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Friday, May 30, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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TV-Radio Beat

Kiss The Rhythm Goodbye: Top 40 Is On 106.1 Fm

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

"Planet of the Apes" was on cable this week. In the movie, National Rifle Association honcho Charlton Heston kissed a female ape.

This was on The Disney Channel. What's the world coming to? What's next?

Here's what

Genuine music-radio competition? Enough '70s barbarism!

In these days of corporate consolidation and precision programming, it's noteworthy, even in a major market, when a station decides to compete head to head in a niche with an established player like adult-Top 40 KPLZ-FM (101.5), owned by Seattle-based Fisher Broadcasting.

The radio market is so fragmented, it's practically suicide to try to steal a share of a miniscule slice of pie.

But there's a challenger, unveiled this week, calling itself "the new Kiss 106.1 - the '90s music mix," even though the old Kiss wasn't much more than a year old itself.

Kiss is officially KBKS-FM and KRPM-AM (1090), owned by EZ Communications of Fairfax, Va. (soon to be absorbed by American Radio Systems of Boston). Kiss began in 1996 with a mission to play pop rhythm, with plenty of soulful oldies, that adults could enjoy.

It has now nearly abandoned rhythm-oriented adult-contemporary music. Most of the air personalities, including Cheryl Palmer and Australian Outback Jack, are gone. Morning host Dana Dearden remains, but Kiss basically sounds like a juke box - for now, anyway.

Program director Mike Preston did not return a phone call, but it appears Kiss intends to take on KPLZ, better known as "Star 101.5." Joked KPLZ morning co-host and program director Kent Phillips: "It sounds like us, so I think they're great!"

The entrenched Star in recent years has evolved from "hot" adult-contemporary to adult Top 40 - a subtle shift to the untrained ear, but one that recognizes the hot genre of mainstream rock dominated by women.

On both stations you'll hear the closest thing to the traditional notion of eclectic Top 40 radio. It's mostly up-tempo, rock-oriented. Female artists such as the Spice Girls, Jewel and Shawn Colvin are thriving now. Yesterday morning, you could hear both stations simultaneously playing Colvin's "Sunny Came Home."

The shoe drops at KIRO-TV

Seven people at KIRO-TV (UPN) this week were told they will be let go in a month as part of an ownership change likely to happen next week.

It wasn't unexpected. When the station regains CBS affiliation this summer, probably on June 30, it will have to trim its news from its current 8 1/2 hours a day to accommodate network programming.

Citing personnel issues, KIRO declined to name those being let go. Three are on-air talent. All work in news, and three work on the station's local morning show, "7 Live." The show will be cut back to meld with "CBS This Morning."

The layoffs were conducted by outgoing owner A.H. Belo of Dallas, which also owns KING-TV (NBC) and NorthWest Cable News here. Sometime next week, with Federal Communications Commission approval, Cox Communications of Atlanta will take control of KIRO-TV.

The KIRO change is part of a complicated deal that includes an ownership swap at KSTW-TV (CBS). Next week, Paramount Stations Group of Los Angeles will take control of KSTW from Gaylord Entertainment of Nashville, Tenn. KSTW laid off 50 people last week.

Tony Cassara, president of Paramount Stations Group of Los Angeles, next week will visit KSTW. When KIRO gains CBS, KSTW will get UPN, a corporate relative of Paramount Stations.

Puget Sound bites

. . . "Bill Nye the Science Guy," the show on PBS co-produced by KCTS-TV (PBS) and Disney, won four daytime Emmy Awards this month: for directing in a children's series, for writing in a children's series, for single-camera editing and for sound editing. . . .

. . . The "For Kids' Sake" series of specials on KOMO-TV (ABC) continues tonight at 9 with "Kids Without Conscience," hosted by news anchor Dan Lewis. . . .

. . . The QVC home-shopping channel will broadcast live from the Flag Plaza at Seattle Center on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., featuring products from Washington businesses. . . .

TV-Radio Beat appears every Friday in The Seattle Times. Electronic-media reporter Chuck Taylor can be reached at (206) 464-8524 or on the Internet at ctay-new@seatimes.com.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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