KKFN (104.3 FM, "104.3 The Fan") is a sports radio station serving the Denver-Boulder area. Owned and operated by Bonneville International, the outlet broadcasts with an effective radiated power of 91 kW and is licensed to Longmont, Colorado. Its studios are located in Greenwood Village, and the transmitter is in Lakewood on Green Mountain.

104.3 history

The frequency was home to KLMO-FM, targeting Longmont, Boulder and areas north of Denver. In December 1986, the station was sold to local owners Western Cities Broadcasting, adopted a Top 40 format, changed call letters to KQKS, and adopted the moniker "104.3 Kiss FM" (which later became "KS104").[2] By 1989, they evolved into a Dance-leaning rhythmic contemporary hit direction, but by 1993, they would start shifting back to a mainstream Top 40 direction again after they were left standing as the only Top 40 in the market.

However, by 1995, they would see new competition from two new stations, KHHT (K-HITS 107.5) and KALC (Alice 105.9), going after listeners with a mainstream Top 40 direction. As a result of this, KQKS returned to rhythmic contemporary hits that year. But by 1996, KQKS would receive a major jolt when their air staffers defected to another new rhythmic contemporary hit radio station, KJMN (JAM'N 92.1), and began attacking them on-air and on the streets.

In November 1996, Western Cities sold the station to Jefferson-Pilot. On January 8, 1997, Jefferson-Pilot (which later became part of the Lincoln Financial Group) moved the calls and Rhythmic Top 40 format to 107.5. After the move, on January 18, J-P placed a classic country format on the signal as KCKK, "Kicks 104."[3] But on September 1, 2000, they would move that format over to the AM band so they can fill the smooth jazz void that was left open by KHIH after the latter flipped to Top 40 earlier that day.[4] The station adopted the call letters KJCD shortly after the move.

In June 2007, Lincoln announced that would put its television and radio stations up for sale. KJCD, along with its sister stations in Denver, is among the properties being shopped around by Lincoln.

On March 6, 2008, at 1 PM, KJCD changed their format to sports, simulcasting KKFN, and rebranded as "104.3 The Fan".[5] KJCD changed their call letters to KKFN-FM on March 12, 2008, and again to KKFN on March 1, 2009, once the sports format was moved completely over to the FM.

On December 8, 2014, Entercom announced that it was purchasing Lincoln Financial Group's entire 15-station lineup in a $106.5 million deal. On December 22, 2014, Entercom announced that it will spin off KKFN to the Pike's Peaks Trust, who will in turn spin the station off to a third party group as part of divesture deal.[6] On June 26, 2015, the FCC green-lighted the deal, with KKFN becoming part of the Pike's Peaks Trust as it splits from the other properties that became part of the Entercom acquisition. On July 14, 2015, the Department of Justice forced Entercom to spin off KKFN, KOSI, KYGO-FM and KEPN to Bonneville International in exchange for Bonneville's KSWD in Los Angeles (and $5 million) to meet ownership limits. Both Bonneville and Entercom operated their new clusters via Time Brokerage Agreements on July 17, 2015, and the deal was officially consummated on November 24, 2015.[7]

On October 12, 2015, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, owned by Altitude Sports and Entertainment founder Stan Kroenke, acquired Wilks Broadcasting's Denver properties, which include Country KWOF, Adult Top 40 KIMN, and Oldies KXKL. Once the sale is approved by the FCC, KSE is expected to flip one of three outlets to Sports, which could see the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Colorado Rapids move from KKFN.[8]

Programming

KKFN is an affiliate of ESPN Radio. KKFN features mostly live and local programming on the weekdays; the lineup consists of The Fan Morning Show (Mike Evans & Mark Schlereth) from 6:00-9:00 am, the "Football Insider (Cecil Lammey) from 9:00-11:00 am, the Sandy Clough Show (Sandy Clough) from 11:00 to noon, Sandy and Brandon Stokely from noon to 3:00 pm, The Drive (Alfred Williams and Darren "D-Mac" McKee) from 3:00-6:00 pm. The backbone of The Fan is made up of broadcast legend Scott DeHuff (morning show producer), Alan Baca (producer), Raj Sharan (midday producer), and Mike Coover (executive producer). KKFN has also been unstable of late. It has been a revolving door, releasing many very talented and beloved radio hosts: Scott Hastings, Vic Lombardi, Joel Dreessen, and Nate Lundy. With three former Broncos as co-hosts, very high sports ratings, and the recent Super Bowl 50 victory by the Denver Broncos, KKFN has pivoted to filling nearly all of its weekday broadcast hours with incredibly comprehensive, blanket coverage of the Broncos. The other three professional sports Leagues (NBA, MLB, and NHL) and four local major universities (DU, AFU, CSU, and CU) receive little attention to the consternation and dismay of some fans. On account of this programming change, made by Bonneville International and Program Director Armen Williams, other competitors have since arisen: Mile High Sports 1340, Denver Sports 760, and Altitude Sports 950 (debuting on April 8, 2016). KKFN remains the dominant sports ratings leader in Denver, so its seemingly all-Bronco-talk model will provide a clear window on the success or failure of this broadcasting strategy.

KKFN also carries play-by-play for most of the major sports leagues. Locally, they carry the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and NCAA football's Air Force Falcons. KKFN also carries much of Westwood One Sports' coverage. This includes NFL football, consisting of a Sunday afternoon doubleheader, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday and Saturday Night Football, Thanksgiving Day games, all playoff games, the Super Bowl, and the Pro Bowl. It also includes NCAA football, including Conference Championships and some bowl games. KKFN syndicates WestwoodOne Sports, featuring Kevin Kugler, Ian Eagle, Bill Frieder, and John Thompson, for NCAA basketball during the regular season and for the 68-team March Madness(TM) NCAA Tournament. Weekend programming starts on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. featuring Terry Wikstrom Outdoors, which focuses primarily on fishing and hunting. Mid-morning and early afternoon is filled frequently with local hosts, especially during the NFL regular and playoff seasons. Various play-by-play of live sporting events can be heard during the noon and evening hours. Finally, weekend evenings and overnights are handled by ESPN radio. With rival KJAC ending their Sports format upon its conversation to non-commercial status, KKFN will replace the overnight Fox Sports Radio programming with ESPN Radio starting January 4, 2016, the same day sister station KEPN rejoins ESPN Radio as a full-time affiliate. (In return, KKZN will acquire the Fox Sports affiliation on the same day.)[9]

KKFN also shared some of the Nuggets and Avalanche games with "Mile High Sports" outlet KDCO whenever conflicts involving their schedules occurred.[10] The arrangement ended on June 1, 2015, when the now-KBUD flipped to a "Pot Rock" format.[2]