|City of license||Cordes Lakes, Arizona|
|Broadcast area||Phoenix, Arizona|
|Branding||101.1 The Beat|
|Slogan||The Valley's Classic Hip Hop|
|First air date||1998 (as KESP)|
|Callsign meaning||NRJ from former format as Energy 92.7 & 101.1.|
|Former callsigns||KESP (1997-2000)
|Owner||Sierra H Broadcasting|
KNRJ (101.1 FM, "The Beat") is a radio station serving the Phoenix area, which airs a Rhythmic CHR radio format. KNRJ is licensed to Cordes Lakes, Arizona, which is 66 miles north of Phoenix. KNRJ is currently owned by Sierra H Broadcasting. Its studios are located on Indian School Road in Phoenix, and its transmitter is in Crown King.
The first attempt to put a station on the air on 101.1 in Payson Arizona failed. A group had a construction permit for KRMM, but that never got on the air and the construction permit lapsed. Another group applied for the frequency and was more successful.
In the late 1990s, KESP-FM signed on from Payson, Arizona as a classic hits format station named Loop 101. In 2000, the callsign was changed to KAZL (K AriZona Loop), and K224CJ 92.7 FM from South Mountain and K292DF 106.3 FM (now K228XO 93.5 FM) in Flagstaff were applied for and signed on during the same period. The station's goal was to be an alternative to KSLX-FM, another classic hits station serving the Phoenix area. KNRJ, K224CJ, and K292DF never achieved sufficient ratings.
The dismal ratings were followed by a format change on 18 June 2002: KAZL began stunting, leading listeners to believe they were becoming an all-commercial station (All Commercials, All the Time, KAZL) Steven Szalay, Operations Manager, established A/V Producer and stockholder in Sierra H Broadcasting, Inc, created an entire radio format complete with sweepers, liners, I.D.'s and live DJ comments as well as a collection of classic radio commercials. The station received a great many calls asking if this was serious; some called to express their appreciation of the joke, and some believed it pleading and demanding that the classic hits format be returned.
Energy 92.7 & 101.1
Three days later, the stunting was stopped at 5pm (June 21, 2002), and because of the clever stunting, KAZL did receive considerable press coverage which created a curiosity buzz about the Launch of KNRJ. They created a clone of WKIE Energy Chicago (CHR Dance) which were both programmed by Chris Shebel until WKIE sold and changed to a Spanish format in early 2003 (leaving KNRJ, Energy AZ independent). KNRJ was also a reporter in Billboard Magazine's Dance/Mix Show Airplay panel. The station received calls from Chicago visitors asking if they are the same Energy that was in Chicago. Prior to 2002, The last time Energy's calls were used (KNRJ) was in Houston, Texas at 96.5 FM under a top 40/dance/alternative format from 1988 to 1990, as Energy 96.5. But on the 1st day of summer 2002 at 5pm, Energy AZ made history signing on with "DJ Jean - The Launch."
KNRJ's dance music product included house, Trance, and club music, as well as remixes of pop and R&B hits. The first personality to be live on-air was KEDJ's "Pistol Pete" who took the afternoon day part. Shortly thereafter, Lysa D. began as the station's evening voice. In January 2004, Alex Santa Maria (at the time, PD of KNRJ's sister station, KAJM Mega 104.3/99.3) took over the programming reins as well as becoming the voice of the morning drive. The first mixshow to air on the station was a syndicate of UK's own, Paul Oakenfold (International BPM Sundays Nights). After months of promoting the station, evening personality, Lysa D, launched live mixshows including: the 'Friday Night Funky Mix' and 'GrooveSessionz' which aired Weekend evenings. With the thought of expanding the station's reputation in the dance world, she would feature exclusive interviews and mixes from the likes of Bad Boy Bill, Richard Vission, as well as much local talent, such as Rob Wegner, Kevin Brown, Pete Salas, just to name a few. In March 2003, Alex brought in DJ Perry to Mix during the Rewind Lunch (which ran until early 2004), and then Later recruited DJ Shy who had a short Lived Morning Show. Around the same Time (Mid-2003) Greggy D and Randy became the afternoon show and Pistol Pete was moved to the morning show host.
In May 2004, programming authority had changed as well as the station's playlist. Internet radio station Energy 98's "Mike O" took the crown as KNRJ's new Program Director / Afternoon Voice (while letting go of Greggy D and Randy), and attempted to improve the station with his format he used on Energy 98 (which was merged with KNRJ's while Energy 98's website redirected people to Energy 92.7 & 101.1's website). Months later Pistol Pete left for Los Angeles and Lysa D took over mornings with her show titled "The Morning Frenzy". More mixshows and some syndicated radio talent would be featured including: Richard Dalton, Joe Bermudez, DJ Perry (Middays), Victor Dinaire, Roger Sanchez, Justin Dohman, Rod Carrillo, and many more.
