WKYS (93.9 FM) is an American radio station broadcasting an urban contemporary radio format, that serves the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Its transmitter is located on the same tower as WRC-TV, a legacy of its former ownership by NBC. The station broadcasts from a class B signal with an effective radiated power of 24,500 watts (24.5 kilowatts(kW) on 93.9 MHz frequency. WKYS has a city of license of Washington, D.C., and is owned by Radio One. It is co-owned with WMMJ, WOL, WPRS-FM and WYCB and has its studios located in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The station was first launched as WRC-FM in June 1947 alongside its television partner, WRC-TV channel 4 (originally as WNBW). Both were built from the ground up by NBC, which launched WRC 980 AM 24 years earlier. It inherited the call sign from its AM radio partner based on RCA's ownership of the network. During its early days it carried a jazz format. The transition from the beautiful music format into what is now WKYS occurred when NBC moved the Top 40 format that was on sister station WRC/980 to WKYS to make way for an all news format on the AM station. For a short time in 1975, the two stations simulcast the Top 40 format.
Shortly after the simulcast was discontinued, the original AM Top 40 format continued for a short while on the FM station, but later, seeing the coming boom in disco music, WKYS adopted a highly successful disco format in the late 1970s and branded itself as WKYS, "Disco 93.9". DJs during the disco era included Donnie Simpson, Jack Harris, Stoney Richards, Joe Cipriano, Eddie Edwards, Barry "Reazar" Richards, Bill Bailey, Jeff Leonard, Chuck Davis, Candy Shannon and Max Kinkel.
In the mid 1980s, WKYS gained competition from WMMJ and WPGC. While that caused a setback in its dominance, WKYS did not suffer a huge of a threat to its ratings and audience share even as it had to rank behind the competition, including WHUR-FM which converted its jazz format to urban AC in 1993. (The D.C. radio market is one of the very few market's to have multiple urban stations on the FM dial for a long time.)
When NBC divested all of its radio properties in 1988, WKYS was sold to Albimar Communications. Some years later, amid financial difficulties, the station was sold to Radio One. In the mid 1990s, WKYS was forced to drop the "Kiss FM" name and changed it to "93.9 WKYS" due to Clear Channel acquiring the rights to the branding itself and enforcing the trademark rights nationwide. However, WKYS reintroduced the "Kiss FM" name for a period of time years after with its over-the-air branding, though Clear Channel did not make further claims of legal action. WKYS, however, retired the "Kiss FM" moniker later on and simply calls itself "93.9 WKYS."
From the 1977 to 1993, WKYS was home to the legendary radio personality Donnie Simpson. The station also once was the flagship of the nationally syndicated Russ Parr Morning Show. In January 2016, Russ Parr moved to sister WMMJ (to replace Tom Joyner) and was replaced on WKYS by "The Fam in the Morning."