Infobox Radio station
name = WRKS

city = New York City
area = New York City area
branding = 98.7 Kiss FM
slogan = "The Best Variety of Old School and Today's R&B"
airdate = 1948
frequency = 98.7 FM (MHz) HD Radio
98.7-2 FM urban gospel (HD Radio)
format = Commercial; Urban Adult Contemporary
power =
erp = 6,000 watts
haat = 415 meters
class = B
facility_id = 63781
callsign_meaning = We aRe KisS
W Rko (former owner)
NeW YoRk's KisS
WoR (former sister station) KisS
W RKO Station
former_callsigns =
owner = Emmis Communications
licensee = Emmis License Corporation of New York
webcast =
sister_stations = WRXP, WQHT
website = [http://www.987kissfm.com/ www.987kissfm.com]
affiliations =
coordinates = coord|40|44|54.00|N| 73|59|10.00|W|region:US_type:city

WRKS (98.7 MHz), better known as "98.7 Kiss FM", is an Urban Adult Contemporary radio station in New York City, owned by Emmis Communications. One of the highest-rated stations in the city, WRKS shares studio facilities with sister stations WQHT (97.1 MHz) and WRXP (101.9 MHz) in New York's West Village neighborhood, and its broadcast transmitter is atop the Empire State Building. An Urban-formatted station since 1981, WRKS is one of the top-rated Urban stations in the United States.


98.7 FM in New York City began as WOR-FM in 1948 and was owned by the Bamberger Broadcasting Service, which was a division of R.H. Macy and Company. Like most early FM stations, WOR-FM initially simulcasted sister station WOR-AM (710 kHz.). Macy's/Bamberger sold the WOR stations (who launched a television station in October 1949) to the General Tire and Rubber Company in 1952. General Tire reorganized its broadcasting division into RKO General in 1957.

In 1965 the Federal Communications Commission ordered AM stations in large markets to end continuous simulcasting on co-owned FM frequencies, a move made to spark development of FM stations as individuals. On July 30, 1966 WOR-FM began running a freeform-based progressive rock format for most of its broadcast day, though the station continued to simulcast WOR-AM's "Rambling with Gambling" morning show for sometime afterwards. Under the leadership of legendary disc jockey Murray "the K" Kaufman, and featuring other notable disc jockeys such as Scott Muni and Rosko, the freeform format was the first of its kind in New York City radio.However, this programming quickly evolved into an Adult Top 40 format by the end of 1967, and Muni and Rosko departed for WNEW-FM where the progressive format would become a huge success.

Initially, the Top 40-formatted WOR-FM played new songs but in less of a rotation than WABC, which was then New York's big Top 40 station. WOR-FM played more oldies from the 1950s and early '60s than its competitors. Some of their early personalities included Bill Brown (who left for WCBS-FM in 1969), Joe McCoy (who would eventually run WCBS-FM for 23 years), Johnny Donovan (who would go to WABC in 1972), Tommy Edwards, Al Brady (who would program WABC in 1979) among others. As time progressed, WOR-FM played too many oldies to justify being called a Top 40 station. By 1972 the station eliminated 1950s and early 60s music almost completely, and by 1973 they focused on a playlist spanning 1964 to the then-present.


On October 23, 1972, they changed call letters to WXLO and starting in early 1974 became known as "99X." Still they were considered Adult Top 40 sort of similar to what WNBC evolved to. They held on to this Adult Top 40 format and "99X" name until 1980. At that point, they became "FM 99". This iteration had decent ratings for a while, but by 1980, they had fairly low ratings. They phased out the Top 40 format, and brought in new Program Director Don Kelly from successful sister soft adult contemporary WFYR in Chicago in an attempt to duplicate that format's success on WXLO. The station at first attempted a call letter change back to WOR-FM, but an FCC challenge from competing crosstown WRFM (now WWPR-FM) prevented the call letter change from happening. Still, Kelly attempted to make the station the same soft adult contemporary format he had in Chicago. These changes did not gain any new listeners for WXLO, and ratings sank lower. Later, Kelly adjusted the music and very slowly and gradually began mixing more disco and soul into the format. In the Fall of 1980.Kelly, in counseltation with RKO General, who owned the station, decided to target WBLS-FM's urban audience by bringing in new music director Barry Mayo. Mayo shortly before arrving suggested a new format for the station to Kelly and then-general manager Lee S. Simonson after he had a surprising lambasting from his idol Frankie Crocker (who would later become his rival). Mayo would later become Program Director when Kelly left to start his own consultancy.

By May 1981, WXLO was nearly all rhythmic, playing almost all disco, soul, and rhythmic-friendly pop. almost all the rock and AC crossovers were gone. By today's standards, this station would be called "Rhythmic CHR", but that term did not exist back in 1981. Therefore, the station was classified as "Urban Contemporary" (which today would be considered as a strictly R&B-type format whether Rap or Soul).

