WBBM-FM

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Not to be confused with WCFS-FM, a radio station in Elmwood Park, Illinois that simulcasts WBBM (AM).
WBBM-FM
B96Chicago.jpg
City of license Chicago, Illinois
Broadcast area Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana
Branding B96
Slogan "Chicago's Hit Music Channel"
Frequency 96.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)
96.3-HD2: Dance Top 40
First air date 1941
Format Top 40 (CHR)
ERP 3,300 watts
HAAT 474 meters
Class B
Facility ID 9613
Owner CBS Radio
(CBS Radio East, Inc.)
Sister stations WBBM, WBBM-TV, WCFS-FM, WJMK-FM, WSCR, WUSN, WXRT
Webcast Listen Live
Website b96.com

WBBM-FM, known on air as "B96", is a Top 40 (CHR) radio station in Chicago, Illinois owned by CBS Radio. The station broadcasts at 96.3 MHz with an ERP of 4.2 kW from a transmitter atop Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), and its studios are located at Two Prudential Plaza in the Loop. WBBM-FM's main competition is WKSC-FM, as well as urban rivals WGCI-FM and WPWX.

WBBM-FM broadcasts two channels in the HD Radio format.[1]

Station history[edit]

The Early Years[edit]

WBBM-FM began as a simulcast of WBBM radio in 1941, a very conservative mix of music which appealed to a broad range of ages. "The Young Sound" format was invented by John DeWitt in 1966 for CBS Radio at WCBS-FM in New York. Bud Kelly was the announcer for "The Young Sound" on WBBM-FM; it wasn't Elevator Music. "The Young Sound" had an energy to it, and definitely skewed toward a younger audience than WBBM-FM had previously sought.

By 1969, WBBM-FM moved to a more progressive rock format, but by 1973 evolved to Top 40. Another change in the late 70's put WBBM-FM in a rhythmic format focusing on Disco & R & B. Dick Bartley, who later became a very popular syndicated personality, spent time at WBBM-FM as Program Director in the late '70s.[2]

Hot Hits/Top 40[edit]

In 1982, WBBM-FM picked up a top 40 format known as "Hot Hits," which was created by consultant Mike Joseph in 1977 for WTIC-FM in Hartford, Connecticut. That concept, one of the earliest examples of CHR, also revitalized the top 40 format and would play a role in bringing the format to the FM band throughout the 1980s. The concept was to play only the current hits on the top 30 and no recurrents or oldies whatsoever. The format was delivered with up tempo energy and plenty of jingles from TM Communications. The original staff of "96 Now", as the station was called, included Anthony "Tony The Wild Child" Hamilton, Steven Davis, Joseph "Smokin' Joe" Dawson, Gary Spears, Dave Robbins, Bobby Lewis, Franklin Foster, with Tony Taylor and Don Geronimo. As a "Hot Hits" station, WBBM-FM played the Top 5 hits every hour and in between other hits on the Top 50 chart. Beginning in 1983, Hot Hits stations started playing recent hits from the past several years mixed into the Hot Hits. WBBM-FM therefore evolved into a more common CHR station as a result. WBBM-FM led the competition with CHR and at times was the number one station in Chicago. Out of all of the "Hot Hits" stations, WBBM-FM was the most successful for the longest period of time and managed to accomplish what a long line of stations since the 1960s had been unable to do: defeat WLS for Chicago's top 40 radio crown. By the end of 1982, Mike Joseph was no longer consulting WBBM-FM, and the station had adopted its trademark "B96" name under Program Director Buddy Scott. Even without Joseph, the station continued to flourish.

"The Killer Bee"/Dance/House Music Days[edit]

By 1989, WBBM-FM would start embracing a lot of dance product, especially the home-grown house sub genre. That move would result in B96 evolving into a very dance-leaning rhythmic top 40 direction by 1990 as "The Killer Bee: B96." Under this direction they would see ratings skyrocket out of nowhere, and through most of the decade, B96 would set the standard as a cutting-edge leader when it came to breaking Dance music acts from La Bouche to Rozalla in the United States.[3]

Transition to Rhythmic Top 40[edit]

By 1997, however, B96 would start embracing acts from the world of R&B/hip-hop and pop as the dance scene dried up. Even today, they haven't forgotten their roots as most of their daily and weekend mixshows are still dance-intensive and still spike a track or two in between the current hits from time to time.

