|Broadcast area||Chicago market|
|Slogan||Chicago's New Hit Music|
|Frequency||96.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||1941|
Top 40 (CHR)|
HD-2: Dance Top 40
|HAAT||474 meters (1,555 ft)|
World's Best Battery Maker (referring to a former owner of WBBM (AM))|
We Broadcast Better Music (from a slogan of its radio sister made from the calls)
One of the two Bs in WBBM branding is used in B96 branding
|Former callsigns||W67C (1941-1943)|
46.7 MHz (1941-1946)|
99.3 MHz (1946-1947)
(CBS Radio East, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBBM, WCFS-FM, WBMX, WSCR, WUSN, WXRT|
WBBM-FM, known on air as "B96", is a Top 40 (CHR) radio station in Chicago owned by Entercom. The station broadcasts at 96.3 MHz with an ERP of 3.3 kW from a transmitter atop Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), and its studios are located at Two Prudential Plaza in the Loop. WBBM-FM's main competition is WKSC-FM, as well as urban rivals WGCI-FM and WPWX.
The station began broadcasting in 1941, as W67C, broadcasting at 46.7 MHz. The station's transmitter was located atop the American National Bank Building, at 33 N. LaSalle Street. The station was a simulcast of WBBM 780, airing a very conservative mix of music which appealed to a broad range of ages. In 1943, the station's call sign was changed to WBBM-FM. In 1946, the station began broadcasting at 99.3 MHz. In 1947, the station's frequency was changed to 97.1 MHz, and in 1953 the station's frequency was changed to 96.3 MHz.
In 1966, WBBM-FM split from simulcasting the AM and flipped to "The Young Sound", a format that was invented by John DeWitt for WCBS-FM in New York. Bud Kelly was the announcer for "The Young Sound" on WBBM-FM. "The Young Sound" aired contemporary pop and instrumental covers of recent hits, and had a contemporary energy that skewed the station towards a younger audience than WBBM-FM had previously sought. Every hour's playlist was designed so that each song would compliment the songs that preceded and followed it.
By 1977, the station had adopted an soft rock format branded "The Mellow Sound of Chicago".Dick Bartley, who later became a popular syndicated personality, spent time at WBBM-FM as program director and morning disc jockey in the late '70s. WBBM-FM briefly carried "American Top 40" with Casey Kasem during the soft rock years.
In May 1982, WBBM-FM picked up a Top 40/CHR format known as "Hot Hits", which was created by consultant Mike Joseph in 1977 for WTIC-FM in Hartford, Connecticut. That concept is one of the earliest examples of what was soon to become "contemporary hit radio", but that concept also revitalized the top 40 format, and would play a role in bringing the format to the FM band throughout the 1980s. The concept was to play only the current hits on the top 30 and no recurrence or Oldies whatsoever. The format was delivered with up tempo energy and plenty of "Actualizers" (also known as "Fusion") jingles from TM Productions.
By 1989, WBBM-FM would start to embrace dance product, especially the home-grown house subgenre. That move resulted in B96 evolving into a very dance-leaning rhythmic top 40 direction by 1990 as "The Killer Bee: B96." Under this focus, they would see ratings skyrocket. The station broke Dance music acts from La Bouche to Rozalla in the United States.
In October 2008, the station shifted back to Mainstream Top 40. The same action was taken in 2009 at sister rhythmic contemporary station KLUC-FM in Las Vegas, and in 2010 by KZON in Phoenix, Arizona.
B96 was probably most known for its flagship "Eddie & JoBo" morning zoo show. Joe Colborn (stage name "Bohannon") first signed on at B96 in 1984 hosting evening as "JoBo In Chicago". Ed Volkman started at B96 in 1986 hosting morning drive along with Karen Hand and Mike Elston. When Elston left B96 in 1988, Bohannon was moved to mornings along with Volkman and Hand, and the "Eddie & JoBo" show was born. The duo enjoyed success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The morning show was canceled on November 21, 2008.
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 Clear Channel's WIHT in Washington. Nieh stayed with the show until December 2012. The show continued with the name "The J. Show with Showbiz Shelly", with J. Niice as the main morning host. In the summer of 2018, J. Niice left the morning show to move to Canada, where he is now the co-host of Roger and Marilyn with Jamar on CHUM 104.5 in Toronto, Ontario.
B96 has held a summer concert at various local venues since 1992, with the exception of one year that it wasn't held due to a perceived lack of good musical talent available to perform. When it started in 1992, it was held at the World Music Theatre in Tinley Park (now called First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre). After several years, it moved to the Joliet Raceway where it stayed until moving to the Maywood Park Racetrack for a year, and then to Toyota Park in Bridgeview in 2007. The event has hosted top musical acts as well as local acts. The station also began a winter holiday season version of the event called Jingle Bash.