WBBM (AM)

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WBBM
WBBM Logo
City of license Chicago, Illinois, United States
Broadcast area Chicago metropolitan area
Branding Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM, WBBM
Frequency 780 kHz(also on HD Radio)
First air date February 6, 1924 (1924-02-06) (in Lincoln, Illinois; moved to Chicago in 1925)
Format news
Language(s) English
Power 50,000 watts
Class A (Clear channel)
Facility ID 9631
Transmitter coordinates 41°59′26″N 88°01′39″W / 41.99056°N 88.02750°W / 41.99056; -88.02750Coordinates: 41°59′26″N 88°01′39″W / 41.99056°N 88.02750°W / 41.99056; -88.02750
Callsign meaning World's Best Battery Maker (referring to Mallory Battery Company)
We Broadcast Better Music (from a past slogan)
World's Best Broadcast Medium
Former frequencies 1330 AM (1924–1926)
770 AM (1926–1941)
Affiliations CBS Radio Network
(which also includes CBS News)
Owner CBS Radio
(CBS Radio East Inc.)
Sister stations WBBM-FM, WBBM-TV, WCFS-FM, WJMK-FM, WSCR, WUSN, WXRT
Webcast Listen Live
Website chicago.cbslocal.com/station/wbbm-newsradio-780-and-1059fm/

WBBM, 780 AM, is an all-news radio station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Radio division of CBS Corporation. The station's studios are located in the combined CBS Radio facility at Two Prudential Plaza in the Loop neighborhood, and its transmitter is located in Itasca.[1] WBBM is a Class A station which broadcasts on a clear-channel AM frequency, and is an affiliate of the CBS Radio Network.

Since August 1, 2011, WBBM's programming has been simulcast over sister station WCFS-FM (105.9).[2] The FM station's call letters were retained and should not be confused with WBBM-FM (96.3), a heritage rhythmic contemporary station; WCFS's former adult contemporary format was retained in an automated form over its HD2 subchannel.

History[edit]

The station traces its history to 1911, when Leslie and Ralph Atlass, owners of the Mallory Battery Company of Lincoln, Illinois began an amateur spark station. In 1924, it received a commercial license and was assigned the frequency of 1330 AM. It also received its current call letters, which stand for World's Best Battery Maker. In later years, an alternate meaning, "We Broadcast Better Music," was created.[3]

WPA WBBM poster, 1936-1941.

The Atlasses sold their battery company in 1924 to devote their full attention to WBBM, and moved to Chicago that same year. It became a charter CBS affiliate in 1928. The new network liked what it saw in the station, and bought a controlling interest in 1929. Leslie Atlass remained station manager with a 33 percent interest. CBS bought the remaining stock in 1933. As part of the deal, Atlass became vice president of CBS' Central Division while remaining station manager of WBBM – positions he continued to hold until his retirement in 1959. A series of transmitter power increases over the years culminated in its current effective radiated power of 50,000 watts in 1935, allowing the station to cover much of North America at night. The station operated from studios at various locations in Chicago until 1956. That year, WBBM began operating from a converted arena on North McClurg Court, where it remained until moving to Two Prudential Plaza in 2006.

The station maintained a MOR/Personality-based format until 1964, when the programming format was changed to news/talk. WBBM adopted its current all-news format in 1968. The station has been the flagship station of the Chicago Bears since 2000, and in its history has also aired games from the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Blackhawks. On June 5, 2014, the Chicago Cubs announced that radio broadcasts of its games would move from WGN to WBBM for the 2015 season under a seven-year deal. The deal will end the team's 90-year association with WGN 720; the station had broadcast Cubs games from its establishment in 1924, and became its exclusive broadcaster in 1958. Cubs games will only be broadcast on WBBM's AM feed, except in the event of conflicts with Chicago Bears games.[4]

Over the years, WBBM fended off competition from other all-news stations that were attempted in the market: McLendon-owned WNUS-AM-FM (1390 AM, now WGRB and 107.5 FM, now WGCI-FM), NBC's WNIS-FM (101.1 FM), and from Group W's WMAQ, which came under the CBS umbrella when Westinghouse Electric Corporation purchased CBS in 1995 (sports-talk WSCR took over WMAQ's 670 AM frequency in 2000). For many years, WBBM has been in a spirited battle with rival news/talk/sports station WGN (720 AM) for the position of the #1 radio station in the Chicago market. In the June 2009 ratings period, as estimated by Arbitron, WGN held a slight edge over WBBM in PPM metered listenership ratings. However, since the fall of 2009, WBBM has regained the lead while WGN's listenership began to decline. Another challenge to WBBM's news radio domination from Merlin Media (operated by former Tribune Company executive Randy Michaels), which purchased FM station WKQX (the successor to WNIS-FM) in June 2011 and flipped formats as the female-focused FM News 101.1 the next month, was fended off by WBBM with the launch of the WCFS-FM simulcast and WBBM making very few, if any changes to its format outside of tweaks to imaging music to sound more clear on FM and the station's Internet stream, and what became WIQI dropped its all-news format for hot adult contemporary on July 17, 2012.

On-air staff[edit]

Current on-air staff[5][edit]

Anchors
  • Pat Cassidy - weekday mornings (5-10 a.m.)
  • Catherine Catalane - weekend middays (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
  • Jan Coleman - weekend evenings (8 p.m.-1 a.m.)
  • Bob Conway - weekend middays (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
  • Steve Grzanich - weekday afternoons and early evenings (3-8 p.m.)
  • John Hultman - weekday middays (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
  • Keith Johnson - weekday afternoons and early evenings (3-8 p.m.)
  • Sherman Kaplan - weekend mornings (6-10 a.m.)
  • Kris Kridel - weekday middays (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
  • Dave Marsett - weeknights (8 p.m.-1 a.m.)
  • Felicia Middlebrooks - weekday mornings (5-10 a.m.)
  • Dave Mitchell - weekday afternoons and early evenings (3-8 p.m.)
  • David Roe - weekday afternoons and early evenings (3-8 p.m.)
  • Jackie Swike - weeknights (8 p.m.-1 a.m.)
  • Nick Young - weekend evenings (8 p.m.-1 a.m.)
Weather
  • Bob Larson
  • Dean DeVore
  • Elliot Abrams
Sports
  • Josh Liss
  • Dave Kerner
  • Eric Brown
  • George Ofman
  • Jeff Joniak
  • Tom Thayer
Traffic
  • Bart Shore - mornings
  • Jeanette Hudson - weekend overnights
  • Kris Habermehl - weekday morning and afternoon "Chopper 780" traffic reporter
  • Steven Hass - weeknight overnights
Reporters
  • John Cody
  • Craig Dellimore
  • Lisa Fielding
  • Mike Krauser
  • Nancy Harty
  • Julie Mann
  • Steve Miller
  • Bob Roberts
  • Regine Schlesinger
  • Bernie Tafoya
  • Len Walter

References[edit]

External links[edit]