Call Letters: KKSW
City of License: Lawrence, KS
Format: CHR "105.9 Kiss FM"
Owner: Great Plains Media
KLZR 1997 legal ID|
KLZR 2000 legal ID
1963-1975 - KLWN-FM - Full Service //KLWN partially
105.9 signed on August 20, 1963, and it started out as mostly a nighttime option for KLWN (long before the station was 24/7). But it was the first option for KU sports, even if they were taped, because of the greater coverage. The combo has been the flagship for KU sports since the early 1980s, but prior to that, KLWN and KANU aired competing broadcasts. KLWN-FM broadcasted at 17,000 watts. The music was middle of the road. Both stations shared the same studio for a while, with KLWN operating during the day and KLWN-FM at night. Separate rock/top 40 programming began in 1972 on a taped basis.
1975-76 - KLWN-FM - Top 40
The station briefly dabbled in Top 40 (not the first time!) in the mid-1970s.
1976-1979 - KLWN-FM - Album Rock
The station went back to more album rock-oriented programming, as far as I can tell.
1979-1985 - KLZR - Album Rock - "106 KLZR, the Lazer Rocks" / "All Hits 106"
The station received the KLZR call letters on July 31, 1979. They also increased power to 100,000 watts in December. I keep complaining about KLZR because during this time, they could've done what no one else would do, and that's full-time modern/alternative rock, although they did play some alternative stuff in the early 1980s. KLZR adjusted its palylist to what it called "Hot Hits AOR" in July or August 1983, emphasizing more rock hits and less adventurous titles. What's not clear is when KLZR made the full-time switch to a satellite-fed station, because they did it briefly with the AOR format, under the Satellite Music Network's Rockin' Hits format.
1985-1991 - KLZR - Sat. Hot AC - "All Hits 106"
Somewhere in the mid-1980s, KLZR switched services to ABC's Platinum Gold Hot AC format. It was during this time the tower was moved from southern Lawrence about 15 miles to the northwest, near Lecompton. KLZR moved to allow KXXR (106.5) to move closer to Kansas City. That eliminated a good portion of KLZR's Kansas City coverage, but improved its coverage in Topeka.
1991-1993 - KLZR - Sat. CHR - "The Heat" / "Lazer 106"
The Heat was also satellite-fed, though I don't know from which service. By 1992, KLZR went by the more familiar name "Lazer 106," with the motto "leading you into the '90s," even though we were already well into the decade.
1993-1999 - KLZR - Modern Rock "105-9 the Lazer"
KLZR finally gets around to the modern rock format. Hank Booth debuted the format after a KU basketball game in February of 1993, by pretending to go back to their satellite programming, screeching it to a stop, yelling his discontent for the old music, then playing the R.E.M. song "It's the End of the World As We Know It."
The format actually started out more Adult Alternative, with great old stuff from David Bowie, Genesis, World Party, The Clash, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello, etc. But of course, the playlist shrunk after a while, and they also played what would eventually become Top 40 hits, like stuff from Green Day, Pearl Jam, Collective Soul, and so on. Over a year or so, the playlist shifted to almost entirely new music, and all the modern rock classics were dropped. During this period, KLZR started a long-running trance/groove show called "Nocturnal Transmission." Rolling Stone magazine honored the station as one of ten radio stations that "didn't suck." In January 1998, KLZR and KLWN moved from 31st and Iowa to 6th and Gateway.
In 1998, the Booth family sold the station to the Zimmer radio group, who then brought in one of their programmers to oversee the station. He told the newspaper the format would not change. But they changed it over the course of a few weeks, starting with CHR-friendly sweepers, and gradually adding CHR titles to the playlist by September 1999. That left KC and Topeka without a commercial modern rock outlet, as KNRX had flipped formats at the beginning of the year.
1999-2003 - KLZR - CHR - "Lazer 105.9"
In September 1999, KLZR made a slow transition from Modern Rock to CHR. It was not popular, and met by angry former fans of the station. Vandals also targeted the 6th St. studios. Considering at the time there were multiple other CHR outlets, it had the media baffled too. The goal was to make more money of course. In Topeka, KLZR went from a top five finish to bottom of the barrel, getting beaten out format-wise by a Kansas City station. It took several years for KLZR to rebound in the ratings.
2003-2012 - KLZR - Hot AC - "Lazer 105.9"
In October, KLZR dropped pretty much all of their hip-hop and r&b tunes, and adopted a Hot Adult Contemporary format. One of the Zimmer boys bought the station in 2005, under the name Viking Enterprises. By the way, Viking was the original telephone exchange for Lawrence (84 = VI). The company eventually changed names to Great Plains Media. In 2011, KLZR signed up with the syndicated Kidd Kraddick show for morning drive. In late 2011, Great Plains hired a new general manager, who instituted a number of layoffs.
2012-current - KKSW - CHR - "105.9 Kiss FM"
On January 20, 2012, KLZR began stunting with Lady Gaga music, claiming the station had been taken hostage. After five hours, the Lazer returned to a CHR format as "105.9 Kiss FM." The station changed call letters to KKSW on February 8, 2012.