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Update: Syracuse Kiss-FM “Mysteries” Solved

SYRACUSE — The trio of stations going by the “Kiss-FM” name in Syracuse, Oswego and Constantia aren’t as new as most people might think — but station officials say renewed efforts to promote the station have been garnering more attention lately.  A few days ago, CNYRadio.com posted an article about the “mystery” behind these stations, and tonight, we’re glad to share some answers after a discussion with station management.

In our original article (which you can read in its entirety below), we wondered who owns these stations, why they aren’t listed on the FCC website, and why there were no call letters referenced in the stations top-of-hour ID.

Today, we heard from station personality Brad Stone, who tells us he’s also the owner, the station manager and the PD.  Serving as Music Director is recent OCC graduate Brianna Walsh, and starting on New Year’s Day, the stations will begin utilizing the voiceover talents of Mobile, Alabama-based Joshua Hatch.

Stone tells CNYRadio.com the signal at 1040AM in Constantia is indeed unlicensed — but legal, in compliance with Part 15 of FCC regulations.  Regarding the FM broadcasts in Syracuse (97.1) and Oswego (93.5), Stone says, “as of this time we are currently experimenting with FM broadcast,” adding that the FM transmitters “can only be tested for a few hours (if that) at a time” before they need to be shut down.  At times when the Syracuse FM transmitter is online, Stone says, “we only serve the Tipperary Hill portion of Syracuse.”

As a result, the station is relying mostly on audiences to catch the online stream at kissfmcny.com, where listeners can not only listen — but watch a live webcam feed, see the list of recently-played songs and submit requests and dedications online.  Phone lines are also setup for those who wish to “call in” their requests the traditional way.

So why go through all the effort when there are many other stations with more powerful signals?  Stone explains how Kiss-FM is different:

Besides user interactivity, both on air and on our website, we also offer music and programming that is often neglected by corporate radio broadcasting companies. Such as our show Nerdvana, this show covers technology, video games, and alternative reviews on some high tech products, with the occasional nerd fight thrown in (it’s a segment on the show).

Stone also points out that the station prides itself in accommodating requests quickly, “usually under 10 minutes.”  We can attest to that — before our original article published yesterday, we sent an anonymous request for a random song while Stone was in the studio, and he had the song on the air immediately after the previous one ended.

Next question: what’s the official format?  Stone says “the station doesnt really have a format. We are trying to not be categorized like the big dogs if you will. But if I had to, I would say we are a 80’s / 90’s & Now.”

Last but not least, when did the station launch?  Stone says it actually started with the AM transmitter in Constantia back in September 1997 as “VRD Radio.”  But the name and other details have changed a number of times over the years.  Kiss-FM is currently in what Stone calls a “market development phase,” while he and his staff are “working our hardest to get this station going and involving the community as much as possible.”

Original Article from 12/19/09:

Mystery Surrounding New “KISS-FM” in Syracuse

SYRACUSE — There’s a new radio station on the air in the Salt City, with repeaters in Oswego and Constantia — but so far, there appear to be more questions than answers surrounding the story of the new “KISS-FM.”

CNYRadio.com first learned about the new station by stumbling upon their Twitter feed earlier this week.  A day later, we received an anonymous email tip about their website at kissfmcny.com.  We followed up with several questions sent to the “Programming” email address on the website, but our message was initially lost in cyberspace due to a server outage.

The graphical banner across the top of the website states this new “KISS-FM” (not to be confused with Utica-based WSKS and WSKU, who’ve used the same moniker for the past 15 years) is on the air at 91.7FM in Syracuse, 93.5FM in Oswego and 1040AM in Constantia.  Our own attempts to tune in 91.7FM while driving around Syracuse were largely unsuccessful — at one point, we thought we had it during a Christmas song, but the song ended and a liner for Sunny 102 (WZUN) played, followed by another Christmas song… perhaps we found a translator or an STL frequency?  In any event, the only way we’ve been able to listen so far is online.

Additionally, there are no listings on the FCC website for either of the three frequencies.  We searched the FCC’s database for every 91.7FM station, every 93.5FM station and every 1040AM station in New York state, but found nothing licensed to Syracuse, Oswego or Constantia, respectively.

However, the lack of FCC listings doesn’t necessarily mean the stations could be illegal — after all, the website is pretty clear about the location of the studios, and pirate radio stations generally tend to be more secretive about their locations.

Shortly after 1:00pm today, a top-of-hour stager aired, but no call letters or cities of license were mentioned. Minutes later, jock Brad Stone appeared on the air and on the live webcam feed, occasionally smiling and giving peace signs to the camera during songs.

Among the questions we asked management — when did the station start?  Who is in charge?  While the website lists the names of some on-air personalities, it doesn’t identify the PD or other managers by name.  If and when we get a response, we’ll post those answers here, so be sure to check back.

For now, the best we could do in terms of identifying management was a WHOIS search on the domain kissfmcny.com.  The listing shows a Brad Trammell of Sylvan Media Solutions at 206 Tompkins Street in Syracuse, the same mailing address listed on the stations’ website.  The listing says the domain was registered in May 2009.

4 Comments to Update: Syracuse Kiss-FM “Mysteries” Solved

  1. Their website says they are a ‘community’ station so they may be running three Part 15 transmitters for which no license is needed: 91.7 and 93.5 could run 1/10th of a watt as long as they don’t provide a useable signal beyond 250 feet from the transmitter site; the 1040am signal can also run 1/10th of a watt but there are no limits on its coverage area, so if the antenna itself (which I believe cannot be more than 10 feet long) has a good ground sysytem it could go 1 to 2 miles. That’s my best guess. If they are using any higher power the FCC would consider them pirates.

  2. @NXEA: Thanks for the clarification… I was also thinking they were doing the legal low-power thing, but had a heck of a time trying to dig up the actual guidelines for what’s allowed and what isn’t. Would be interested in learning exactly where the transmitters are, in order to get a feel for where you’d need to be in order to actually hear the radio signal, but I’ve got the impression they’re more concerned with online listenership than on-air.

    In any event, they definitely appear to be making a serious effort, so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out for them into the future.

    @pontiac59: We don’t know if they are paying licensing fees or not. I think it would be foolish to put a station out there with such a promotional effort and NOT be paying licensing fees (especially when the website spits out a list of every single song played), but we don’t know for sure, so we shouldn’t be implying either way.

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