WXLO once held an all-Elton John weekend. Listeners had to count how many Elton songs were played and win his "Greatest Hits Vol. 1" album. Another weekend they held a "No Bee Gees" weekend, where they asked their listeners to request Bee Gee songs that they didn't want played. "I'll be sure to not get that on the air for you" a DJ said on that weekend.

The WXLO call sign now belongs to a station in Worcester, Massachusetts, chosen in tribute by station management.


In June 1981, the station was known on-air as "FM 99 WXLO making its move to 98.7". By the end of the month, the station's call letters changed to WRKS-FM (the meaning of which originally referred to its being an RKO Station) and the station was called "98.7 Kiss FM", as the station's transition to this new urban contemporary format was completed by that August. Early on, Kiss-FM played a great deal of R&B and dance music, and was rated top-five in the early 1980s, at one point moving from 22nd place to third. Notable "Kiss FM Mixmasters" at the time were Shep Pettibone and the Latin Rascals, who relied heavily on freestyle music. Longtime urban contemporary leader WBLS expressed concern over the new station, which represented its first competition in that format.Around mid-1983, Kiss-FM approached Afrika Bambaataa about an underground rap music show. He liked the idea and appointed DJ Jazzy Jay, a fellow member of Zulu Nation. He then passed the gig on to his cousin, DJ Red Alert. In Fall 1983, Kiss FM became the first station in the United States to play rap regularly. Also in 1983, non-R&B dance music and disco were phased out, as the station played strictly music catering only to an African-American audience. WBLS responded by hiring Mr. Magic to conduct a weekend rap show, which helped WBLS reach number-three in the ratings that year, beating out Kiss FM.

By 1984, the station had promoted Barry Mayo as the first black general manager in the RKO radio chain. Kiss would incorporate rap artists such as Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, the Fat Boys, Newcleus, and LL Cool J into the same rotation as such established acts as Ashford & Simpson, Kool and the Gang, and Gladys Knight. In 1986, Emmis Broadcasting launched WQHT-FM, which had a huge emphasis on dance music. Kiss FM and rival WBLS then each added more dance music to their playlists. In 1988, Mayo left to organize a new broadcasting company with Lee S. Simonson and Bill Pearson, and RKO appointed Charles Warfield (former general manager of WBLS) as the new general manager of Kiss FM. During his tenure, the station reached first place for six years.

RKO General owned three stations in New York that would be sold to different companies. In 1987, WOR-TV would be sold to MCA (and renamed WWOR-TV). On June 26, 1989, RKO sold Kiss FM to the Summit Communications Group of Atlanta. Around the same time as Kiss FM's sale, WOR was sold to Buckley Broadcasting. Several radio stations began to use the moniker "Kiss FM" name as well as the format. For years Kiss FM was number one on the Arbitron ratings due to its hip hop-influenced format. In 1990, WBLS lured on-air personality Mike Love (formerly of the original "Kiss Wake-Up Club") to their morning drive time. Kiss immediately formulated a new morning show featuring Ken Webb and Jeff Foxx along with then-unknown Wendy Williams. The show became a hit.

In 1994, WQHT-FM ("Hot 97") changed formats from dance music to strictly rap, thus competing directly with Kiss FM. The station responded by adding "Mixmaster" shows, producing remixes unheard on other urban stations and formulating a new morning show featuring Wendy Williams. Emmis Broadcasting, which owned Hot 97 agreed to purchase Kiss FM from Summit in December 1994, forming the market's first FM duopoly. Notable DJ's such as Wendy Williams (now on WBLS) and Red Alert (previously returned to Kiss and now heard on WWPR-FM) moved from Kiss FM to Hot 97, which continued with its new format; Kiss stopped playing rap and focused on an Urban Adult Contemporary (Urban AC) format using the slogan "Smooth R&B and Classic Soul".

In 1999, Kiss FM switched from a classic soul-music format to current R&B. That same year Frankie Crocker (formerly of rival station WBLS) was hired as an announcer and a weekend DJ. The station slowly began to reintroduce rap back on its playlists in 2000. When WWPR-FM was launched in March 2002 the station slightly switched back to classic soul. In 2003 Barry Mayo briefly returned as general manager for Kiss FM, Hot 97 and WQCD-FM.

As of 2007, Kiss focused on being an Adult Urban Contemporary radio station with a primary focus on AFRICAN-AMERICANS between the ages of 25 & 54, thus competing directly with WBLS. DJ RED ALERT and CHUCK CHILLOUT are now back on 98.7 KISS fm doing weekend mixshows.

