Longtime Urban Radio Station KISS-FM Announces Merger
Staff members at KISS-FM got the stunning news Thursday morning that their legendary radio station - who has had generations of listeners - is signing off the air for good and merging with its rival. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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Longtime listeners of KISS-FM call it the end of an era. After 30 years, the popular radio station is merging with it's rival, 107.5 WBLS.
Hip-Hop artist Kangol Kid - from the rap group UTFO - says the station is responsible for the success of many entertainers.
"I remember hearing myself on the radio and hearing myself on KISS-FM made me feel like I made it," Kid said.
Sources tell NY1 that staffers at the station were blindsided by the news first thing Thursday morning. It's not clear how many workers are getting a pink slip but word is the station's two most popular syndicated shows hosted by Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden will no longer be heard there. On Monday, 98.7 FM will be the new home of ESPN Radio which is now heard on the weaker 1050 AM signal.
"KISS was like the more music station. They started out by de-emphasizing personality and playing more music and that worked for them very well for a long period of time," said WWRL Host Mark Riley.
Riley, who has worked in New York radio for nearly 40 years says the placement of ESPN on FM and the merger of two major urban adult radio stations changes the landscape of the industry.
"They were both institutions here - both KISS and BLS - they've been around long enough to have that heritage status so I don't think anybody thought there would be a merger between the two," Riley noted.
In a statement, WBLS VP/General Manager Deon Levingston said, "WBLS and WRKS have been the voice of the tri-state black community for 30 years and we plan to merge the best of both stations."
Meantime, longtime fans of KISS say they are not happy.
"I don't think it's fair that a sports station has to push them out," said one KISS listener.
Come Monday, April 30 at 12 a.m., ESPN will take over 98.7 FM, simulcasting the AM station until September when a spanish-language ESPN radio debuts on 1050 AM.