KQKS, also known as KS107.5, is a Rhythmic Top 40 radio station. It is owned by Entercom, serving the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area. The station, which broadcasts at 107.5 megahertz (MHz) with an ERP of 91 kilowatts (kW), is licensed to Lakewood. KQKS' current slogan is #1 For Today's Hottest Music, which they use to reflect its current musical mix of R&B, hip hop and Rhythmic Pop hits. Its studios are located in the Denver Tech Center district, and the transmitter is in Lakewood on Green Mountain.
KQKS's origins began in 1986, when Western Cities Broadcasting purchased KLMO-FM (licensed to Longmont) and moved the transmitter site closer to Denver to enter the Denver Top 40 wars. At the time, the station was at 104.3 and was known as "104.3 Kiss FM." By 1989, they evolved into a Dance-leaning rhythmic contemporary hit direction as "KS104", 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.
That would all change. In November 1996, Western Cities sold KS104 to Jefferson-Pilot, who kept the station jockless for 2 months. Jefferson-Pilot was also the owner of KHHT at the time. But on January 8, 1997, history would be made in the market when Jefferson-Pilot moved KQKS to 107.5 and relaunched it as "KS1075", replacing KHHT's ill-fated Top 40 format and turning KQKS' former home at 104.3 into a Classic Country outlet (they are now a Sports outlet) on January 18. The move would also pay off in the ratings as well, resulting in KJMN throwing in the towel on March 30, 1997. Since then, KQKS has faced several competitors, but no one has even come close to toppling them since, especially in the Arbitron PPMs, where they maintained a top 5 status in the Denver ratings. In 2009, Clear channel flipped KPTT (who had once competed against them as Top 40/CHR KFMD from 2000 to 2005) to Rhythmic Top 40, resulting in KQKS adding more rap to its playlist. While Rap and Hip-hop accounts for over 50% of KS1075's playlist, the station, like most of the other Rhythmics in the United States, has added some Rhythmic Pop/Dance tracks due to changing tastes among its listeners. As of 2015, KQKS continued to compete against KPTT, who has shifted back to Top 40/CHR.
The current airstaff includes Larry, Kendall and Kathie J in the morning, mid-days with Tony V, afternoons with DJ Chonz, Ya Girl Cedes at nights. Buhrm Gotti, Unique and Kingdom work weekends, and mixers DJ Chonz, DJ Dizzy D, DJ Tanastadi, DJ Baby Boy, DJ Staxx and DJ Nunez provide mixing duties.
In late 2005, Lincoln Financial Group acquired Jefferson-Pilot, thus in turn resulted in LFG becoming KQKS' parent company due to LFG's decision to keep J-P's broadcasting properties in its portfolio despite turning down offers by other broadcasting groups to sell the stations. On April 3, 2006, KQKS and the other stations began replacing the ownership on-air liners "A Jefferson-Pilot Station" with "A Lincoln Financial Station" as LFG retired the JP name. In June 2007, Lincoln announced that would put its television and radio stations up for sale. KQKS, along with its sister stations in Denver was among the properties being shopped around by Lincoln, until the company suspended those plans in 2008 due to financial concerns.
On December 8, 2014, Entercom announced it would purchase Lincoln Financial Group's entire 15-station lineup in a $106.5 million deal, and would operate the outlets under a LMA deal. On December 22, 2014, Entercom announced that it will retain KQKS and its current format. The FCC approved the deal on June 26, 2015.
The station made its on-air debut in 1966 as KLAK-FM, originally broadcasting at 107.7, and shared a Country format with its AM sister (1600 AM) until 1970, when it relocated to 107.5 and became KJAE, who would then switch formats to Top 40, but this first attempt at this format would be short lived when they returned to Country in 1973 and restored the KLAK-FM calls. In 1978, it changed call letters to KPPL and sported a Beautiful Music/MOR format, followed by a brief stint with a Modern Rock format by 1983.
In 1984, 107.5 switched to Top 40/CHR and took the call letters KRXY, and adopted the moniker Y-108 FM. It was the top rated CHR station in Denver during the 1980s. KRXY would also simulcast on 1600 AM as KRXY-AM during this time. In October 1987, KRXY's then owners, Malrite Communications, would sell the station to ABC Radio. KRXY would eventually be overtaken in ratings by KQKS (then at 104.3) in 1991. KRXY began to lean toward Adult Top 40/Hot AC and eventually dropped the iconic "Y-108 FM" nickname, and became "Mix 107.5" with a Hot AC format in June 1991. After Jefferson-Pilot bought the station from ABC Radio in January 1993, its calls were changed to KWMX on January 20. KWMX faced competition from KOSI and KALC in the mid-1990s; in response, KWMX adjusted its playlist to fit with the current Modern Pop/Rock direction that KALC, and eventually the Hot AC format, was embracing at the time, in early 1996, and changed their moniker slightly to "107-5 The Mix." The attempt proved unsuccessful for KWMX. In July 1996, KWMX's morning show was let go; on the morning of August 10, the station began stunting with the soundtracks from Star Wars and Herbie. At 5 PM on the 10th, KWMX officially flipped back to Top 40, changed its moniker to "K-Hits 107.5", and adopted new call letters KHHT (which took effect August 30, 1996). However, the new format failed, as the station was poorly promoted and programmed. On January 8, 1997, after Jefferson-Pilot bought KQKS, they dropped the K-Hits format and moved the KQKS calls and its Rhythmic format to 107.5, where it has been ever since (the call letter change to KQKS took place February 21, 1997).
KQKS played a part in breaking an import track called "That's What Love Can Do" by the American girl group Boy Krazy. The song, which was produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, was a failure when it was released in Europe in 1991 but by late 1992 it somehow wound up getting airplay on the station after one of the staffers heard a remix done by Hot Tracks. The single would go on to be a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, Top 40 Mainstream and Rhythmic Contemporary charts in 1993. The group mentions KQKS in their thank-you liners, which can found on their first (and only) 1993 self-titled album.