B96 History Summarized

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WBBM-FM, known on air as "B96", is a radio station in Chicago, Illinois owned by Entercom, which merged with the station's previous owner CBS Radio. The station is often referred to as its slogan "B96" rather than its call letters "WBBM" since they are also shared with sister station Newsradio 780 WBBM-AM. B96 has carried the Top 40 format since the spring of 1982 and by the 1990s the station grew to become the city’s heritage Top 40 station, eventually becoming one of the most influential CHR (contemporary hit radio) stations across the United States. The station has evolved over the years, shifting from a mainstream top 40 format in the 1980s to a dance-heavy rhythmic CHR in the 1990s to a hip hop/R&B leaning rhythmic CHR in the 2000s and finally reverting back as a mainstream top 40 format in the 2010s. For nearly 20 years, B96 was also the home of the popular morning show, “Eddie and Jobo” from October 1988 to May 1994 and again from January 1997 to November 2008. Historically, B96 has been competitive in the ratings, often featured in Chicago’s top five most listened to radio stations since 1990. Demographically, the station has done the strongest among females, Hispanics, teenagers, and younger suburban listeners between the ages of 18 and 49.


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WBBM-FM prior to 1982

WBBM-FM began as a simulcast of WBBM-AM radio in 1941 and provided a middle of the road (MOR) music format. By 1967, WBBM-FM adopted the "young sound" easy listening format as its sister station, WBBM-AM, evolved into a news/talk station which it still is to this day. By 1969, WBBM-FM switched to a progressive rock format but would evolve into an adult top 40 format by 1973. During this period, the station was known as "Stereo 96: Chicago's Favorite Rock" and featured artists such as the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Paul McCartney & Wings, and The Carpenters. By 1978, WBBM-FM became known as "Soft Rock 96" and presented the "Mellow Sound of Chicago". The station during this period featured an Adult Contemporary/Album Rock hybrid format which would continue until early 1982. Core artists included John Denver, Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel, Roberta Flack, Chicago, and Jim Croce. However, ratings were never impressive due to four other stations that also provided the AC format in some form in the Chicago market: WFYR-FM 103.5 (now WKSC), WKQX-FM 101.1, WCLR-FM 101.9 (now WTMX), and WCFL-AM 1000 (now WMVP).

The Beginning of WBBM-FM as a Top 40 Station (1982-1989)

Hot Hits/96.3 Now Era (1982-1983)

In April 1982, it was announced that WBBM-FM would pick up a top 40 format known as "Hot Hits", which was created by consultant Mike Joseph in 1977 for WTIC-FM in Hartford, Connecticut. This early concept of a CHR format was credited for rejuvenating the top 40 format and would play a role in bringing the format to the FM band throughout the 1980s. The concept featured uptempo energy, plenty of jingles and offered only current hits on the top 30 without any re-currents or oldies. The Hot Hits format was already successful in WBBM-FM’s sister station in Philadelphia, WCAU-FM (now WOGL) when that station adopted the format in September 1981. (Penchansky, 25) On May 02, 1982, the newly-renamed "96 Now" made its debut on the air. The original staff on WBBM-FM included Steve Davis, Joe Dawson, Gary Spears, Dave Robbins, Bob Lewis, Frank Foster and Tony Taylor. (Billboard, 32) As a "Hot Hits" station, WBBM-FM played the Top 5 hits every hour and in between other hits on the Top 50 chart. For example, WBBM-FM would play the following five songs once every hour on October 09, 1982: "Jack & Diane" by John Cougar Mellencamp, "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" by Melissa Manchester, "I Keep Forgettin'" by Michael McDonald, "Somebody's Baby" by Jackson Browne, and "Don't Fight It" by Kenny Loggins & Steve Perry. Reaction was very positive and WBBM-FM soon climbed up in the ratings from a dismal 15th in the Winter 1982 Arbitron rating books to 3rd place in the Summer 1982 Arbitron ratings book. The station’s new nickname “96 Now” was also shared with Detroit’s “Hot Hits” station, WHYT (now WDVD) since both stations were on the 96.3 FM frequency in their respective cities.

