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Expect to hear lots of Mary J. Blige on iHeartMedia's brand-new 104.5 KISS FM.
Photo by Jack Gorman
The R&B airwaves in Houston are set to get a little competition.
KMJQ, or Majic 102.1, Houston’s top Urban Adult Contemporary station for close to four decades now, is about to share the market once again. Parent company iHeartMedia announced Thursday the establishment of a brand new Urban Adult Contemporary station, 104.5 FM. Dubbed “Kiss FM,” the station is crediting itself as “Houston’s Best R&B.” The first song heard on the station, as of 7:50 p.m. Thursday night? Blackstreet's "Don't Leave Me."
It’s another shot in the well-established radio battle between iHeartMedia and Radio One. When KQBT flipped classic-rocker The Arrow in 2013 in favor of 93.7 The Beat, the move set off a chain of petty ads tapping at the heels of KBXX, the long-established 97.9 The Box. iHeart made no qualms about its designs on Radio One’s slice of the market, utilizing the No. 1 morning show in urban radio, Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, to establish a firm grip on listeners near and far.
Kiss FM looks to roll out a similar format beginning on October 9. There, morning drive-time will be anchored by The Steve Harvey Morning Show to counteract KMJQ’s simulcast of The Tom Joyner Morning Show. Harvey’s show features former Tom Joyner member J. Anthony Brown along with Shirley Strawberry, Carla Ferrell, his "Nephew Tommy," and Junior. Unlike Majic 102.1, which features all local jocks from 9 a.m. until well past midnight, 104.5 is adding another big name to its late-night programming: Keith Sweat and The Sweat Hotel, which will air weeknights as well as on Sundays.
“We have a great opportunity to deliver some of the hottest names and music in the R&B industry to the diverse Houston audience combined with spoken-word entertainment from some of the biggest names in show business with Steve Harvey and Keith Sweat,” iHeart Urban Brand Coordinator Michael Saunders said in a press release.
The addition of Kiss FM secures an alternative to Majic 102.1’s longstanding relationship with the Houston community. In the past 12 months, Radio One has flipped from classic hip-hop (Boom 92) to Top 40 (Radio Now). CBS’s KKHH, formerly rhythmic Top 40 (Hot 95.7), has switched to adult hits (95.7 The Spot).
No one knows how long the competition between 104.5 and 102.1 will last. As it stands, Houston is currently in the longest war between competing hip-hop stations in the city’s history — a solid four years. KQBU, which used to be home to Party 93.3 around 2007, flipped to Que Buena in 2009. Party 104.9, a hip-hop station in the mid-2000s, switched to an all-Latin station just before the end of 2007.