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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 All News
Language(s) English
Power 50,000 watts
Class A (Clear channel)
Facility ID 9631
Transmitter coordinates 41°59′26″N 88°1′40″W / 41.99056°N 88.02778°W / 41.99056; -88.02778 (main antenna)
41°59′23″N 88°1′44″W / 41.98972°N 88.02889°W / 41.98972; -88.02889 (auxiliary antenna)
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.)
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. Its daytime signal provides at least grade B coverage to large portions of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana, and city-grade coverage as far north as Milwaukee. At night, it covers much of the eastern half of North America, but is strongest in the Midwest. WBBM is an owned and operated station of the CBS Radio Network.

Since August 1, 2011, much of 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 96.3 WBBM-FM (96.3), a contemporary hit radio station; WCFS's former adult contemporary format was retained in an automated form over its 105.9 HD2 subchannel. WBBM's format is available both in AM and FM with HD Radio.[3]


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 under its current call letters, which stand for World's Best Battery Maker. In later years, an alternate meaning, "We Broadcast Better Music," was created. It originally operated at 1330 kHz.[4]

Eleanor Roosevelt dedicating the South Side Community Art Center, broadcast nationally on CBS Radio via WBBM (May 7, 1941)[5]
Poster for the WPA Illinois Writers Project radio series Moments with Genius, broadcast on WBBM c. 1939.

The Atlasses sold their battery company in 1924 to devote their full attention to WBBM, and moved the station to Chicago that same year. Two years later, it moved to 770 kHz. The station began its long association with CBS in 1928, when it joined the network as a charter affiliate. CBS 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 transmitter power output of 50,000 watts in 1935, allowing the station to cover much of North America at night. It moved to its current location at 780 kHz in 1941.

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 with the rest of CBS' Chicago operations, where it remained until moving to Two Prudential Plaza in 2006.

The station maintained a MOR/Personality-based format until 1964, when it became a news/talk station. 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 (720 AM) to WBBM for the 2015 season under a seven-year deal. The deal ended the team's 90-year association with WGN; the station had broadcast Cubs games from its establishment in 1924, became its exclusive broadcaster in 1958, and was co-owned with the Cubs by Tribune Company from 1981 to 2009. Cubs games are only broadcast on WBBM's AM feed, except in the event of conflicts with Chicago Bears games; WCFS-FM continues to carry the all-news format throughout the day, including during Cubs broadcasts, in order to keep coverage of news events, and to allow the station to continue streaming online without a looping disclaimer pointing out Major League Baseball's streaming restrictions as many other MLB radio partners are required to do.[6]

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 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. The AM signal is all but unlistenable in portions of downtown, particularly in office buildings; WCFS serves mainly to improve WBBM's coverage in these areas.

WBBM made very few 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. The call letters WIQI are being used by a station in Watseka, Illinois. During the early to mid evening hours the station's multi state coverage can easily be heard by listeners from Wichita KS and as distant as Oklahoma City OK and Amarillo TX.

On-air staff[edit]

Current on-air staff[edit]

  • Pat Cassidy - weekday mornings (5-10 a.m.)
  • Catherine Catalane - weekend (5-11 a.m.)
  • John Hultman - weekday middays (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
  • Sherman Kaplan - weekend mornings (10 a.m.-1 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.)
  • Nick Young - weekend evenings (8 p.m.-1 a.m.)
  • Keith Johnson - weekday afternoons/night (3-8 p.m.)
  • Kris Kridel - weekday afternoons (12-6 p.m.)
  • Bob Conway - weekday night/overnight (10 p.m.-5 a.m.)
Weather (from AccuWeather)
  • Bob Larson
  • Dean DeVore
  • Elliot Abrams
  • Josh Liss @JoshLissSports
  • Dave Kerner
  • Rick Gregg
  • George Ofman
  • Jeff Joniak
  • Tom Thayer
  • Kevin Jackman

  • Bart Shore - Mornings (5 a.m. - Noon)
  • Mike Pries - Afternoons (Noon - 7 p.m.)
  • Paula Fagan - Evenings (7 p.m. - 10 p.m.)
  • Steven Hass - weeknight overnights
  • Kris Habermehl - weekday morning and afternoon "Chopper 780" traffic reporter
  • Skip Hahn - weekday morning and afternoon "Air 105-9" traffic reporter
  • Matt Hardy - Weekends/Fill in
  • Jeremy Scott - Weekends/Fill in
  • Beau Duran - Weekends/Fill in
  • Jeanette Hudson - Fill in
  • John Cody
  • Craig Dellimore
  • Lisa Fielding
  • Mike Krauser
  • Nancy Harty
  • Julie Mann
  • Steve Miller
  • Bob Roberts
  • Regine Schlesinger
  • Bernie Tafoya
  • Len Walter


External links[edit]