By the end of 1982, Mike Joseph was no longer consulting WBBM-FM, and the station had adopted its trademark "B96" name under Program Director Buddy Scott in June 1983, a name which still stands today. It was also in 1983 that many Hot Hits stations, including WBBM-FM, were now adding re-currents from the past several years alongside the current hits, phasing out the original “Hot Hits” format. WBBM-FM led the competition with CHR and at times was the number one music station in Chicago. Out of all the "Hot Hits" stations, WBBM-FM was the most successful for the longest period, as many other stations that carried the "Hot Hits" format, including the one in Philadelphia that led to the format coming to Chicago, would eventually change formats as the years go by. In addition, B96 would accomplish what many stations before it had failed to do since the 1960s: defeat WLS AM 890 as the “Big 89” had been Chicago’s premiere top 40 station for over two decades. In the fall 1983 Arbitron (now Nielsen) Radio Ratings report, the station ranked 4th among all Chicago radio stations in a score of 5.1. More surprisingly, B96 would also finish ahead of WGCI, something that they would not accomplish when they shifted towards a Rhythmic/Dance CHR format in the 1990s. Other notable DJs during the pre-rhythmic CHR era of B96 include Dick Boindi, Zach Harris, and Don Geronimo. Only Gary Spears would be around by the time B96 evolved into a Rhythmic top 40 station towards the end of the 1980s, though in a second stint with the station.

B96's New Rival: WLS-FM becomes Z95 (1986)

As 1986 began, B96 was slowly declining in the ratings compared to where the station was when it first became a Top 40 station four years earlier. In January that year, WLS-FM 94.7, which had been a partial simulcast of sister station 890 WLS-AM since 1980, was rebranded as "Z95", and would become a serious competitor to B96 for the next six years. WLS-FM also changed its call letters to WYTZ to further distinct itself from its sister station, as the FM brand desired to skew younger thus dumping the famed call letters. Z95’s once-dominant predecessor, WLS-AM, which was declining in the ratings and leaned towards oldies and Adult Contemporary rather than top 40, would eventually flip to an all-talk format on August 23, 1989, bringing an end to 30 years of "MusicRadio" that dated back to May 2, 1960. B96’s "Hot Hits" approach and the rise of FM stations nationwide playing music were factors in WLS-AM’s demise as a music station. Due to the similarities between the names “Z95” and “B96”, B96 PD Buddy Scott added the station’s call letters "WBBM-FM" to distinguish itself and its new rival. B96’s focus was now towards Z95 as the two stations would trade victories although neither would be placed in the top five most listened to radio stations in Chicago for the rest of the 1980s. Around 1988, B96 often used the slogan "Chicago's No. 1 Hit Music Station" despite the fact that there were periods where Z95 was beating them in the ratings during this time. As a result, local media critics, such as Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times, criticized B96 for false advertising.

During the first four years as a Top 40 station, B96 had leaned very much towards rock hits and played only a limited amount of R&B and post-disco music. After the mainstream success of artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, and Lionel Richie, B96 would slowly add more R&B crossover hits. Meanwhile, rock artists like Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, John Cougar Mellencamp, Survivor, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, & Don Hendly were largely featured in the early years of B96. It also wasn't uncommon for B96 play the top hits by hard rock and glam metal acts such as Van Halen, Def Leppard, the Scorpions, Motley Crue, and Sammy Hagar. Beginning in late 1986, however, B96 would quietly start to phase out hard rock & glam metal artists and develop a slight lean towards urban and dance songs for the remainder of the decade. Core artist played on B96 during the late 1980s included Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Jody Watley, Taylor Dayne, Rick Astley, Anita Baker, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Luther Vandross, Paula Abdul, & New Kids on the Block. Latin Freestyle acts, such as Expose ("Come Go with Me", "Point of No Return"), the Cover Girls (“Show Me”), Nancy Martinez (“For Tonight”), and Company B (“Fascinated”) were gaining traction on B96 during this time as well although it would be a few more years until the station fully embrace dance music artists. Z95 also played dance-leaning pop that were big hits during this time but also featured songs by hard rock and glam metal groups whose music videos were popular on MTV, such as Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, Warrant, Whitesnake, and Poison. However, these artists were virtually absent in B96’s rotation. For example, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard would rank 5th in Z95’s most requested 95 songs of 1988 yet B96 never played the song at all. Even Bon Jovi was largely absent in B96's playlists as the only track the station ever played frequently was the ballad "Wanted Dead and Alive", whereas "Living on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name" received very little to no airplay. However, soft rock acts such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Chicago, Peter Cetera, Huey Lewis & the News, Phil Collins, and Genesis were still heavily featured on B96's rotation. In a 2016 interview with the classic radio and audio website Airchexx, Joe Dawson, who left B96 in September 1986, described the musical direction that the station was experiencing at the time as a hybrid between urban contemporary WGCI and Adult Top 40 station WKQX 101.1 "Q101", the latter of which leaned more towards adult contemporary. Q101 was another competitor alongside B96 and Z95 in the CHR/Top 40 radio wars in Chicago during the 1980s although it would evolve into a Hot AC station by the early 1990s and later flipping to alternative rock in 1992.

