KHFI-FM (known as "96-7 KISS-FM") is an Austin, Texas radio station playing Top 40 (CHR) and licensed to Georgetown, Texas. Owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. (formerly Clear Channel Communications until September 2014), it broadcasts with an ERP of 100,000 Watts from a transmitter site near West Lake Hills, Texas. It shares studios with four other sister stations in the Penn Field complex in the South Congress district (or "SoCo") of south central Austin within walking distance of St. Edward's University; it has broadcast here since 2002 after moving from a downtown Austin office building off of Barton Springs Road.
The 96.7 Frequency
What is now KHFI-FM originally began operation as KGTN-FM on March 1, 1972. KGTN-FM was originally a small low power "rim-shot" station serving only Georgetown, and was the full-time companion to then daytime-only KGTN (now KZNX in Creedmoor). In 1987, the FCC approved a power upgrade to serve all of Austin and a new transmitter site was constructed near Sandy Creek at Lake Travis and the frequency was changed to 96.5 becoming "96.5 The Fox" (KQFX Georgetown). Later, the station changed to an oldies format, moved frequencies back to 96.7 MHz, increased power to 100,000 watts, and moved its tower to its current location near West Lake Hills, Texas.
In September 1990, the struggling "Oldies 96.7" signed off the air to make room for KHFI and its Top 40 format, which was moved from 98.1 FM, then known as the popular "K-98.1." K-98.1 became dislocated when the owners of KVET/KASE took the frequency for KVET-FM, which began simulcasting KVET, which continues today.
The KHFI callsign
KHFI was originally on 98.3 MHz at a much lower power. 98.3 KHFI was, in fact, the very first FM station licensed to Austin in 1956 and was a classical-music station taking advantage of the new hi-fi technology called FM radio, hence the KHFI callsign. A decade later, KHFI-FM began its long and well known existence as a CHR/Top 40 station, though it would later shift towards album rock. Shortly after, some of the people who had managed the station's classical format got together and founded non-commercial KMFA-FM 89.5 which is still on the air today.
In 1978, KHFI changed format to "Disco 98 FM". This was in the wake of Saturday Night Fever, and actually improved ratings over the album rock format that it replaced. Dick Oppenheimer purchased KHFI from LIN Broadcasting in 1980, and the station returned to its top 40 roots, this time as "The All New K98 FM". The original K98 FM lineup featured Dave Jarrott in the mornings, and radio legend Chuck Dunaway was PD and did afternoon drive. K98 achieved tremendous ratings, including #1 in Austin for many ratings periods and #6 nationwide 12+. The K98 morning show with Dave Jarrott, Darlene Lewis and Keith Jacobs scored an unbelievable 54 share in 1982. The ratings domination continued for many years in the 1980s. In September 1990, KHFI was relocated to 96.7 FM, with the station subsequently renaming as K96 FM.
In 1992, KHFI dropped the "K96 FM" moniker and just identified as "96.7 KHFI." By this time, KHFI-FM was one of the first large market stations purchased by Clear Channel Communications outside of San Antonio, Texas, then only a small company.
Of note, local Austin Television station KXAN started operation as KHFI-TV in 1965, then on channel 42. KHFI-TV was co-owned with 98.3 KHFI-FM and KHFI 970 AM. The AM license was later sold and is now 970 KIXL.
In August 2001, KHFI re-launched as "The New 96-7 KISS-FM". Today, 96-7 KISS-FM is a popular Austin Top 40 station that complements sister station KPEZ. It leads in its target 18–34 female demographic. KHFI became the flagship station for the "Bobby Bones Morning Show" in 2002. Bones was named "Austin Radio Personality Of The Year" for 4 years running. The award is given yearly at the Austin Music Awards. In 2008, the Bobby Bones Show received its first award for "Austin Radio Program of the Year." In February 2013, the show was relaunched as a Country music-oriented show, and moved its flagship studios to WSIX-FM in Nashville. As a result, the Austin affiliate was changed to sister station KASE-FM. Bones was replaced on KHFI with "Elvis Duran and the Morning Show", which is syndicated from WHTZ in New York City. In February 2016, the morning show was changed to the The Billy The Kidd Morning Show, featuring Billy the Kidd and Anne Hudson as hosts.
KHFI-FM broadcasts two channels in the HD hybrid format. In May 2005, KHFI-FM became the third commercial Austin radio station to begin broadcasting using HD Radio technology. Now all five Clear Channel Austin FM stations offer this service.
KHFI also was named "Austin Radio Station of the Year" in March 2008.