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Fresh Listen: WXSS (Kiss 103.7) Milwaukee


103.7 Kiss-FM WXSS MilwaukeeIt would have been very easy for “103.7 Kiss-FM” WXSS Milwaukee to lose its distinctiveness. One of the flag-bearers of CHR’s mid-to-late-‘90s comeback, under programmer Brian Kelly, Kiss developed a template over the years of being fast on actual Urban crossovers, not just rhythmic pop. Kiss also aggressively found its own hits, something Kelly had done since the ‘80s at WLS-FM/WYTZ (Z95) Chicago.

In 2010, iHeart Radio’s “Now 97.3” WRNW came to town offering a more “by the book” version of Mainstream CHR, at a time when the format was becoming more pop and less R&B influenced. Two years later, Saga’s “Energy 106.9” WNRG launched, making CHR a three-way war-of-attrition for the next six years. 

But last November, WRNW switched to all-sports on FM. Last night, as I drove home, Kiss 103.7 was playing “Makeba” by Jain, the three-year old French record now being featured in a Levis commercial, and currently getting about two spins a day on Kiss. It made the drive home sound great.

I always write about bold musical choices cautiously, lest anybody interpret them as a bug, not a feature. “Makeba” may well be just one more secret weapon that Kelly, now VP/OM and Entercom’s CHR format captain, plays around with for a while, but it’s fun, it’s tempo, and PDs would do well to at least hear it as summer approaches. 

There’s a lot of what is typical of today’s CHR music on Kiss, where you can definitely hear Post Malone, “Wow” into Halsey, “Without Me.” But as with KQMV (Movin’ 92.5) Seattle, Kiss is a station that both defines and embellishes the format model. Both the available CHR product and broadcast radio’s music discovery competitors demand more enterprise from PDs. Kiss has always shown more enterprise than most in both its currents and gold.

Kiss got a 4.2-4.6 bump in the holiday period PPM after Radio Now went away. It was off 4.6-4.5 in January. But in February and March, the station is up 4.5-5.4-6.3. And if you remember previous CHR doldrums, there’s absolutely no promise that the shares of a now departed rival will return to you. CHR success stories deserve your attention these days. So it’s time for a “Fresh Listen.”

Here’s Kiss 103.7 in the 9 p.m. hour on Monday, April 22. The hour led off with the two “Kiss Kombat” songs from BTS and Lil Dicky.

  • BTS f/Halsey, “Boy With Luv”
  • Lil Dicky, “Earth”
  • Marshmello & Anne-Marie, “Friends”
  • Jonas Brothers, “Cool” (with a new music stager at the beginning of a sweep)
  • Mark Ronson f/Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
  • Post Malone, “Wow”
  • Halsey, “Without Me”
  • J. Balvin f/Willy William, “Mi Gente”
  • Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
  • Post Malone, “Psycho”
  • Khalid, “Talk”
  • Disclosure f/Sam Smith, “Latch”
  • Lizzo, “Juice”
  • Flo Rida, “My House”
  • Ava Max, “Sweet But Psycho”

Here’s Kiss from 10:45 a.m., on Tuesday, April 23, at the beginning of a sweep:

  • Travis Scott, “Sicko Mode”
  • Jonas Brothers, “Sucker”
  • Calvin Harris, “This Is What You Came For”
  • J. Cole, “Work Out”
  • Dean Lewis, “Be Alright”
  • Drake, “God’s Plan”
  • Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid, “Eastside”
  • Ariana Grande, “Break Up With Your Girlfriend (I’m Bored)”
  • Camila Cabello, “Havana”
  • Sam Smith & Normani, “Dancing With A Stranger”
  • Ellie Goulding, “Love Me Like You Do”
  • Post Malone, “Wow”
  • Khalid x Normani, “Love Lies”
  • Ariana Grande, “7 Rings”
  • Rihanna, “Umbrella”
  • Chainsmokers f/5 Seconds Of Summer, “Who Do You Love”
  • Sean Kingston f/Nicki Minaj, “Letting Go (Dutty Love)”
  • Halsey, “Without Me”
  • NF, “Let You Down”
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