Kiss (UK radio station)

Kiss is a UK radio station which broadcasts nationally on DAB Digital Radio, as well as on FM in London, Bristol and the Severn Estuary, and East Anglia. Kiss plays contemporary hits with an urban and dance music lean during the day, with more specialist shows in the evening. The station started out as Kiss FM - a 1980s pirate radio station that was to become the UKs first legal radio station specialising in black and dance music.

Broadcast areaUK wide
SloganThe Beat of the UK
Radical Radio (as a pirate/early legal station)
Frequency11D DAB (England, Wales, Northern Ireland), 12A DAB (Scotland)
100.0 FM (London), 101.0 FM (Severn Estuary), 97.2 FM (Bristol), 105.6 – 106.1 – 106.4 – 107.7 FM (East Anglia)
First air date7 October 1985 (as a pirate)
1 September 1990 (as a legal station)
FormatRhythmic CHR
OwnerBauer Radio
Sister stationsAbsolute Radio
Greatest Hits Radio
Heat Radio
Hits Radio
Jazz FM
Kerrang Radio
Planet Rock
Scala Radio


Pirate roots

Kiss FM first broadcast 7 October 1985 as a pirate radio station, initially to South London then across the whole city, on 94FM. Kiss FM was founded by Gordon 'Mac' McNamee, George Power (of London Greek Radio), and Tosca Jackson.[1] Transmitting seven-days from the start, it would be regularly taken off-air by the authorities and so became a weekend operation shortly afterwards.[1]

The station developed a cult and committed following across Greater London, with figures in the press at the time stating that the station commanded some 500,000 listeners while operating as an unlicensed pirate station, and an Evening Standard readers poll in 1987 put Kiss second behind Capital Radio.[2] Gordon Mac approached a successful London club promoter, Guy Wingate, to discuss ways of improving the Kiss FM profile. As a result, Wingate launched the very successful Kiss nights at the Wag Club (which included the first ever UK acid house party – an idea put forward by Colin Faver and Danny Rampling), both DJs on the station. These nights increased the station's credibility with its target audience and Wingate joined the Kiss team, followed shortly thereafter by Lindsay Wesker. Kiss would also run its own night at Dingwalls.[3]

Mac and 10 of the DJs on the station including Norman Jay, Jonathan More, Colin Faver, and Trevor Nelson would become 'shareholders' in a company called Goodfoot Promotions, with Mac heading up the station as its majority holder.[3] By 1988, Kiss was at its strongest with a DJ line-up which had become the cream of London's clubland, and in that December, Mac and the other shareholders would announce that they would decide to close down in order to apply for a legal license.[1] This was in response to the UK Government and Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) announcement that 20 new incremental radio licenses would be advertised including one for London.[3] Stations were told that they would have to voluntarily closedown when applying, and so on New Year's Eve 1988, the final broadcast went out with an outside broadcast at Dingwalls.[1]

Kiss would submit a strong application with widespread support from listeners, clubs, record labels and music magazines, however on 12 July 1989, the IBA would instead award the license to Jazz FM.[3]

Despite the temptation to return to the air again illegally, Kiss held off as the IBA floated that further licenses would be made available - which they did so in September 1989.[3] Kiss re-prepared their application but this time would gain the backing and majority investment of media group EMAP. On 17 December 1989, the IBA announced that Kiss had been awarded a license on their second attempt.[4][3]

Kiss would establish its new studios and office on Holloway Road, and on 1 September 1990, Kiss commenced its legal broadcasting as Kiss 100. Gordon Mac led a countdown in the studio to the official launch, followed by Norman Jay hosting the very first full show.[5][1]

Kiss 102 and Kiss 105

The Faze FM group licensed the name and logo from Kiss 100 to launch Kiss 102 in Manchester in October 1994. In February 1997, it expanded into Yorkshire launching Kiss 105. The group was later sold to Chrysalis Radio, and by September 1997 both stations became part of the Galaxy Radio network.

EMAP rebranding and criticism

EMAP took full control of Kiss 100 as early as 1992, but with Mac having left the station in March 1998, EMAP would embark on a rebranding of the station and to align it with the rest of its radio operations.

In December 1998, one of stations most popular DJs, Steve Jackson, was sacked resulting in a high-profile court case,[6] whilst the changes led to criticism from both former presenters and listeners alike, concerned that Kiss 100 was losing its musical direction. DJs Coldcut, Bob Jones, and Manasseh quit the station in January 1999 in protest at the changes being implemented.[7] Other DJs at this time were being lured away by the increasingly dance-oriented BBC Radio 1.

