Could The Rick Dees-Era KIIS Be Radio’s Recipe For Success Today?



By Adam R Jacobson

Call it nostalgia. Call it boredom from hearing the Imanbek remix of “Roses” by Saint Jhn way too many times. Call it COVID-19 propelled mental instability.

I’ve been listening to vintage airchecks of one of the greatest Top 40 stations the world has ever seen — a Los Angeles-based operation with a world-renown air talent anchoring the highly rated station.

No, I’m not talking about 93 KHJ, which got another moment in the sun with the film “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” Rather, the subject of this column is 102.7 KIIS-FM and the man who towered over the West Coast for more than two decades: Rick Dees.

Sure, Dees’ on-air shtick and questionably sexist commentary is certainly debatable in this #MeToo era. Yes, his star faded across the last 15 years while former sidekick Ellen K. is a top-rated star in her own right at KOST-FM 103.5 in Los Angeles.

But, no one can deny that the dominance of Dees and then-Gannett owned KIIS is the stuff of legend. And, perhaps it offers the modern-day operator a good learning lesson of how to build and maintain a winner — especially in difficult times.

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