WBBM-FM station logo.png
Broadcast areaChicago metropolitan area
Frequency96.3 MHz (HD Radio)
FormatTop 40/CHR
SubchannelsHD2: Channel Q
First air date
November 1941 (1941-11)[2]
Former call signs
W67C (1941–43)[3]
Former frequencies
46.7 MHz (1941–46)[3]
99.3 MHz (1946–47)[3]
97.1 (1947–53)[3]
Call sign meaning
calls randomly assigned to WBBM (AM) with multiple backronyms:
"We Broadcast Broadmoor Music"[4][5]
"World's Best Broadcast Medium"[4][5]
"Where Better Broadcasts Materialize"[6]
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID9613
ERP3,300 watts
HAAT474 meters (1,555 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
41°52′44″N 87°38′10″W / 41.879°N 87.636°W / 41.879; -87.636
Public license information
WebcastListen live (via Audacy)

WBBM-FM (96.3 MHz) is a Top 40 (CHR) radio station in Chicago, Illinois. It is known on the air as B96 and it is owned by Audacy, Inc. The station has an effective radiated power (ERP) of 3,300 watts, broadcasting from a transmitter atop the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).[7] The studios and offices are located at Two Prudential Plaza in the Loop. WBBM-FM's main competition is 103.5 WKSC-FM, owned by iHeartMedia.


Early years

The station began experimental broadcasts in November 1941, as W67C, broadcasting at 46.7 MHz.[2][3] The station's transmitter was located atop the American National Bank Building, at 33 N. LaSalle Street.[3] It simulcast co-owned WBBM AM 780, carrying its CBS Radio Network schedule of dramas, comedies, news, sports, game shows, soap operas and big band broadcasts during the "Golden Age of Radio."

In 1943, the station's call sign was changed to WBBM-FM.[3] In 1946, the station began broadcasting at 99.3 MHz.[3] In 1947, the station's frequency was changed to 97.1 MHz, and in 1953, WBBM-FM moved to its current spot on the dial at 96.3 MHz.[3] In the 1950s, as network programming moved from radio to television, WBBM-AM-FM carried a full service middle of the road format of popular music, news and talk. After 1964, most of the music was eliminated, in favor of talk and news.

The Young Sound

In 1966, WBBM-FM split from simulcasting the AM and flipped to "The Young Sound," a format pioneered by John DeWitt for co-owned WCBS-FM in New York City.[8][9][10] Bud Kelly was the announcer for "The Young Sound" on WBBM-FM.[8]

"The Young Sound" aired instrumental cover versions of recent hits, contemporary pop instrumentals from artists like Herb Alpert, and contemporary vocal hits from artists like Petula Clark.[8][10] Every hour's playlist was designed so that each song would complement the titles that preceded and followed it.[8][9] Initially, the station had a three to one instrumental to vocal ratio.[9] However, its playlist was skewed towards a young audience, which distinguished it from most easy listening and beautiful music stations of the era.[8][9]

Chicago's Favorite Rock

By the early 1970s, the station was airing a format consisting of top 40, album cuts, and past hits.[11] The station was branded as "Stereo 96 WBBM-FM, Chicago's Favorite Rock!"[12] Bob Johnston served as program director.[13]

In 1971, the station's transmitter was moved to the John Hancock Center.[3]

Mellow sound

By 1977, WBBM-FM and several other FM stations owned by CBS had adopted an adult contemporary format defined as the "mellow sound", playing contemporary music but without the harder-edged titles.[14][15][16] During this era, the station was branded as "The Mellow Sound of Chicago"[17] and "Soft Rock 96".[18] Initially, all of CBS's "mellow sound" stations were automated.[14]

Dick Bartley, who later became a popular syndicated radio personality, spent time at WBBM-FM as program director and morning disc jockey in the late 1970s.[19][20] WBBM-FM briefly carried American Top 40 with Casey Kasem during the soft rock years.[21]


In May 1982, WBBM-FM began airing a Top 40/CHR format known as "Hot Hits," which was created by consultant Mike Joseph.[22] Concurrent with the format change was the phase out of all automation.[22] Hot Hits was a high energy format, playing only current hits, and featured numerous jingles to reinforce the station's identity.[22] The station was branded B96 the following year.[23]

