“We’re doing a request show here today,” announced the DJ on Chilliwack’s KiSS Radio this morning.
The caller, fortunately, was wanting to hear a little Rage Against the Machine.
“Oh, we do have that!” the host responded enthusiastically.
Not that it was any surprise. The station, which is owned by Rogers Sports & Media and broadcasts to Greater Vancouver, had been playing the band’s 1992 hit “Killing in the Name” since the early morning. It was almost noon.
Requests for anything but Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” were categorically denied.
The prank came just one day after KiSS morning show hosts Sonia Sidhu and Kevin Lim announcedlive on air and on social media, that they were being let go after five years hosting the show.
“KiSS is changing and unfortunately we were informed that we won’t be part of this new chapter,” the pair announced. “While we aren’t sure what’s next for us, we are grateful for you all.”
The news, combined with the station’s sudden change in direction, was met with outrage, humour and confusion by the hosts’ fans on social media as people debated whether the move was done in protest or as a promotion for the station’s new format.
Some speculated that the station had been hacked. Others vowed off the station for good, linking this morning’s repeated rock anthem with the departure of the popular morning hosts. Yet others welcomed a change in direction from the station’s “biggest hits, best throwbacks” content.
“Someone said they got hacked. I’m feeling it’s a publicity stunt. I hope it’s revenge for Kevin and Sonia,” one commenter said.
“I mean…. I love me some Rage Against the Machine as much as the next person…. But over and over and over? What. Is. Happening,” said another.
Some hoped that the move might mark a return to the station’s alternative rock past.
“The issue isn’t the hosts it’s the same old whiney teenager love songs,” one person commented. “Every time I turn KiSS on it’s some kid crying and whining on the track. This is the longest I’ve listened to the station and it’s one song!”
Messages from The Tyee to Rogers, KiSS Radio and the outgoing radio hosts did not receive a response before publication.
The Tyee managed to reach the unnamed on-air radio host through the station’s request line. “It seems like it’s the same song over and over,” he mused, before ending the call.
The station started under Fraser Valley Broadcasters in 1986 and, in addition to alternative rock, has over the years taken stints dabbling in adult contemporary, easy listening and, for one solid month in 2003, Christmas music.
Rogers purchased the station in 1999. When it rebranded as Sonic in 2011, a move it kicked off by playing 10,000 songs in a row without commercial interruptionsit announced it would focus on “mainstream megastars like Katy Perry, David Guetta, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas.” It became KiSS Radio in 2015.
Some suspect Rogers of a corporate stunt. Stunting with a continuous loop of the same song isn’t unheard of in radio broadcasting,
In 2013, a new Toronto radio station played Rick Astley on repeat for a week. The following year, a San Francisco radio station transitioned to its new format by playing Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” continuously for 20 hours.
But stunting isn’t always out of corporate interest. In 2015, staff at Australia’s Triple J radio station played NWA on repeat after a news editor was suspended for using a 22-second clip of the hip-hop group’s 1988 song “F— tha Police,” which was banned by the station. The news editor was reinstated.
Like the banned NWA song, Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” was a statement against police brutality. It was inspired by the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the attack on Rodney King by the LAPD.
The irony that a corporate media company may be using it to promote its new format wasn’t lost on many listeners, nor was the fact the version on repeat was censored to remove a barrage of F-bombs that round out the song.
“Killing in the Name” continued on repeat at the time of publication.