|City||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Broadcast area||Chicago metropolitan area|
|Branding||WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM|
|Slogan||Chicago's All-News Station|
|Frequency||780 kHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||February 6, 1924 (in Lincoln, Illinois; moved to Chicago in 1925)|
|Class||A (Clear channel)|
|Transmitter coordinates||Coordinates: (main 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), Bloomberg Radio, WBBM-TV
(Entercom License, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBBM-FM, WCFS-FM, WBMX, WSCR, WUSN, WXRT|
WBBM (780 AM) is an all-news radio station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station, owned by Entercom, broadcasts on 780 kHz and 105.9 MHz. WBBM's studios are located at Two Prudential Plaza in the Loop neighborhood, and its transmitter is located in Itasca. 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 has been heard as far south as Cincinnati during the day, 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.
Since August 1, 2011, much of WBBM's programming has been simulcast over sister station WCFS-FM. The FM station's call letters were retained and should not be confused with WBBM-FM, a CHR/Top 40 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.
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.
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 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.
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. Meanwhile, the clear channel signal is easily receivable throughout the Midwest, and at night, most of the eastern United States west of the Appalachian Mountains, and portions of the Southwest.
On June 5, 2014, the Chicago Cubs announced that the flagship station for their radio broadcasts 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 were only broadcast on WBBM's AM feed, so that the FM feed could continue to broadcast WBBM's regular all-news programming uninterrupted. The arrangement lasted only one season: after sister station WSCR lost the White Sox to WLS for the 2016 season, an option was invoked which allowed the Cubs to move to WSCR in their place.
On February 2, 2017, CBS agreed to merge CBS Radio with Entercom, currently the fourth-largest radio broadcaster in the United States; the sale will be conducted using a Reverse Morris Trust so that it will be tax-free. While CBS shareholders retain a 72% ownership stake in the combined company, Entercom was the surviving entity, separating WBBM radio (both 780 and FM 96.3) from WBBM-TV. The merger was approved on November 9, 2017, and was consummated on the 17th. Despite that, WBBM radio and WBBM-TV maintain a strong partnership. On March 1, 2018, Entercom launched a new website for WBBM alone on their Radio.com portal, breaking it off from the former CBS Chicago portal.
Current on-air staff
WBBM focuses primarily on 24-hour live rolling news coverage, with broadcasts structured into a traditional wheel format of news, traffic reports, weather forecasts, sports, and Bloomberg-sourced business and stock market reports. This news wheel is interruptible due to breaking local news events or significant national events that necessitate longer-form coverage.
Other programs featured on WBBM include:
- Noon Business Hour, a long-form business and financial discussion program hosted by Cisco Cotto and Kris Kridel, airing weekdays at 12 p.m.
- At Issue, public affairs interviews with Craig Dellimore. Airing on Sundays at 9:30 a.m./p.m.
- Live broadcasts of all 22 games that involve the Chicago Bears from August to January (including an additional Bears Coaches Show which airs Mondays 6:30-7:30 p.m. and extensive pre- and post-game programming)
- Old-time radio programme When Radio Was which airs Tuesdays-Fridays at 12 a.m.
- Audio portions of 60 Minutes and Face the Nation (Sundays at 12 p.m. and 11:30 a.m./p.m. respectively)
Former traffic anchor
David Mitchell, who was the longest-working traffic anchor of WBBM, died at 8:40am April 3, 2016 after a car accident in I-65 at Northwest Indiana.
- Mal Bellairs Broadcaster
- Chris Berry – Director, News and Programming
- Chris Boden – Sportscaster
- John Callaway – News Director (deceased)
- Harry Caray – White Sox Play by Play; (deceased)
- Brian Davis – Sportscaster
- Pat Foley – Blackhawk Hockey Play by Play
- Paul Gibson – Broadcaster
- Rich King – Sports Director (retired from WGN-TV)
- Suzanne Le Mignot – Reporter (now at WBBM-TV)
- Brent Musburger – Sports Director; (retired)
- Lee Phillip – Broadcaster
- Jimmy Piersall – White Sox Color Commentator (deceased)
- Chuck Schaden – Broadcaster
- Carole Simpson – Reporter
- Dale Tallon – Blackhawk Hockey Color Commentator
- Jay Andres – American Airlines Music Till Dawn
- Feder, Robert (15 July 2011). "It's official: CBS to expand Newsradio brand with FM simulcast". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=4 Archived 2016-09-16 at the Wayback Machine HD Radio Guide for Chicago
- The Creswell Chronicle in Creswell, Oregon - Community News and Visitor Information
- "Mrs. Roosevelt Dedicates South Side Art Center". Chicago Tribune. May 8, 1941. Retrieved 2015-11-02.
- "Cubs, WBBM make radio deal official". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
- "Cubs make their radio move to WSCR official". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
- "WBBM to be Cubs' new radio home". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
- "WSCR-AM 670 The Score Named The Cubs' New Flagship Station". chicago.cbslocal.com. CBS Chicago. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
- "CBS Sets Radio Division Merger With Entercom". Variety. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
- "CBS and Entercom Are Merging Their Radio Stations". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
- Entercom Receives FCC Approval for Merger with CBS Radio
- Entercom Completes CBS Radio Merger