|City of license||Chicago, Illinois|
|Broadcast area||Chicago market|
|Slogan||Chicago's Finest Rock|
|Frequency||93.1 FM (MHz)
(also on HD Radio)
93.1 HD-2 for Channel X: XRT New Music Channel
93.1 HD-3 for Last.fm Discover
|First air date||1972|
|HAAT||399 meters (1,309 ft)|
(CBS Radio East, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WBBM, WBBM-FM, WCFS-FM, WJMK-FM, WSCR, WUSN
part of CBS Corp. cluster with TV station WBBM-TV
WXRT, also known as WXRT 93.1, XRT, and 93-XRT is an adult album alternative (AAA) radio station in Chicago, Illinois. For many years their slogan has been "Chicago's Finest Rock". WXRT is a primary sponsor of the Chicago nonprofit Rock For Kids.
WFJL-FM (93.1 MHz) went on the air in Chicago in 1947. WFJL was operated as a non-commercial station by Lewis College of Science and Technology (now Lewis University, "FJL" being an abbreviation for Frank J. Lewis). Lewis College sold WFJL-FM in 1958 to Louis Lee, who changed the call letters to WSBC-FM in 1959. Lee changed the call letters again in 1964 to WXRT-FM. Dan Lee, Louis Lee's son, sold WXRT in 1995; it is now owned by CBS Radio.
The format as it exists today began in 1972 as a nighttime-only freeform rock experiment, sharing the 93.1 frequency with a variety of different ethnic and foreign language programming that aired during the daylight hours. The part-time progressive rock format was gradually expanded, and by 1976 it aired 24 hours a day. By the 1980s the station played primarily new wave and alternative music of that time. As the 1990s approached the station opted to stay with its core audience and move to a AAA format. The office of the radio station was located at 4949 W. Belmont Ave. on the northwest side of Chicago, until September 6, 2008, when it was relocated to the NBC Tower in downtown Chicago. On March 16, 2010, it was again relocated to the Prudential Plaza. WXRT has ceased broadcast from its Belmont Ave. location on 2009. Since then the old WXRT and WSCR transmitter on Belmont Ave was never used and the offices remained vacant.
WXRT was locally owned until 1995. It was then purchased by Westinghouse, which had acquired WMAQ 670 (which has since changed call letters to WSCR) a few years before. WXRT became part of the CBS conglomerate in 1996 when Westinghouse and CBS merged. CBS later merged with Infinity Radio, keeping the Infinity name for its radio division. CBS and Viacom would merge in 2000, making WXRT an Infinity Radio station whose parent companies were CBS and Viacom. In December 2005, Infinity Radio officially became CBS Radio in anticipation of the CBS/Viacom split up.
Current Programming Personnel:
- Norm Winer (Program Director)
- Kelly Ransford (Music Director)
- Lin Brehmer (Morning show host)
- Mary Dixon (News anchor)
- Terri Hemmert (DJ/Host of Breakfast with the Beatles)
- Marty Lennartz (DJ/Creative Assistant to Programming)
- Jason Thomas (DJ/Host of The Big Beat)
- Ryan Arnold (DJ/Host of New Noise at Nine)
- Tom Marker (DJ/Host of Blues Breakers)
- Wendy Rice (DJ/Host of Saturday Morning Flashback)
- Richard Milne (DJ/Host of Local Anesthetic)
- Barry Winograd (Host of Jazz Transfusion)
- Leslie Witt (DJ)
- Johnny Mars (DJ)
- Bill Artlip (DJ)
- Lara Mondae (DJ)
- Emma Mac (DJ)
There has been remarkably little disc jockey turnover at XRT since it began in 1972. Terri Hemmert is the DJ who has been with XRT the longest, since 1973. Norm Winer, who worked at pioneering progressive rock radio stations WBCN in Boston and KSAN in San Francisco, has been the XRT Program Director for over 30 years.
On April 22, 2015, DJ Frank E. Lee announced his retirement effective May 8th, marking one of the biggest staff changes in the station's history.
Current format and programming
WXRT plays a very broad library of mostly adult-oriented rock dating from the mid-'50s to the present. The station's playlist includes over 5,000 songs which appear on a regular basis from a wide set of genres, including blues, reggae, folk-rock, pop, and rock and roll. The station is well known for its Saturday Morning Flashback program, hosted by Wendy Rice (Norm's wife), and its Breakfast with the Beatles (a show that originated at WCKG in 1985) program on Sunday mornings, hosted by Terri Hemmert. "Blues Breakers" emphasizes the blues of Chicago artists and has been hosted by Tom Marker since 1984. "Jazz Transfusion", hosted by Barry Winograd, features a wide range of jazz from different eras and genres. "Local Anesthetic," hosted by Richard Milne since 1991, features the latest music from Chicago-area artists.
April Fools' jokes
WXRT has performed numerous April Fools' Day jokes over the years.
On April 1, 1998, WXRT stated during its morning show with Lin Brehmer that it was now called WXXXRT, and that it was now a subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises. Brehmer, the normal morning show host, and his news anchor partner, Mary Dixon, very calmly and casually made the announcement several times throughout the show that day and made very little fuss about the change in ownership, trying to pawn it off as no big deal. The station's music format was now changed to include primarily 1980s dance music. Brehmer took extra care to mention the change in station call letters more than usual. Many of the conversations from angry listeners were recorded off-the-air that morning, and then edited together and played back the next day, April 2. Some of the conversations included Brehmer talking with people, letting them fume, and then asking the angry listener what day it was; this often resulted in the listener realizing they had been a victim of the hoax.
Also, during the 90's on April 1, WXRT announced its new studio, with a window to the street, at 380 N. Michigan Avenue. That address didn't exist, as it put the studio address in the middle of the Michigan Avenue bridge crossing the Chicago River.
In 2006, WXRT announced it would end its Saturday Morning Flashback program on April 1 of that year. Many listeners did not realize the importance of the proposed end date for the program as a clue that the announcement was a hoax.
In 2012, a year when April Fool's Day fell on a Sunday, the station's hoax involved broadly promoting a new, hours-long show that would immediately follow Terri Hemmert's "Breakfast With the Beatles." This show, entitled "Electric Light Brunch," would follow the format of "Breakfast With the Beatles," but feature the music of The Electric Light Orchestra.
In 2013, WXRT announced it was going to play its entire collection of music from A to Z. This was extremely interesting, because the station has 30+ years of music in their library, and would have taken weeks to go through the entire library. The running joke was that it was going to take until Memorial Day to finish (just around 2 months), according to Lin Brehmer. The station did follow suit on April 1, and played letters A and B in their library. The next day, they announced it as an April Fool's joke. Despite being a joke, many listeners were quite interested in hearing the entire library played on air, and has generated some interest as to whether WXRT could or will do this sometime in the future.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WXRT
- Radio-Locator information on WXRT
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WXRT