One for the Road

After broadcasting for more than 50 years in English, last week the Rosarito-based 690 AM dropped American music for noticias, chismes, and deportes (news, gossip, and sports). Clear Channel sold the station to Spain's Grupo Prisa, which flipped it to Spanish talk February 6.

Ernie Meyers played big-band hits at KCBQ (AM 1170) when the Mighty 690/XEAK became San Diego's first Top 40 station in 1957. He moved to 690 a year later.

"My first year there we taped our DJ shows at the Mission Valley Inn," says Meyers. "Someone had to drive the tapes down to TJ all day long." Meyers says he decided to move to the Mighty 690 because "Top 40 [Elvis, Frankie Avalon] was the coming thing. Plus, 690 had the best transmitter in town, 50,000 watts. It went all the way up to Canada. They made me a pretty good offer."

In 1960, Meyers says Mighty 690 DJs began to drive across the border every day to do their shows. Meyers moved to KOGO in 1961, just before Top 40 was dropped and 690 became XETRA, Southern California's first all-news station. According to Aircheck: The Story of Top 40 Radio in San Diego, the station switched to "beautiful music" in 1968, returned to Top 40 in 1980, and then to oldies in 1984, when Wolfman Jack joined the crew. XTRA Sports arrived in 1990.

For the last year, the station was dubbed the "Fabulous 690, the Lounge" and played music by Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. The Fabulous 690 DJ staff signed off with a tearful on-air farewell. One of the emotional DJs was Mel Torme's daughter Daisy. The last song played was Frank Sinatra's "One for My Baby, One for the Road."

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