|City of license||Toronto, Ontario|
|Broadcast area||Greater Toronto Area|
|Slogan||Hit. Music. Now.|
|Frequency||92.5 MHz FM|
|First air date||January 26, 1993|
|Format||Top 40 (CHR)|
|Callsign meaning||From the C KISs branding|
|Former callsigns||CISS (1993-2003)
|Owner||Rogers Media, a division of Rogers Communications
|Sister stations||Radio: CFTR, CHFI, CJCL
TV: CFMT, CITY, CJMT
CKIS-FM is a Canadian radio station, broadcasting at 92.5 FM in Toronto, Ontario. The station broadcasts a contemporary hit radio format branded as KiSS 92.5. The station is one of two CHR-pop stations licenced to the city of Toronto as well as the first CHR-pop station owned by Rogers since CHTT-FM in Victoria shifted from top 40 to hot AC in July 2003.
Country music (1993-1999)
On August 8, 1990, Rawlco Communications was awarded a licence from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a new FM radio station. The format chosen to air on the frequency was country music that would target an audience ranging from 25-54 years of age. Rawlco planned on changing frequencies for the station to 99.1 FM, which was formerly the home of CKO-FM-1, but cancelled the plan after the CRTC denied this, and gave 99.1 to CBLA. On January 26, 1993 at 1 PM, singer Anne Murray pressed the button to launch the station, with the CISS-FM call letters and "92.5 CISS-FM" (pronounced "Kiss FM") branding. The station's licensing by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had been controversial, because the CRTC had passed over an application by Milestone Radio for an urban music station, which would have been a new format in the Toronto market, in favour of Rawlco's application. Milestone's second attempt at an urban station was also passed over in favour of CBLA; the company finally won a licence on its third attempt, and launched CFXJ-FM in 2001. The station's transmitter was located atop First Canadian Place.
First "Kiss" era (1999-2003)
Rogers Communications announced a deal to buy the station in February 1999. The deal would not be completed until August, but immediately after the deal was announced, Rogers took control of the station's programming by way of a local management agreement or LMA (at the time, LMAs were not actively regulated by the CRTC). On February 5, 1999, just after 7 PM, the station flipped formats (without warning) to contemporary hit radio and changed monikers to "Power 92". The first song was "Doo Wop (That Thing)" by Lauryn Hill. "Power" played more hip-hop and contemporary R&B than the other top 40 stations in Toronto due to the market not having an urban or rhythmic station until 2001, when CFXJ-FM signed on the air with an urban format (with a rhythmic stint from 2005-2009 until reverting to urban).
The way the transition was announced to most of the station's on-air staff – they were taken out for a party to celebrate the success of the country station, then returned to the station, unaware, to find their access passes no longer worked and they were out of work – became legendary in Canadian radio circles. When the station flipped to Power 92, the station attracted adverse attention from the operators of CKDX, then a dance music station branded as "Power 88.5" in Newmarket, north of Toronto, and from Corus Entertainment, which owned several "Power" stations in western Canada at the time, and who had taken steps towards potentially turning their Toronto rock music station CILQ-FM (Q107) in a new direction as Power 107. The station soon took on the identity Kiss 92 FM.
In its early days, the station also aired imaging material in which an announcer pronounced the name of the city "Toe-ron-toe", widely considered a mispronunciation of Toronto. New material was soon substituted.
Thanks to former CRTC content regulations on FM radio, Power and then Kiss 92 FM was the first, and remained the only, contemporary hit radio or top 40 format on FM licensed to the City of Toronto. The station rode a wave of popularity for pop music acts like Backstreet Boys and N'SYNC, and often seemed to supertarget a primary market of young teenage or preteen girls. Station personalities included Jay Michaels, first paired with Daryn Jones as Mad Dog and Daryn and then with Billie Holiday in mornings as Mad Dog and Billie, frequently accompanied by voice actress Stephanie Beard as "Suga BayBee", Kris James (a re-hired veteran of the country format, and temporarily the CHR format's first morning host) middays, Tarzan Dan afternoons, Cory Kimm and Taylor Kaye evenings with Slim hosting "Slim Jams", a slow jam/R&B program in overnights.
By 2002, somewhat ironically, the station moved to take CFXJ's turf with a shift to a rhythmic contemporary format billed as "Toronto's hip hop and R&B." The station hired local urban flavoured talent DJX and Haddy, Axel, Kwame, DJ Baby Yu and RG.
Jack FM (2003-2009)
On June 4, 2003, at 4 PM, the station flipped to the Jack FM branding and the adult hits format, which had proved quite successful on Rogers-owned stations in Calgary and Vancouver. The station would adopt the CJAQ-FM call letters in February 2004 (with CISS being moved to a Rogers-owned station in Ottawa). The station experienced a slow and steady drop in ratings after the flip, most likely because of the popularity of the rhythmic top 40 format. However, once the station established itself, the station gained a boost in the ratings.
