WXKS-FM (107.9 FM), branded as Kiss 108, is commercial FM radio station licensed to serve Medford, Massachusetts and covering Greater Boston. The station is owned by iHeartMedia and broadcasts a Top 40 (CHR) format. The studios are in Medford and the transmitter site sits atop the Prudential Tower in downtown Boston.
Kiss 108 is one of the United States and New England's most prominent top 40 stations, notable primarily for its annual Kiss Concert, which draws some of the best-known names in the pop music business to Mansfield's Xfinity Center concert venue each spring. Morning DJ Matt Siegel has been a fixture on the Boston airwaves since 1981, and was briefly nationally syndicated during the late 1990s. Kiss 108 was also the flagship station for Open House Party Saturday hosted by John Garabedian, broadcasting from his house in suburban Boston, but on March 10, 2007, Kiss 108 dropped Saturday edition Open House Party and began a new show called The Saturday Night Mash-Up, and later, the syndicated Saturday Night Online (now Most Requested Live) hosted by Romeo. The Sunday edition of Open House Party hosted by Kannon was broadcast shortly on Kiss 108, replacing the Saturday night show, until May 2008. Kiss 108 is the Boston affiliate for American Top 40 and the iHeartRadio Countdown.
HistoryThe station first went on the air September 1, 1960 as WHIL-FM, a simulcast of sister station WHIL (now WKOX), and broadcasting its own programming after sunset when WHIL signed-off. For much of the sixties, WHIL and WHIL-FM were country music stations, but in late 1972, both stations switched to beautiful music as WWEL and WWEL-FM ("Well"). The calls refer to Wellington Square in Medford, where the station studios were located.
Despite moving the FM transmitter to the top of the Prudential Tower in 1972, WWEL-FM was not very successful as a beautiful-music format. In 1978, WWEL-FM broadcast the night games of the Boston Red Sox as their flagship station (WITS, now WMEX) delivered a poor night signal in much of Metro Boston. The stations were sold to Heftel Communications, operated by Cecil Heftel, in early 1979. Heftel changed the call letters to WXKS, adopted "Kiss 108" as an identity, and changed to a disco format on February 10, 1979 at midnight. The first song played under this new format was At Midnight by T-Connection . Under Heftel, the station soared to near the top of the Arbitron ratings, and forced WBOS (which had been first in Boston with a 24/7 disco sound and had a short period of huge success with it) out of the format in early 1980.
Sunny Joe White, a young programmer (who had previously programmed WILD in Boston) came aboard at Kiss-108 upon its shift to disco and had much to do with the station's early success.
At the end of 1979, WXKS' AM station dropped disco to adopt an adult standards format, while WXKS-FM slowly evolved into urban contemporary when disco's popularity crashed. By the end of 1981 and into early 1982, the station became a CHR with a heavy Rhythmic R&B/Dance direction under the guidance of White, and in turn became one of the most influential top 40 stations in the nation, in part due to their reputation for breaking songs that did not fit the traditional top 40/CHR model, and given that Boston lacked an urban contemporary FM outlet during this period (since WILD was an AM daytimer), it wasn't afraid to play songs from that genre. The genre would later become the format now known as rhythmic contemporary, which is now the current format of sister station WJMN. By 1988, WXKS-FM began to shift out of the rhythmic direction and evolved into its current successful mainstream top 40/CHR format. On February 9, 1996, sister station WYNY in New York City simulcasted WXKS-FM from 6 AM to 6 PM as part of a week-long stunt of simulcasting sister stations nationwide before flipping formats to rhythmic adult contemporary the following day as WKTU.
On January 27, 2006, WXKS-FM went live with an HD2 digital broadcast referred to by Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia), who by then had acquired the station, as the "Artists' Channel". The broadcast was also available as an Internet radio station. It then went to a "new CHR" format before becoming a simulcast of WXKS in 2010. In August 2012, that station changed formats to all-comedy, with the HD2 channel following suit. When 1200 AM flipped to Bloomberg Radio in February 2013, the all-comedy format was retained on the HD2. However, in December of that year, the HD2 channel flipped to a simulcast of the dance format of sister station WEDX, when WEDX itself changed format on June 13, 2014 and became WBWL, the dance format, branded "Evolution 101.7", remained on the HD2. On December 19, 2017, "Evolution 101.7" was transferred to the HD2 channel of WBWL and WXKS-FM-HD2 began simulcasting WBZ, which iHeartMedia had recently acquired.
From January 14, 2008 to August 2009, WXKS-FM's programming was simulcast on WSKX in York, Maine. After ending the simulcast, WSKX continued to offer a top 40 format until 2012.