In 1986, WBBM-FM started to move toward a rhythmic top 40 direction, and in the late 1980s began to embrace dance product.[24][25] In May 1990, the station became known as "The Killer Bee: B96."[25] In 1995, the station added more R&B and hip hop as the dance scene diminished.[26]

In October 2008, the station's slogan was changed from "Chicago's Hits and Hip-Hop" to "Chicago's #1 Hit Music Station," as its format shifted back to mainstream Top 40.[27][28]

Since 1992, the station has presented the B96 SummerBash concert.[29]

Morning shows

See also: Eddie & JoBo

B96's longtime morning program was the "Eddie & JoBo" morning zoo show. Joe Colborn (air name "Bohannon") first signed on at B96 in 1984 hosting evenings as "JoBo In Chicago."[30] Ed Volkman started at B96 in 1986 hosting morning drive along with Karen Hand and Mike Elston.[30][31] When Elston left B96 in 1988, Bohannon was moved to mornings along with Volkman and Hand, launching the "Eddie & JoBo" show.[32][30] The morning show ran for two decades but was canceled on November 21, 2008.[33]

On January 5, 2009, Julian Nieh and Jamar "J. Niice" McNeil started a new morning show, "J. Niice & Julian on the Radio." The two were previously together at iHeartMedia's WIHT in Washington, D.C. Nieh stayed with the show until December 2012.[34] The show continued as "The J Show", with J. Niice as the host alongside Showbiz Shelly and Gabe.[35][36] J. Niice left in March 2018 and in April, B96 debuted "DreX & Nina" with Gabe Ramirez still being kept on.[37][38][39] DreX left B96 in February 2019 and the show became "Gabe and Nina in the Morning", hosted by Gabe Ramirez and Nina Hajian. In September 2021, Hajian left the station, with Ramirez continuing to host the show, which was renamed "B96 Mornings."[39][40]

Ownership changes

CBS had owned WBBM-FM since its beginnings. In 1995, CBS was acquired by Westinghouse.[41] Infinity Broadcasting Corporation was acquired in December 1996, and shortly thereafter Westinghouse's name was changed to CBS Corp.[41] Through its CBS Radio division, the CBS Corporation owned WBBM-FM for 76 years.

On February 2, 2017, CBS Radio announced it would merge with Entercom, no longer a part of the CBS Corporation.[42] The merger was approved on November 9, 2017, and was consummated on November 17.[43][44]

HD Radio

WBBM-FM broadcasts in the HD Radio format. The HD2 subchannel carries a national LGBTQ talk and EDM radio format called "Channel Q."[45]

In January 2006, the station officially launched its HD2 FM subcarrier, airing a Dance Top 40 format as "B96 Dance".[46] That format moved to a subchannel on co-owned 105.9 WCFS-FM in February 2019 and rebranded as "Energy."[45] WBBM-FM's HD2 subchannel then switched to an Entercom format known as "Channel Q," a talk and EDM format, aimed at the LGBTQ community and heard in many radio markets served by Entercom FM stations.[45][47]


