KFNQ is a sports radio station based in Seattle, Washington, broadcasting at 1090 kHz. The station is owned by CBS Radio and carries the entire CBS Sports Radio schedule. The station's transmitter is located on Vashon Island and operates from studios in Seattle near Lake Union. KFNQ is a Class B station operating on the clear-channel frequency of 1090 AM.
What is now known as KFNQ began as KVL, then KEVR in 1927. The station is considered the third oldest radio station in Seattle, the first being KJR, which began broadcasting in 1922, and the second being KOMO, which began in 1926.
In 1947, broadcasting pioneer Dorothy Bullitt bought KEVR and almost immediately asked for permission to change the calls to KING (for King County, Washington). After Bullitt bought the calls from a merchant ship, the FCC granted the request a few months later.
Under the Bullitts' watch, the once-small station became a powerhouse in Seattle. KING was known as the "Mighty 10-90," and featured legendary radio personalities such as Frosty Fowler, Ray Court, Mark Wayne, Buzz Lawrence, and late night talk with Irving Clark's "Clark on King." The station was an NBC Radio network affiliate which had many monitor features and local news, often using KING-TV anchors. The format of music was MOR, but also mixed in with jazz, bossa nova and some swing. When compared to KJR, KING had a light-hearted and upbeat direction, an opposition to KJR's hip direction, as well as not being as staid as KIRO (AM). The late '60s personalities defected to KIRO and other markets. Bob and Jim, a duo team was brought in from KREM in Spokane, but by then, personality Larry Nelson on KOMO (AM), and KIRO's news was beginning to gain traction in the market. Later in its life, KING focused on left-leaning political talk during the final years.
During the 1970s, the station flipped to CHR and changed monikers to "Musicradio 11 KING" and competed even more closely with KJR. The line-up at the time included such Seattle radio personalities as Gary Lockwood (who later defected to KJR) and Bruce Murdock, with the Murdock in the Morning show (he would later move to KLSY and is now heard at KKCW in Portland). When KJR unveiled its yellow "Sunshine" window sticker, KING followed with its own red "Sunburst" sticker.
Soft Rock and More
In 1980, KING experienced a major change. As AM music radio lost young listeners to FM, KING gave up on Top 40 and flipped to Soft AC, while retaining the "Musicradio 11 KING" moniker. KING's slogan was "Soft Rock and More". The station's tagline used in advertising was "You grew up with us, now we've grown up for you". This format was parodied on April Fool's Day, 1981 by rock station KISW. Ratings for KING at this time were low.
Talk and Country eras
On October 4, 1982, at 4 AM, KING adopted a news-talk format, primarily with local personalities, and branded simply as "KING NewsTalk 1090". Personalities included Jim Althoff, Carl Dombek, Jeff Ray, Randy Rowland, Mike and Candace Siegel and Pat Cashman. This format produced moderately high ratings, though never as successful as the Top 40 format had been.
On September 2, 1994, at Noon, the station fired all on-air personalities and began carrying AP News' radio service "All News Radio." Shortly after this, the Bullitts sold the station to Bonneville, who would later sell it to EZ Communications in 1995. The long-running KING call letters would be dropped for KINF, then KKNG shortly after, followed by KNWX. The station switched formats (but not call letters) with KULL (who was simulcasting KRPM) and became KRPM-AM, an AM simulcast for KCIN (now KBKS-FM). The simulcast would continue after KCIN's flip to Rhythmic AC in March 1996, as well as their shift to Top 40 (CHR) in May 1997. (EZ would merge with American Radio Systems in July 1997; ARS merged with Infinity Broadcasting in September.) The simulcasting stopped on February 1, 1999, and 1090 flipped to a locally programmed Classic Country station (with a simulcast of KMPS's morning show). 1090 also carried the call letters KMPS, and then KYCW. The station began broadcasting in AM Stereo in March 2001.
Beginning August 4, 2001, the station ran promos promoting a new format that advised listeners to "listen at their own risk". At 5 AM on Monday, August 6, the station flipped to hot talk as "Extreme Radio 1090" featuring Bob Rivers' "Twisted Radio" in mornings (who was also simulcasted on KZOK-FM), Opie & Anthony, Jim Rome, Ron and Fez, Don and Mike, and Phil Hendrie. The station was also a Sporting News Radio affiliate. The station's ratings were abyssmal, usually peaking at a 0.4 share. KYCW would return to classic country at 11 PM on May 19, 2002. The station's second version would include the return of personalites previously heard on the first incarnation of the format, including "Tall" Paul Fredericks from 5-9 AM, Mike Preston from 9-noon, PD Becky Brenner from Noon-3 PM, "Buffalo" Phil Harper from 3-7 PM, and Sheldon Smith from 7-Midnight. The station, however, still had low ratings, usually peaking at a 1.3.
On October 25, 2004, at Midnight, the station flipped to progressive talk and changed call letters to KPTK days later. During its tenure as "Seattle's Progressive Talk," KPTK broadcast syndicated progressive/liberal talk programs hosted by personalities such as Ed Schultz, Mike Malloy, Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Norman Goldman, Rachel Maddow, Stephanie Miller, Leslie Marshall, and Bill Press. KPTK was also the flagship station of Air America Radio's Ron Reagan Show. Beginning in 2011, KPTK became the flagship station of Seattle Storm and Seattle Thunderbirds broadcasts, though it was met with some controversy. The station's weekend programming included a mix of specialty syndicated and local programs, such as "The Ric Edelman Show" (a financial advice show), "Ring of Fire", "Democracy Now", "Swirl Radio" (a show targeting the LGBT community), "Community Matters" with CBS Seattle's director of public affairs and morning traffic reporter Lee Callahan, "Gardening In the Northwest with Scott Conner", "The Tina and Drew Show", and "Crash Talk with Mike Harber".
In July 2012, CBS and Cumulus Media announced a new sports radio network dubbed "CBS Sports Radio". The initial affiliate list that would carry the network's full lineup included most of CBS O&O low-performing AM stations (predominantly talk radio stations), while others would be affiliates and carry certain programs and hourly "CBS Sports Minute" updates. After much speculation, CBS announced on November 14, 2012, that KPTK would flip to the new network on January 2, 2013, branded as "1090 The Fan" (this would be further confirmed by the station changing call letters to KFNQ on the same day). This was met with much controversy on the station's Facebook page, as well as being brought up by several of the station's hosts. To please displaced listeners, Lakewood radio station KLAY (1180 AM) would announce they would carry Ed Schultz' and Stephanie Miller's programs after the station's flip, as well as KBCS (91.3 FM) picking up Thom Hartmann's program.
Since the station's flip to sports, the station aired a local afternoon show hosted by Steve Sandmeyer and Bill Swartz (later replaced by Jason Churchill). However, on July 11, 2015, the show was cancelled, resulting in KFNQ airing the entire CBS Sports Radio program lineup around the clock.