KVIL (103.7 MHz, Alt 103.7) is a commercial FM radio station licensed to Highland Park, Texas and serving the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in North Texas. The station is owned by Entercom. The station's studios are located along North Central Expressway in Uptown Dallas, and the transmitter site is in Cedar Hill off West Belt Line Road. The station is branded as "Alt 103.7" and airs an alternative rock format.
On August 14, 1961, KVIL-FM first signed on the air, as the sister station to AM 1150 KVIL (now KBDT). Because the AM station was a daytime only station, KVIL-FM was used to simulcast the AM's personality middle of the road music format around the clock.
The original location of the studios was in the Highland Park Village Shopping Center (hence the VIL call letters). The address was 4152 Mockingbird Lane at Preston Road, overlooking the Dallas Country Club golf course. In 1962 the owner/manager was John Coyle with the program director being Dillard Carerra. The station had an unusually high power of 119,000 watts in full stereo. (The power has since been reduced to 99,000 watts, because the antenna height was increased.)
The remarkable engineering of the audio was routed through a huge audio mixer with slider controls utilizing German silver rheostats. Audio phasing was a problem at that time. Capitol Records, for instance, used a reverse-phasing that prevented anything recorded by The Beatles to be played, unless it was monaural. The reverse phasing simply blanked out the audio tracks to a distorted muffle.
"The singing time clock" was one of the first digital breakthroughs – actually a marriage of digital and analog technology. The clock audio was recorded on 1/4" tape in stereo played on AMPEX recorders in individual segments, by the jingle singers at PAMS in Dallas. The project was huge, involving musicians, singers, and recording engineers who taped every minute on the 24-hour clock in at least two versions, to be played by the station at the appropriate minute. The sequential clock was synchronized to the individual tape segments. When the DJ pushed the button, the audience heard "It's nine forty-three on the Kayville Clock, K-V-I-L" or any imaginable variation of such limerick – and in stereo. The pronunciation of "KVIL" as "Kayville" is probably the best-known example of a station's call letters actually being sung or spoken as a word.
The KVIL logo was one of sophistication – the picture of a feminine hand with a bracelet. That logo was plastered all over Dallas on billboards, matchbooks, and most any imaginable media.
Short-lived top 40 format
KVIL was the first station in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area to broadcast Top 40 on FM and in stereo. The initial attempt in April 1967 was bold, offering good personalities and some interesting programming including the first Dallas broadcast of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, played in its entirety on the evening of its release.
The 1967 to 1969 attempt to take on (the then very popular) KLIF failed because FM was still a relatively new format and only a small percentage of people owned FM radios. FM was not even a "standard" feature in original equipment car radios until the late-1970s even though it had been an option since the early-1960s. Additionally, KVIL's AM (now KBDT) broadcast was only operating during daylight hours when the evenings were critical to a top-40 station's survival in the ratings. The failing station suffered in several ways, including employees running off with the records (possibly in place of the pay they were likely not receiving).
The adult contemporary era
Owners of KVIL from 1968 through 1973 were Highland Park socialites James B. Francis, Robert D. Hanna and John Ryman. In early 1969, KVIL starting broadcasting under the new management and spent several weeks broadcasting only music, no commercials except brief announcements by Ron Chapman, telling listeners what was in store. And this time it happened as planned. Ron's expertise in broadcasting and his popularity, along with the increasing popularity of FM stereo, brought the station to prominence. In 1973, KVIL was sold to Fairbanks Broadcasting and Chapman stayed on as morning DJ for many years after. KVIL hired Mike Selden from KLIF and installed Bill Gardner and Jack Schell in middays. This dynamic lineup along with programming insights from consultant George Johns and upper management direction from Jim Hilliard and Chapman's panache for marketing and promotion started KVIL's steady climb in the ratings.
For many years during the 1970s and 1980s, it was the top station in the market. It even put 90 minutes of its morning show on KXTX-TV for a week in May every year, to show extravagant stunts such as a camel race in the African desert. During the 1990s, it spent several years as the flagship station for the Dallas Cowboys.
KVIL's programming was simulcast on both the FM (103.7) and AM (1150) signals. KVIL (AM) signed on as a daytime-only station in 1960, and KVIL-FM was added a year later. Yet, despite an attempt to take on the legendary KLIF with a Top 40 music format in 1967, neither AM nor FM attracted a very large portion of the listening audience until 1969, when the station hired Chapman (better known to KLIF listeners as "Irving Harrigan") to do the morning show. At the same time, KVIL instituted a music format that was unique for its time, a cross between Top 40 and MOR which would later be termed "Adult Contemporary." The station was meant to appeal to adult listeners who had grown up with KLIF by projecting the same type of "showmanship" typical of Top 40 stations. KVIL first finished in Dallas/Fort Worth's top 10 Arbitron ratings in 1974 (the year after Arbitron combined Dallas and Fort Worth into a single market) and topped the ratings list for the first time in the fall of 1976 with Chapman in the morning and his cast of support players, Larry Dixon and Bruce Buchanan (Jim Edwards) in mid-days, and Mike Selden in PM drive.
In 1987, Infinity Broadcasting bought KVIL AM/FM.
In September 1998, KVIL rebranded as "Lite Rock 103.7", which was then changed to "103.7 Lite FM" in December 2005.