  1. ^ Janowski, Thaddeus P. (September 29, 2010). "FCC 316: Application for Consent to Assign Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License or to Transfer Control of Entity Holding Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License (BTCH-20100930AFL)". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "FM Outlet Histories", Broadcasting — Telecasting. A Continuing Study of Major Radio Markets: Study No. 7: Chicago. October 25, 1948. p. 14. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j History Cards for WBBM-FM, fcc.gov. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Schaden, Chuck (1988). "WBBM Yesterday & Today. WBBM. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Jacob, Mark. "10 things you might not know about Chicago radio", Chicago Tribune. September 14, 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  6. ^ "AM Histories", Broadcasting — Telecasting. A Continuing Study of Major Radio Markets: Study No. 7: Chicago. October 25, 1948. pp. 14, 17. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  7. ^ FM Query Results: WBBM-FM, fcc.gov. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e "What is 'The Young Sound'?", All That Is Music. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d "'Young Sound' to Hit New York on Oct. 1", Billboard. October 1, 1966. p. 22. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  10. ^ a b CBS-FM Offers Service to Aid Small Markets With Separation", Billboard. December 16, 1966. pp. 26, 32. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  11. ^ "WBBM-FM Cuts Swath With Oldie LP Tracks", Billboard. July 10, 1971. p. 20. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  12. ^ WBBM/FM Stereo 96 Chicago's Favorite Rock, WBBM-FM. May 12, 1973. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  13. ^ "Chicago Retailers, Stations Push Sansui 'Q'", Billboard. January 6, 1973. p. 19. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Tiegel, Eliot. "Marshall Cross-Pollinates Ideas", Billboard. October 8, 1977. pp. 36, 40. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  15. ^ "Stations, everywhere: a listeners' guide to the AM and FM bands", Chicago Tribune Magazine. March 4, 1979. p. 35. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  16. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1978, Broadcasting, 1978. p. C-62. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  17. ^ Media Decisions, Volume 12, Part 1. N. Glenn Publications. 1977. p. 43.
  18. ^ "Northern FM DX", WTFDA Mailbox. November 1980. p. 17. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  19. ^ Ghrist, John R. (1996). Valley Voices: A Radio History. Crossroads Communications. p. 44.
  20. ^ "Billboard Arbitron DJ Rating Performance", Billboard. September 30, 1978. p. 32. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  21. ^ Hall, Doug. "Vox Jox", Billboard. August 11, 1979. p. 18. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c Penchansky, Alan. "WBBM-FM to Shift to 'Hot Hits' Format", Billboard. April 24, 1982. pp. 25, 36. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  23. ^ Bornstein, Rollye. "Vox Jox", Billboard. June 18, 1983. p. 24. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  24. ^ Hoffman, Wayne. "After years of indifference, radio stations are actively courting gay men—some more openly than others", The Advocate. January 21, 1997. p. 81-82. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Ross, Sean. "PD of the week", Billboard. May 19, 1990. pp. 19, 22. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  26. ^ Carter, Kevin. "PD Cavanah Sees Success By Broadening B96's List", Billboard. September 23, 1995. p. 100. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  27. ^ "Chicago's Hits and Hip-Hop". WBBM-FM. Archived from the original on October 24, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  28. ^ "Chicago's #1 Hit Music Station". WBBM-FM. Archived from the original on October 31, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  29. ^ "2011 B96 Pepsi SummerBash Guide", CBS 2 Chicago. June 9, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  30. ^ a b c Chicago's WJMK-FM flipping to KHITS", Radio & Television Business Report. March 10, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  31. ^ Freeman, Kim. "Vox Jox", Billboard. August 9, 1986. p. 14. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  32. ^ Ross, Sean. "Vox Jox", Billboard. November 5, 1988. p. 15. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  33. ^ Rosenthal, Phil. "Eddie and Jobo out at WBBM-FM", Chicago Tribune. November 21, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  34. ^ "Julian Nieh Exits B96", Chicagoland Radio and Media. November 28, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  35. ^ Feder, Robert. "B96 reboots morning show after Julian jumps", Time Out Chicago. November 28, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  36. ^ "The J. Show with Showbiz Shelly". WBBM-FM. Archived from the original on June 20, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  37. ^ Goldsborough, Bob. "J Niice, former WBBM-FM morning host, sells Near South Side condo for $370,500", Chicago Tribune. August 24, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  38. ^ "Changes At WBBM-F (B96)/Chicago As J Niice And Showbiz Shelly Exit Mornings; 'DreX' Rumored To Return", All Access Music Group. March 29, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  39. ^ a b "DreX Out At Chicago's 'B96' After Less Than A Year", Inside Radio. February 8, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  40. ^ "Gabe & Nina", Chicago's B96. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  41. ^ a b "Westinghouse to Change Name to CBS After Spinoff", Bloomberg News. Los Angeles Times. February 6, 1997. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  42. ^ Venta, Lance. "CBS Radio to Merge with Entercom", RadioInsight. February 2, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  43. ^ "Entercom Receives FCC Approval For Merger With CBS Radio". Entercom. November 2, 2017. Archived from the original on November 11, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
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  45. ^ a b c "Channel Q Expands To Six More Markets" RadioInsight. February 26, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  46. ^ "Major Radio Groups Announce HD2 Formats", All Access Music Group. January 19, 2006. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  47. ^ Entercom’s ‘Channel Q’ Expands To Six New Markets Via HD Side Channels, Inside Radio. February 27, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2019.