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Sunny Joe White, WXKS-FM Kiss 108 Medford/Boston | November, 1989

In the history of Boston radio, perhaps no other Program Director was as successful or famous as “Sunny” Joe White. Hired by Ritchie Balsbaugh to launch Disco “Kiss 108” in 1978 from the ashes of Beautiful Music WWEL-FM 107.9, White took Boston’s first Disco station straight to number 1. By late 1979, as the Disco fad faded into oblivion, White took Kiss in a new direction, and by mid-1980, Kiss was straight-ahead Top 40, where it remains as of this writing.

Sunny Joe White’s success with Kiss 108 really is unparallelled, at least from a longevity standpoint. While the decade of the 70s saw WRKO as the mainstream Top 40 outlet, RKO never achieved the ratings or fame that Kiss did. At one point in the 1983, Kiss OWNED the CHR format in a four station race that included WHTT, WZOU, Kiss, and even for a time, WROR 98.5, which tried the format for a while in ’83 before returning to AC.

But this ‘check is from 1989. While personnel changes and a loss of CHR competition would mark the 90s, Kiss is still going strong, in a mainstream battle between itself and crosstown WZOU Z-94. White, in addition to PD was also the night jock, in a position that he would hold a little while longer before a dispute with Balsbaugh would force him out in the 90s, only for him to wind up at Fairbanks’ WVBF.

Kiss really cooks here. White is returning from vacation and is having a lot of fun. The music rotation leans a bit more rhythmic, but the Rolling Stones make an appearance, as does Starship and a few other Rock dinosaurs.

Runs 7:09, scoped. Courtesy of Robyn Watts and “East Coast Airchecks”

WXKS-FM Kiss 108 FM

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14 Comments


  1. Is this link conrrect?

    I dont get the Sunny aircheck when clicking on it.

    Reply

    • Wow thanks for pointing that out. Mistakes don’t happen often but I hand type all the links and that one had one character out of place. Figures, the one add I didn’t actually play the link to check it was wrong lol…

      Reply

  2. Who was the voiceover during the Sunny Joe era of Kiss?

    Reply

    • Much of the voiceover work was Jeff Wyatt’s

      Reply

    • Manny,

      The sweepers on Kiss at the time were done by Gary Gears.

      Robyn

      Reply

  3. Although, Jeff was gone by the late 80’s. But he did the bulk of it from the station’s inception until, I think, the mid 80’s.

    Reply

  4. Kiss 108 Boston Playlist For November 18,1989

    1 Patti Labelle If You Asked Me To
    2 Paula Abdul The Way That You Love Me
    3 B-52’s Love Shack
    4 Soul II Soul Back To Life
    5 Billy Joel We Didn’t Start The Fire
    6 Technotronic Pump Up The Jam
    7 Deborah Harry I Want That Man
    8 Jody Watley Everything
    9 Joe Cocker When The Night Comes
    10 Tracy Chapman Crossroads
    11 Bad English When I See You Smile
    12 Richard Marx Angelia
    13 Sybil Don’t Make Me Over
    14 Mill Vanilli Blame It On The Rain
    15 Linda Ronstadt Feat. Aaron Neville Don’t Know Much
    16 Cher Just Like Jesse James
    17 Liza Minelli Losing My Mind
    18 Rolling Stones Rock And A Hard Place
    19 Donna Summer Breakaway
    20 Shana I Want You
    21 Taylor Dayneon With Every Beat of My Heart
    22 The Alarm Sold Me Down The River
    23 Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation
    24 Gloria Estefan Get On Your Feet
    25 Don Henley The Last Worthless Evening
    26 Fine Young Cannibals I’m Not The Man I Used To Be
    27 Grayson Hugh Bring It All Back
    28 Phil Collins Another Day In Paradise
    29 Melissa Ethridge No Souvenirs
    30 Belinda Carlisle Leave A Light On
    31 Paul Carrack I Live By The Groove
    32 Bon Jovi Living In Sin
    33 Saraya Back To The Bullet
    34 Prince The Arms of Orion
    35 Tesla Love Song
    Adds
    Angela Winbush Real Thing
    Tina Turner Stormy Windows
    Michel’le No More Lies
    Eric Clapton Pretending
    Pajama Party Over and Over
    Quincy Jones I’ll Be Good To You

    Reply

    • You forgot, Sybill,……
      Don’t Make Me Over-1989

      Reply

      • Oops, you did say it.

        Reply

    • Sunny Joe White and Matt Siegel(Matty in the Morning…with Aretha Franklin singing the intro), defined the 1978-80’s Golden Era of Kiss 108FM.

      Radio formats and shows are nowhere like THAT, nowadays. Sadly.

      Reply

  5. Miss Sunny…he was the most generous guy I ever met. I interned at KISS back in the early 80’s and was a bit cash poor. I cant remember how many times Sunny gave me some money to get him and ME some food…Thanks Sunny…your voice will live on.

    Reply

  6. Kiss 108 was truly the last GREAT radio station in Boston. By 1989 though many listeners were moving on as the overall quality of 80’s music as we knew it was on the decline, copy cat versions of Madonna….the Debbie Gibsons and Michael Jackson influenced artists like Al Be Sure simply didn’t cut it…the influx of rap at the time also drove off many adult listeners. Still have so many fond memories of Kiss with tacks like “Just an Illusion” and the dance oriented artists that totally disappeared once Sunny was replaced by Steve Rivers. RIP Sunny you were a wonderful inspiration as both an air talent and programmer.

    Reply

  7. When Sunny ran that station nothing was done with a tiny little shove, he and his staff did things BIG BIG. Off the chart Promotions, invention of the Kiss-108 Concert every year, breaking bands, bigger than life image. Sunny was friggin’ genius how he ran that station’s image, ran the programming, the air-talent selection, selecting music (what an ear he had),and ENORMOUSLY gifted on-air talent . They broke the mold when they made him. He was a good acquaintance of mine for a while when I wa sin radio. Despite his HUGE fame in the radio industry and in Boston proper, he was respectful of every human being he knew and was gentle soul. No big inflated ego about him despite his fame. A really good person (and hugely gifted and talented). One of a kind.

    What an utter waste when he passed away. RIP Sunny, a legion of people haven’t ever forgot you.

    Reply

  8. Thanks so much for posting this and for commenting everyone. It is so nice to learn more about my uncle Sunny than I already knew. Especially seeing as how he is the inspiration for my near decade long pursuit of a career in hip hop music. It is so nice to see his memory and voice live on! Thank you, thank you, thank you! And as my grandmother – Sunny’s mother – still celebrates every one of his birthdays with a heavy heart, the power of the internet brings her that much closer to him and his memory. I’ll be sure to share this with her!

    Reply

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