|Broadcast area||Seattle metropolitan area|
|Frequency||98.9 MHz FM (HD Radio)|
|Branding||98.9 The Bull|
HD2: Talk (KKNW simulcast)
|Owner||Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. |
(Seattle FCC License Sub, LLC)
|KQMV, KRWM, KIXI, KKNW|
First air date
|May 1958 (as KMCS)|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|NU (sounds like "new") Country|
|ERP||63,900 watts |
68,000 with beam tilt
|HAAT||698 meters (2290 ft)|
KNUC (98.9 MHz "98.9 The Bull") is a commercial FM radio station in Seattle, Washington. The station is owned by Hubbard Broadcasting and airs a country music radio format. Hubbard also owns four other radio stations in the Seattle metropolitan area. The studios and offices are located at Newport Corporate Center on 131st Avenue SE in Bellevue.
KNUC's effective radiated power (ERP) is 63,900 watts (68,000 with beam tilt). The transmitter is located in Issaquah on Tiger Mountain. KNUC broadcasts in the HD Radio format. Its HD-2 subchannel carries co-owned talk station KKNW 1150 AM.
In May 1958, the station first signed on as KMCS, owned by Market-Casters, Inc. (hence the call sign). It was then locally owned by former executives with Crown Broadcasting (later to be known as the King Broadcasting Company).
KMCS played popular music and was powered at 10,500 watts, a fraction of its current output. From the late 1960s into the late 1980s, the station operated a sub-carrier 67 kHz subsidiary communications authority (SCA), which transmitted music and point of sale commercials to subscribing restaurants and stores in the Puget Sound area, not available on regular FM receivers. The station switched its call letters to KBBX in 1966.
KBBX began airing the syndicated easy listening "Music Only For A Woman" format in 1972, supplied by TM. The station also increased its power to 35,000 watts, covering Seattle, Tacoma and adjoining communities. The call letters changed to KEZX. The station's slogan was "Oceans of Beautiful Music."
The SCA was part of the reason that Roy H. Park, owner of Park Broadcasting, purchased the station in late 1975. At the time, Park was one of the largest broadcast companies in the U.S., with many of its stations also airing beautiful music, including WPAT-AM-FM in the New York metropolitan area. Claude Rorabaugh, fresh from KSEA as a college intern, was hired as morning drive host and as Operations Manager. In addition, William F. King was promoted from Park's Portland stations as General Manager. Under Rorabaugh and King's direction, KEZX increased its power to 100,000 watts in the spring of 1977. Prior to Park's ownership, the station was using the Bellevue-based BPI syndicated beautiful music service. Then, in the Spring of 1976, Park made an agreement with Darrel Peters of the "FM 100 Plan" from WLOO in Chicago to go with his Beautiful Music format. With limited commercial breaks, and carefully controlled music and voice elements, the station was gaining audience. (At one point, Bonneville tried to offer Rorabaugh a job at a Bonneville client station.) Locally originated programming would return in 1980.
By the early 1980s, the easy listening format was beginning to age. In 1983, KEZX flipped to a mix of soft adult contemporary, "West Coast" singer-songwriter music, album oriented rock, and jazz music, a forerunner to today's adult album alternative (AAA) format. KEZX remained as a AAA station until October 15, 1990, when it reverted to Soft AC.
In August 1993, KEZX became a smooth jazz outlet, a format that was gaining ground in many major US cities. In October 1995, the station's call sign became KWJZ to complement its smooth jazz format, which had achieved positive ratings in the Seattle-Tacoma radio market. In 1996, KWJZ and co-owned AM 1150 (now KKNW) were sold to Sandusky Broadcasting for $26 million.
With the celebration of the 15th anniversary of KWJZ's format in 2008, the station dropped the "Smooth Jazz" part of its branding and became known simply as 98.9 KWJZ. While smooth jazz still made up the majority of its programming, KWJZ incorporated some chill out music, such as that featured on the syndicated program Chill with Mindi Abair (which aired on Sunday nights on KWJZ), as part of a more broadly defined "smooth music" format.