For a brief time in early 1987, B96 played the house track "If You Only Knew" by Chip E, who was a key figure in the growing underground Chicago house music scene. "If You Only Knew" was a staple in the mix sets on both urban contemporary stations, WGCI and WBMX (now WVAZ) and also was included on regular airplay rotation on both stations. However, there was conflict between B96's upper management and music director Joe Bohannon, who would be later be known as one-half of B96’s popular morning show duo "Eddie and Jobo", as Bohannon initially wanted more tracks such as "If You Only Knew" included on B96’s playlist whereas upper management was very dismissive towards Chicago house records. (wbmx.com) As a result, Chip E's song didn't last very long on B96's rotation. Other house records such as "Ain't Nothing But a House Party" by Phil Fearon, "Showing Out (Get Fresh For the Weekend)" by Mel & Kim, and "Pump Up the Volume" by M/A/R/R/S did receive some airplay on B96 but these tracks were far more popular overseas in the United Kingdom, where house music was far more popular in terms of mainstream pop success then it was in the United States at the time. Case in point, "Jack Your Body" by Steve "Silk" Hurley and "Love Can't Turn Around" by Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, both of whom were key figures in the Chicago house scene, each surprisingly managed to make the UK Top 40 charts, yet American Top 40/CHR stations, including B96, either ignored or refused to acknowledge underground dance/club records, such as Chicago house, as hit pop records. This was largely due to the backlash over electronic dance music's predecessor, disco music of the 1970s, which ironically enough Chicago would play a key role in the once-popular genre's demise in the United States due to the infamous baseball promotion "Disco Demotion Night", where WLUP-FM radio jock Steve Dahl encouraged Chicago White Sox fans to blow up disco records at Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979. It should also be noted that Dahl had been fired at 94.7 FM, which used the call letters WDAI at the time when the station switched formats from rock to disco, which was at the peak of its popularity, in December 1978.

Killer Bee/Party Radio Era: The Dance Music Years (1989-1997)

As 1989 progressed, B96 further evolved into a full-fledged Rhythmic CHR, or "Churban", which was a hybrid between a standard top 40 format and an urban format that played R&B and occasionally dance and hip hop. The Rhythmic CHR format proved to be already successful in the two largest markets in the country as KPWR (105.9 FM, "Power 106") in Los Angeles and WQHT (97.1 “Hot 97”) in New York were both highly competitive in their respective cities since the format was introduced on both stations in 1986. Other Top 40 stations that were heavily rhythmic during the late 1980s included now-defunct KHQT Hot 97.7 in San Jose, KMEL 106 FM in San Francisco, WPOW Power 96 in Miami, and WIOQ Q102 in Philadelphia. R&B and Hip Hop were increasingly becoming more popular on Top 40 radio as the 1980s ended. In addition, electronic dance music, ranging from Latin freestyle to the Chicago-born house music scene was also growing. Core R&B and dance-leaning artists around this time included Bobby Brown, Pebbles, Samantha Fox, Stevie B, Information Society, the Jets, Paula Abdul, and the now-infamous Milli Vanilli. With the “Churban” format already popular in the nation’s two largest markets, it seemed inevitable that Chicago, being the nation’s third largest market, would gain a fully Rhythmic Top 40 station. Although B96 had a slight urban-leaning format that contrasted with rival Z95's broader, rock-leaning playlist, it was still relatively tame when compared to what other stations nationwide like Hot 97 New York, Power 106 Los Angeles and Power 96 Miami were putting out as hits during the late 1980s.

Another factor on B96's shift from mainstream Top 40 to Rhythmic/Dance Top 40 was the demise of urban contemporary station 102.7 WBMX, which was known for its weekend night mix shows, "Friday Night Jams" & "Saturday Night Ain’t No Jive Chicago Dance Party". These mix shows helped popularized Chicago house music on the radio. On October 29, 1988, WBMX had flipped formats to Urban AC and changed its call letters to WVAZ. The newly renamed V103 also eliminated the dance mixes, rhythmic pop and hip hop from its playlist and added more "dusties", a term used to describe older R&B and soul records of the 1960s and 1970s, as the station now targeted an older black audience. In 1988, WBMX had struggled in the ratings against dominant WGCI, which not only won the Urban Contemporary wars, but also would become Chicago’s most listened to music station for the next two decades. It should be noted that B96 and WBMX/WVAZ were never actually competitors as the two stations targeted different audiences as B96, a top 40 station aimed towards a younger white audience (and Hispanic audiences as the station became more rhythmic) while WBMX, an R&B station, had focused on younger black audiences but, of course, skewed more towards older black audiences after the change to V103. Despite playing primarily R&B artists, WBMX would occasionally play Top 40 pop artists who were popular at the time, such as Madonna, Yaz, the Human League, Wham, and the Thompson Twins. Neither WBMX or WGCI would become factors in regard to B96's musical direction until late 1986 when B96 started to increase the amount of urban crossover hits in its playlist.