The station also acknowledges its gay audience by appearing at the annual Chicago Pride Parade, as well as many other LGBT-related events.

In December 2005, the existing station launched into HD Radio and added an HD2 FM sub-carrier to program commercial-free Dance Top 40 hits 24/7, similar to the pioneering former Energy 92.7/5.[4]

CBS has owned WBBM-FM since the beginning, even though they merged with Westinghouse in 1995, Infinity in 1997, and Viacom in 2000. Through CBS Radio, the CBS Corporation continues to own WBBM-FM.

Recent history[edit]

In October 2008, the station slogan changed from "Chicago's Hits & Hip-Hop" to "Chicago's #1 Hit Music Station". The change occurred due to the station's shift back to Mainstream Top 40, as the Rhythmic format nationwide was suffering a downturn in ratings, as well as the introduction of the PPM used for Arbitron radio ratings measuring purposes in order to make station more advertiser-friendly and to attract a more diverse audience. The trend was later followed at sister rhythmic contemporary stations KLUC-FM in Las Vegas, Nevada (which moved from contemporary hit radio in 2009) and as of 2010, KZON in Phoenix, Arizona.

On-air staff[edit]

The WBBM-FM on-air staff include:[5]

  • J-Niice - Morning Show host
  • Showbiz Shelly - Morning Show Entertainment Reports
  • Nikki - Midday host
  • J-Roman - Afternoon host
  • Dougie Stylz "Stylz"- Afternoon host
  • Jason Cage- Evening host
  • Jerzy - Weekend Host
  • Rebecca Ortiz - Weekend Host
  • Dj Flipside - 5 O'Clock Traffic Jam

Morning show[edit]

See also: Eddie & JoBo

B96 was probably most known for its flagship “Eddie & JoBo” morning show. Joe Colborn (stage name "Bohannon") first signed on at B96 in 1984 hosting evening as “JoBo In Chicago”. Ed Volkman started at B96 in 1986 hosting morning drive along with Karen Hand and Mike Elston. When Elston left B96 in 1988, Bohannon was moved to mornings along with Volkman and Hand, and the “Eddie & JoBo” show was born. The duo enjoyed success in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

On November 21, 2008, Eddie, JoBo and Erica were relieved of their morning show duties, marking the end of an era in Chicago radio.

On December 31, 2008, it was announced that Julian Nieh and Jamar "J Niice" McNeil would be replacing the Eddie & JoBo & Erica Show. "J Niice & Julian on the Radio" made its debut January 5, 2009 in the 5:30-10 a.m. slot. The two were previously together at Clear Channel's WIHT in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:48am, Julian Nieh announced his departure from the B96 morning show.[6] The show now continues with the name "The J Show with Showbiz Shelly", with J Niice as the main morning host, with direct support from Michelle Mennaker (Showbiz Shelly), and expanded support by Gabriel Ramirez (Producer Gabe), and ?name? (Producer Mary).[7][8]

Summer Bash concerts[edit]

B96 has held a summer concert[9] at various local venues since 1992, with the exception of one year that it wasn't held due to a perceived lack of good musical talent available to perform. When it started in 1992, it was held at the World Music Theater in Tinley Park (now called First Midwest Bank Amphitheater). After several years, it moved to the Joliet Raceway where it stayed until moving to the Maywood Park Racetrack for a year, and then to Toyota Park in Bridgeview in 2007. The event has hosted top musical acts as well as local acts, including J Roman as the vocalist of the electro-pop group the Jump Smokers. J Roman is half of B96's afternoon drive show. Several artists have appeared more than once over the years. The Summer Bash concert series proved so successful that the station also began a winter/holiday season version of the event called Jingle Bash.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°52′44″N 87°38′10″W / 41.879°N 87.636°W / 41.879; -87.636