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|City||Los Angeles, California|
|Broadcast area||Greater Los Angeles|
|Slogan||Where Hip-Hop Lives!|
|Frequency||105.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)
105.9 HD-2 for WorldBand Media (South Asian Radio)
|First air date||July 15, 1946 (as KFI-FM)|
|HAAT||925 meters (3,035 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||K PoWeR|
|Former callsigns||KFI-FM (1946-1958)
(Emmis Radio License, LLC)
KPWR (105.9 FM, Power 106) is a commercial radio station located in Los Angeles, California, broadcasting to the Greater Los Angeles area on an analog signal and in HD Radio. KPWR airs a Rhythmic Top 40 format playing hip hop and R&B with occasional rhythmic pop/dance titles. It is owned and operated by Emmis Communications and is one of its two flagship stations alongside WQHT ("Hot 97") in New York City.
Early years (1959-1986)
105.9 FM signed on as easy listening KFI-FM on July 15, 1946, later becoming KBMS in 1958 before adopting the KWST call letters and "K-West 106" moniker in 1969. During its years as KBMS and KWST, its format had been beautiful music prior to its flip to a rock format on January 1, 1975. K-West emulated the then-popular sound of KMET and KLOS. By 1981, though, the ratings had slipped and KWST had changed to a Top 40 format, and let all of their disc jockeys go. KWST eventually evolved into KMGG, or "L.A.'s Magic 106 FM" in summer 1982, and played upbeat Adult Contemporary music.
In May 1984, Century Broadcasting sold KMGG and St. Louis's KSHE to the Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications.
As KPWR "Power 106"
Not too long after Emmis bought the station, it immediately saw a niche to counter Top 40s KIIS and KKHR and urban-music outlets KDAY, KJLH, and KACE (the latter three all signal challenged). At 6 PM on January 11, 1986, KMGG dropped its adult contemporary format, and became the first rhythmic contemporary-focused top 40 formatted radio outlet with the new callsign KPWR and the handle "Power 106, The Fresh New Music Mix." The first song on the newly christened "Power 106" was "Say I'm Your Number One" by Princess. Jay Thomas was hired as host of The New Power 106 Morning Zoo and then later The Power 106 Morning Zoo or The Original Morning Zoo, or just The Morning Zoo for short. Power 106's first tagline in 1986 was I've Made The Power Switch!, and in 1987 with Pure Energy...Dance Now!!!, followed in 1991 by L.A.'s Hottest Music, then in 1997 as L.A.'s Party Station, and most recently in 2005 with the current tagline Where Hip-Hop Lives. At the time it broadcast what it announced as 72,000 Watts Of Music Power...Less Talk (mentioned in on-air station identifications by Chuck Riley and future WQHT jock herself Deborah Rath), a reference to its then-actual ERP of 72 kW (whose signal coverage can be heard in San Diego, Kern and Santa Barbara Counties), before their reduction to 25 kW in 1993.
KPWR picked up additional competition in May 2005 when KXOL dropped their Spanish adult contemporary format for a Hispanic Rhythmic, or hurban, format known as "Latino 96.3". The format is a crossover mix of Hispanic hip hop, reggaeton, dancehall, and R&B/hip hop targeting a bilingual audience. However, the abrupt switch violated a transmitter lease agreement that KXOL's parent company, Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS), had with Emmis; the agreement required formal notification to Emmis of any change in format and expressly prohibited KXOL from programming to directly compete with KPWR. SBS switched formats anyway, and Emmis filed a lawsuit to force SBS to either drop the format switch or find a new transmitter. SBS announced that KXOL would move to another transmitter site a month later, and both parties settled the dispute sometime after. KXOL would eventually exit the format on May 16, 2014 to return to Spanish AC as "Mega 96.3" after nine years and moderate to underperformed ratings.
Shortly after the debut of Latino 96.3, KPWR replaced the majority of their non Latino DJs with personalities of Latino descent who often pepper their broadcasts with Spanish words, in an effort to regain some of the audience lost to Latino 96.3. Today, J. Cruz, Krystal Bee (Latino), DJ E Man (Filipino), and Todd the Hater (Armenian) of #TheCruzShow all represent the multi-cultural population of Los Angeles.
