Kiss FM to be Phased Out; Black Radio in NYC Takes Hit

This past Thursday, it was announced that Kiss FM and WBLS are to be merged. Two stations that focus on the African American community in New York City are now one. Although this consolidation is billed as the two “joining forces” there are some Kiss shows that are not slated to make the jump.

The popular and informative “Open Line” is not on the WBLS schedule. This public affairs centered show hosted by Bob Slade, James Mtume, and Bob Pickett is a staple for Black New Yorkers. Today will be their last show. Many in the Black community feel that this move to consolidate Black stations has a reductive effect on our collective voice in the city. As African Americans find themselves less informed and increasingly marketed to as consumers, it is unclear what outlets will emerge to fill these voids.

What say you?

Update: Special thanks goes out to Tanya Ndip for creating this graphic below. To see her blog, visit: Tanya Ndip Photography

-Marc W. Polite

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  1. Things like this are only going to continue. Terrestrial radio is a waning media and has mostly become something people have on as background noise in cars and stores. Hopefully worthwhile music and talk shows will find a niche in the world of podcasts and satellite or internet radio–a much harsher broader harder vehicle.

  2. You know New York City Radio has a rich history. A history so vast I find it would be a daunting task to document through film or print. Part of that history includes frequency changes, format changes, and station changes. I remember too long ago there was a country radio station, and it used to be on 97.1 fm, now hot97. They used to be on 103.5 fm, now KTU. I grew up listening to Z100 and they format change just about every 10 year. In high school they played hard rock in response to the explosion of popularity of hip hop music. Hot 97 didn’t always play hip hop. They played dance, club, and house music with extended remixes of the top records. It wasn’t until 1993-1994 ish did they go full on hip hop. Kiss fm abruptly stop playing hip hop music in the mid 90s after the Christmas season they played soul classics and R&B. WBLS also abandoned hip hop in response to kiss fm. Remember when 105.1 was a souls classic station then changed format to old school hip hop then current hip hop? CD 101.9 to a rock station now a news station. I can give so many examples.

    I’ve been listening to sports radio 66 WFAN since I was 8. But they used to be on radio 1050 then moved down the dial for a stronger signal at 660 am; which used to be WNBC radio. And just like Kiss, the station workers in WNBC found out abruptly and were literally mourning the loss of their jobs and wfan was broadcasting at the same time. So forward 25 some years later, espn radio is now on radio 1050. They are competing with WFAN and they need a stronger signal. So a business decision was made and kiss fm was a casualty.

    There are many reasons why this happened. Poor business management by Emmis Communications (Who used to own WFAN, CD 101.9, etc) the monopolization of radio, competition killed kiss fm.

    The part that is unfortunate is that people will lose their jobs and there are not a lot of open spots. You loose Kool DJ Read Alert (I suppose he will be back on hot 97), DJ Chuck Chillout, the Open Line Show which I listen to get the pulse of the community and an alternative perspective, Felix Hernandez Rhythm Review. Now I have not listened to Kiss, Hot97, WBLS as much as I used to mainly because I’m not feeling the music. I get my hip hop, soul, funk on WBAI 99.5 radio or through internet shows or YouTube. WBAI could be next because it is listener supported radio and it is a prime radio spot.

    It very rare but KROCK was lost and came back, but was lost again. WCBS oldies station was stupidly taken off the air but the listeners fought for it to come back. If you want some elements of Kiss fm to be on the radio, the listeners have to demand it.

    It’s sad but it is the nature of the New York City Radio.

  3. To: Marc, Kiss Fm was a direct competitor to hot97, and summit broadcasting who owned kiss fm in 1993 decided to get out of the radio business, emmis broadcasting saw an opening to corner the hiphop market on commercial radio in nyc and brought kiss fm from summit broadcasting, emmis saw fit to not make kiss compete with what they emmis already had with hot97, they decided to turn kiss fm into the first classic soul commercial radio station in the nation, in doing that emmis became new york city’s first dualopoloy having 2 fm’s owned by the same company, in also doing that they created the fragmented form of black listening formatted radio across the nation that is practiced today, sure it was hot at first people in new york’s black community saying we have a station for the young and now 1 for the old, but of course it killed kiss fm’s true history and that was dance and hiphop hot 97 wanted to be the only game in town for hiphop, and as long as kiss fm was owned by emmis u were going to be subjected to a fragmented form of radio coming from their stations, and that is why from dec of 1994 until the end kiss fm was in the position it was in, being known as an oldies station because it was controlled by an owner that couldn’t have it go up against it’s own sister station head to head that became and still is the nature of the business of radio as we call it today. The unfortunate part of that business of radio is that it is controlled by people in corps that only think profit and not creativeness and that is what is destroying innovation today. And yes 99.5 wbai could very well be next to have the fate kiss fm had, if the pacifica foundation goes belly up, what many radio listener’s don’t know about the fm band is there are frequencies just like on am that are 50thousand watt, unlike am the 50 thousand watt reaches a lesser scope, here in nyc on the fm the 2 50thousand watt frequencies are 98.7 and 99.5 98.7 being the more omni in scope than compared to the 99.5 frequency. It’s about real estate and all that jazz in the radio world, I just wish black folk of nyc try to claim some before they are out of the loop.

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