The best illustration of the station’s appeal is arguably its breakfast show, which has consistently outperformed Radio 1’s rival show for the best part of a decade in terms of young London listeners.
Breakfast with Rickie & Melvin reaches 776,000 listeners a week in the 15-44 age group. And the station as a whole – which began life as a pirate outlet in 1985 – attracts 1.7 million listeners in London a week, including 31 per cent of the overall youth audience.
The breakfast show, presented by Rickie Haywood-Williams, Melvin Odoom and Charlie Hedges, cemented its success at the 2009 Sony Radio Academy Awards, scooping silver in the breakfast category, ahead of key rival Chris Moyles, who won bronze.
Andy Roberts, Kiss 100’s group programme director, believes the show’s success is a result of its ‘touchable’ nature and upbeat personality. ‘The presenters reply directly to listeners via Facebook, email and text. Kiss never stands still and has a nice bounce about it.’
Helen Moore, editorial services director at Markettiers4dc, who often works with the show, believes its ‘ratings by day and reputation by night’ mantra is also central to its success: ‘Kiss has walked a tightrope not mastered by many in the commercial radio sector.’
In terms of its appeal to the PR industry, Kiss will consider most products if they involve a music element. Roberts is the main port of call for pitches.
Unsurprisingly, celebrities are in demand, with recent A-list guests including Eminem, Will Smith and Kanye West.
Moore says: ‘Celebrity sells and it needs to be someone who chimes with the audience. Kiss recently featured a story on prostate cancer, which it wouldn’t normally do, but the guest Max Clifford swung it.’
Kiss offers ‘urban’ appeal that would fit with brands pitching from this angle. Taylor Herring founder James Herring says: ‘Kiss is the only mainstream station with pirate heritage. It has great street credibility. When pitching to Kiss, make sure the cool and urban boxes are ticked.’
The website should not be ignored as it provides a second broadcast channel. During the recent heatwave, Storm Communications pitched the National BBQ Association to the station, achieving coverage on radio and online.
Storm senior account manager Naomi Allsop points out something fresh and dynamic is essential for the younger audience. She also advises agencies: ‘Be prepared for the interview to take a humorous tone. Even if it’s a relatively serious subject, Kiss will make light of it in some way.’
A minute with... Andy Roberts, group programme director, Kiss 100
Do young presenters connect automatically with young listeners?
It is not completely about age. Good presenters can evolve, but when they start losing connection with the audience, it gets tricky. It is just about keeping relevant, whatever your age. Rickie and Melvin are 26 or 27. David Rodigan, who just won Sony gold, is slightly older, but he is seen as the reggae don.
What sets Kiss 100 apart from its rivals?
Kiss connects with the type of audience at which it is aiming. Our core audience is 15-24, but in London we’re the 15-44 market leader, so we are punching above our weight.
How should PROs approach Kiss?
We are the experts in knowing how to talk to our audience. Please don’t come to us with a set agenda, because it won’t necessarily work that way.
What does the future hold for Kiss?
The BBC does very well across the country, but in London formats such as Kiss demand that you do engaging programming. I think there are cheekier shows around the corner for us.