|Branding||106.1 Kiss FM|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||May 1959|
106.1 HD2: EDM ("Evolution")
|Callsign meaning||K B KisS|
|Former callsigns||KLAY-FM (1959-3/24/1980)|
(AMFM Texas Licenses LLC)
|Sister stations||KFNQ, KHHO, KJAQ, KJR, KJR-FM, KUBE, KZOK|
KBKS-FM (106.1 FM, "106.1 Kiss FM") is a commercial radio station licensed to Tacoma, Washington. Owned by iHeartMedia, it broadcasts a Top 40/CHR format. Broadcasting from a transmitter on Tiger Mountain, its studios are located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle.
KBKS-FM signed on the air in May 1959 as KLAY-FM, a sister station to KLAY, and owned by Clay Huntington. Like most FM stations at the time, the station aired a beautiful music format that targeted Tacoma, its city of license, and South Puget Sound. KLAY-FM was the first FM station in the Pacific Northwest broadcasting in stereo.
On May 1, 1972, KLAY-FM began airing a progressive rock format during the evening and overnight hours, with the beautiful music format remaining in other dayparts. By October 1972, the rock format was airing full-time. Many famous Seattle radio personalities got their start here during this time period.
In March 1980, the station was sold to Ray Court. The station then flipped to country as "K106", and the call letters changed to KRPM. The station competed against EZ Communications' KMPS-FM. In 1984, Olympic Highsmith Broadcasting bought the station, with Heritage Media buying it four years later. The station simulcasted on KRPM/KULL 770 AM from 1986 to 1991, and again for a brief time beginning in January 1995. The station would adopt the call sign KCIN-FM (when the station rebranded to "Kickin' Country K106") on November 1, 1995 (while the AM simulcast would move to 1090 as part of a format swap with 770, with 1090 taking the KRPM calls).
In the Spring of 1996, shortly after the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Heritage swapped KCIN and KRPM to EZ in exchange for EZ's New Orleans cluster. The transaction made KMPS and KCIN sister stations (EZ immediately took over the stations via an LMA until the purchase was completed later that year). EZ also bought KYCW-FM (which also ran a country format) from Infinity Broadcasting two weeks prior, which would lead to the end of the country format on KCIN and KRPM. On March 18, 1996, KCIN/KRPM dropped regular programming and began simulcasting KMPS from Monday (March 18) to Thursday (March 21), then simulcasted KYCW on Friday (March 22) and Saturday (March 23). At Midnight on Sunday (March 24), KCIN/KRPM began a 39-hour stunt with random audio soundbites, as well as announcing a change to come the following afternoon.
On March 25, 1996, at 3 p.m., KCIN/KRPM flipped to a gold-leaning Rhythmic Adult Contemporary format, branded as "Kiss 106." KCIN would reacquire the KRPM-FM callsign on April 5, but would adopt the current KBKS-FM callsign on April 15. (KRPM AM would continue to simulcast until February 1, 1999, when it flipped to classic country.) The station's playlist consisted of a wide range of rhythmic hits targeting adults 25–54 years old, including Motown, gold hits from the 1960s through the 1980s, re-currents, and then-current hits from artists like Celine Dion, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Boyz II Men, and competed against KUBE, KLSY, and KPLZ-FM.
On May 23, 1997, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, KBKS flipped to Top 40/CHR and modified its moniker to "Kiss 106.1."  This marked the first Top 40/CHR station in Seattle since 1994, when KPLZ shifted to Hot AC. The Rhythmic AC format would return to Seattle radio on KQMV (92.5 FM) from 2006-2010, and KMTT (103.7 FM) in 2013. EZ and American Radio Systems would merge in July 1997; ARS and Infinity would merge that September. With this, KBKS would become an Infinity Broadcasting station (which was owned by CBS).
At first, KBKS' direction leaned more towards Modern Rock/Modern AC as a way to counter KUBE's Rhythmic Top 40 direction, before becoming more mainstream in early 2000. In 2007, at the same time the station rebranded to "106.1 KISS FM", the station began broadening its direction by leaning rhythmic, in the hopes to dent KUBE's dominant ratings in the Seattle Top 40 wars.
Sale to Clear Channel
On December 10, 2008, CBS Radio announced it would swap 5 of its stations (including KBKS) to its current owner iHeartMedia (then known as Clear Channel Communications) in trade of 2 stations in Houston, Texas; the deal was approved by the FCC on March 31, 2009, and consummated on April 1. The station would also back off of its rhythmic lean and would shift back to a more mainstream direction.
