SiriusXM to pull remaining iHeart simulcasts from radio service

(Image: SiriusXM/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

For the first time in more than two decades, a channel programmed by iHeart Radio will not be distributed by SiriusXM Pandora.

The last remaining channels, pop station KIIS-FM (102.7 FM, Los Angeles, “Kiss FM”) and Top 40 station WHTZ (100.3 FM, New York City, “Z100”) , will disappear from SiriusXM Pandora’s flagship satellite and streaming radio service on June 1.

For years, SirusXM has carried several iHeart-programmed music channels that were supported by advertisements, a contrast to the satellite radio company’s own ad-free music offerings.  The partnership was put in place back in 2001 when iHeart, then known as Clear Channel Radio, offered a financial investment in XM Satellite Radio in exchange for the right to program some channels on the service.

When XM and Sirius Satellite Radio merged in 2008, several iHeart-programmed music channels remained exclusive to the XM platform. In 2011, iHeart stopped programming its own satellite radio channels in favor of simulcasting some of its major market broadcast radio stations. Along with KIIS and WHTZ, XM offered WLTW (106.7 FM, New York City, “Lite FM”), WSIX (97.9 FM, Nashville, “Big 98”), WGCI (107.5 FM, Chicago) and WLW (700 AM, Cincinnati).

In 2013, iHeart sold back its investment stake to SiriusXM for more than $130 million. Around the same time, SiriusXM consolidated its radio lineup, making the iHeart-programmed channels available to legacy Sirius listeners for the first time.

Over time, the iHeart stations have slowly disappeared from SiriusXM, with the most-recent move seeing WHTZ dropped from the satellite service in 2020. The station remained available in SiriusXM’s streaming app.

Starting in June, no iHeart radio stations will simulcast on SiriusXM’s satellite or streaming radio services. SiriusXM Channel 14, the former home of KIIS, will offer a simulcast of Yacht Rock Radio for the summer.

Both KIIS and WHTZ are still available on the free iHeart Radio app for smartphones, tablets, smart speakers and streaming TV platforms. The stations are also available through Apple Music and on the free TuneIn app.