|Broadcast area||Spokane, Washington|
|Slogan||Spokane's Hottest Music|
|First air date||December 13, 1991 (as KSPO)|
|Callsign meaning||EZE = "Easy"|
|Former callsigns||KSPO (1991-1996)|
|Owner||Morgan Murphy Media / Spokane Television Group
(QueenB Radio, Inc.)
|Sister stations||KHTQ, KXLX, KXLY, KXLY-FM, KXLY-TV, KXMN-LP, KVNI, KZZU-FM|
KEZE (96.9 FM), "Hot 96.9") is a rhythmic contemporary formatted radio station licensed to Spokane, Washington, United States. The Morgan Murphy Media station broadcasts at 96.9 MHz on the FM dial with an effective radiated power of 8.2 kW. Its transmitter is located in Millwood, Washington.
KEZE is remembered by many as being born in the mid-1970s as an album-oriented hard rock FM radio station on 105.7 FM ("Rock 106", now KZBD), sporting the slogan "Spokane's Best Rock". From the late 1970s through the 1980s, the station enjoyed large audience appeal on the strength of playing the "classics" (e.g. Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin) as well as championing newer hard rock bands such as Night Ranger, Krokus, Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, and Def Leppard. With the emergence of grunge and "the Seattle sound" in the late 80s and early 90s, KEZE adopted the harder-edged sounds of heavy guitar-based alternative rock (e.g. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains). "Rock 106" would disappear on October 20, 1995 when the station flipped to AAA. The rock format and KEZE call letters would be moved to 96.9 FM in March 1996. As the public appeal of guitar-based alternative waned in the mid-90s, KEZE attempted a "back to our roots" campaign as a Classic Rock station in 1996, only to flip to an all-80s format in March 1999, known as "Star @ 96-9." In 2003, it added more 1990's music, and by 2004, it evolved to an Adult Top 40 format. The morning show on the station was well-known local hosts "The Breakfast Boys", who are now on sister station KZZU-FM.
On October 12, 2005, the station flipped to Rhythmic Top 40, a move that might have been spurred by rumors that another move-in might fill the void after KYWL dropped the format in 2004. Those rumors became reality in December 2005 when KQQB-FM signed with the same format as KEZE's, even though KEZE does have a better advantage over KQQB in terms of signal coverage in Spokane County proper. KQQB evolved into a Mainstream Top 40 direction, thus leaving KEZE as the only Rhythmic in the market. During this time, KEZE was known as "Wired 96-9" with the slogan "Blazin' Today's Hottest Music!", and was Spokane's home for the Portland based morning show The Playhouse. Wired was a generally successful station; however, ratings began to decline in early 2008.
On November 20, 2008, KEZE began stunting with Christmas music. This format change to Christmas music left Spokane without a Rhythmic Top 40 station and a home for The Playhouse (the Rhythmic format would be filled by KQQB-FM in June 2009). It also left speculation that the move might either be a stunt or possible format flip brewing. The temporary format change continued through Christmas Eve of that year.
On Christmas Day 2008, KEZE switched to Country, branding itself as "Coyote Country." This made KEZE the fourth station in the Spokane area to broadcast the country format on the FM band following KDRK ("The Cat"), KIXZ-FM ("KIX 96"), and KICR. Shortly after the flip, ratings improved for station.
On May 15, 2009, Coyote Country added weekday morning show The Jay and Kevin Show which had previously aired on KDRK (93.7 FM, "The Cat") for 11 years. Jay and Kevin are joined by Sean "Slim" Widmer, formerly of Spokane's Sports Show, as their producer.
On January 1, 2010, KEZE moved its Country format to 99.9, while KXLY-FM's modestly successful AAA format took over 96.9. On November 12, 2010, the station flipped to all-Christmas, making it the second time in the station's history that 96.9 has played Christmas music. However, the AAA format returned after the stint. But even before and after the temporary holiday music phase, it was obvious that the Morgan Murphy/Spokane management had not found a successful formula for sustaining the station.
On April 20, 2011, station management announced that KEZE would return to a Rhythmic Top 40 format. It has already set up Facebook and Twitter accounts ahead of the switch, which revealed the station's new logo and moniker. On May 4, 2011, at 3:05 PM, The River signed off with "Tree by the River" by Iron and Wine. The station then launched "Hot 96.9" and its format with "Roll Up" by Wiz Khalifa (The River continues online at ). With their return to Rhythmic Top 40, KEZE will face another Rhythmic, KGZG-FM, whose signal coverage requires a booster in Spokane (and who responded to KEZE's switch by setting up a website called "Not969.com" to direct listeners to its station), and Mainstream Top 40 KZBD, whose lineup features a mostly voicetracked lineup. Since its return to Rhythmic, KEZE has seen its two competitors (KGZG and KPXR-FM) leave the format in 2014: KGZG signed off the air on April 7, 2014, followed by KPXR dropping the format to return to Country on May 8. With those flips, KEZE became the market's only Rhythmic Top 40 outlet.
The frequency signed on the air on December 13, 1991 with the call letters KSPO and a religious format. KEZE would move to 96.9 on March 4, 1996, while KSPO was moved to 106.5 FM.
- "KEZE To Flip Formats" from All Access (April 20, 2011)
- "Spokane’s River Gets Hot" from Radioinsight (May 2, 2011)
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KEZE
- Radio-Locator information on KEZE
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KEZE