KSTT: “Someplace Special”

On July 7, 1946 the radio waves of the Quad Cities changed forever when KSTT went on the air for the first time with a one hour introductory program.  No one knew this dawn to dusk operation would soon become one of the most popular radio stations in the area.

Originally produced from the sixth floor of the Hotel Davenport (right across from the Davenport Main Street Library) the original programs included on-the-hour news, music segments from big band leaders like Jimmy Dorsey and Perry Como, and a daily farm report.  Local newspapers carried a daily program schedule, like today’s television show schedule, so listeners would not miss their favorite segments.

By the mid-1950s, KSTT 1170 AM had made the switch from Big Band to Top 40. From the 1950s into the 1970s, dance parties and music contests attracted large numbers of young adults to both events and radio programs.  One dance party was the “Concert of Stars” on January 29, 1959 with performers such as Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson playing for the crowds at the Capital Theatre in Davenport.  Only days later on February 3, 1959 Holly, Valens, Richardson and their pilot were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

In 1963, KSTT moved to its new building on 1111 E. River Drive in Davenport.  Located right on a major thoroughfare, the studio had a large glass window were passing cars and pedestrians could see the DJ’s playing their favorite records.  One former KSTT DJ known as “Spike at the Mike” would eventually leave the station and finish his career as “Spike” O’Dell on WGN-AM.

By the mid-1980’s, competition from other Top 40 and rock stations led management to begin to make changes in programming style.  After a brief try as an Oldies station, KSTT moved to a sports theme by the early 1990s.  On March 1, 1993 KSTT 1170 AM, the station that introduced thousands of Quad Citians to popular Top 40 music ended its run on the radio dial. The KSTT call letters were retired and replaced with KJOC.  Today KJOC 1170 AM is a news/talk format.

For many years KSTT had a slogan “Someplace Special.” For many people, KSTT will always have a special place in their memories.

(Posted by Amy D.)

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26 Responses to KSTT: “Someplace Special”

  1. Adrian says:

    I had no idea that KJOC was descended from the first radio station in Davenport. You’re wrong about the format, though- it plays oldies now, and Cubs games. I’m a huge oldies fan and was so sad there weren’t any real oldies stations in this area (101.3FM doesn’t really play all that many) until I discovered KJOC a couple months ago!

  2. Amy D. says:

    Hi Adrian, Thanks so much for the correction! I really appreciate the heads up. I thought it played oldies, but when I checked the Cumulus Broadcasting website it said the talk format. We are not allowed radios in the library, but I should have gone out to my car and listened. My apologies!

    I wish you had heard KSTT, it was wonderful. I remember it from when I was really young and living in the area. Michael Jackson’s passing brought back many childhood memories, including KSTT and its contests. I love the oldies now too!

  3. Soup Fick says:

    MY husband told me a story that the owners of KSTT (or at least the River Drive Building) wanted to make sure the DJ’s were not doing anything inappropriate, and that was why the large window was present.

    Is there any truth to this?

    • Bill Vancil says:

      There is no truth to this whatsoever. I was the program director at KSTT on River Drive. The window was there to allow fans to watch the disc jockeys, theoretically to increase listenership and create interest in the station.

  4. Amy D. says:

    That is a great question Soup Fick. The only story we can find is that the window was built so people going by on River Drive could see the DJs at work. Your husband’s theory might be true, but until we find some other information I really can’t say either way. We will keep looking for new information though. Maybe some of our other readers can help us out?

  5. Dave says:

    The story about the window being installed so KSTT ownership could keep an eye on the announcers isn’t really true. A variety of radio stations around the country, especially the rock-and-rollers, had “showcase” studios. The thinking was that listeners, especially teens, would enjoy watching their favorite deejays and this would also increase listenership. And, it was just fun to see how the deejay “did things.”

    There were plenty of other places around the building that employees could engage in hanky-panky.

  6. Amy D. says:

    Thanks Dave for clearing up the mystery of the window. I do remember being very young and looking at the deejays as we drove past in my parents car. I drive by the old KSTT building every day with my own children now and wish they could have those memories as well.

    As for the hanky-panky part, we won’t ask you to spill any secrets!

    Thanks so much for reading our blog.

  7. Rob Wiedemann says:

    I remember listening to “KISST” radio in the ’60’s when I was growing up. I miss the high energy, the humor and the “gift of gab” displayed by the DJ’s at that time. Plus there was always a plug here and there for the drag strip at Cordova. One of the highlights was “Chicken Man” a great favorite that we all used to look forward to. I miss “KISSED RADIO”, they smaked of rock’n’roll, hotrods and carhops! All the good memories a teenager could ever have!

    • Bill Vancil says:

      I was the program director of KSTT from 1962-1968. We never referred to the station as Kissed Radio. It was Accent Radio for awhile, then Home of the Good Guys, then Someplace Special. But, never “kissed.”

