|City||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Slogan||Charlotte's #1 Hit Music Station|
|First air date||1962 (as WIST-FM)|
|Format||Top 40 (CHR)
HD2: CHR (Radio Disney)
|Callsign meaning||We Are North Carolina's KiSs!
What's Up North Karolina?! (play on the word "Carolina")
|Former callsigns||WIST-FM (1962-1972)
|Owner||Beasley Broadcast Group
(Beasley Media Group, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBAV, WBCN, WKQC, WPEG, WSOC-FM|
WNKS, known on the air as Kiss 95.1, is a 100,000 watt radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. It broadcasts at 95.1 MHz, and serves the Charlotte metropolitan area. On air programming consists of mainstream top 40 (CHR) music. The station is owned by Beasley Broadcast Group. The studios are located on South Boulevard in Charlotte's South End, while their transmitter is located in Dallas, North Carolina.
95.1 signed on in 1962 as WIST-FM with a beautiful music format, and was co-owned with WIST (AM 1240). In just a few years, WIST-FM flipped to oldies, one of the first ever in the format. SIS Radio, owners of 61 Big WAYS (610 AM), bought WIST-FM in 1972. That year, WIST-FM changed to progressive rock with the new letters WRNA, eventually becoming WROQ, and went by the moniker "95Q". Among the WROQ/WAYS DJs to become major celebrities were Robert Murphy (who went to greater fame in Chicago), and actor Jay Thomas, who went to KPWR in Los Angeles as the official host of "The Power 106 Morning Zoo". Larry Sprinkle, a WCNC-TV morning weather personality, also worked at the stations. The stations would simulcast in morning drive, while running separate programming the rest of the day. The progressive rock format would evolve into album-oriented rock in the early 1980s.
First Top 40 era
With album rock declining in popularity, WROQ became a CHR station called "The New 95Q" in September 1984. By the late 1980s, WROQ evolved into a Rock-leaning Top 40 format, better known as "Rock 40". Its AM sister station would simulcast WROQ full-time during this time period, though it would break from the simulcast in 1986 to flip to oldies. Also in 1986, SIS Radio would sell the two stations to CRB Broadcasting, who would then sell the stations again, first to Adams Radio in 1988, then to Tenore Broadcasting the following year.
On January 19, 1990, at 3 PM, after stunting with a 19-hour loop of "Shock the Monkey" by Peter Gabriel (which even prompted a call to local police services, thinking the station was being taken hostage), the station returned to CHR as WZZG, "Gorilla Radio, The New Z95.1 FM", which was partially inspired by the success of "Pirate Radio" in Los Angeles. By the end of the station's run, the station had a dayparted format of Top 40 during the day and more heavy metal in the evenings. In addition, the station would drop the "Gorilla Radio" portion of the moniker to just be named "Z95.1".
Flip to oldies; second Top 40 era
The return to CHR didn't last long; Adams Radio would buy the station back in late 1990. On December 26 of that year, after playing "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, WZZG became WGKL-FM, "Kool 95.1", an oldies format emphasizing 50s music more than Magic 96.1, utilizing Satellite Music Network's "Pure Gold" format. The flip occurred because of a company-wide initiative where most of Adams' stations flipped to the format. This format, however, would last just a short time. After a few months, the station added a local airstaff, but by the station's end, the entire staff was let go and the station went completely automated again. The flip to oldies would also bankrupt the entire company, resulting in their stations being placed in receivership and being sold off one by one.
On October 3, 1991, WGKL began an 11-day stunt with a different format each day, using other formats from Satellite Music Networks (including Real Country, Stardust, Z-Rock, and Starstation), a simulcast of WCNT, all comedy, and Hot AC, with listeners being allowed to vote on the new format. However, at Noon on October 14, the announced result was "None of the above." The station then returned to CHR as WAQQ, "95 Double Q", which started with a "25,000 Songs in a Row, Commercial Free" promotion, beginning with "Groovy Train" by The Farm. The "Double Q" moniker was meant to remind listeners of WROQ (whose call letters were transferred to WCKN in Anderson, South Carolina). The "Double Q" format was more of a mix of Top 40 and alternative rock music, which was starting to become popular during this time. In March 1993, AT&T would acquire the stations temporarily due to Adams' bankruptcy while a permanent owner was being sought. Pyramid Broadcasting, then-owners of WRFX, would buy the stations in September.
