KOOL-FM is a commercial Classic Hits music radio station in Phoenix, Arizona, broadcasting on 94.5 FM. The station is owned by CBS Radio. The station features the hits of the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and is one of the top performing stations in Phoenix. The focus is 1964 to 1979. Its studios are located in downtown Phoenix, and its transmitter is in South Mountain Park.
KOOL-FM began programming oldies music in 1971, the first radio station ever to carry the format, as a format brought to the station by Jerry Osborne, who used the air name Dan Coffey. Since the station did not have an oldies library, Osborne supplied all of the music from his own collection. The Dan Coffey Show, which aired on Saturday and Sunday nights, from 6:00 to midnight, immediately became the most popular program on KOOL-FM — so much so that they hired a woman (Pam MacKenzie) whose only job it was to answer the flood of calls and music requests for the Dan Coffey Show. At the time, no other station in the Phoenix market had an oldies format, and Osborne was given the freedom by KOOL-FM (then owned by Gene Autry) to play anything he wanted.
Now the door to success was opened and by the end of 1971 the entire station followed. They switched to an all-oldies format. In 1975, Osborne left radio to start his own publishing company. Before he left, he recorded thousands of oldies for the KOOL-FM music library.
By about 1986, KOOL was playing a small amount of 1980s music as well. Still, they focused on the music of the late 1960s. The station was co-owned with KOOL/960. In December 1985, Adams Radio Group bought both KOOL-AM/FM from Tom Chauncey and Partners. As Adams radio took ownership, KOOL-AM under the tutelage of GM, Jim Seemiller, changed format to a 1950s/1960s early rock and roll Oldies format on January 7, 1987. The music had a concentration of the early hits but also injected a large dose of Doo-wop. This new format caught on and not only became a rating s success but also syndicated itself 24 hours a day, first radio station to do so. The stations were both owned by Adams Communications, and KOOL format was installed at many of other Adams radio stations.
KOOL with its marketing savvy became the leader of Oldies in US. KOOL had its own Radio store, physical shop located in Phoenix with radio paraphernalia, record, music, and other Oldies items and had a tremendous retail operation. At the same time, KOOL opened its own version of a real bar, KOOL CAFE. With the Cafe KOOL did music and live promotions every day of the week. The Cafe became one of Phoenix's hot spots for years. These marketing tactics paid off with the winning of the Marconi award in 1991/92.
In late 1995, KOOL-FM began simulcasting on KOOL-AM, which stopped playing "older-leaning oldies".
In 1996, Chancellor acquired KOOL-AM-FM. At that time they acquired several other stations in the market, bringing them to over their ownership limit of 8. They opted to sell KOOL-AM-FM was sold to Salem Media in 1997 and the AM, renamed KPXQ, became a Christian Talk station. In 2002, KPXQ became NewsTalk 960 KKNT focusing on conservative talk radio.
KOOL-FM went to Infinity/CBS Radio. The music continued to be about the same until about 1999. At that point more late 1970s songs were added while the pre-1964 oldies were cut back slightly. In 2001, some early 1980s music was added and the pre 1964 oldies were cut to about 2 per hour. By 2003, as was the case was the oldies format continued to evolve, the pre 1964 oldies were eliminated almost completely with a handful of exceptions. More 1980s titles were also added at that point. Today the station, like most oldies outlets, has more of a classic hits format rather than a true oldies format.
In February 2008, CBS Radio made major layoffs that sent many longtime personalities packing, including Bill Gardner, John Michaels, Camelback Jack (who will later return), Dave Shannon, and several part-time personalities that had been with the station over the years, including Liz Boyle, Dennis Mitchell and Tony McGraw, aka "Skippy".
With the public release of Arbitron PPM data in July '09, KOOL-FM continues to be one of the most listened to stations in Phoenix with an airstaff anchored by 30 year market veterans Tom Peake and Steve Goddard along with the return of Camelback Jack at night and radio veteran Jeffrey T. Mason in middays.