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WDRV theDrive97.1FM logo.png
CityChicago, Illinois
Broadcast areaChicago metropolitan area
Branding97.1 The Drive
SloganChicago's Classic Rock
Frequency97.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
Repeater(s)See § WWDV Simulcast
First air dateJuly 9, 1955 (as WNIB)[1]
FormatAnalog/HD1: Classic rock
HD2: Classic rock ("Deep Tracks")
ERP8,300 watts (analog)
297 watts (digital)[2]
HAAT363 meters (1,191 ft)
Facility ID49552
Transmitter coordinates41°53′6.1″N 87°37′17.7″W / 41.885028°N 87.621583°W / 41.885028; -87.621583
Callsign meaningDerived from "DRiVe"
Former callsignsWNIB (1955-2001)[3]
OwnerHubbard Radio
(Chicago FCC License Sub, LLC)
Sister stationsWTMX, WSHE-FM, WWDV
WebcastListen Live

WDRV (97.1 FM, "The Drive") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to serve Chicago, Illinois. The station is owned by Hubbard Radio and broadcasts a classic rock format. Its studios were originally located in the John Hancock Center.[4] On May 11, 2018, WDRV moved into all new, state-of-the-art, digital studios in Chicago's Prudential Plaza. WDRV's antenna is located atop the Aon Center.[5] The station's programming is simulcast on sister station 96.9 WWDV in Zion, Illinois.

WDRV uses HD Radio and broadcasts a classic rock format branded as "Deep Tracks" on its HD2 subchannel.[6]



Early history[edit]

WNIB was founded and built by Bill Florian.[1][7] The call letters stood for Northern Illinois Broadcasting.[1][7] The station began broadcasting on July 9, 1955, and had the slogan "Chicago's FM Voice of Variety."[1] It primarily broadcast jazz, show tunes, and easy listening music.[1]

Bill Gershon was among the first announcers.[1] Among the other announcers in the early years were Bill Plante,[7] who went on to become a fixture at CBS News, Marty Robinson and Don Tait,[8][7] both of whom later worked for WFMT, and Ken Alexander, who later worked for WAIT 820, but later returned to WNIB.[9]

Programming and personalities[edit]

Gershon had the idea of playing classical music Sunday evenings and stated, "Classical music wasn't part of our programming at first, since most other FM stations aired lots of classical music, especially WFMT and WEFM. But I told Bill we should make use of the 12 records we had in the library. He said, 'All right. Just don't have any of that ivory-tower stuff here.'"[1] By early 1957 Gershon had left the station, but classical music's presence at the station was expanded, though Florian said that it was a tough sell.[1]

Sonia Atzeff, a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago, was hired as program director in 1958, and she steered WNIB's programming toward a classical music format.[1][10] As a classical station, WNIB would later be branded "Classical 97".[11][12] Sonia Atzeff and Bill Florian were married in 1967, and Sonia later became general manager of the station, a position she held until its sale in 2001.[7][13][14]

Ron Ray began as a part-time announcer on WNIB in 1968.[15] Working concurrently at 105.9 WXFM, Ray pre-recorded his announcements.[15] In 1977, Ray began working full-time at WNIB as program director.[15] Live classical hosts on WNIB over the years included Fred Heft, Jay Andres, Bruce Duffie, Carl Grapentine, and Obie Yadgar.[16][17][18] Miller Peters was the station's music director in its final years, and also served as a weekend host.[16][17][18] Syndicated programs included Adventures in Good Music with Karl Haas, which aired Mon–Fri at 7 p.m.[18]

While classical music was the station's primary focus, for a period, brokered ethnic and religious programming aired in some late night hours.[1] The brokered ethnic and religious programming were dropped in the 1980s.[19]

Florian, a jazz aficionado, also hired Dick Buckley as a DJ for the station's jazz programming.[1][20] Neil Tesser also hosted a jazz program on WNIB from 1974 to 1976.[21][22] Blues hosts included Mr. A. and Big Bill Collins.[23]

Those Were the Days, a four-hour old-time radio program hosted by Chuck Schaden, aired on WNIB Saturdays from September 6, 1975 until February 10, 2001.[8] Dick Lawrence hosted The Dick Lawrence Review, a weekly program on WNIB that featured nostalgic commentary and readings, along with vintage music.[24][25]


WNIB's studios and transmitter were originally located at the Midwest Hotel, at Hamlin and Madison in West Garfield Park.[1][26] Subsequent studio locations for WNIB included 108 N. State St., Riverside Plaza, 25 E. Chestnut St., 12 East Delaware Place, and finally 1140 W. Erie.[26][17] In 1968, the station's transmitter was moved to the Civic Opera Building.[26] In 1976, WNIB's antenna and transmitter were relocated to the top of the Standard Oil Building.[26]