In Summer 2005, Mike O was let go for plummeting KNRJs ratings, but he continued his format on internet Energy 98. Rod Carrillo took over programming KNRJ, and Beau Duran (who previously worked weekends and evenings under Mike) took over Afternoons. But a few months later, Rod also gained control of KAJM (Mega 104.3) and let go of his MD Lysa D (who was on both stations), in addition to Beau Duran, and the station became mostly jockless. The unhosted morning show was titled "More Music Mornings", the unhosted mid-day show was called "More Music Mid-Days". However, that didn't help ratings and it was later decided to bring back Pistol Pete as the afternoon host, which seemed to be missed by many listeners.
On October 31, 2007 KNRJ began stunting, playing Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio", Front 242's "Headhunter", and Ministry's "Everyday Is Halloween" along with commercials, the normal legal ID with Harry Legg saying "KNRJ Payson/Phoenix, 92.7 K227CJ Phoenix, 106.3 K292DF Flagstaff", and a white man speaking in Spanglish saying (roughly translated) "Friends, please excuse the music which you hear on 92.7 and 101.1. Tune in tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the morning for more information. Thank you." At 10 AM on November 1, 2007, KNRJ played the Mexican Hat Dance three times and then KNRJ was relaunched with Beau Duran saying that Energy is back "New and Improved". The changes that took place included the return of Beau Duran as MD / Mid-days, Pistol Pete still hosting afternoons, recorded mix shows were played overnight (High Energy After Dark featuring Carl Cox, Armin Van Buren, Markus Schulz, Spencer Thomas, Eddie Amador, Mickey "Mixin" Oliver (Chicago's Hot Mix 5), and many others) rather than just music, the station playlist was completely revamped, and all new jingles were produced without long time Energy voice over veteran Harry Legg; instead he was replaced by Mitch Craig, a similar sounding person.
In April 2008, Rod Carrillo left to pursue his growing production career, and Beau Duran took over as program director for the remainder of the format. After a few months, the station still struggled on Arbitron (mainly due to previous PDs and the lack of support from management for over two years) and Beau Duran was forced to take the station in a different direction in an attempt to gain better ratings.
Energy signed off at 5pm on October 31, 2008. The final song was Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence". K257CD 99.3 FM began simulcasting KNRJ, as KAJM now had adequate Phoenix area coverage on 104.3, and KNRJ then launched a stunt format that started with a man saying "This is KNRJ Payson. If you're looking for Arizona's Old School, you need to hike it on over to Mega 104.3. The Valley will be in the Zone, Monday morning at 9:27 AM; right now though, I found this guy's iPod. Let's see what's on it." and then played U2's "Pride (In The Name Of Love". KNRJ's stunt format included many different songs from different genres as well as an announcer announcing that a new format will be coming to the Valley. Each announcement mentioned a different radio station, some of which were legacy names (e.g. Y for KYOT which formerly was KOY-FM/Y-95).
92.7 / 99.3 / 101.1 The Beat
On November 3, 2008, the new format as Old school hip hop 92.7 / 99.3 / 101.1 The Beat launched, the first song being Ice Cube's "You Know How We Do It". At first, they were the only known all old-school station on terrestrial radio up until KDAY/Los Angeles relaunched their Old School Hip Hop format in August 2009. It primarily plays old school hip hop from the '80s and '90s and some hip hop songs from the early 2000s.
In 2011, Fred Rico was named the new Program Director of KNRJ. The Music Director is Ramses Ja Rule. Since these changes have been made, newer hits have found their way onto KNRJ's playlist.
In March 2012, KNRJ completed its signal upgrade and changed its city-of-license to Cordes Lakes, Arizona. When the old transmitter near Payson went silent, K228XO 93.5 FM in Flagstaff, at the same time, stopped simulcasting KNRJ, and began simulcasting KAFF 930 AM.
In May 2012, KNRJ stopped using 92.7, as they have now have enough coverage with 101.1. East Valley Institute of Technology's KVIT 90.7 FM is now using K224CJ to expand their coverage into the Phoenix Metro.
In November 2012, 99.3 FM K257CD went silent, and upon resuming broadcast in January 2013, it was no longer simulcasting KNRJ, but now simulcasts KFNN 1510 AM.
- KNRJ website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KNRJ
- Radio-Locator information on KNRJ
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KNRJ