WXKS-FM (107.9 FM), better known as Kiss 108, is a radio station in Boston, Massachusetts, licensed to nearby Medford broadcasting a Top 40 (CHR) format. Owned by iHeartMedia, the station operates on 107.9 FM, and is a sister station to rhythmic contemporary WJMN, once a major rival to Kiss, and country music outlet WBWL.
Kiss 108 is one of the most prominent top 40 stations in New England and the United States, notable primarily for its annual Kiss Concert, which draws some of the best-known names in the pop music business to Mansfield's Xfinity Center concert venue each spring. Morning DJ Matt Siegel has been a fixture on the Boston airwaves since 1981, and was briefly nationally syndicated during the late 1990s. Kiss 108 was also the flagship station for Open House Party Saturday hosted by John Garabedian, broadcasting from his house in suburban Boston, but on March 10, 2007, Kiss 108 dropped Saturday edition Open House Party and began a new show called The Saturday Night Mash-Up, and later, the syndicated Saturday Night Online (now Most Requested Live) hosted by Romeo. The Sunday edition of Open House Party hosted by Kannon was broadcast shortly on Kiss 108, replacing the Saturday night show, until May 2008.
The station first went on the air September 1, 1960 as WHIL-FM, a simulcast of sister station WHIL (1430 AM, now WKOX), and broadcasting its own programming after sunset when WHIL signed-off. For much of the sixties, WHIL & WHIL-FM were country-music stations, but in late 1972, both stations switched to beautiful music as WWEL (AM) and FM ("Well"). The calls refer to Wellington Square in Medford, where the station studios were located.
Despite moving the FM transmitter to the top of the Prudential Tower in 1972, WWEL-FM was not very successful as a beautiful-music format. In 1978, WWEL-FM broadcast the night games of the Boston Red Sox as their flagship station (WITS, now WMEX 1510) delivered a poor night signal in much of Metro Boston. The stations were sold to Heftel Communications, operated by U.S. Rep. Cecil Heftel (D-Hawai'i) in early 1979. Heftel changed the call letters to WXKS, adopted "Kiss 108" as an identity, and changed to a disco format on February 10, 1979 at 12:00am. The first song played under this new format was At Midnight by T-Connection. Under Heftel, the station soared to near the top of the Arbitron ratings, and forced WBOS (which had been first in Boston with a 24/7 disco sound and had a short period of huge success with it) out of the format in early 1980.
Sunny Joe White, a young programmer (who had previously programmed WILD in Boston) came aboard at Kiss-108 upon its shift to disco and had much to do with the station's early success.
At the end of 1979, WXKS-AM dropped disco to adopt an adult standards format, while the FM slowly evolved into urban contemporary when disco's popularity crashed. By the end of 1981 and into early 1982, the station became a CHR with a heavily Rhythmic R&B/Dance direction under the guidance of White, and in turn became one of the most influential Top 40 stations in the nation, in part due to their reputation for breaking songs that did not fit the traditional Top 40/CHR model, and given that Boston lacked a Urban Contemporary FM outlet during this period (since WILD was an AM daytimer), it wasn't afraid to play songs from that genre. The genre would later become the format now known as Rhythmic contemporary, which is now the current format of sister station WJMN. By 1988, WXKS began to shift out of the Rhythmic direction and evolved into its current successful Mainstream Top 40/CHR format. On February 9, 1996, sister station WYNY in New York simulcasted WXKS from 6 AM to 6 PM as part of a week-long stunt of simulcasting sister stations nationwide before flipping formats to rhythmic adult contemporary the following day as WKTU.
On January 27, 2006, WXKS-FM went live with an HD2 digital broadcast referred to by Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia), who by then had acquired the station, as the "Artists' Channel". The broadcast is also available as an Internet radio station. It then went to a "new CHR" format before becoming a simulcast of WXKS (1200 AM) in 2010. In August 2012, that station changed formats to all-comedy, with the HD2 channel following suit. When 1200 AM flipped to Bloomberg Radio in February 2013, the all-comedy format was retained on the HD2. However, in December of that year, the HD2 channel flipped to a simulcast of the dance format of sister station WEDX; when WEDX itself changed format in June 2014 and became WBWL, the dance format remained on the HD2.
Kiss 108 Top 30 Countdown
The Kiss 108 Top 30 Countdown is a locally produced program on Kiss 108, hosted by DJ Billy Costa. The countdown once aired solely on Saturday mornings from 7AM to 10AM, but now, is broadcast twice on the weekend: Saturday mornings from 9AM to 12PM and Sunday nights from 7PM to 10PM.