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Tuesday, March 26, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A Kiss Replaces Kickin' On Radio

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Perhaps seizing on the popularity of Top 40-rhythm KUBE-FM, a new radio format hit the air yesterday, aimed at older listeners who enjoy rhythm music but not the genre's sharper edges.

Calling itself Kiss-106, the station formerly known as "Kickin' Country" also is playing rhythm oldies.

For lack of a better label, call it "rhythmic adult-contemporary," said Fred Schumacher, vice president and general manager of the EZ Communications Inc. radio stations here.

"The music spans the time period from Motown in the late '60s to current hits by Mariah Carey, Boyz 2 Men, Janet Jackson," he said.

Kiss-106 occupies the former frequencies of country KCIN-FM (106.1) and KRPM-AM (1090). "Kickin' Country," as it was known, was kicked off the air last week with the announcement that EZ will acquire the stations from Heritage Media Corp. New call letters will be sought, Schumacher said.

EZ also owns country KMPS-FM-AM (94.1, 1300) and classic-rock KZOK-FM (102.5), and it is purchasing country KYCW-FM (96.5).

"We were intent on drawing an older audience but remaining true to the rhythm format," Schumacher said. "We tried for a format that didn't go head-to-head with anybody else in town."

But in the early going there seemed to be plenty of overlap with other stations in town, according to one competing radio executive.

"In the 16 records we tracked, we only found four that overlapped with KUBE," said Michael O'Shea, president of KUBE's parent, New Century Media Inc.

Nine of the sample songs are also being played by adult-contemporary KPLZ-FM (101.5), O'Shea noted, and eight are on the playlist of adult-contemporary KLSY-FM (92.5). He downplayed the competition Kiss-106 might pose for KUBE.

Yet the Kiss-106 format is different from the other adult-contemporary stations in that it highlights African-American artists, a nod to the success of KUBE's Top 40-rhythm format. KUBE currently is ranked second among 18- to 34-year-olds and third among all Seattle-Tacoma listeners.

Kiss-106 is playing nearly wall-to-wall music until the mix is refined and listeners get accustomed to it, Schumacher said. Decisions on air personalities are next.

Two popular voices from "Kickin' Country" are in limbo, meanwhile: longtime Seattle morning man Ichabod Caine and Mad Man Moskowitz, whose Sunday-night novelty-record program has a loyal following. Schumacher couldn't say if they would have a future with the station.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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