Mark Story (previously of Magic 105.4) was appointed as the new Director of Music Programming, along with moving the Kiss studios and office to EMAPs main premises in Golden Square, Central London, and creating a new logo.[8]

In July 1999, The Independent reported: "In preparation for the new ad campaign, the biggest in the station's history, EMAP has spent 12 months changing the output of the station. Over 10 DJs have parted company with the station, including Steve Jackson, who won the Sony breakfast show award this year. In the words of Mr Cox [EMAP marketing director], the music on the station has been "smoothed out"."[9]

Ofcom record fine

In June 2006, Kiss 100 was fined a record fee for any UK commercial radio station of £175,000 by media regulator Ofcom. Ofcom punished Kiss 100 for "numerous and serious breaches" of broadcasting codes after receiving 10 complaints from April to November 2005. They involved prank calls on the Bam Bam breakfast show where consent was not sought from the "victims" and controversial material aired when children were likely to be listening. Kiss 100 said it accepted the findings and apologised for any offence[10]

Second rebranding and Kiss network

EMAP introduced a second major revamp of the Kiss brand on 6 September 2006.[11] This included a new logo designed by oddlondon, a renewed focus on dance music, more specialist shows and a new website for all 3 Kiss stations replacing the previous website.

The relaunch was implemented simultaneously with the rebranding of Kiss 100's sister dance stations, Vibe 101 and Vibe 105–108 as Kiss 101 and Kiss 105-108 respectively. The only differences between the three stations are the advertisements, traffic bulletins and live extended coverage (if needed) for some major events going around the region.

The changes at Kiss 100 were introduced to address falling listener figures and to keep the station competitive in the highly contested London market.

DAB changes and Rodigan departure

In December 2010, Ofcom approved the request from Bauer Radio to drop local programming content from the three Kiss stations, creating a national service on the condition that Kiss would be available on 35 DAB multiplexes around the UK on the day local information is dropped, rising to 38 within 3 months of the changes.[12]

On 27 December 2012, Kiss 100 appeared nationally on Digital One's national DAB multiplex.[13]

In November 2012, David Rodigan who had been with Kiss since its legal launch resigned citing the "marginalisation of reggae music" on the station.[14]

Norway and Finland

On 26 February 2016, Kiss was launched in Norway rebranded from The Voice Hiphop & RnB Norway and Finland.[15]

Logo history

DJs and presenters

From 1985, DJs and presenters have included: Norman Jay, Coldcut (Matt Black & Jonathan More), Paul Trouble Anderson, Colin Dale, Colin Faver, Judge Jules, Tim Westwood, Lindsay Wesker, Max LX & Dave VJ, Jazzie B, Steve Jackson, Trevor Nelson, Lisa l'Anson, Danny Rampling and Richie Rich.[1] At its legal launch and early 1990s, this would also include Graham Gold, Dave Pearce, David Rodigan, Patrick Forge and Gilles Peterson.[16]

Mid to late 1990s

In the mid-late 1990s, DJs and presenters have included: Tall Pall, Matt Jam Lamont, Dreem Teem, Fabio & Grooverider, Brandon Block, Jumpin Jack Frost, Kenny Ken, DJ Hype, Ray Keith, R-Solution (4hero & Kirk Degiorgio), Tony De Vit, and Slipmatt.


Since 2000, DJs and presenters have included: Bam Bam, Andy C, John Digweed, Ali B, Robin Banks, Adam F, DJ EZ, Steve Smart, Carl Cox, Logan Sama, DJ Hatcha, Armin van Buuren, Rickie Haywood Williams, Melvin Odoom, Hed Kandi, Philip George, and DJ S.K.T.

See also


  1. Stephen Hebditch (17 August 2014). "Kiss FM - London pirate radio history - AM/FM".
  2. Stephen Titmus (8 November 2013). "Gordon Mac: The Man Who Changed London Radio". Red Bull Music Academy Daily.
  3. Goddard, Grant. KISS FM: From Radical Radio to Big Business. Radio Books, 2011.
  4. Stephen Hebditch (17 March 2002). "AM/FM – Spring 1990". Archived from the original on 5 February 2003.
  5. "Kiss 100fm First Legal Broadcast - m:cast: Internet Archive". Internet Archive. 1 September 1990.
  6. Julia Hartley-Brewer (18 August 1999). "Kiss DJ sacked 'for being black'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  7. "News | The Big Kiss-Off - News - NME.COM". New Musical Express. 24 January 1999. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008.
  8. "The Magic programmer's Story". Music & Media. 11 September 1999.
  9. Paul McCann (13 July 1999). "Media: A kiss goodbye to radical radio". The Independent.
  10. "Kiss FM handed record radio fine". BBC News. 20 June 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  11. Day, Julia (4 September 2006). "Kiss and shake up". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  12. "Kiss allowed to go national - RadioToday". Radio Today. 17 December 2010.
  13. "Kiss appears on Digital One - RadioToday". Radio Today. 27 December 2012.
  14. David Burrell (22 November 2012). "DJ David Rodigan resigns from Kiss FM over 'marginalisation' of reggae music". The Independent.
  15. "Bauer launches KISS in Norway and Finland - RadioToday". Radio Today. 15 February 2016.
  16. "Kiss 100 FM A Summer Kiss Magazine - Internet Archive". Internet Archive. September 1992.

Further reading

  • Grant Goddard, KISS FM: From Radical Radio to Big Business, 2011 Radio Books. ISBN 0-9564-9631-8

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