KISSing it goodbye!
On TV news this morning, I suddenly begin hearing mention of ESPN moving into the 98.7 frequency! (Channel 254, but nobody uses the FM channels). Wow! I had heard nothing of KISS-FM folding. (WRKS-FM, actually; the station with actual call letters as KISS-FM is a rock station in San Antonio!)
Merging with longtime arch-rival WBLS! (Which I never cared for, for some reason).
107.5 WBLS AND 98.7 KISS FM COME TOGETHER AS KISS FM SAYS FAREWELL
I didn’t even know the two stations and ESPN had the same owner. (It had been Kiss and whatever Hot-97 became. Didn’t it move to 103 or something? Completely lost track of radio!)
I had just attended the 30th Anniversary celebration in Harlem last fall. It was just an outdoor concert in front of the Harlem State Office Building, followed by a dinner at the Alhambra ballroom. (Didn’t go to the dinner, as my wife wasn’t with me. Only two months later, however, my “22nd St block reunion” would be moved there, even though we were in Brooklyn. Because the catering hall in East Flatbush we were to use, somehow changed its plans, or something).
I began listening to the station 30 years ago almost to the month, because it played Stevie Wonder’s smash “Do I Do” more often than the old WKTU, which I had been listening to. (I swear, that summer, the song played 15 minutes apart once!) It’s what got me back into him, after growing up on Talking Book and some of the later “Contract 1” singles.
I stuck with it since, “officially” (but see below).
I had previously listened to the frequency in the mid-70’s (the height of the disco age), when it was top-40 WXLO, “99X”.
Back in college days, in the car to other states, I would listen until it faded away (In northern Delaware), and then try to find other “KISS” stations when from other cities. In college, there was WQKS 96.3 in Williamsburg VA, but that was very faint, and could only be picked up on the northwestern side of the NSU dorm, as Norfolk’s own 98.7, rock station WNOR, pretty much crowded it out. (I listened to WOWI, which was located two blocks from campus).
Driving the other way, to Springfield, there was a WKSS 95.7, a top 40 station, in Hartford.
While forever waiting for the next Stevie Wonder album (heralded by a new single being released), I followed the rap battles of Roxanne and the Bridge Wars (actually favoring Shan and Shanté, though BLS was their base, and Kiss was their enemy BDP’s base, though Chuck Chillout was a bit more likely to play the other side’s stuff than Red Alert, as he was the one closest to BDP). Sometimes, I would switch to BLS on the Fri. and Sat. night rap shows, to try to hear the latest “Juice Crew” response.
Rap eventually became more violent as time went on, so I lost interest in that; and eventually, I got more into Christian radio (WWDJ).
Earlier on, Kiss was a bit more diverse in their sound, paying even white music, such as Phil Collins’ “Sussudio”, Falco, “Rock Me Amadeus”, The Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer”, ABC, “Poison Arrow (Jazz Mix)”, Toto (“Africa”, “Waiting For Your Love”, “Georgie Porgie”), Paul Davis “65 Love Affair”, Hall and Oates, Culture Club, and Madonna (though the latter three had pretty much crossed over).
I eventually fell away from the station, by the late 90’s, basically ceasing to listen to the radio altogether, for some reason (likely because the music by then was all sampled rehashes of earlier sounds, an then Kiss went all “Classic” for a time, when it hooked up with HOT-97, which then carried the new stuff). But I would occasionally still try to catch the KISS talk shows on Sunday mornings, because they were the only ones really sticking up for the black community against all the conservative rhetoric and news developments. (Missed their reaction to Diallo, however as I was really out of radio listening by then).
I had no idea it would be folding, until this morning. Why couldn’t they keep Kiss, and move ESPN to 107.5? I guess because BLS is older; the more “classic” black station, perhaps the city’s first? Who knows; if the ESPN thing ever fails and the format changes again, then maybe it would be a chance to get 99X back, which I always wanted to see, but where would it go, without bumping Kiss off.