KVRQ (98.9 FM) is a radio station based in Seattle, Washington that is owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, broadcasting at 98.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 68,000 watts. Its transmitter is located near Issaquah, Washington on Tiger Mountain, with studios located at Newport Corporate Center in Bellevue.

History

The station first went on the air in 1958 as KMCS. It was then locally owned by former Crown (later to be known as King Broadcasting Company) executives. Like most FM stations at the time, the format was beautiful music/easy listening, which lasted until about 1983. Up until 1972, the station played LPs.

KMCS switched calls to KBBX in 1966. Then, with a major promotional thrust and with the TM syndicated "Music Only For A Woman" format in 1972, the call letters and format were changed to KEZX and 'Oceans of Beautiful Music'. Also from the late 1960s into the late 1980s, the sub-carrier 67 kHz SCA transmitted music and point of sale commercials to many of the retail outlets in the Puget Sound area.

The marketcasting portion was the reason that Roy Park, owner of Park Broadcasting purchased the station in late 1975. Park at the time was one of the largest broadcast firms in the US. The station increased its power in the spring of 1977 from 35,000 watts to 100,000 watts. At first, the station was locally programmed, but later changed to a syndicated service, only to revert to being locally programmed in 1980. In 1983, it flipped to a mix of AC, "West Coast" singer-songwriter pop music, AOR, and jazz music. This is considered to be an early version of what was to be known as adult album alternative. It remained as a AAA station until October 31, 1990, when it reverted to easy listening, but flipped again in August 1993 to Smooth Jazz, which was starting to gain ground in many major US cities.

In October 1995, they took the KWJZ calls to compliment its smooth jazz format, which had become a favorite among listeners.

With the celebration of the 15th anniversary of KWJZ's format in 2008, the station dropped the "Smooth Jazz" part of its branding and became known simply as 98.9 KWJZ. While smooth jazz still made up the majority of its programming, KWJZ incorporated some chill out music, such as that featured on the syndicated program Chill with Mindi Abair (which aired on Sunday nights on KWJZ), as part of a more broadly defined "smooth music" format.

KWJZ would enjoy many years of high ratings with the smooth jazz format. However, like most stations in the format, KWJZ began a slow and steady decline in ratings due to changes in the ratings measurement system with the introduction of the Portable People Meter, which was introduced to the Seattle market in late 2008.

On December 27, 2010, at 3 PM, KWJZ changed their format to adult album alternative/modern AC as "Click 98.9". Click's first song was Animal by Neon Trees.[2][3] On March 15, 2011, KWJZ changed call letters to KLCK-FM to better reflect its brand name.

Following Mediabase's addition of the station on the alternative rock panel, the station switched to alternative rock in November 2011, though it still leaned toward AAA. Unlike other alternative stations, Click also aired some dance music, such as Martin Solveig's "Hello" and Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger." By that December, the station began to include some hot AC material, such as Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry (primarily artists from sister adult contemporary radio station KRWM), but still retained its modern rock direction as it still reports to Mediabase's alternative rock panel.

By March 2012, the station switched to hot adult contemporary per Mediabase reports, joining adult top 40 station KPLZ-FM, though the station would shift back towards modern AC by mid-2014.

In 2013, Sandusky Radio sold its radio holdings in Seattle and Phoenix, Arizona to Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc..

During the "Click" tenure, ratings for the station were continually ranked low, averaging about a high 1 to a low 2 share of the Seattle market, as the station failed to compete against KPLZ, KNDD, KBKS and KYNW (in the January 2015 Nielsen PPM ratings report for the market, KLCK was ranked #19 with a 1.9 share). In addition, the station consistently tweaked its music direction and would have a constant turnover of airstaff.[4]

On March 11, 2016, at Noon, after playing Grapevine Fires by Bellingham band Death Cab for Cutie, KLCK began stunting with a "Wheel of Formats", changing playlists every 6 hours at 6 am, Noon, 6 pm, and Midnight. The formats consisted of all-Frank Sinatra, all-Eagles, all-Garth Brooks, opera/showtunes/musical soundtracks, all-Billy Joel, all-Elvis, all-Red Hot Chili Peppers/Foo Fighters, TV show theme songs, all-Neil Diamond, all-Madonna, all-AC/DC, all-Elton John, all-Beatles, prank phone calls from sister KQMV's morning show "Brooke and Jubal in the Morning", and all-Led Zeppelin.

The stunt was rumored to be a prelude to a format change to sports talk as "98.9 The Score" or "Sports 98.9" (a Facebook page was even made for the latter branding, as well as one for "98.9 Real Conservative Radio" to throw speculators off the trail; the pages were taken down shortly after). The station’s website was replaced with quotes from historical figures and lyrics from songs such as The Beatles’ “In My Life”, Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” and Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers”, as well as floating question mark bubbles which, when clicked on, either played a female computerized voice soundbite stating "Hey, don't touch that", "What is going on?", "This is strange", or "That tickles", or initiates the YouTube video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” (as a form of rickrolling). In addition, Hubbard requested the KVRQ calls for the station, which were approved on the 15th. Program director Lisa Adams and midday host Megan Lee exited with the format change; however, the remainder of the airstaff is still in place.[5][6][7]

At Noon on March 16, 2016, after finishing the "Wheel of Formats" with Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir", the station flipped to mainstream rock as "Rock 98.9", with its first song being Nirvana's "In Bloom", the first in a 12,000 song, 30 day commercial-free introductory run.[8] The station also made the official change to the KVRQ call letters on the same day. KVRQ is currently rated at 2.3 on the Seattle PPM ratings.

HD radio

  • HD1 carries the analog format from the standard 98.9 FM frequency.
  • HD2 is currently silent.
  • HD3 carries a simulcast of KKNW 1150 AM.[9]

Trivia

Rumor had it that the station at one time was KOMO-FM, but actually the original KOMO-FM never went on the air - the Chief Engineer at KOMO was of the opinion that FM would never amount to much. It was KRSC-FM that went to the University of Washington and is now KUOW. That happened as a result of the purchase of KRSC-TV by KING Broadcasting Company about 1949. FCC regulations prevented KING Broadcasting Company from owning two stations in the same market (King Broadcasting already owned KING-FM), and so the license and equipment for KRSC-FM was donated to the University of Washington.