Other clips that ran between songs or at station identification breaks took the approach of a man-on-the-street interview, some of the airchecks asking the question, “And how do you know that Jesus is real in your life?” They would then play the recorded response from someone who had been asked this question, sometimes ending with the same encouragement to the listener to call a friend and tell that friend about Jesus.
This brief exposure to the style of KYMS and the music played had an oddly profound effect on me. It was as though I had truly been wakened up to letting the music help me express my praises to the Lord, to understand the importance of making Him the most important thing in my life. It’s hard to explain, but when I returned back to Nebraska for my spring term, I was far more focused on taping and listening to Jesus music than I had ever been before, and my interest in popular rock music plummeted.
It is entirely possible that a part of the thing that made Jesus music special was the scarcity of it. I had only what I had put on tape, the rare record I could actually purchase (not that easy to find in Omaha), and what I could hear on Sunday mornings on the Scott Ross Show.
KYMS – 1977
My next chance to hear KYMS was in August of 1977, on another visit to our new home in Tustin, California. The musical announcements on the station had changed and were more professionally produced and performed, becoming more of a true radio jingle. Rather than voicing over an existing piece of music, this music and singing was specifically created for the station:
There’s a brand new song going on
And the notes reach up to heaven
To hear, you just turn it on
Your heart will reach towards heaven
The gift of 106 (the gift of 106),
[spoken] Santa Ana
Here are some other variations on this jingle. This style ran through the remainder of 1977 and into 1978-79.
KYMS – 1977-80
During Christmas 1977 and 1978, the jingle was like this:
In 1979, the station identification was updated with the slogan was “Bringin’ A New Song:
We’re bringin’, we’re bringin’,
We’re bringin’ a new song
We’re bringin’ a new song (bringin’ a new song)
We’re singin’ a new song
He puts the song inside
When He sets you free
One oh six point three, K-Y-M-S
We’re bringin’, we’re bringin’,
We’re bringin’ a new song!
This on-the-hour station identification jingle took nearly forty seconds to deliver its message.
Jingles in 1980:
And the Christmas jingle in 1980 again made use of Andy William‘s recording of “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”:
KYMS – 1982
In 1982, the “Bringin’ A New Song” theme continued, though a little updated:
We’re bringin’ a new song
Singin’ a new song
Another change to the station announcements in 1982 was telling a lesson or story, using a clip of a current song, and ending with the jingle sung:
KYMS – 1985 and after
After 1982, my family moved away from California, and my chances to hear KYMS were significantly limited. My brother, however, had come to live there after college, found work, and stayed. So when I had opportunities to visit him, I was also able to get a little recording done from KYMS.
In 1985, the theme had changed from “Bringin’ A New Song” to “Someone You Can Turn To”:
In 1988, a song played that was something of a cross between a regular piece of music and an extended advertisement for the station. From comments on this page, it appears that this piece was written by Chris Christian, and it was sung by Doug Morris, lead singer for a band called Battlecry. This one copy seems to end before the song is completed. And from further email that I’ve exchanged, the song may have been used on some other Christian stations elsewhere in the country, with a change of the call sign and frequency.
Someone You Can Turn To
If you’re feeling lonely
And there’s no one to turn to
There’s always an answer
And it’s right in front of you
Call upon My Name
It’ll guide you in the dark
Help’s around the corner
If you’ll open up your heart
Turn to me, 106 on your dial
When you give me an ear
I will always be there
In your time and your trials
You can turn to me, 106 point 3
And all day and night
I’ll always be to you
Someone you can turn to
If you’re driving on the highway
That just never leads you home
There is someone you can turn to,
Any time you feel alone
Listen to my songs
And let them guide you in the dark
I will be a part of you
In the races of the heart
From 1990, I have only one short jingle:
By 1992, the station jumped on the trend of using a slogan to refer to the station, referring less to its call letters. They chose “Eagle 106.3”, and made mention of the Interstate Broadcast System:
During its final year of operation, KYMS announcers referred to the station as “Spirit 106”, and in its final months simply as “KYMS”. ((E-mail from Rick, who did the final sign-off of the station in 1995.))
KYMS ended its twenty years of Christian broadcasting in 1995, with the sale of the station to Multi-Cultural Broadcasting. The new owners converted it to multi-ethnic programming in Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese.
Next: The Larry Black Show