Broadcast areaMissoula, Montana
Frequency96.3 MHz
Branding96.3 The Blaze
FormatMainstream rock
First air date
February 11, 1969 (1969-02-11)
Former call signs
KLYQ-FM (1969–1987)
KBMG (1987–2000)
Call sign meaning
From "Blaze" branding
Technical information
Facility ID4700
ERP53,000 watts
HAAT637 meters
Transmitter coordinates
46°48′8″N 113°28′51″W / 46.80222°N 113.48083°W / 46.80222; -113.48083
WebcastListen Live

KBAZ (96.3 FM, "The Blaze") is a commercial radio station in Hamilton, Montana, broadcasting to the Missoula, Montana, area. KBAZ airs a mainstream rock music format.


On November 27, 1968, the Bitter Root Broadcasting Company, owners of KLYQ (1240 AM) obtained a construction permit for a new FM radio station on 95.9 MHz in Hamilton.[1] It began on February 11, 1969, and was used to extend the then-daytime station's service to the nighttime hours.[2] By 1980, KLYQ-FM was programming an easy listening format separate from country music on the AM frequency.[3] Stereo broadcasting began in late 1980, and by 1981 the station was airing adult contemporary music during daytime hours and Top 40 at night.[4]

At the start of 1982, the KLYQ stations were sold to Alexander Communications, Inc. That company filed for bankruptcy in 1984, and the properties were conveyed back to their previous owner, Luin K. Dexter, who then sold both to Bob Massey, a native of Missoula.[5] When Massey sold the stations to Steve Benedict in late 1986, Benedict set out to give the FM outlet its own identity and relaunched it as KBMG "Magic 96" in March 1987.[6]

Benedict sold KLYQ and KBMG to American Cities Broadcasting of Chicago in 1997, working for the new company after the sale; that company had also acquired three Missoula stations for $4.5 million.[7] Under American Cities (which changed its name to Marathon Media), KBMG was approved for a transmitter relocation and power upgrade to 85,000 watts, which placed the station into the Missoula market. Before this upgrade, only the south hills received the station and it had considerable interference from KKMT in Kalispell. [8] With the frequency change to 96.3 A major format change followed. On March 28, 2000, Magic 96 yielded to a new format programmed from Missoula, alternative "The Blaze"; some local programming for Hamilton moved to the AM station, and there were job losses there as well. [9]

96.3 The Blaze

In February there were reports of we new radio station coming to Missoula. After a period of stunting The Blaze was first heard in a Missoula on March 28, 2000. The Blaze started out playing Alternative Rock with a emphasis on Metal from the start playing core artists such as Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Staind.

   The blaze had a considerable following especially from the college crowd looking for a new rock & roll station.  The Blaze broke in new acts such as Disturbed, Cold, Mushroom head and other hard rock and Metal acts.

The Blaze played much more heavy metal than other Alternative radio stations. As The owners transferred from Clear Channel to GAPWEST then to Townsquare media. The sound moved from Alternative to Active Rock. Most of the Blazes music consisted of titles released after 1990. With the transition, The Blaze played older titles mostly by established metal bands such as Megadeth, Metallica, Guns N Roses.

   Today, The Blaze's format leans towards the harder end of the rock spectrum.  The Blaze still plays metal through Full Metal Jackie and Local 406 spotlighting the local metal scene.


Marathon then sold its Montana radio properties to Clear Channel Communications in 2001 along with five stations in Washington and Oregon; the $30 million transaction was spurred because the company felt the assets were "mature" and at their peak in performance terms.[10]

In October 2007, a deal was reached for Clear Channel to sell KBAZ to GAP Broadcasting II LLC (as part of a 57-station deal with a total reported sale price of $74.78 million.[11] What eventually became GapWest Broadcasting was folded into Townsquare Media on August 13, 2010.[12]


  1. ^ FCC History Cards for KBAZ
  2. ^ "By KLYQ Radio: FM Station Approval Granted Here". Ravalli Republican. December 2, 1968. p. 1.
  3. ^ "If soft and mellow is the music that soothes your soul... Then FM is the sound for your valley home". Ravalli Republic. February 6, 1980. p. 5.
  4. ^ "KLYQ celebrates 20 years". Ravalli Republic. February 6, 1981. p. 2.
  5. ^ "Radio station sold again". Ravalli Republic. July 23, 1984. p. 1.
  6. ^ Thorning, Ruth (March 2, 1987). "'Magic' joins the airwaves". Ravalli Republic. p. 1.
  7. ^ Dey, Ken (June 30, 1997). "Hamilton radio stations sold". Ravalli Republic. p. 1, 9.
  8. ^ Rider, Jane (March 18, 1999). "New tower quintuples Bitterroot radio signal". The Missoulian. p. B1.
  9. ^ Smith, Buddy (March 29, 2 000). "Final broadcast: Magic 96 signs off". Ravalli Republic. pp. 1, 6. ((cite news)): Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ "Electrical shortcomings delay 'high-end' bus shelters downtown". Milwaukee Business Journal. December 31, 2000.
  11. ^ "Deals". Broadcasting & Cable. 2006-06-19.
  12. ^ "Townsquare Media completes roll-up of GAP". Radio Business Report. August 13, 2010. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2010.