When it first launched, "Jack FM" operated without disc jockeys in an effort to establish the "Playing What We Want" concept which was new to Toronto. Though DJs were introduced within weeks of the debut, the station would become Canada's first DJ-free station in late September 2005. At the time, station GM/program director Pat Cardinal cited the move was "a result of listener feedback. The audience has been telling us that they want no DJs on Jack. They want more music." In November 2005, Cardinal defended his decision in an interview with Michael Hainsworth of Report on Business Television and stated why he doesn't see commercial-free iPods and satellite radio as a threat to a non-DJ format. Despite the move and the Rogers and CJAQ staff put behind "Jack FM," the station's ratings would dive from a 4.1 share in 2005 to the 2.3 share range in 2006.
Pat Cardinal would be replaced as GM/PD in June 2006 by Steve Kennedy, who had experience with the "Jack FM" format in Calgary. The previous month, the Jack FM playlist would be adjusted to mainstream rock, with the station dropping most songs and acts from the 1980s in an effort to compete against Corus-owned stations CILQ-FM (classic rock) and CFNY-FM (modern rock). The move put a dent in the music variety that is a hallmark of the Jack FM format and its "playing what we want" slogan (which CJAQ still used at the time and would not replace until March 2008, when it adopted the slogan "Toronto's Best Rock Variety"). The move to rock would further hamper CJAQ's overall share in the Toronto radio market (down 17%), even in the male target demographic (down 14%).
On December 11, 2006, CJAQ abandoned its DJ free format when they launched a new morning show featuring Ben McVie and Kerry Gray, the former morning team at Dave FM in Cambridge). DJs would surface on other dayparts on December 12, 2006, including Jeff Chalmers and Samantha Stevens. Ben and Kerry were eventually fired on August 16, 2007 and replaced by Jeff Chalmers and Larissa Primeau. Chalmers and Primeau were dismissed in September 2008 and replaced by Carly Klassen and Jeff Brown. (Brown, the former PD of CHEZ-FM in Ottawa, replaced Steve Kennedy as PD on July 4, 2007, when Rogers market manager Sandy Sanderson became GM.) Brown and Klassen would be holding down both the morning and afternoon drive slots by May 2009, one month after "Jack FM" registered a dismal 2.0 share in the BBM ratings results for the Toronto market.
Second "Kiss" era (2009-present)
At 3 pm on June 5, 2009 (one day after the 6th anniversary of Jack FM's launch), after playing Boy Inside the Man by Tom Cochrane & Red Rider, 92.5 Jack FM would revert to Top 40/CHR as Kiss 92.5. Kiss 92.5 started with a stretch of 10,000 songs without commercial or DJ interruption, beginning with Boom Boom Pow by The Black Eyed Peas. The shift to top 40 made Toronto the latest FM duopoly market of English-language adult contemporary and contemporary hit radio stations in Canada (CHFI-FM is 92.5's sister station with an AC format) other than in Vancouver (with CHQM-FM and CFBT-FM owned by Bell Media) and in Barrie (with CHAY-FM and CIQB-FM owned by Corus Entertainment). Kiss 92.5 (which would eventually swap the CJAQ-FM call sign for Calgary's CKIS-FM) features a music playlist consisting mainly of pop, hip-hop and R&B music; the station often avoids rock music, though it does include some Canadian rock artists to meet Canadian content regulations. Kiss competes head-on with Toronto area stations CIDC-FM (Top 40/CHR and based in the suburbs), CKFM-FM (also CHR), and CFXJ (rhythmic top 40), as well as, to a lesser extent, Toronto hot AC station CHUM-FM and top 40 station WKSE in Buffalo, New York.
Beginning in January 2010, CKIS-FM would offer "Commercial Free Mondays," a campaign patterned after many Top 40/CHR stations across America, and offer hourly prize giveaways. (CKIS followed Edmonton's CHBN-FM as the 2nd station in Canada to offer a whole day commercial-free; Kiss competitor CIDC-FM would follow suit one month later with a promotion they label as "The Zone," also on Mondays.)
In February 2011, the station moved towards a more mainstream direction. Their main rival CIDC-FM (Z103-5) began leaning towards rhythmic at the same time. This happened most likely because CKIS-FM began beating CIDC in the ratings, although CIDC's signal covers most Greater Toronto Area suburbs (as well as their studios also located in west Toronto), while CKIS targets the city of Toronto itself.
In 2013, the station's DJ Clymaxxx and Mocha won their 2nd consecutive Stylus Award for ‘Radio Mixshow DJs of the Year’ for Set It Off.
A few months after the format change on June 5, 2009, Rogers Media subsequently lowered the transmitter power from 9,100 watts to just 4,700 watts, causing a dramatic decrease in signal strength in the Hamilton/Burlington areas and east towards the Oshawa area. The station's tower is still located atop First Canadian Place.
- KiSS 92.5
- CJAQ history at Canadian Communications Foundation
- Query the REC's Canadian station database for CKIS-FM