On August 17, 2006, KPWR's Country music sister station KZLA flipped directions to Adult Rhythmic Contemporary as "Movin' 93.9." Most of the songs played on Movin' 93.9 consisted of Rhythmic Pop and Dance hits from the 1980s and 1990s to the present day, along with classic Disco and Freestyle tracks thrown in for balance. But after almost a year in the format, KMVN shifted directions to Rhythmic Oldies. With the unique combination of both KPWR and KZLA, the move gave Emmis and Los Angeles its first Rhythmic duopoly, as well as the second duopoly in California with this arrangement, the other being Clear Channel Communications siblings KMEL and KYLD in San Francisco. But that arrangement ended on April 15, 2009, when KMVN flipped to a Spanish format under a LMA with Grupo Radio Centro of Mexico City.
On November 3, 2015, KPWR DJs Eric D-lux and Justin Credible were called out by singer/actress Ariana Grande after she felt uncomfortable over asking questions that she claimed were sexist, telling the DJs "You need a little brushing up on equality."
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In its first seven years, KPWR's music selection focused on a mix of dance, house, freestyle, and urban pop, while avoiding hard rock. This mix of music became known as crossover (later called Rhythmic Top 40), due to the way in which dance and urban music were presented to an audience that liked pop, and vice versa. This would become a major issue in the music trades after the station ascended to the top spot in the Los Angeles Arbitron ratings, where both Billboard and Radio & Records had debated as to what reporting panel it would place KPWR (as well as other stations that were using the same formula), which in turn resulted in Billboard launching a Crossover Chart and Radio & Records creating a CHR P1A subcategory in 1987. By 1992, KPWR began to focus on a mix of hip hop and R&B music, given that it gained competition from the former urban outlet KKBT and that the original KDAY signed off around that time. It even embraced house in addition, although the station would no longer focused on the genre by 1997. By January 2005, the station had woven in non-R&B/hip-hop artists such as Natalie, Baby Bash, NB Ridaz and Gwen Stefani to the mix, resulting in a return to Rhythmic Top 40.
Approximately 60% of KPWR’s listenership is Hispanic. and contributes to both Mediabase and BDS Rhythmic reporting panels. In addition to playing Hip-Hop and Rhythmic Pop, KPWR continued to embrace dance music tracks onto its playlist, and even incorporated it into their daily and weekend mix shows, including the program "Power Tools", produced by Gerry Meraz and hosted by Richard Vission. Power Tools is the station's longest-running program, debuting in 1992.
However, by early 2016, KPWR has drastically reduced the amount of Rhythmic Pop and EDM tracks in its playlist to focus primarily on Hip Hop & R&B. This was due to the competition received from Urban Contemporary rival "The Real 92.3", which reignites the LA Hip Hop radio war from the 1990's when Power 106 was in competition with 92.3 The Beat. KPWR also slightly increased the amount of throwbacks/recurrents in its playlist.
In its earlier months of Power 106's launch Tommy Jaxson and Deborah Rath were the original morning jocks and hosts of "The New Power 106's Morning Zoo", all that changed when actor, comedian, and radio vet Jay Thomas took the helm of the show. Jay left in 1992, that's when The Baka Boyz took over the morning slot, but by fall 1997, KPWR decided to hired a former security guard named Big Boy to replace the duo and has held that position since then. "The Big Boy's Neighborhood Morning Show" was launched as a local show on KPWR in 1997 featuring Big Boy with Rikki Martinez, Krystal Bee and Louie G. serving as co-hosts/sidekicks, serving up an eclectic mix of music, pop culture, celebrity interviews, and comedy segments. The program served as a launching pad for both co-host/sidekicks Tattoo, who left the station in 2010, and Luscious Liz, who departed on August 22, 2011 to pursue a television career.