The acquisition by Clear Channel joined KBKS with former long-time rival rhythmic top 40 station KUBE, leaving KBKS to compete against Sandusky Broadcasting's pair of CHR KQMV (Movin' 92.5) and Modern AC KLCK-FM (Click 98.9) (which has since flipped to country), and Fisher Broadcasting's Hot AC KPLZ-FM (Star 101.5).
Shift to Hot AC
As part of a major format shuffle involving four of iHeartMedia's Seattle stations, on January 19, 2016, at Noon, KBKS's Top 40 format moved to 93.3 FM (as KPWK, "Power 93.3"), displacing KUBE's Rhythmic Top 40 format (which would move to sister KKBW). At the same time, KBKS shifted to Hot AC (adopting the format from KYNW, which would flip to alternative). Bender & Molly remained in mornings, with midday host Karen Wild and afternoon host Eric Tyler being let go.
Return to CHR, "Kiss is Dead"
On May 3, 2018, at 3:00 p.m., concurrent with the revival of the KUBE format and branding on 93.3, KBKS reverted to its previous mainstream CHR format. Despite this, ratings remained rather low; the station registered a 2.2 share in the October 2018 Nielsen Audio ratings, down from a 3.2 in September, and trailing KQMV’s 6.8 share by a significantly wide margin.
On October 24, 2018, KBKS dropped all of its on-air personalities, and began to run promos implicating the end of the Kiss format. The next day, the station began to interrupt songs with a voiceover proclaiming that "Kiss is Dead", and on October 29, the station also began promoting an impending announcement on October 31 at 4:00 p.m. At that time, the station ran an announcement by iHeartMedia's regional president Robert Dove, announcing that the company was in the process of revamping KBKS to create a station "that is real, connected to the community, positive, and proud to live in Seattle". KBKS will retain its existing format and Kiss FM branding. The station also announced that it would hold a "Seattle's Funniest Person" contest to find a new host for its morning show, as longtime host Bender Cunningham was let go after nearly 18 years.
Since January 19, 2006, KBKS has broadcast in HD Radio on HD1 and HD2 channels providing Artist Experience data including song titles, artists, and albums on compatible radios. Over the years, 106.1 FM has hosted a variety of formats on its HD sub-channels. The current HD sub-channel formats are:
- 'New Kiss 2' - New CHR Format - The station had a website () and had on-air personalities. (Prior to Winter 2011)
- 'Russian language' - Programming outsourced to a different provider (December 2011)
- 'Club Phusion' - Dance Top 40 - July 2012
- "Country K106, popular DJ Ichabod Caine off air in format switch". web.kitsapsun.com.
- baysadaye (12 November 2008). "1996 KISS 106 Seattle" – via YouTube.
- "Entertainment & the Arts - Kiss The Rhythm Goodbye: Top 40 Is On 106.1 Fm - Seattle Times Newspaper". community.seattletimes.nwsource.com.
- CBS RADIO Completes Deal to Swap Five Mid-Size Market Stations for Two Large Market Stations With Clear Channel Communications
- "iHeart Shuffles Four Seattle/Tacoma Stations - RadioInsight". 19 January 2016.
- "iHeartMedia/Seattle Revamps Formats At Four Stations".
- "iHeart Makes Major Seattle Signal Shifts".
- Causes and Effects of iHeart's Seattle Shuffle
- "KUBE 93.3 Returns In Seattle". RadioInsight. 2018-05-03. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
- Movin' Leads Seattle's PPMs: News/Talk Takes 2nd and 3rd
- "106.1 Kiss-FM Seattle Relaunches Dead Serious About Finding New Morning Host". RadioInsight. 2018-10-31. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
- "KBKS (106.1 Kiss FM)/Seattle Jockless And Stunting". All Access. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
- "KBKS/Seattle Goes Under Construction, Calls Out For New On-Air Talent". All Access. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
- "Carla Marie & Anthony Move To KBKS For Nights - RadioInsight". RadioInsight. 2018-05-20. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
- "Carla Marie & Anthony Introduced As Morning Team On KBKS (106.1 Kiss FM)/Seattle". All Access. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2015-05-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) HD Radio Guide for Seattle-Tacoma