See also: KUKQ Returns to Phoenix (via the Internet) The new online station bearing the call letters of bygone Phoenix radio station KUKQ has launched, streaming online at kukq.com. As we reported last week, the site's connection to the original radio station isn't literal -- though Facebook comments about the "return" of the station suggest listeners are excited about the call letters being used again.
"We want the attitude of the old KUKQ," says Nancy Stevens, a producer for Sandusky Radio Phoenix (which operates local stations KUPD, KDKB, and KSLX). Stevens launched the new site with former X103.9 SkaPunk host Craven Moorehead. The last incarnation of KUKQ went off the air in 1996.
"We're breaking new music, reaching out there to find new things as opposed to just playing the old stuff over and over and over again," Stevens says.
"We want this to be a place for new music and all the great older alternative that has no home. We will not be Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Nirvana on an infinite loop because all the FMs already have that covered," Moorehead says. "You can hear Soundgarden on any rock FM in the valley but you can't music from LCD Soundsystem, Bad Religion, Arcade Fire, Frank Turner, Sleigh Bells, or Oingo Boingo, and that is what we aim to correct."
Though the station's schedule isn't yet set in stone, Stevens says that the format will mostly be alternative, though specialty shows will feature genres like electronic, dubstep, and hip-hop. As of now, the all-volunteer station is commercial free, but sponsors will be introduced once the station is "up and running," according to Stevens. It's unclear how any advertising revenue the station generates would be used.
"The creative freedom is nice but our main goal is to just play music for a community of people who have been shunned by the FM dial," says Moorehead. His SkaPunk programming, including programs like "We're a Happy Family" and "Woodbanger's Ball" comprise the bulk of the current programming, and tuning in I heard Moorehead play songs by The Cure, Sleigh Bells, Gotye, Spoon, Black Joe Lewis and The Honey Bears, and Brand New.
"It's like an adventure," Stevens says. "I was at the Edge for 10 years, and when X went away -- I'll never call it X -- but when the Edge went away, to me, outside looking in, it was like a huge void. So I met with Craven, and I said we need to figure out a way to get the format back out there into the market, because they are too many things out there that make sense."
Stevens says that the name KUKQ is an homage to the original station. Radio personality Jonathan L, synonymous with the original incarnations of KUKQ, says he was approached about being part of the new station via Facebook. Jonathan says that he was contacted via Facebook about being part of the new station. He says he sent his number as a response, but never received a call.
"My only disappointment is that I never had the opportunity to explain to the person [Stevens] why I would not be involved with the station. That's disappointing. I'm not angry or anything," Jonathan L says.
His program, Jonathan L's Lopsided World of L, is broadcast in Phoenix via two stations, SofakingRadio.com and on FM alternative station KWSS, as well as Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles and King FM in Germany.
"I don't like to see things rewritten," Jonathan L says. "I don't dwell on the past. The present is the present and the future is the future. Me personally, I don't like to see history rewritten. I like it to be left alone, the way it was."
Jonathan L continues, "I really feel like utilizing the KUKQ call letters was just a way of capitalizing on a very legendary set of call letters that none of these people had anything to do with. That's it -- simple as that. That's just the way I feel, me personally. Although I'm not involved in their station, I do wish them best of luck. It is on the internet, so they have an uphill battle. Every internet station has an uphill battle. It takes a very long time to get branded. They have a very legendary set of call letters for the city of Phoenix, Arizona, and they are acting on a local level -- they are focusing on Phoenix, and they very well should."
Jonathan L says that the station's more direct connections are to The Edge, which Stevens acknowledges. "I know there's some stuff out there like 'Why did you pick KUKQ, and it's like [laughs] 'KUKQ was a really great heritage radio station,'" Stevens says. "That's what we want to come alive again with that same attitude."
She adds that the The Edge's transition to X103.9 and then My 103.9 was met with criticism from the station's alternative listeners, and that it carried negative connotations that the KUKQ name doesn't.
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
Moorehead says "I was actually approached about being part of a relaunch of KUKQ. A bunch of different parties all had the same idea once The Edge/X fell to the wayside. I am guessing they went with KUKQ because of its strong heritage. I actually did not live here during the days of KUKQ, but was mentored by Larry Mac [of KUKQ] at The Edge and many old Edge listeners were also fans of KUKQ."
Stevens says that the station seeks to recapture some of the adventurous spirit that made KUKQ what it was.
"Obviously, it's been a long time since KUKQ was around, but I love that attitude that they had back then. Jonathan L was great, Larry Mac was great, I look up to both of them, and that's the same feeling that me and Craven have, the same kind of attitude: No rules. We play what we want to play, and what you want to hear."