Notable station radio personalities

*Mike Wade (1981-1984)
*Mary Thomas (1981-1984)
*Lynda Moore (1981-1985)
*Charile Burger (1981-1986)
*Michael Lysak (1982-1987)
*Jim Mulvey (1980-1982)
*Yvonne Mobley (1981-1990)
*Bob Slade (1972-present)
*Jeff Troy (1981)
*Barry Mayo (1981)
*Jose Guzman (1981-1984)
*Shep Pettibone (Mastermixer) (1981-1984)
*Charlie Steiner (1981-1986)
*Tony Humphries (Mastermixer) (1981-1991)
*Fred "Bugsy" Buggs (1982-1983; 1986-1988; 2000 - present)
*Wanda Ramos (1982-1984)
*Sonny Taylor (1982-1984)
*DJ Red Alert (1982-1994, 2000-2002)
*Ken Webb (1983-1986, 1989-1994)
*Milta McLean-Dennis (1986-1994)
*Freddie Rodriguez (1984-1987)
*Maxine Rosenberg (1985-1989)
*Wayne Simms (1986-1990)
*G. Keith Alexander (1985-1989)
*Johnnie Allen (1985-2000)
*Carol Ford (1985-1996)
*Jonathan Taylor aka "J.T. Wellington III" (1985-1988)
*Rob Crocker (1986)
*John Madden (1986)
*Roshaan Vance aka the Ugly DJ (1986-1987)
*Warren Dean (1986-1988)
*John Robinson (Mastermixer) (1986-1988)
*B.J. Steele (1987)
*Mike Love (1987-1988)
*DJ Sting International (Mastermixer) (1987-1991)
*Joe Bragg (1987-1995)
*Jeff Foxx (1987-1996, 1998; 2002 - present)
*Chuck Chillout (Mastermixer) (1987-2002) 2007 - present)
*Ann Tripp (1987-2001)
*Bobby Gailes (1987-present)
*Jonny Meadow (1988-present)
*Jerhi Young (1988-1991)
*Andre Wilkins (1986-1987
*Vinnie Brown (1988-1997)
*Jay "Mixin" Dixon (MasterMixers) (1988-2000)
*Rollye James (1989-1996)
*Lauren Nicole (1989-1990)
*Prince Kalunda (Reggae Show) (1989-1994)
*Dahved Levy (Reggae Show) (1989-1994)
*Prince Messiah (Mastermixer) (1989-1994)
*Darryl James (MasterMixer) (1990-1994; 1998-present)
*"Miss Thang" Diana King (1990-present)
*Wendy Williams (1989-1994)
*Sean Cort (1989-1998)
*Michael Cottman (1991-1997)
*BJ Stone (1993-2000)
*Shaila (1994- present)
*Deborah Rath (1994-1998)
*Mike Shannon (1994 - present)
*Lenny Green (1995 - present)
*James Mtume (1994-present)
*Fatiyn Muhammad (1994-present)
*Bobby Childs (1994 - present)
*Vy Higgenson (1995-1998)
*Nicole Brown (2001-2005)
*Roberta Flack (1995-1999)
*Ashford & Simpson (1995-1999)
*Bob Pickett (1995-present)
*Isaac Hayes (1996-2001)
*Charles "Cutman" Etheridge (1996-present)
*Tanya Simpson (1998-present)
*Ruben Toro (1999-present)
*Brotha Percy (1993 - 2001)
*Frankie Crocker (1998-2000)
*Mark Jordan (1998-2001)
*Dean Memminger (1992-present)
*Grand Master Flash (Mastermixer) (2001-2003)
*Tom Joyner (2001-2003)
*Paul Porter (2002 - 2004)
*Peter Noel (2001-present)
*Walter Fields (2002-present)
*Talent (2002-present)
*Kesha Monk (2003-2008)
*Michael Baisden (2003-present)
*DJ Chris Love (MasterMixer) (2003-present)
*Reggie Wells (MasterMixer) (2003-present)
*Tommy Allen (MasterMixer)
*Timmy Regisford (MasterMixer)
*Kevin Wilson aka The Captain
*Latin Rascals (Mastermixers)

Kiss FM also carried the Tom Joyner Show briefy from 2001-2003, however it did not garner success and thus was replaced by Jeff Foxx.


*General Manager - Dan Halyburton
*Program Director - Ebro Darden
*Music Director - Julie Gustines
*General Sales Manager - Leon Clark

References and External links

* [http://www.987kissfm.com/ 98.7 Kiss Fm's Official Website]
* [http://www.nyradioguide.com/cgi-bin/info.cgi/WRKS/ New York Radio Guide]
* [http://www.hiphopmusic.com/ Hip Hop Music Site]
* [http://www.emmis.com/ Emmis Communications Official Website]
* [http://www.udel.edu/nero/Radio/readings/urban.html History of Urban Contemporary]

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