In the 2000s, KWJZ and other Smooth Jazz stations began a slow decline in ratings due to changes in Arbitron's measurement system. Portable People Meters (PPM) started being introduced in the Seattle market in late 2008.
On December 27, 2010, at 3 pm, KWJZ changed its format to adult album alternative/modern AC as "Click 98.9." Click's first song was Animal by Neon Trees. On March 15, 2011, KWJZ changed its call letters to KLCK-FM to reflect its brand name.
Following Mediabase's addition of the station on the alternative rock panel, the station switched to alternative rock in November 2011, though it still leaned toward AAA. Unlike other alternative stations, Click also aired some dance music, such as Martin Solveig's "Hello" and Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger." By that December, the station began to include some hot AC material, such as Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry (primarily artists from sister adult contemporary radio station KRWM), but still retained its modern rock direction, reporting to Mediabase's alternative rock panel.
By March 2012, the station switched to hot adult contemporary per Mediabase reports, joining adult top 40 station KPLZ-FM, though KLCK-FM would shift back towards modern AC by mid-2014. In July 2013, Sandusky announced it would sell its radio holdings in Seattle and Phoenix to Hubbard Broadcasting. The sale was completed that November.
During the latter part of the "Click" years, ratings for the station were continually ranked low, averaging about a high 1 to a low 2 share of the Seattle market, as the station was unable to compete against KPLZ, KNDD, KBKS and KYNW. (In the January 2015 Nielsen PPM ratings report for the market, KLCK was ranked No. 19 with a 1.9 share). In addition, the station consistently tweaked its music direction and had a frequent airstaff turnover.
On March 11, 2016, at Noon, after playing Grapevine Fires by Bellingham band Death Cab for Cutie, KLCK began stunting with a "Wheel of Formats," changing playlists every 6 hours at 6 am, Noon, 6 pm, and Midnight. The formats consisted of all-Frank Sinatra, all-Eagles, all-Garth Brooks, opera/showtunes/musical soundtracks, all-Billy Joel, all-Elvis, all-Red Hot Chili Peppers/Foo Fighters, TV show theme songs, all-Neil Diamond, all-Madonna, all-AC/DC, all-Elton John, all-Beatles, prank phone calls from sister KQMV's morning show "Brooke and Jubal", and all-Led Zeppelin.
There were rumors that the station was planning a format change to all sports as "98.9 The Score" or "Sports 98.9." (A Facebook page was even made for the latter branding, as well as one for "98.9 Real Conservative Radio" to throw speculators off the trail, with the pages taken down shortly after.) The station's website was replaced with quotes from historical figures and lyrics from songs such as The Beatles’ "In My Life," Elvis Presley’s "Heartbreak Hotel" and Garth Brooks’ "Unanswered Prayers," as well as floating question mark bubbles which, when clicked on, either played a female computerized voice soundbite stating "Hey, don't touch that," "What is going on?" "This is strange," or "That tickles." In addition, Hubbard requested the call sign KVRQ for the station, which was approved on March 15. Program Director Lisa Adams, morning host Jerry Potter, and midday host Megan Lee all exited with the change.
At Noon on March 16, 2016, the station officially flipped to mainstream rock as "Rock 98.9", with the first song being Nirvana's "In Bloom," part of a 12,000-song, 30-day commercial-free introductory run. The station also made the official change to the KVRQ call letters on the same day.
On December 4, 2017, at 10:44 am, while in the middle of playing "Otherside" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, KVRQ flipped to country music as Country 98.9; the change came after long-time country station KMPS flipped to soft adult contemporary earlier in the morning (after having briefly switched to all-Christmas music upon the completion of CBS Radio's merger with Entercom, the owner of competing country station KKWF). The call letters were changed to KNUC on February 6, 2018.
On April 3, 2018, the station rebranded as 98.9 The Bull.