The Boston Radio Dial: WXKS-FM

Who, What, Where

Community: Medford
Frequency: 107.9 MHz
Class: B
Ownership: AMFM Radio Licenses, LLC
(Clear Channel Communications)
Studio: 99 Revere Beach Parkway
Medford, MA 02155-5124
Main transmitter: Prudential Tower
800 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02199
Backup transmitter: ATC Newton (FM-128)
1165 Chestnut St.
Newton, MA 02464-1308
Phones:
Office +1 781 396 1430
Requests +1 617 931 1108
Format:
MainCHR
HD2New music
Web site: kiss108.com

Technical Parameters

WXKS-FM transmits at 107.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 20.5 kW (analogue) from the Prudential Tower upper master antenna. This antenna, which is shared with WZLX, WBMX, and WMJX, is a six-bay ERI COGWHEEL 1084-6CP, a non-directional, four-around, circularly-polarized panel antenna system; its center of radiation is 235 meters (771 feet) above average terrain (258 m above sea level). A two-bay shared backup antenna is located elsewhere on the Prudential Tower roof, at 218 m above average terrain; WXKS-FM is licensed for 1 kW ERP when using the backup.

WXKS-FM is also licensed for a 1.9-kW backup at the American Tower Newton (“FM-128”) facility, where it shares a master antenna system with WBMX, sister station WJMN, and WKLB-FM, plus backups for WBOS, WTKK, WROR-FM, and WMJX.

WXKS-FM transmits a digital signal using iBiquity Digital Corp.'s “HD Radio” system.

Station History

WHIL-FM 107.9 signed on for the first time on September 1, 1960, as the sister station of Medford daytimer WHIL 1430. For its first 19 years, this small station languished at the bottom of the ratings, playing automated beautiful music over a relatively weak (50 kW at 97 feet AAT) signal from the top of the WHIL(AM) tower in a swamp near Wellington Circle, Medford. During the mid-70s, 107.9 changed calls to WWEL-FM, and moved its transmitter to the current site atop the Pru, but remained mired at the bottom of the ratings.

That all changed in 1979, when Rich Balsbaugh and several partners purchased WWEL. The station was reborn with a disco format as WXKS-FM, “Kiss 108”, and within one ratings period shot from nowhere to first place.

The 1980s saw Kiss 108 drop disco, moving towards a straightforward CHR format, anchored by Boston radio veterans such as J.J. Wright and Dale Dorman from the old WRKO, “Sunny Joe” White, and newcomers such as morning host Matt Siegel and sidekick Mat Schaeffer. Kiss-108 remained at the top of the ratings, fighting off competition from such stations as WHTT 103.3 and WZOU 94.5.

Kiss 108 became famous for its annual “Kiss Concerts”, held each spring at the Great Woods amphitheater (now the Tweeter Center) in Mansfield, Mass. Each year, Balsbaugh would try to outdo the previous year's show by packing in more and bigger stars for a day-long show.

WXKS-FM absorbed its biggest competitor, “Jam'n 94.5”, when Balsbaugh's Pyramid Broadcasting purchased WJMN from Ardman in 1994. In June 1995, though, WXKS-FM was itself on the block, as Balsbaugh sold his Boston stations to Dallas-based Evergreen Media. In 1997, Evergreen merged with Chancellor Broadcasting to form Chancellor Media. Chancellor merged with Capstar in 1999 to become AMFM, which then merged with Clear Channel Communications in 2000.

While morning man Siegel remained a “Kiss 108” fixture, celebrating his 25th anniversary with the station in 2006, the rest of the station's airstaff changed dramatically around the turn of the century. Wright departed in 1998 for WROR-FM and then overnights on WODS; Dorman's contract was not renewed in 2003, and he eventually took over mornings on WODS; midday host Ed McMann departed in 2004, though he remained with Clear Channel at WWBB (101.5 Providence) and as a voicetracked jock in other markets. In their places came younger jocks such as Romeo and Jackson Blue. By 2006, out-of-market voicetracking arrived in middays at Kiss 108, with Shelly Wade of New York's Z100 (WHTZ 100.3 Newark, N.J.).

WXKS-FM added an HD2 subchannel in 2006, programming “New! CHR” with a focus on developing artists.

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This station profile was written by the editors of The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. We have no relationship with the station; please send any comments or questions about their programming directly to the station. Network connectivity courtesy of MIT CSAIL.

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