The "Sunday Jazz Brunch" hosted by Tempe Lindsey (formerly of KOAI "107.5 The Oasis") was dropped from its programming as of September 27, 2009, and replaced with regular programming.
Gene and Julie Gates took KVIL to first place in the ratings in the morning for the first time in 13 years.
The New Sound of KVIL
On May 2, 2013, KVIL dropped the "Lite FM" branding in favor of using its call letters and re-positioned themselves as "The Best Variety...90s, 2K & Today", and marketed as "The New Sound of 103.7 KVIL" to attract a new generation of listeners, making it the first format change in less than 45 years for the station. Gene & Julie would be replaced by Tony Zazza and Julie Fisk. Zazza & Fisk were released from the station in October 2014.
In the middle of November, beginning in 2001, KVIL would flip to an all-Christmas format that ran through Christmas Day. For 2011, the AC format returned on December 27 instead of December 26. With the format repositioning in May 2013, the all-Christmas format has moved to classic hits sister station KLUV, which started on November 15, 2013.
For many years, KVIL had been the Dallas affiliate of the syndicated Delilah nighttime love songs program. In early January 2014, the show was dropped with no public announcement of the change until January 21, when Blake Powers took over as the evening DJ for the station. Byron Harrell, programming director of CBS Radio in Dallas said in an email to DFW.com regarding the change, "We respect the level of talent and service Delilah provided the KVIL audience over the years, but it was time for a change at 103.7 as we continue to contemporize the sound of KVIL and focus our attention on the Dallas-Fort Worth metro." Months later, KVIL began leaning towards Adult Top 40. They also dropped the "90s, 2K and Today" slogan, along with the "Throwback Thursday" program that allows listeners to vote for their favorite "throwbacks", which included a few songs from the late 1980s.
Despite this format retooling, KVIL was still listed with an adult contemporary format by Mediabase until May 2, 2014, when they moved KVIL to the "Hot AC" panel full-time, leaving the immediate Dallas/Fort Worth market without an Adult Contemporary station, (although KLAK in Tom Bean was the sole "AC" station that serves areas north and east of the Metroplex) until iHeartMedia officially launched the AC format on KDGE as "Star 102.1" on December 26, 2016. The lone competitor in the Hot AC era was iHeartMedia-owned KDMX.
More Hits, Less Commercials
KVIL shifted to a CHR-leaning format, branded as simply "103.7" on August 1, 2016, effectively eliminating the KVIL branding and adding the slogan "More Hits, Less Commercials", proclaiming to have 50 minutes of music every hour. This follows the URL registration of 'MoreHits1037.com'. On October 5, 2016, Mediabase moved KVIL to the Top 40/CHR panel effective with the October 14, 2016 edition, marking the station's return to such a format for the first time in 47 years.
On January 18, 2017, at 7 a.m., after playing "Heathens" by Twenty One Pilots, KVIL rebranded again, this time as "Amp 103.7", adopting the moniker from sister CBS stations KAMP in Los Angeles, WODS in Boston, WQMP in Orlando, WDZH in Detroit and WBMP in New York City. The first song to play on "Amp" was "Closer" by The Chainsmokers. Unlike other CBS-owned CHRs, KVIL had a heavy adult lean, and was essentially a hybrid of the Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 formats, much like sister WWMX in Baltimore. It competed head-on with iHeartMedia-owned KHKS, Cumulus-owned KLIF-FM (ironically, KVIL, during its short duration as a Top 40 station in the late 1960s, competed with AM station KLIF), and to an extent, iHeartMedia-owned KDMX. Like KVIL's Top 40 format in its first incarnation, Amp was not to last.
On February 2, 2017, CBS Radio announced it would merge with Entercom. The merger was approved on November 9, 2017, and was consummated on the 17th. At 10 a.m. that day, after playing "Sorry" by Justin Bieber, KVIL flipped to alternative rock, branded as "Alt 103.7". This brought the format back to the market after KDGE dropped the format exactly one year earlier to the day (coincidentally, both KDGE and KVIL traded formats within the year). The first song on "Alt" was "Lonely Boy" by The Black Keys. It will compete with iHeartMedia-owned KEGL as their mainstream rock format is alternative-leaning, along with North Texas Public Broadcasting's alternative-leaning AAA station KKXT. A similar move also occurred in New York with sister station WBMP (FM) dropping their CHR format to alternative that same day.
When KVIL began broadcasting a second channel in HD Radio, KVIL launched "Chick Rock" (Rock for Women) on 103.7 HD2. Two years later, the HD2 channel then broadcasts Christian alternative rock music as "Rise". It also broadcast Christmas music from November 1 to the middle of November, when it switched to KVIL's AC programming when the main KVIL station broadcast Christmas music from mid-November to December 25 every year. With the format retooling in May 2013 on KVIL's main station, this programming arrangement has been discontinued, leaving KVIL-HD2 to only air the "Rise" format. However, in July 2014, CBS Radio in Dallas, in conjunction with the North Texas Honda dealers introduced a new one-time seasonal format for the summer season identified as "NTX Honda Fever Radio". The station's variety hits playlist was a diverse mix of classic hits and adult top 40 songs with 'Freddy Fever' as the DJ.