106.1 Kiss-FM Seattle Relaunches Dead Serious About Finding New Morning Host

106.1 Kiss-FM KBKS Seattle Bender Carla Marie Anthony Power 93.3 KUBEUpdate 10/31: After a week of stunting, iHeartMedia CHR “106.1 Kiss-FM” KBKS Tacoma/Seattle relaunched following a statement from iHeartMedia Pacific Northwest Region President Robert Dove.

Dove’s statement exaggerated a claim that the station was in the process of changing formats but due to the calls and messages from listeners they have decided to instead place the entire station “Under Construction” to make it a “much better station” taking shots at the Brooke & Jubal show on Hubbard’s “Movin 92.5” KQMV with their “fake callers” and actors while wanting a station “that is real, connected to the community, positive, and proud to live in Seattle”. To do so they are “DEAD SERIOUS” about finding “Seattle’s Funniest Person” to host mornings and giving away $10,000 to a listener who recommends someone.

No word on the status of the rest of the airstaff, all of whom have been deleted from the KBKS website. Looking at the contest rules attached to the promotion, the station will hold multiple evaluation periods with seven finalists auditioning in early January 2019. The rules include nearly a page of what can and cannot be included in the submission.

KBKS dropped from a 3.2 to a 2.2 share in the October Nielsen Audio ratings released yesterday. Hubbard’s KQMV rose 5.8 to 6.8 to retake top spot in market.

Former morning host Bender Cunningham made the following comment regarding his exit on Monday:

Update 10/29: The “Kiss Is Dead” stunting continued all weekend and into today. The station is now telling listeners to “Listen Wednesday at 4pm” upon which time we will see the end result of the stunting.

Update 10/25: The stunting at KBKS has taken on a more “sinister” tone this morning.

The station continues to run jockless but all the music includes segments where the pitch changes and a demonic voice saying “KISS IS DEAD“. With Halloween less then a week away it appears that the stunting is leading towards a payoff connected to the holiday.

iHeartMedia has confirmed that morning host Bender Cunningham has exited. Bender joined KBKS in 2000 from “Mix 103.7” WMXB Richmond VA where he served as PD/Morning co-host. He has also worked at “B94” WBZZ and “96.1 The River” WDRV Pittsburgh, “Z100” KKRZ Portland and WHTZ New York.

Original Report 10/24: iHeartMedia CHR “106.1 Kiss-FM” KBKS Tacoma/Seattle is currently running jockless stunting with sweepers such as “All great things must come to an end, Seattle thank you,” “No matter what happens, we just want to say thank you” and “Anyone else notice it’s a bit quiet around here today? Where’d everybody go?” between songs.

Morning hosts Bender Cunningham and Molly Mesnick have been wiped from the station’s website while the rest remain. Cunningham had been in mornings at the station since 2000 with Mesnick joining in 2014.

KBKS returned to CHR from Hot AC in May following the relaunch of Rhythmic CHR 93.3 KUBE. The station registered a 3.2 share in the September 2018 Nielsen Audio ratings up from a 2.6 in August, but it still trailed Hubbard’s “Movin 92.5” KQMV’s 5.8 share by a wide margin.

20 Comments
  1. Nathan Obral says


    Heh, the website has been replaced with a splash page with the logo altered to read “106.1 KISSIS DEAD”

    Definitely one of the more unique stunts I’ve seen in a long while.

    1. Eric Jon Magnuson says


      And now, there’s an official hashtag (#KISSFMisDEAD).

    2. Eric Jon Magnuson says


      At least the Twitter and Facebook accounts aren’t dead (yet): They’re now promoting a live video stream that apparently just started.

      1. Nathan Obral says


        They are now. And that live stream focused on a tombstone stating “KISS IS DEAD – 1998-2018”, is surrounded by votive candles.

        1. ksradiogeek says


          *1996

  2. Rob Zerwekh says


    Years ago KMXV in K.C. stunted with “Mix is dead” for a weekend, and come Monday morning, at the appropriate time, it turned to “Mix is dead… serious about giving you (money/prize/whatever).”

    1. saladressing says


      Good call. My guess is something like this is exactly what will be the end result of this stunting.

    2. saladressing says


      as stated before, good call to Rob Z.

      a giveaway was they were still promoting the kiss brand in the stunt.

      would never have been done if a flip was imminent.

      hopefully radio can come up with more exciting ways to be relevant as time goes on than a fake stunt seen a mile away that scares and drives away current listeners.

      radio is not “must listen” programming across the board. the last time it was was possibly during the radio dramas and soap operas of the 1940s so obviously no one should hold their breath.

      at the very very least, “tonight at 6 (insert local popular musician here) is going to exclusively release their latest single, only for us. don’t miss it!”

      yet it’s just a jukebox, city after city and has been for around 20 years. o well.

    3. Nathan Obral says


      Rob, you deserve a reward of some sort for how much you nailed this.

    4. Rob Zerwekh says


      Too bad I couldn’t be as prescient with lottery numbers.

  3. leximomo says


    Do you have a link for iHeart’s confirmation? Didn’t see it in their press area of their website.

    1. Lance Venta says


      iHeartMedia nor most companies do not put local station staffing announcements (especially departures) on their public websites.

  4. radiodude says


    I find this to be a pretty unique stunt. I’ve been listening to the station today, and I’ve noticed that the messing with the songs seems to get worse as time goes on. This morning every song would just have “kiss is dead” inserted, but now there are a lot of changes to the songs.

  5. radiodude says


    Well that was underwhelming. Not to mention very unprofessional. Not only did they not allow the talent to say goodbye, they alienated their audience in the process by making the station unbearable to the average listener for a week. Unbelievable.

  6. Mark says


    Why didn’t they come right out and say “Brooke and Jubal,” especially since they are one of the suggested topics for the video submissions in the contest? Considering that 25 years ago, iHeart’s predecessor blew up the Tampa market with the “Power Pigging” of Q105, why don’t they just come out and say “Brooke and Jubal suck?”

    1. Nathan Obral says


      That’s because Randy Micheals hasn’t been with the company for 15 years now. The “[competitor] sucks” sweepers only truly worked AT the Power Pig in 1990. When he tried the same thing a year later in Chicago at “Hell 94.7,” that was a totally different story and one of radio’s more notorious failures.

  7. Eric Jon Magnuson says


    A couple of hours ago (but a few hours after today’s announcement), the station both tweeted and posted on Facebook that Molly Mesnick remains–although there’s been no specific word (as far as I can tell) about anyone else.

    1. Eric Jon Magnuson says


      It looks like the station has since deleted both the tweet and the post (plus maybe some others from yesterday–although, again, I didn’t see anything else about airstaff). Even worse, I’m pretty sure that she retweeted the station’s (since-deleted) tweet.

  8. Eric Jon Magnuson says


    According to a Seattle Times story from Friday (via Tom Benson), Molly Mesnick will indeed stay–but move to middays…

    https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/music/106-1-kiss-fm-flirts-with-format-change-bender-cunningham-out-amid-shake-up

  9. Eric Jon Magnuson says


    Both AllAccess and RAMP report now that there’s just a rearranging of airstaff–with the new morning show being Carla Marie and Anthony. As for the contest, it’s apparently just to select a new sidekick/secondary host for mornings.

    I can’t believe that iHeart went through all of this effort with the stunting to essentially just launch a new morning show with in-house talent.

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