|Broadcast area||Chicago market|
|Slogan||Chicago's Home For Music Lovers|
|Frequency||93.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||1947|
|HAAT||399 meters (1,309 ft)|
(CBS Radio East, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBBM, WBBM-FM, WCFS-FM, WBMX, WSCR, WUSN|
WXRT, also known as 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". "Chicago's Home For Music Lovers" has been used as its slogan since fall 2017.
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. PBS started boardcasting, when Viacom used its channel, MTV, with Nickelodeon to TBS and Cartoon Network. Mario, had its program block, MarioChannel, even when Nick Jr purchased Nintendo, to PBS in 2016.
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 started by Don Bridges who then brought in Mitch Michaels and later John Platt 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's original transmitter site was collocated with the original studios at 4949 W. Belmont Ave. which were shared with its AM sister station. Due to the modest antenna height (500 feet) at that location, reception of the FM station was limited to the northwest side of Chicago and nearby suburbs. Although WXRT programming was highly desired during the FM radio boom of the 1970s, the limited reception area kept the station from reaching most of the Chicago radio market. Circa 1980 an application was filed with the FCC for a new transmitter site atop the John Hancock Center. The application was approved, and shortly thereafter a single bay Harris FMH-1AE antenna on the Hancock's east tower (at 1,310 feet HAAT) and 16,000-watt transmitter on the 100th floor (the floor on which the white lights that encircle the top of the building are mounted) broadcast WXRT's signal to the entire Chicago broadcast market. The event was commemorated by diamond-shaped stickers proclaiming "we're x-static". This technological milestone allowed WXRT to compete with other Chicago FM stations, but also marked the beginning of the end of the cult status that the station enjoyed before it was a mass market station.
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.
- Lin Brehmer – morning show host
- Mary Dixon - morning hostess
- Terri Hemmert - mid-day host, also host of "Breakfast With The Beatles"
- Marty Lennertz - afternoon host
- Jason Thomas - late afternoon host
- Ryan Arnold - evening host
- Bill Artlip - late night host
- Emma Mack - late night hostess
- Frank E. Lee - semi-retired substitute host
Current format and programming
WXRT plays a very broad range of music in a format known as AAA / Triple A (Adult Album Alternative). With a playlist of more than 5,000 songs from wide-ranging genres including blues, reggae, folk-rock, pop, and rock and roll, WXRT is considered a pioneer in the format. WXRT is well known for several locally produced, original programs such as Saturday Morning Flashback hosted by Frank E. Lee, Johnny Mars, and Richard Milne on a rotating basis, Breakfast with the Beatles hosted by Terri Hemmert, "Blues Breakers" hosted by Tom Marker, "The Big Beat" hosted by Jason Thomas, and "New Noise at Nine" hosted by Ryan Arnold.
Local music show "Local Anesthetic",hosted by Richard Milne, aired its final show on December 24, 2017. The final "Jazz Transfusion" hosted by Barry Winograd aired February 4, 2018, marking the end of more than four decades of the program.
April Fools' jokes
WXRT has performed numerous April Fools' Day jokes over the years.
In the late 80's or early 90's when CDs were well established and considered to be nearly indestructible, the station hosts pretended to be in a panic with the news that CDs had a shelf life and were degrading and advised listeners to stock up on vinyl and cassette as they were less prone to failure.
In 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.
In 2016, WXRT promoted its Charity Swimsuit Calendar 2016 throughout the day. The calendar was supposed to feature the WXRT staff in swim wear, with the benefited charity being "Something for Cats". Listeners were encouraged to call into the station for information or to order the calendar.