*The power of music is often downplayed in modern society, but it is, and has always been, a mood amplifier and it possesses soul soothing properties. It is almost religious to the music lover. And if music is to be seen in a religious context, then the purveyor of the music may be considered somewhat of a shaman or, dare we say, a musical reverend.
And if that is so, then New York’s 98.7 KISS FM could be considered a cathedral built to Rhythm and Blues. “Kissing After Dark,” the station’s late night grown folk solution to the all-day drivel played on some other stations, has been a audio beacon to those that listen. The beacon calls music lovers to hear the very best slow jams in the land.
Early this year, on February 1st, “Kissing After Dark” relaunched, after a brief hiatus, with veteran radio man Lenny Green at the helm. Our Lee Bailey sat down with this master mood maker to get the scoop.
“The show existed prior to me coming in,” said Green. “In the very beginning when Kiss launched it, it was called ‘New York After Dark with Sheila Mobley,’ who came over from WBLS,” Green told Bailey. “Then they changed the name. I had piggy-backed from Sheila to become the first man to host ‘Kissing After Dark’ in 2009. Then that was put on hiatus. Then they brought it back with a twist and now the signature brand name is ‘Kissing After Dark with Lenny Green.’”
Sheila Mobley is a veteran of the game in her own right. To replace her radio execs had to feel he had the chops for the job, and that he did.
“Initially it was 1998. This year makes 14 years. (I’ve) been in the game a little over 25 years. I came to KISS-FM as a part-timer. I didn’t even come to take over the show. I came as a program assistant, moved up to assistant program director then program director at KISS. Then the opportunity opened up when they moved Sheila to mornings. I was here maybe 3 years. I came from Connecticut … I was a program director there. You’re really making me count up the years now.”
It doesn’t get much better than broadcasting in New York City for a DJ, or as the British say, a presenter. But to have a syndicated show on top of that is golden. And Lenny’s golden opportunity seemed to have come from above.
“It happened by a lot of prayer and just by chance, and of course people were familiar with the brand. When I was pitching a syndication idea we just made it personal and it went on from there. The show ‘Kissing After Dark’ has also developed a syndicating opportunity thanks to SuperRadio, that is the syndicator. And of course WRKS is the flagship of the show. We haven’t added any markets as of yet but it’s been back in full swing since February 1st of this year.”
Lenny Green feels as though “Kissing After Dark” is more than just a slow jam show. He wants to involve the audience members as well as special guests and hopes to greatly impact a city where it’s hard to make an impression.
“It (is currently) live Monday through Friday from 7pm to Midnight. This will change when we get additional affiliates. It’s a love show. I’ve modified the show slightly, in addition to hosting the show I’m the producer of the show as well. So far so good. I’m not trying to jump the candle quicker than the natural process actually is. Looking over the numbers, I’ve seen a positive impact. As the show continues to grow I hope we continue to impact the city to a greater degree. We don’t do a lot of talk in the evening because this show, ‘Kissing After Dark with Lenny Green,’ is a music intensive show. But we do take time out to open the lines and offer mature adult conversation about love, sex and relationships. I call it Kiss and Tell and, in some cases, I call it secrets. It just gives us a chance to engage in those areas that everyone has to deal with at some point in their lives. ”
As they say, New York, New York is the big city of dreams, but many a dream has been found dashed upon the rocky shores of reality. To be successful one has to feel confident in their abilities and confidence is something Green has in spades.
“Not to say that I’m better than anybody else, but over the years I felt like I wanted to take over the country and to bring something a little different. I’ve been fortunate enough in growing up here in New York to have listened to some of the industry’s most renowned voices … legends of radio, if you will … over the years. And I would be in a bad situation if I did not give full homage to any of the legends that I’ve listened to. Unfortunately, real true grit radio personalities are becoming extinct. I feel this show brings the quality and talent that a radio bred personality can bring. I think it offers a wonderful array of music for a mature audience, not just regionally but nationally as well. I feel this show has components that are attractive to a mature audience.”
Part of the success strategy that Lenny Green has in mind for “Kissing After Dark” is the inclusion of some our favorite R&B sensations into the conversation on a nightly basis. Green says this is not simply for promotional consideration but to really allow listeners to get into the minds of the artists.
“They are being interviewed on the show. We have a couple things that we do with artists when they come through ‘Kissing After Dark.’ We engage them in talking about love, sex and relationships. I think we’re misled to believe that celebrities don’t have regular-people lives. And I think it’s interesting to hear their perspective on relationships. The celebrities participate in ‘Kissing After Dark’ and in another segment called ‘The Perfect Album Side.’ We ask listeners if they had the opportunity to make the perfect album, what five or six songs would you tell me would be your most memorable songs that you could never live without? So it presents a platform for that to happen. We’ve extended that opportunity to Erykah Badu recently and I’m going to extend the opportunity to (other artists). We allow the audience to engage them in that manner as well. We do traditional radio but with a twist.”
Taking Green to tasks on his claim of engaging the artists, we challenged him to give us an example. In other words, tells us something we didn’t know about the business of music. Lenny was more than happy to oblige.
“Calvin Richardson is a singer-songwriter who we’re really starting to hear a lot more from. He, along with Babyface, collaborated on a song that was really intended for Calvin Richardson but ended up on Charlie Wilson’s CD, which got a lot of attention and a Grammy nomination as well. The song was called ‘There Goes My Baby’ Somehow Charlie Wilson heard it and loved it. During one of our segments we asked Charlie the question, ‘Is foreplay required before sexual intercourse?’ The interesting thing he mentioned about that was, without foreplay it’s like having dinner without an appetizer. It’s a prerequisite, it’s deeply appreciated and it’s the beginning of being filled. And I thought that was eloquently put. Again, we keep it tasteful.”
Perhaps our Lee Bailey was already aware the Richardson-Wilson connection, but this writer was not. And Uncle Charlie’s dinner metaphor? Priceless! We have to say, from what we’ve heard so far it sounds impressive. You might want to give it a listen as well. “Kissing After Dark with Lenny Green” can be heard Monday through Friday 7pm to Midnight on 98.7 KISS-FM.
If you’re not in the local area we’re sure you can stream it online as well. Real radio had taken a break, but it’s back and more grown up than ever. Give a listen, we’re sure you agree.
KISS-FM online: www.987kissfm.com