The program became a nationally syndicated morning show on August 20, 2007, after Big Boy signed a multi-year deal with ABC Radio Networks (later Citadel Media, now Westwood One) to syndicate the show, along with his weekend countdown show, which was formerly called "The Big Boy's Hip Hop Spot". In the fall of 2008, the show began to air on KPWR's sister station WQHT, but would drop the show in July 2009 due to low ratings. In 2010, after Citadel announced that they would no longer syndicate the program, Dial Global picked up the show.
On February 3, 2015, Big Boy, whose contract was to expire on February 28 of that year, exited KPWR after negotiations between the two parties broke down, leading KPWR owner Emmis Communications to file a lawsuit (and injunction) to keep him off the air and from taking a $3.5 million offer from iHeartMedia, who three days earlier registered a domain and social media accounts for Rhythmic AC rival KHHT, who immediately flipped back to R&B/Hip-Hop as "Real 92.3" on February 6, 2015. This move brought the R&B/Hip-Hop format back to that frequency for the first time since iHeartMedia's predecessor Clear Channel sold "The Beat" R&B/Hip-Hop format and intellectual property to Radio One (who then moved it to the 100.3 signal) in 2000 (The Beat would later flip to Urban AC in 2006). Since then, J. Cruz has taken over the morning slot as the new host.
KPWR launched a Spanish-language HD2 subcarrier channel called Power Dos in August 2006. A press release from Emmis describes the new channel as a “bilingual and musically extended version” of KPWR. Power Dos left the air in 2008 due to lack of interest. 
On August 29, 2008, Emmis announced a programming partnership with WorldBand Media, using KPWR's HD3 signal to produce programming for the South Asian communities in three major cities including Los Angeles. The said content began in Mid-October 2008, and by the Summer of 2009 moved to HD2, replacing Power Dos.
In September 2011, Power 106 was named Large Market CHR Radio station of the year and awarded the Marconi at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Chicago, Illinois, and was nominated in 2012 for Major Market Station of the Year by the NAB.
- The PowerJam Concert
- The PowerHouse Concert
- The Cali Christmas Concert
- "Power 106 Turns 25 Today In Los Angeles" from All Access (January 11, 2011)
- KPWR's Broadcast of Jay Thomas' morning show from YouTube
- KPWR 1991 TV Commercial from YouTube
- From YouTube
- From Radiorevista.com
- KXOL Los Angeles Flips To Mega 96.3 from Radio Insight (May 16, 2014)
- "Cox Media Group And Emmis Communications Radio Stations Join iHeartradio". AllAccess.com. 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
- Maloney, Paul. "TuneIn adds Entercom, Cox, Emmis stations to tuning service". RAIN, 2012.
- Ariana Grande Blasts DJs for Sexist Questions: 'You Need a Little Brushing Up on Equality' from Billboard (November 3, 2015)
- from Billboard/Google Books
- "L.A. TURN-ON IS A TOP 40 TURNOFF : 'POWER 106'; Top Local Radio Station, but Dispute Over Trade Publications' Hit List Is Proving a 'Black' and 'White' Issue" from Los Angeles Times (January 8, 1987)
- "Part of a Rhythm Nation" from Radio-Info (November 12, 2012)
- BDS monitored radio panel update
- "Bye Bye Big Boy" from All Access (February 17, 2010)
- "Big Boy's Neighborhood Going Global ... Dial Global" from All Access (March 15, 2010)
- "Beat Returning To Los Angeles With Big Boy?" from Radio Insight (February 3, 2015)
- "Emmis and WorldBand Media Partner to Launch First-of-Its-Kind Digital Radio Network" (Press release). PR Newswire. 2008-09-09. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
Top 3 U.S. markets to offer programming in HD for the South Asian ethnic community
- 2011 NAB Marconi Radio Award Winners press release from National Association of Broadcasters (September 15, 2011)
- Power 106 official website
- Power 106 MySpace page
- "Superpower" Grandfathered FM's
- KPWR's history as KWST at socalradiohistory.com
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KPWR
- Radio-Locator information on KPWR
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KPWR