  8. John McClain says:

    I remember listening to KSTT in the early 70’s. They used to publish the Top 40 HitList and place it around town in Davenport…every week the list was printed on a different color paper! What I remember most is the first time I heard Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, first time I’d heard a song over about 3 minutes on AM! Same w/Stairway to Heaven…..I attended Davenport West, anyone else remember KSTT?

  9. Mark Moskowitz says:

    I was a DJ working nights and weekends at KSTT in the late 60’s. It was a wonderful place to work. My co-workers included Bobby Rich, Clark Anthony, Bill Vancil and John Novak; they were all very talented people. Our news department, headed by my cousin Morry Alter, was first rate. The window was a mixed blessing. People used to pull up to talk to us ( we had an intercom ). It was fun but a distraction so we often pulled the curtain. We had a Good Guy reunion in East Moline in 2005 and had about 200 former KSTT employees. All of us are grateful to our great audience. It was a fun run!

  10. Shawn says:

    Pleasr check out Quad Cities On Air, a site dedicated to the history of Quad Cities Radio & TV. Please check out http://facebook.quadcitiesonair.com/ and “like” us!

  11. Kim Traner says:

    I remember KSTT as “the” radio station of the Quad Cities when I lived there in the 60’s and 70’s. They played the best music and it was cool to see them in the window when we drove by. I remember watching American Bandstand one Saturday and Dick Clark called KSTT while he was on the air and made a comment about the window and how cool it was to see the DJ working. I grew up in Davenport and Bettendorf and was there until I married in 1975 and I have so many wonderful memories from those years. I was sad to hear that KSTT wasn’t there anymore!

  12. Art Rogers says:

    I lived in the QC for years Rock Island/Moline and listened to KSTT for many years and one DJ I thought was awesome was Bobby Rich with his horn he used to toot. Home of the Goodguys brings back soooo many memories WOW! It’s kinda like loosing an old friend when KSTT died….
    Thanks KSTT for some of the greatest years of our lives.

  13. TJ says:

    My dad was one of the “Good Guys” back in the day – Bob Henry. I remember driving by the window and watching him in action as he delivered his quick-talkin’ intros, as was the style back then. I am fortunate to have many of the photos and playbills that were collected from the road shows the guys did. What a great era for QC music!

  14. Sharon says:

    I lived in Maquoketa back then and remember listening to KSTT at home in my bedroom on my old radio. And during “slumber parties” that station was on all night. That station and WLS out of Chicago played all the hits!!! Miss it!

  15. Doug says:

    I remember well KSTT as the Q.C. station. WLS and KSTT were all I needed on my “hand held” transistor radio. Spike at the Mike was always entertaining and made each morning a little easier as I made my way to Orion High School. Hurts a little to know that chapter in Q.C. life is gone

  16. Bill Vancil says:

    The call letters KSTT are now being used by an fm station in San Luis Obispo. It is a soft format calling itself, Coast Radio. The spirit of the old KSTT AM 1170 is alive and well at our alumni website, http://www.ksttgoodguys.com.

  17. Scott says:

    The two prerequisites to be cool in Moline in the early 70s; hanging at Skateland and 1170 on your portable AM radio.

    What great days!

  18. Cliff d'Autremont says:

    I grew up listening to KSTT in the late 50s and early 60s. Rock and Roll. How many remember Louis Guttenberger and his many self made voices and skits with himself. Remember his weatherman Syrus Nimbus? I ran across Louis on a Reno, NV radio station 15 or so years ago. He since retired and died a few years ago.

    • Bradley Tierney says:

      Was wondering if you attended the Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Big Bopper show at the Capitol back in January of 59.

  19. Don Williams says:

    Bobby Rich hired me to do 6-10PM in February, 1968. After a misunderstanding, I left KSTT for WTOD, Toledo, Ohio in June, 1968. While I was at KSTT, I had a great time! The other jocks were fun (Johnny Novak, J. P. Lamont & Clark Anthony). I will post some pictures of the Good Guys from that time on the KSTT Good Guys Facebook page. I also have a brief KSTT Audition Tape (how do you think I got the WTOD gig?) that I’ll post on the KSTT Good Guys page, as well. Don’t expect it in a short time. I am working with a major handicap: I am technically challenged.

  20. Glenn Lego says:

    I recall hearing KSTT when I was growing up in Mount Carroll, Illinois. The signal was not very clear as Mt. Carroll was just at the fringe of the station.

  21. Kimberly R Traner says:

    My first memory of KSTT was in 1963 when we moved Bettendorf. My mom turned the radio on first thing in the morning and it stayed on KSTT the whole time. I grew to love it and it was my go to station until I married and moved away. I was watching American Bandstand one Saturday morning and Dick Clark made a phone call while on air to KSTT. He talked about the building on River Drive and how you could watch the DJ’s as you drove by. It was the coolest thing. I told my dad, “That’s us!”. KSTT was such a big part of my life at that time that I felt like part of their family. They were so great that that is how they made you feel- “like part of the family!” I still miss KSTT to this day!

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