In 1983, the Florians purchased 96.9 WKZN in Zion, Illinois for $1 million.[1] The station's call sign was changed to WNIZ, and it began simulcasting the programming of WNIB.[1][19] The following year, WNIB's ERP was increased from 850 watts to 8,400 watts.[26][27][28] Its ratings grew significantly in the following years, and by the late 1980s it began to surpass 98.7 WFMT.[1][19]

Further history[edit]

In 1969, WNIB began publishing a monthly program guide which listed all the music being played each day on the station.[29][30] The inclusion of the label and record number enabled listeners to purchase things they enjoyed hearing, and the subscription price helped keep the station going during the leaner times. The covers at first had details of well-known artworks, and later had original sketches and caricatures by Richard Kimmel and Robert Kameczura.[30]

When 99.5 WEFM was sold and abandoned its longtime classical music format in 1978, a portion of its classical music library was donated to WNIB as part of the settlement to permit the station's sale.[31]

WNIB was also famous for having dogs and cats in residence, which were audible at times during announcements.[16][1][7] The animals were featured in local media, and listeners seemed to enjoy knowing that they were there.[16][1][7]

The Florians received numerous offers from companies interested in purchasing the station, but they continued to own WNIB and WNIZ until 2001, when they sold the stations to Bonneville International for $165 million.[1][32] With the proceeds of the sale, the Florians established the NIB Foundation, which awarded grants to music, dance, environmental, and animal rights causes.[7][33]

After the completion of a final program on February 11, the station was turned off.[34] The following day, new owners took the air with a different format.[34]

Bill Florian died on December 7, 2016, of lung cancer at the age of 84.[35][7]


On February 12, 2001, Bonneville began to stunt with all day sets from artists such as Barbra Streisand, Garth Brooks, the Beach Boys, Madonna, Pink Floyd, and the Beatles, while its simulcast partner 96.9 WNIZ began simulcasting 101.9 WTMX.[36][37][38] On March 15, 2001, the call sign was changed to WDRV, and the station adopted a classic hits format as "The Drive".[39][40] In 2003, 96.9 in Zion began simulcasting WDRV, and its call sign was changed to WWDV.[41]

Over the years, The Drive's format evolved into a broad-based classic rock format.[42]

Bonneville announced the sale of WDRV and 16 other stations, to Hubbard Broadcasting on January 19, 2011.[43] The sale was completed on April 29, 2011.[44]

On June 27, 2011, WDRV celebrated its 10th anniversary by organizing a free-entrance concert at the Rosemont Theatre by America and headliner Jethro Tull.[45]

Online streaming of the "Deep Tracks" programming broadcast on WDRV's HD2 subchannel was discontinued in October 2013, due to its popularity.[6] The high amount of traffic to the site made the stream too expensive to maintain, considering the cost of the service, royalty payments and lack of commercials to offset costs.

The station celebrated its 15th anniversary on Friday, May 20, 2016 with a concert at the Rosemont Theater featuring Boston and Jefferson Starship.[46]

WDRV features The Sherman & Tingle Show (Brian Sherman and Steve Tingle with Executive Producer, Jill Egan) which debuted the morning of October 31, 2016.[47]

On March 10, 2018, WDRV became Chicago's only classic rock station when former rival WLUP-FM was sold to Educational Media Foundation and became and affiliate of EMF's Christian AC network K-Love.[48]

Signal note[edit]

