KBKS-FM (106.1 FM), better known as "106.1 KISS FM", is a hot adult contemporary-formatted radio station licensed to Tacoma, Washington and broadcasts to the Seattle metropolitan area. The iHeartMedia outlet broadcasts at 106.1 MHz with an effective radiated power of 73,000 watts from a transmitter on Tiger Mountain, while its studios are located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle.


KBKS signed on the air in May 1959 as KLAY-FM, a sister station to KLAY. Like most FM stations at the time, the station aired a beautiful music format that targeted Tacoma, its city of license, and South Puget Sound. KLAY-FM was the first FM station in the Pacific Northwest broadcasting in stereo.

On May 1, 1972, KLAY-FM began airing a progressive rock format during the evening and overnight hours, with the beautiful music format remaining in other dayparts. By October 1972, the rock format was airing full-time. Many famous Seattle radio personalities got their start here during this time period.

In March 1980, the station was sold to Heritage Media. The station then flipped to country as "K106", and the call letters changed to KRPM. The station competed against EZ Communications' KMPS. The station simulcasted on KRPM/KULL 770 AM from 1985 to 1991, and again for a brief time in 1995. The station would adopt the call sign KCIN-FM (when the station rebranded to "Kickin' Country K106") on November 1, 1995 (while the AM simulcast would move to 1090 as part of a format swap with 770, with 1090 taking the KRPM calls).

In the Spring of 1996, shortly after the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Heritage swapped KCIN and KRPM to EZ in exchange for EZ's New Orleans cluster. The transaction made KMPS and KCIN sister stations (EZ immediately took over the stations via an LMA until the purchase was completed later that year). EZ also bought KYCW-FM (which also ran a country format) from Infinity Broadcasting two weeks prior, which would lead to the end of the country format on KCIN and KRPM.[2] On March 18, 1996, KCIN/KRPM dropped regular programming and began simulcasting KMPS from Monday (March 18) to Thursday (March 21), then simulcasted KYCW on Friday (March 22) and Saturday (March 23). At Midnight on Sunday (March 24), KCIN/KRPM began a 39-hour stunt with random audio soundbites, as well as announcing a change to come the following afternoon.

On March 25, 1996, at 3 p.m., KCIN/KRPM flipped to a gold-leaning Rhythmic Adult Contemporary format, branded as "Kiss 106."[3][4] KCIN would reacquire the KRPM-FM call letters on April 5, but would adopt the current KBKS-FM call letters on April 15. (KRPM-AM would continue to simulcast until February 1, 1999, when it flipped to classic country.) The station's playlist consisted of a wide range of rhythmic hits targeting adults 25–54 years old, including Motown, 1960s-1980s gold, re-currents, and then-current hits from artists like Celine Dion, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Boyz II Men, and competed against KUBE, KLSY, and KPLZ-FM.[18]

On May 23, 1997, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, KBKS flipped to Top 40/CHR and modified its moniker to "Kiss 106.1." [5] This marked the first Top 40/CHR station in Seattle since 1994, when KPLZ-FM shifted to Hot AC. The Rhythmic AC format would return to Seattle radio on KQMV (92.5 FM) from 2006-2010, and KMTT (103.7 FM) in 2013. EZ and American Radio Systems would merge in July 1997; ARS and Infinity would merge that September. With this, KBKS would become an Infinity Broadcasting station (which was owned by CBS).

At first, KBKS' direction leaned more towards Modern Rock/Modern AC as a way to counter KUBE's Rhythmic Top 40 direction, before becoming more mainstream in early 2000. In 2007, at the same time the station rebranded to "106.1 KISS FM", the station began broadening its direction by leaning rhythmic, in the hopes to dent KUBE's dominant ratings in the Seattle Top 40 wars. With the introduction of the PPM in Arbitron ratings measurement in mid-2009, KBKS jumped from 13th place (in the old diary system) to 3rd place. KBKS also played more punk-rock/pop tracks that most Top 40 stations in the United States don't play, which is also a benefactor in their rise in the ratings. Both KBKS and KUBE go back and forth in the ratings, but overall, they are in the lower end of the Top 10. In the latest Arbitron ratings report (November 2011), KBKS has a 4.3 share, placing at #6, while KUBE has a 4.2 share, placing them at #8.

On December 14, 2005, Infinity Broadcasting would be renamed CBS Radio.

On December 10, 2008, CBS Radio announced it would swap 5 of its stations (including KBKS) to its current owner iHeartMedia (then known as Clear Channel Communications) in trade of 2 stations in Houston, Texas; the deal was approved by the FCC on March 31, 2009, and consummated on April 1. The station would also back off of its rhythmic lean and would shift back to a more mainstream direction.

The acquisition by Clear Channel joined KBKS with former long-time rival rhythmic top 40 station KUBE, leaving KBKS to compete against Sandusky Broadcasting's pair of CHR KQMV (Movin' 92.5) and Modern AC KLCK-FM (Click 98.9) (which has since flipped to Rock), and Fisher Broadcasting's Hot AC KPLZ-FM (Star 101.5).

As part of a major format shuffle involving four of iheart's Seattle stations, on January 19, 2016, at Noon, KBKS's Top 40 format moved to 93.3 FM, displacing KUBE's Rhythmic Top 40 format (which would move to sister KKBW). At the same time, KBKS shifted to Hot AC (adopting the format from KYNW, which would flip to alternative rock).[9][17][8] Bender & Molly remain in mornings, with midday host Karen Wild and afternoon host Eric Tyler being let go.

With iHeart's acquisition of KJAQ, KZOK and what is now KFNQ as part of the company acquiring the divestments from the Entercom/CBS Radio merger in both Seattle and Boston in November 2017, KBKS will be under common ownership with the aforementioned stations for the first time since 2009.

HD radio

The station signed on HD Radio operations on January 19, 2006. The station's HD2 channel first aired a New CHR format branded as "New Kiss 2". New Kiss 2 had a website () and had on-air personalities. In April 2009, with the sale of the station to Clear Channel, the HD2 channel flipped to Mainstream Urban as "The Beat". By December 2011, the HD2 channel switched to a Russian language format outsourced to a different provider. As of July 2012, the HD2 channel flipped to a Dance Top 40 format, branded as "Club Phusion", which is carried through Clear Channel's iheartradio mobile application and platform. After the discontinuation of "Club Phusion" in late 2013, the HD2 channel was replaced by the new EDM channel "Evolution."[2]

Morning show

The station's morning show is currently hosted by Bender Cunningham, who has been on air since January 21, 2001. [2] The show also includes co-host Molly Mesnick. Initially, the show was titled "Jackie & Bender", and was co-hosted with Bender's then-wife Jackie Cunningham. During the first few months of 2014, Jackie did not appear on the show due to personal issues. In March, however, Jackie announced she was leaving the station to co-host a morning show at KLCK. The morning show was immediately renamed "Bender Nation." After Molly Mesnick (wife of former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestant Jason Mesnick) joined the show, the morning show was renamed "Bender & Molly."

Previous morning shows include Dana Deardon & The Kiss Boys from March 1996-May 1997, Chris (Collins) & Dana In The Morning from May 1997-February 2000, Candy & Jer from February 2000-January 18, 2001, and Jackie & Bender from January 21, 2001-March 8, 2014.