KISS-FM radio, 102.7 WKSB, is celebrating a quarter of a century of radio in the Susquehanna Valley, and continues to find ways to keep their programs current, fresh and fun for the Williamsport community.
The station, which marked it's 25th year on April 1, began its celebrations early with the Chrisman Morning Show 25th birthday party last November at Benjie's Benjamin Ballroom with Rich Clare Pentagon band. That was followed by KISS-FM's 25th anniversary party, which also was held at Benjie's March 31.
"We are planning something else in the fall," said Jim Dabney, vice president and market manager for Clear Channel Media. "Just about everything we do this year will be scheduled around the 25th anniversary."
Al Dame, owner of Dame Media, bought WKSB and WRAK in 1987 and turned it into KISS-FM which became an adult contemporary format, said Gary Chrisman, host of the "Chrisman Morning Show" on KISS.
"They offered me a job and I was hired to be their morning guy," Chrisman said. "And I was doing wacky Chrisman show for years before that, with all the comedy and the characters and what it did was, it kept me in my hometown and it also broadened the reach of the show. So, all of a sudden, we had listeners everywhere."
Dabney said Dame Media made a real effort to go after the big names in the market and recruited and hired the best talent that was available in the area including Chrisman, Ken Sawyer and Lou Kolb.
"Gary is a hometown boy who made good," Dabney said. "He puts on a great program and you come to listen to a very talented on-air personality who has the ability to keep peoples' interest."
Chrisman said he enjoyed working for Dame, who had a lot of success right from the start after buying the stations, and began to buy more stations in other markets.
"He (Dame) had a lot of vision and is just a guy that I think the world of," Chrisman said. "He's a guy that really got it and loved radio. And it was great working for him, it was kind of a family-owned group."
Over the years, the radio group grew, acquiring more stations, including Variety 97.7 and Bill Country. Then towards the end of 1999, beginning of 2000, Dame Media was sold to Clear Channel Communications, the largest radio group in the world, Chrisman said.
Clear Channel provided the stations with top-of-the-line equipment, the best technology and Chrisman said the changes that were made really improved the stations.
"As much as I was not a computer guy 10 years ago - 2000, 2001 when they made all the changes, it made everything easier. Everything is pretty slick," he said.
The Chrisman show is one of the only local shows still on the air after most have gone to nationally syndicated shows. Chrisman is proud of the fact that his show has done so well, pointing out that there are a lot of talented people who have been replaced by syndicated shows over the years.
"I have a lot of loyalty to the people who have contributed to the show and to the audience," Chrisman said. "I really appreciate the people that tune in. I am still driven by that every day."
Chrisman attributes a lot of the success of the show to the cast of characters who have participated in it every day and helped to sustain it's popularity.
"It's not rocket science, it's about having fun and making people laugh," he said. "When you do that, you attract other creative, off-the-wall fun people."
Chrisman said the show also has had 11 years of doing a live show, from 1990 to 2001. He said they took the show on the road and had live shows at the Community Arts Center, Brandon Park and Knoebels.
"I had some of my proudest moments doing that (the live show)," he said. "Every year I get people asking about bringing the show back, and maybe we will one of these days."
Williamsport may be a small town in a small market, but Chrisman said he has never looked at it that way.
"I've always thought big and done big things and big shows and the sky is the limit of what you can do," he said. "And I think that is the successful part of the show and the station, and basically the big thing is having fun."
The stations also like to stay involved with events and organization within the community throughout the year. this year, they raised $28,277 for the Children's Miracle Network and had a Disco Party benefiting the Relay For Life of Williamsport at Benjie's last Saturday.
"Relay is near and dear to my heart," Chrisman said. "I have been lucky enough to be the Honorary Chairman for Relay for close to a dozen years ... That's the other part of radio, you can do some great things and touch a whole bunch of people locally."
Almost the entire staff at Clear Channel lives locally and many have been with the stations since the 80s, Dabney said.
"We really appreciate the audience's listenership and continue to entertain them with the best of news and music," Dabney added. "It's our privilege to serve them and we enjoy it thoroughly."
For more information about KISS-FM, visit them online at www.wksb.com or find them on Facebook.