Stop us if you've heard this one before: KUKQ is dead and its demise is due, in part, to the influence of a bigger and more powerful local alternative radio station.
No, this is not a rerun from the mid-1990s.
And by the way, we're referring to both KUKQs -- the Internet radio station and the completely unrelated low-power FM station, each of which were owned by two different companies altogether and offered slightly different takes on the alternative genre.
Both stations, which ceased broadcasting in late September, were attempts of sorts to revive the legacy of the original KUKQ, the groundbreaking and legendary AM alternative station that broadcasted from late '80s to mid '90s. And both went kaput as a result of bigger player in the local radio market (a fate that ironically befell the O.G. version of KUKQ when The Edge more or less helped to silence it in 1996.)
Specifically, KDKB's recent format change from rock to alternative and transformation into the ALT AZ 93.3 caused the owners of KUKQ online and KUKQ LP-FM to both realize that their respective endeavors were superfluous in light of the new 100,000-megawatt alternative station.
KUKQ online, for instance, was owned and operated by Minnesota-based Hubbard Broadcasting, the same company that also runs ALT AZ 93.3. And once the new terrestrial alternative began broadcasting in mid-September, it became obsolete, particularly since ALT AZ streams over the Internet.
That's the reason that Craven Moorehead, a disc jockey for KUKQ online, stated in a blog post on its website late last month announcing its end.
"Now that ALT AZ 93.3 is broadcasting on one of the most powerful [radio transmitter] in the Valley, and the fact that some key members of our station are part of this new alternative, we will no longer be broadcasting KUKQ online," Moorehead wrote.
Meanwhile, the plug was pulled on KUKQ the low-power FM station, which launched in March and originally broadcasted on 106.7 (and later 99.1 FM) to a small portion of the southeast Valley, on September 27 because owner Shon White felt it couldn't compete with ALT AZ 93.3.
He subsequently flipped the station's format to dance music, changed its call letters to KOWO, and redubbed it "WOW 99.1 FM."
"With full power KDKB flipping to mainstream alternative we just did not feel with our little station that we would be able to grow in a way needed to be financially viable," White told radio industry website AllAccess.com.
The end of both KUKQ revivals is the final chapter in a two-year saga involving an attempt of sorts to fill the void in Valley radio that was created when alt-rock powerhouse X103.9 ceased broadcasting in 2012, and (as we noted) resurrect the legendary KUKQ. And the backstory to this whole saga is a complicated one, which sort of explains why there were two competing KUKQs.
Let's see if we can explain it without having to resort to a flowchart or diagrams (although that might help).
Like we said, there was the original KUKQ that was on the air from via 1060 AM from 1989 to 1993 and again from 1994 to 1996. Bygone broadcasting company Sandusky Radio owned it during its later years before pulling the plug and changing it to sports-talk format.
Then, after X103.9 died in 2012, Sandusky producer Nancy Stevens helped relaunch KUKQ as an Internet station along with Moorehead. Sandusky, which also owned such local stations as KUPD and KDKB, was purchased by Hubbard last summer.
Got that all straight? Okay, this is where it gets even trickier.
Last fall, White (who worked for KWSS as a DJ and weatherman in recent years) applied to the Federal Communications Commission for a license to create a non-commercial low-power station using KUKQ's call letters, which had apparently become available, on 106.7 FM. (It later moved to 99.1 in August.)
Ultimately, White was successful, launched the station in March, and partnered up with the similarly low-powered KWSS, including simulcasting programming like The Morning Infidelity.
He also reportedly got into a bit of a beef and turf war with the other KUKQ before his station even hit the airwaves. For instance, a social media blast prior to its launch claimed it was a true revival of the old school alternative station (and "not an 'imitation' KUKQ like what was online"). It also was endorsed by a few of the original KQ jocks, such as the esteemed Jonathan L.
According to local blog published around that time, there was also reportedly a cease-and-desist letter that was sent Hubbard's way by White over the KUKQ trademarks that the company owned, as well as a few heated e-mail and social media exchanges between parties and DJs on both sides of the issue over who best represented the legacy.
In the end, all the sturm und drang proved to be a tempest in a teapot as White was either smacked down by Hubbard's lawyers or simply backed down and both endeavors continued to work their respective corners of the local radio scene until eventually folding last month.
By the way, if you any recent Valley transplants are curious as to why there was so much hullabaloo over the original KUKQ, either hit up this excellent online memorial to the station. Or head over to Rips on the first Friday of every month for ResurreKQtion, a revival night put on by onetime jock Leah Miller that features some of the sounds and songs that were broadcast on the original KUKQ way back in the day.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.