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City of license Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Broadcast area Western Pennsylvania
Branding "96.1 KISS"
Frequency 96.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
96.1 HD-2 for Dance hits
First air date 1960
Format Rhythmic Top 40
ERP 44,000 watts
HAAT 159 meters
Class B
Facility ID 65678
Callsign meaning KISS (The T subsitutes for the second S)
Owner Clear Channel Communications
Sister stations WBGG, WDVE, WPGB, WWSW, WXDX
Webcast Listen Live
Website 96.1 KISS' website

WKST-FM (96.1 Kiss), is a Rhythmic top 40 outlet based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Owned by Clear Channel Communications, the station broadcasts at 96.1 MHz, with an ERP of 44 kW. Its transmitter is located in Baldwin.



The station originally signed on as WTAE-FM, co-owned with WTAE AM and TV, and had a MOR format until 1976, when it simulcast WTAE (AM) during the day and played disco at night, known as "Disco 96." As disco began to wane in popularity, the station flipped to a rock-leaning top 40 format as WXKX (96KX or "96 Kicks"). 96KX thrived for the next five years and has been the frequency's most highly-rated format to date. In 1983, faced with new competition from WBZZ (B-94), the station changed format and call letters, and became WHTX, better known as "Hit Radio 96". This station evolved, in the latter part of the decade, into a gold-based adult contemporary format under the name of "Gold 96".

In 1991 it switched calls to WVTY ("Variety 96") and format to an adult top 40 approach, which in turn would lead to a modern hits format and new calls WDRV ("The River") in 1996. After it was sold in 1997 WDRV returned to adult top 40, this time as WPHH ("Mix 96.1"). On September 30, 2000, they switched to the current format and became the current WKST-FM, "96.1 Kiss". During its first four years, WKST waged a battle with WBZZ from 2000 to 2004 by countering WBZZ's conventional Top 40/CHR approach with WKST's Rhythmic flavor. In 2007 the rivalry resumed again when CBS revived "B94 (Now WBZW)" and has begun using the same conventional direction by going after the same 18-34 audience that WKST has managed to cater.


As mentioned above, WKST's musical direction had always favored Rhythmic and/or Dance hits since its 2000 debut, although at times it will add artists like Paramore and Kings of Leon to stay within the Mainstream realm. However, WKST-FM has added more hiphop & R&B titles because of B94 being the area's more mainstream top 40 station and regarding the recent demise of urban contemporary rival WAMO-FM, who left the air in September 2009. As of a result of these two factors, this move officially made WKST a Rhythmic Top 40, as it now serves as the the de-facto R&B/Hip-Hop outlet for Pittsburghers. In addition, this shift has somewhat benefitted the station as it has seen a spike in listenership since WAMO's sign-off.

In addition, as with other Clear Channel Top 40s, WKST also airs a pair of Ryan Seacrest programs, On Air during middays and American Top 40 on Sundays.

The "Freak Show"

The Freak Show with Mikey and Big Bob was originally an evening show that originated from Detroit's 93.1 DRQ, and later Philadelphia's Q102, with the same named show and originally led by Tic Tak. Today, Tic Tak is no longer a part of the show, and the Morning Freak Show caters to a young adult crowd.[1]


Besides The Freak Show and Seacreast, WKST's airstaff also include Tall Cathy in mid-mornings, Bonics in afternoons, Scottro in evenings and Mike Ryan in late nights.


On April 25, 2006, Clear Channel announced that WKST's HD2 subchannel will carry a format focusing on Dance hits. The HD2 signed on July 17, 2006, broadcasting the Club Phusion format.


External links



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