WDRV is short-spaced to sister station WWDV (licensed to serve Zion, Illinois) as they operate on adjacent channels and the cities they are licensed to serve are only 40 miles apart.[49] The minimum distance between two Class B FM radio stations operating on adjacent channels according to current FCC rules is 105 miles.[50] Both stations use directional antennas to reduce their signals toward each other.[5][51]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Shen, Ted. "Battle Stations", Chicago Reader. March 11, 1999. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  2. ^ "FCC 335-FM Digital Notification [WDRV]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. October 21, 2015. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  3. ^ "Call Sign History (WDRV)". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  4. ^ "Longtime Chicago Radio Engineer Keith Warner Passes Away". Chicagoland Radio and Media. May 25, 2016. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  5. ^ a b "FM Query Results for WDRV". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  6. ^ a b "WDRV-FM's 'Deep Tracks' Stream Gets Deep Sixed". Chicagoland Radio and Media. October 16, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Goldsborough, Bob. "Bill Florian, founder of classical radio station WNIB, dies at 84", Chicago Tribune. December 18, 2016. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  8. ^ a b TWTD Archive — July 8, 1995, Speaking of Radio. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  9. ^ "Ken Alexander's Radio Recollections", Nostalgia Digest. bruceduffie.com. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  10. ^ 1959 Broadcasting Yearbook, Broadcasting, 1959. p. B-143. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  11. ^ Chicagoland Radio Waves, MediaTies. Summer 1988/Spring-Summer 1989. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  12. ^ "Your Classical Companion". WNIB. Archived from the original on August 19, 2000. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  13. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1979, Broadcasting, 1979. p. C-64. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  14. ^ "Soothing sounds go silent", The Times of Northwest Indiana. February 11, 2001. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Grier, Lita. "Remembering Ron Ray", WNIB Program Guide. bruceduffie.com. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  16. ^ a b c d Mahany, Barbara. "This Is About a Wild and Crazy Man + His Wife + Their 'Mom and Pop' Radio Station Which Became 1 in Classical Music in the Chicago Area", Chicago Tribune. June 23, 1997. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  17. ^ a b c Jacobs, Jodie. "He's a Broadcasting Classic", Chicago Tribune. January 3, 1999. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c "WNIB FM 97.1", Radio Chicago. p. 58. Winter 1991. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Haynes, V. Dion. "Station WNIB Making Waves With a Classical Success Story", Chicago Tribune. July 25, 1986. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Biro, Nick. "Dealers Swing With Jazz", Billboard. April 28, 1962. p. 12. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  21. ^ "Neil Tesser, WFMT Radio Network. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Duston, Anne. "Awards to Three For Contributing to Chicago Jazz", Billboard. December 26, 1974. p. 3. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  23. ^ Seigenthaler, Katherine. "Classic Sounds in the Wee Hours", Chicago Tribune. July 25, 1989. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  24. ^ Chicago Radio Guide. Vol. 1, No. 1. May 1985. p. 54. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  25. ^ Heise, Kenan. "Dick Lawrence, 66; Was Host of WNIB Weekly Radio Show", Chicago Tribune. March 31, 1992. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  26. ^ a b c d e History Cards for WDRV, fcc.gov. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  27. ^ Public Notice Comment – BPH-19831109AI, fcc.gov. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  28. ^ Public Notice Comment – BLH-19840515CP, fcc.gov. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  29. ^ Marsh, Robert C. "FM Scene Information Guide", Chicago Sun-Times. March 30, 1969. Section 3, Page 5. bruceduffie.com. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  30. ^ a b WNIB Program Guide, bruceduffie.com. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  31. ^ Brenner, Daniel L. "Government Regulation of Radio Program Format Changes", University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Volume 127. 1978. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  32. ^ Von Rhein, John. "R.I.P. WNIB", Chicago Tribune. December 10, 2000. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  33. ^ Feder, Robert. "Robservations: Bill Kurtis lends voice to WGN Radio", RobertFeder.com. December 12, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  34. ^ a b Delacoma, Wynne. "Classical station bows out with class", Chicago Sun-Times. kcstudio.com. February 13, 2001. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  35. ^ Feder, Robert. "Robservations: Bill Kurtis lends voice to WGN Radio", www.robertfeder.com, December 12, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  36. ^ "Chicago Media Headlines - February". DJHeadlines.com. February 2001. Archived from the original on December 20, 2004. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  37. ^ "Chicago Media Headlines - March". DJHeadlines.com. March 2001. Archived from the original on October 16, 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  38. ^ "Street Talk", Radio & Records. February 16, 2001. p. 30. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  39. ^ Kening, Dan (March 15, 2001). "Former Wnib Debuts Rock And Pop Oldies Format As 'The Drive'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  40. ^ "Bonneville Goes for a Drive in Chicago", Radio & Records. March 23, 2001. p. 3. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  41. ^ "FM News", VHF-UHF Digest. February 2003. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  42. ^ "10 Questions with ... Bob Stroud", All Access Music Group. April 17, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  43. ^ "$505M sale: Bonneville sells Chicago, D.C., St. Louis and Cincinnati to Hubbard". Radio-Info.com. January 19, 2011. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
  44. ^ "Hubbard deal to purchase Bonneville stations closes". Radio Ink. May 2, 2011. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  45. ^ "The Drive Hosts Free 10th Anniversary Concert". Chicagoland Radio and Media. May 12, 2011. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  46. ^ Argyrakis, Andy (May 20, 2016). "Legends Boston and Jefferson Starship, local favs Backdated rock The Drive's milestone bash". Chicago Concert Reviews. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  47. ^ "Robservations: Wait till Sherman & Tingle meet Eric & Kathy". robertfeder.com. October 6, 2016. Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  48. ^ Venta, Lance. "Educational Media Foundation Acquires 97.9 WLUP Chicago", Radio Insight. March 10, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  49. ^ "How Far is it Between Zion, IL, United States and Chicago, IL, United States". Free Map Tools. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  50. ^ "Minimum distance separation between stations. 47 CFR 73.207 (1)" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  51. ^ "FM Query Results for WWDV". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2017-07-08.

External links[edit]