This thread just keeps on going!
Having read the last few pages, I few general comments about the KABC and KCAL reception in south Orange County. I am in Lake Forest, above El Toro Road at Trabuco, about 47 miles from Mt. Wilson. There's an intervening ridgeline 1/2 mile from my house, so I don't have clear line of sight.
I have always gotten a strong KABC signal, perfectly clear picture, even with the RS 15-2160 and the lousy RS 15-1109 "wide band 26dB" pre-amp. (My 15-1109 had gain that dropped off steeply mid-UHF band). When I upgraded to a Channel Master CM7775, I added 4 "new" channels, all at the high end of the spectrum, including KCBS which I could never receive. When it's broadcasting, my KCAL signal is okay, but not as good as KABC.
I doubt that poor reception in Laguna Niguel is due to distance, it's probably terrain.
If terrain problems are not clear, there's a mapping program called Delorme "Topo USA" (about $75?) http://www.delorme.com/topousa/default.asp
that can plot elevation for a straight line path (or any route for that matter). It's primary used for real time plotting on a notebook PC using a GPS input, or for route planning. A friend uses it for planning bike trips and he plotted these for my house. Actually edited screen captures, which explains the mouse "arrows"...
Overview map from my house to Mt. Wilson. Had to reduce rez, it's fuzzy...http://www.momentoffame.com/snapshot.html?id=74028
Direct line to Mt. Wilson, vertical scale highly exaggerated...http://www.momentoffame.com/snapshot.html?id=74029
Expanded detail for the first mile or so, showing higher terrain in between...http://www.momentoffame.com/snapshot.html?id=74030
I posted these to Moment of Fame, so I'm sure they'll only work for a month or so. Warning - Occasionally MOF is sometimes slow to load.
It's probably not worth the cost of the software, if you only use it once, and it's certainly not needed if there's obvious terrain challenges.