96. 3FM WBBM-FM (B96) Background and History Officially dubbed ‘B96’ toward the end of 1982, WBBM-FM (owned and operated by CBS Radio) is currently one of the longest running Top 40/CHR stations in the United States. Originally beginning as nothing more than the FM simulcast of WBBM-AM, the station played a very conservative mix of music appealing to a semi broad demographic. As time went on, WBBM (both AM and FM) began playing towards a younger audience until 1969 when WBBM-FM broke away from the WBBM-AM simulcast and adopted a progressive rock format, which later transitioned to more of Adult Top 40.
When Dick Bartley became WBBM-FM’s program director in the late 70’s, the station transitioned from Adult Top 40 to Rhythmic Top 40. When radio consultant Mike Joseph (recognized as the creator of the ‘Hot Hitz’ format) began to oversee WBBM-FM’s operation, the station was renamed and ‘96 Now’ became Chicago’s first ‘Hot Hitz’ station playing nothing but top of the chart pop hits.
After Josephs departure from ‘96 Now’ (only about a year after arriving), the station adopted the trademark B96 name.
Although B96 has seen slight format alterations since then, the station has yet to completely change format, still embracing its original Hot Hitz/Rhythmic Top 40 format history. To this day B96 remains Chicago’s number one CHR station playing to the female Hispanic (primary) and Caucasian (secondary) 18-34 demographic. Managed by Peter Bowen, the CBS owned station broadcasts to the Chicagoland area with a transmitter of over 4200 watts. Erik Bradley is the current music director, deciding which Rhythmic Top 40 songs will be added to the rotation of the station and Todd Cavanah is the sitting programming director.
The voices of B96 are made up of 9 On-Air Personalities (J-Nice, Julian, Showbiz Shelly, Dougie Stylz, J Roman, Rebecca Ortiz, Nikki, Jason Cage and Jerzy) all of which are produced by Mark Baggio and Gabe Ramierz. Jay McNeil, Julian Nieh and Sydney ‘showbiz’ Shelly make up the stations flagship morning show which replaced long running on-air team ‘Eddie and Jobo’ in 2009. Although beginning with a rough start (mainly due to opposition of the cancellation of Eddie and Jobo) B96’s ‘Jay and Julian’ have steadily been climbing towards the top ranks of FM’s morning radio.
WBBM-FM’s studios and offices are located in the Prudential Building (180 N Stetson, Suite 963) in Chicago, IL. The signal is sent from this location to the main transmitter location in Elk Grove Village where it is then broadcast to the surrounding areas on a larger scale (4,200 Watts). With most of it’s promotions being related to concert tickets and giveaways within the Top 40 demographic, B96 also produces two collaboration concerts a year (The B96 SumerBash and The B96 JingleBash) both of which feature between 7 and 10 musical acts of national notoriety. The website (www. b96. om) which is used to deliver much of the stations entertainment news and promotions, is a cookie cutter CBS Radio webpage clearly geared for the tech-savvy generation (ages 12+) by incorporating many social networking aspects to the site. The station’s current slogan is “Chicago’s Number One Hit Music Station”. B96’s main office line is 312. 861. 9600 and the request line 312-591-9696. WBBM-FM uses it’s PPM data and surveys which show that the station is ranked number seven in the Chicago market (for adults aged 25-54) to successfully market the station the highest demographic listener.
In July of 2011, B96 obtained a AQH of 143 with a cume of 328,500 persons for their morning show (Mon-Fri 6am-10am). B96 markets itself mainly through the use of live remotes and by sponsoring local high school/college events (sports games, dances and more). They also broadcast live regularly from Six Flags, Great America throughout the summer. They do budget a small amount for billboard ads but they have decreased the amount of advertisement in the recent years. B96 has not advertised by newspaper or television in over 10 years.