The merge between WBLS-FM 107.65 and Kiss 98.7FM officially happened last night at midnight. Last week, word came about that Ennis Communications (which owned Kiss) agreed to lease out its frequency to Disney (who owns ESPN Radio) for a little short of $100M.
It’s an incredible lost to the black music market, as it’s been a staple station for the past 30 years in the NYC area. 98.7 Kiss FM was launched in 1981 and made its staple in the urban sonic landscape with R&B and dance music. In 1983, the radio station approached Afrikaa Bambaataa about an underground rap radio show, and he suggested that fellow Zulu Nation member DJ Jazzy J be the host, however, Jazzy J passed the job onto his cousin DJ Red Alert…and well, listen to lyrics closely and you’ll hear his name sprawled throughout early hip-hop lyrics.
This radio station was the first to make way for hip-hop music. It was the first station to popularize artists like Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, Eric B. & Rakim etc. 98.7 Kiss FM opened up doors for hip-hop culture and continued to do so over the years, proving time and time again that there was an avid market for it for hip-hop culture. Most important, however, was that this radio station provided the first hip-hop format radio show, given hip-hop music an outlet to be played on for mass consumption and giving a platform for a voice in hip-hop.
Check out DJ Red Alert’s final 98.7 Kiss FM mix, otherwise known as his “Thank You” mix. Salute to 30 years of history!