On January 15, 1994, after a brief stunt with a 10 kHz tone, the station rebranded as "95.1 The Edge", with new WEDJ call letters implemented on February 14. The station was initially a broad-based mainstream Top 40, which shifted towards a modern rock lean by the Summer of 1995. However, this backfired, as competition from WEND (which aired a straightforward modern rock format) forced WEDJ to shift back to a mainstream direction by January 1996. In July 1995, Pyramid would merge with Evergreen Media (its AM sister station, by then WAQS, would be sold to SFX Broadcasting).
On May 31, 1996, after a brief stunt, WEDJ relaunched as "Kiss 95.1", becoming the second station in Charlotte to use the "Kiss" moniker, the first being WCKZ, which is now current sister WBAV. The first song on the relaunched "Kiss" was "I Go Blind" by Hootie & the Blowfish.  The following day, WEDJ changed call letters to the current WNKS to match the "Kiss" moniker. In December 1996, WNKS (as well as Evergreen's 4 other Charlotte stations) was traded to EZ Communications (owners of WSOC-FM and WSSS; WRFX-FM would go to SFX Broadcasting), with Evergreen receiving EZ Communications' Philadelphia stations WIOQ and WUSL in return (EZ would then be bought by American Radio Systems in July, which would reunite WNKS with its long-time AM sister station (by this point WRFX-AM, now WFNZ; WFNZ would be sold to Entercom in November 2016). ARS would be bought out by Infinity Broadcasting on September 19, 1997, with Infinity changing its name to CBS Radio in December 2005 as part of the spin-off of CBS' motion picture and cable television assets under a relaunched Viacom.
WNKS formerly served as the flagship for the syndicated Ace & TJ Show, which ran on the station from its debut on April 6, 1998 until May 20, 2011, when the duo left due to a contract dispute (they are currently at WHQC). They were replaced by afternoon host Otis. In March 2012, Otis moved back to afternoons, and Drex & Maney, formerly of WHBQ-FM in Memphis, officially took over morning drive. Cassiday Proctor would join a month later from KAMX in Austin. On January 5, 2015, Drex and Cassiday announced they would be leaving the station for a morning show position at WSTR in Atlanta. Maney remained at WNKS, and was joined by new co-hosts LauRen (formerly of WZGV) and Roy (formerly of WXLK) the following month.
On October 2, 2014, CBS Radio announced that it would trade all of their Tampa and Charlotte stations (including WNKS), as well as WIP in Philadelphia to the Beasley Broadcast Group in exchange for 5 stations located in Miami and Philadelphia. The swap was completed on December 1, 2014.
The Kiss logo
WNKS uses the same logo as WXKS-FM ("Kiss 108"), a Top-40 station owned by iHeartMedia and based in Boston, Massachusetts. This dates back to when both stations were owned by Pyramid Broadcasting, and later Evergreen Media.
- http://www.thatwasradio.com/ways.html, Retrieved on February 28, 2008.
- Jeff Borden, "Disc Jockeys to Reunite Here," The Charlotte Observer, October 7, 1988.
- Jeff Borden, "Country WSOC's Lead Grows," The Charlotte Observer, January 28, 1989, p. 7B.
- "WROQ and WAES Stations Sold to Adam Communications", The Charlotte Observer, July 16, 1988.
- "New Owner Runs Tight Ship at WROQ, WAES Radio", The Charlotte Observer, March 29, 1989.
- Tim Funk, "WROQ Monkeys With Its Format", The Charlotte Observer, January 20, 1990.
- Joseph Menn, WGKL-FM Altering Format Again As Adams President Fires All But 2", The Charlotte Observer, August 21, 1991.
- Tim Funk, "What's WGKL Airing Next Week? Charlotte Radio Shuffle," The Charlotte Observer, September 28, 1991.
- http://www.thatwasradio.com/wroq.html, Retrieved on February 28, 2008.
- CBS And Beasley Swap Philadelphia/Miami For Charlotte/Tampa from Radio Insight (October 2, 2014)
- Venta, Lance (December 1, 2014). "CBS Beasley Deal Closes". RadioInsight. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
- Kiss 95.1 Website
- History of the station
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WNKS
- Radio-Locator information on WNKS
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WNKS