MEMORIES OF EL MONTEBy Richard Cortez
Rosemead airport was located where Flair Park is today next to the 10 freeway. The runway ran along the Rio Hondo River northeast to southwest and was bordered by Ramona Blvd before the 10 freeway was built. The airport was first documented in 1942 and was called the Western Air College Airport owned and operated by the Heasley brothers. By 1944 the airport was renamed Rosemead Airport. Sometime after WWll the HeasleyOn our last stop of our tour is KRLA. There is a vacant lot located next to the 60 freeway on-ramp. On the corner of Lexington and Galletin Road stood the home of the transmitter site for KRLA 1110 am. Yes the KRLA we all grew up with and loved. The original oldies station in the southland started out as KPAS owned and operated by The Burke Family from Santa Ana. The Burke Family also owned a newspaper and started the radio station to promote the sale of their newspapers. In 1942 the Burke family bought the land and built a transmitter building and erected 6 broadcasting towers with studios located at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. KPAS would broadcast news, church services and plays. In 1945 The Pacific Coast Broadcasting Company bought the station from the Burke family and change the call letters to KXLA. Pacific Coast changed the format of the station to country and western music. One of the disc jockeys was Cal Worthington. Today you know Cal Worthington as owner and spokesman of Cal Worthington Ford. In 1959 KXLA was sold to The Eleven Ten Broadcasting, Inc. owned by Canadian Jack Kent Cook. Eleven Ten again changed the call letters to KRLA. KRLA was up against KFWB the big rock and roll station in town and KRLA fought back with out of this world contests. The contest consisted of KRLA hiding a treasure chest somewhere in Southern California or did they? Well you guessed it they didn’t the FCC was informed and after investigating both the contest fraud the FCC looked at the owner Jack Kent Cook. It turned out he was not a US citizen. In the United States you must be a citizen to own a radio station. In 1964 the license was pulled from Eleven Ten and was put in trust with Oak Koll Broadcasting. Oak Knoll was part of KCET public television station that would run KRLA as a non-profit station. From 1964 to 1979 the money generated by KRLA was used by KCET and thus KRLA had no money to buy or fix any of the broadcasting equipment. The equipment was breaking down so much that they finally had to move all their operation to the little brown transmitter building in El Monte. That’s right I bet you didn’t know that your favorite oldies station in town was broadcasting from El Monte. The disc jockeys still broadcast from the Huntington Hotel studios but everything else was done from El Monte transmitter building. In 1979 the FCC finally granted the KRLA license to Bob Hope and other investors. They moved the transmitter and towers to Irwindale and thus ended an era. The transmitter building still stands as a testament to KRLA’s time in El Monte.
brothers sold the airport to Fletcher Aviation Corp. The Fletcher Company manufactured droppable fuel tanks for airplanes during the Korean War. Fletcher also manufactured napalm bombs. The Fletcher Company tried their hand at manufacturing planes but could never break into the market. In 1950 Goodyear picked Rosemead airport to be their west coast headquarters for the “The Goodyear Blimp” Enterprise. In ordered to land the blimp the Goodyear Company would recruit students from the local neighborhood to work the ropes. You had to be 16 years old and male to do this job. Unfortunately this only lasted 6 months Goodyear decided to move their operation to Culver City where it is still in operation. By 1962 or 1964 the airport closed down for good but the Fletcher Company continued their manufacturing portion of their company. The airstrip was demolished and office buildings were built. One of the companies that occupied a building was Aerojet. Now Aerojet continued the legacy of air flight by manufacturing rocket engines. Areojet best achievement was the rockets for the space shuttle.