Kiss-FM, Hip-Hop’s Blueprint is Dead
Hip-hop used to call WRKS Kiss-FM home, long before any other station claimed it as their own. Now, we bid farewell to the station made famous by Kool DJ Red Alert, and Chuck Chillout.
The epicenter of hip-hop, 98.7 Kiss-FM is dead. The station that first introduced New York City to Run DMC’s “Sucker MC’s” via the seamless format of mixshow, officially shut down this week to make room for an ESPN station. This shake up now merges WRKS—Kiss-FM’s call name—with its longtime rival 107.5 WBLS. What you think you know about hip-hop radio in NY spans more than today’s bitter rivals for hip-hop supremacy—Hot 97 and Power 105.1 FM. Next time you hear Funkmaster Flex and DJ Clue trade jabs on their respective stations, remember rap radio beef goes back to Kiss-FM’s program director Barry Mayo, who broke hip-hop ahead of his WBLS counterpart Frankie Crocker (the butt of De La Soul’s jokes on De La Soul Is Dead). Mayo was truly a game changer, because he was also responsible for giving Kool DJ Red Alert his own show in 1983.
Sure to some young bucks, Kiss-FM was where your parents tried to hip you to groovy tunes they bumped back in their salad days. Even when its playlist leaned towards a classic soul and R&B format, it was still the blueprint for hip-hop, before Kanye West helped Jay-Z get his groove back. Pause. DJ Kool Bob Love aka Cucumber Slice (Bobbito Garcia), influenced by Kiss-FM as an institution to hip-hop, and throwback joints was quoted by The Village Voice saying, “As a young adult, I would sit there every weekend when Red’s show was on with a tape and a cassette recorder with my finger on the record button. That show, for me, was the blueprint for what a hip-hop radio show could be.” Many names have graced the airwaves of WRKS Kiss-FM like DJ Chuck Chillout, the mentor to Funk Flex; Wendy Williams, who had a prime-time evening slot next to Red Alert; plus you can’t forget DJ Tony Humphries, specializing in disco and house music. Kiss the game goodbye, ya heard. Bump Red Alert’s two-part finale set below, along with Chuck Chillout going in.
DJ RED ALERT “THE THANK YOU MIX” (PART ONE)
DJ RED ALERT “THE THANK YOU MIX” (PART TWO)
DJ CHUCK CHILLOUT KISS-FM MIXSHOW (1988)