|City of license||Phoenix, Arizona|
|Broadcast area||Phoenix, Arizona|
|Slogan||"The Valley's Hit Music Leader"|
|Frequency||101.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||July 5, 1964 (as KHEP-FM)
June 22, 2007 (current format)
|Format||Top 40 (CHR)
HD2: CBS Sports Radio
|HAAT||530 meters (1,740 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||K AriZONa (although previously ZON stood for the "ZONe" format)|
|Former callsigns||KHEP-FM (1964-1985)
(CBS Radio Stations Inc.)
|Sister stations||KMLE, KOOL-FM|
KZON (Live 101.5 FM) is a Top 40 (CHR) radio station in Phoenix, Arizona. Its studios are located in downtown Phoenix, and its transmitter is in South Mountain Park.
Early years (1964–2005)
In July 1964, the station signed on the air as KHEP-FM and aired a classical music format. In 1985, the station was sold to the owners of the Boston Globe and took the calls KONC ("Concert 101"). In 1986, the station abandoned classical music for satellite-delivered soft rock as KAMJ ("Magic 101"), using the Transtar 'Format 41' network, with a local morning show anchored by Mike Del Rosso.
By 1989, EZ Communications had taken the station completely live and local with a Hot AC format as "The All New Magic 101." In May 1990, it moved to an AC format as KMXX ("Mix 101"). It was later sold to Sundance Broadcasting in 1992, and switched to AAA as KZON ("The Zone"), a moniker it would carry throughout its incarnations of modern rock, Modern AC, Adult Top 40 and back to modern rock in 2000 up until its flip to hot talk in January 2006.
101.5 Free FM (2005–2007)
On December 23, 2005, it was announced that KZON would adopt CBS Radio's Free FM format, featuring mostly nationally-syndicated hot talk shows like The Adam Carolla Show, Frosty, Heidi & Frank, The Tom Leykis Show and Big O And Dukes. The station switched from Modern Rock to the male-targeted format, with rock music played during overnights and weekends, on January 3, 2006. During its brief run it attempted to appeal towards male listeners, as CBS Radio had high hopes that this format would do well in Phoenix, even with a promotional campaign that came along with it. On January 3, 2007, KZON reduced the music content and began to add more talk shows to the weekend lineup, and a taped Tom Leykis episode airing overnights, all in an attempt to attract more listeners.
101.5 Jamz (2007–2013)
Despite growing ratings, it proved to be a failure in the market, especially when talk radio station KTAR moved to FM in January 2007. Rumors of a format change came true at 5 PM on June 22, 2007, when the station interrupted its broadcast of the Tom Leykis Show and began stunting with all-Paris Hilton music, while starting a petition on its website to free Hilton, who was in prison at the time. At 5 PM on June 22, KZON switched to a Rhythmic CHR format. The first song played after the initial announcement was "Party Like a Rockstar" by the Shop Boyz.
(KZON was the fourth station to drop the Free FM format, following sister station KSCF in San Diego, California, which flipped to Modern AC, sister station and former Free FM flagship WFNY/New York City, who returned to Active rock and its original call letters and moniker WXRK (K-Rock 92.3), and sister station KIFR/San Francisco, who picked up the KFRC-FM calls and Classic Hits format from their sister station (which is now KMVQ) after it dropped the aforementioned format several months earlier. As with many format changes in radio, there has been a backlash from fans of Free FM who would like to see the station and its personalities return. The former Free FM website was linked to the stream of sister station KLSX "97.1 Free FM" in Los Angeles, where Carolla and Leykis originated until 2009, when KLSX dropped the format for Top 40.)
In regarding KZON's flip to Rhythmic, the station began attacking KKFR, telling them that the "Power" has been turned off (in reference to KKFR's frequency switch from 92.3 to 98.3) and "Where Hip Hop USED to Live". To add insult to injury, KZON also boast on air as playing "100,000 watts of 'Static-Free' Hip-Hop" and borrowed the "Mac Vs. PC" ad campaign in which KZON billed itself as the "Mac" to KKFR's "PC." In addition, they are also poised to take on Top 40 rival KZZP, the former Rhythmic AC (later top 40) station KMVA, and (as of 2013) former Old School Hip-Hop turned Rhythmic KNRJ. In response to KZON's debut and full-powered signal range, KKFR's then-PD Bruce St. James wasn't worried, and in a statement with the Arizona Republic, "What are they going to do?" he asks. "Play more hip-hop than us? Really, I think we'll be OK." St. James, by the way, would end up joining KZON as its new PD in January 2010, but after almost three months on the job, he resigned on March 30, 2010, to pursue other opportunities. In November 2008, KZON switched its slogan to "The Valley's #1 Hit Music Station," a slogan that KKFR would also adopt the following December, giving the Phoenix area two radio stations with the same format and slogan. Since then KKFR has dropped that slogan.
As of 2010, KZON has expanded its focus to include Dance and Pop tracks, while at the same time has managed to overtake KZZP and KKFR in the Arbitron PPMs.
Live 101-5 (2013–present)
In 2013, KZON dropped the "Jamz" portion of its moniker and went under the brand "101-5". That September, 2 websites were registered that show that it will possibly rebrand in the future to Live 101-5. They were registered using both the acronym for Phoenix, "PHX", and "Phoenix". On the 6th of that month, the station rebranded as "Live 101-5", and shifted its playlist to more mainstream material, but would later scale back on the Pop/Rock product and focus more on the Rhythmic Pop/Dance hits. KZON reports to Mediabase as a Top 40/CHR reporter, but continued to report to BDS as a Rhythmic reporter until March 2015, putting the station in line with CBS Radio's Top 40/CHR presentation, which emphasizes current Rhythmic Pop and Dance product.
- http://www.azcentral.com/ent/tv/articles/0622radio0622.html All Paris, all the time
- bringbacktom.com, accessed 7/11/07
- MySpace page of "savetomphoenix", accessed 7/11/07
- 101.5 Free FM website, accessed 7/11/07
- From The Arizona Republic (June 22, 2007)
- "Phoenix Vet Bruce St. James To PD Post At KZON & KMLE" from All Access (January 5, 2010)
- Phoenix ratings from Radio-Info
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KZON
- Radio-Locator information on KZON
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KZON
- Announcement of changeover to Free FM