The Killer Bee's Ratings Boom (1990-1991)

In 1990, B96 adopted the "Killer Bee" slogan and was officially recognized by the Nielsen Broadcast Data System as a Rhythmic Top 40 station, as there was now a bigger emphasis on R&B, Hip Hop, and dance-leaning pop rather than rock-based pop on B96’s playlist. Billboard also officially recognized B96 as a Top 40/dance station when the music magazine revised and expanded its top 40 and hot 100 charts based on the Fall 1989 ratings on its March 10, 1990 issue. The decision focus on dance-based hits would soon pay off as by the fall 1990, B96 suddenly became one of Chicago's hottest radio stations, ranking at #3 only behind urban contemporary WGCI-FM and talk station WGN-AM 720. This was unexpected as B96 and rival Z95 often traded victories in the past four years with neither station gaining much traction overall in the ratings war. Just a year earlier, B96 had to fight off rumors that it would abandon the Top 40 format as Z95 was beating them in the ratings at the time. In addition, it was also rumored that 95.5 WNUA (now WEBG with a country music format) would flip from its smooth jazz/new age format to top 40 to compete not only against B96 but also Z95 and Q101 but its parent company at the time denied such rumors and WNUA maintained its smooth jazz format for the next 20 years.

B96 program director Dave Shakes, who joined the station in January 1990 after the departure of Buddy Scott a year earlier, described the station's path to success in what he had called a "Three-M Path": Music, Mornings, and Marketing. Shakes acknowledged that the dance-leaning pop records and the Chicago house scene were key factors in B96's newly found ratings sucess. Furthermore, he added that many of the rock-leaning pop records were not catching on to the station's core audience due to the large size and ethnic diversity of the city thus taking a longer time to discover hit records in comparison to smaller cities. Shakes also wanted B96 to increase its audience by serving Hispanic listeners more aggressively than black listeners as he felt that the black audience was already served well in Chicago with the successes of WGCI and V103 (formerly WBMX). The results would pay off as B96's audience became more racially diverse than Z95's audience as Hispanics made up about 34% of B96's total listeners and black listeners made up about 10% while Z95's audience was mostly white. Secondly, Shakes cited the success of B96's morning show "Eddie and Jobo" as another key ingredient in the station's success. Thirdly, Shakes described B96's aggressive marketing and established the "Killer Bee Culture" to distinguished B96 from its rival Z95 due to the similarities of each station's nickname. For example, B96 listeners would be encouraged to put a finger to their lips and make a buzzing sound, which moves into a stuttered "B-B-B96" when the B96 personality says "Gimme a B" rather than the traditional question of "What is your favorite radio station" after a listener wins a radio contest. Other ways B96 would market throughout the Chicagoland area included putting out "Killer Bee" bumper stickers inside newspapers, sending its DJs and personalities to public events, and reaching out to various communities in the Chicagoland area. For example, the station acknowledges its gay and lesbian listeners and often participates in Chicago’s annual Gay Pride parade. As B96’s ratings skyrocketed out of nowhere, Z95, which by then had transitioned from a rock-leaning top 40 to a more adult top 40 station, would start to collapse in the ratings. Q101, now an adult top 40 station, had drop the dance-leaning pop songs that were becoming popular on B96, thus becoming a lesser threat to B96 than Z95 was.

Dance artists such as C&C Music Factory ("Gonna Make You Sweat", "Here We Go (Let's Rock N' Roll)"), Black Box ("Everybody, Everybody", "Strike it Up"), the 49ers ("Touch Me", "Don't You Love Me"), Cathy Dennis ("Touch Me All Night Long", "Just Another Dream"), and Technotronic ("Get Up Before the Night is Over", "Rockin' Over the Melody") were featured heavily on B96. House tracks such as “Dirty Cash” by the Adventures of Stevie V, “Another Sleepless Night" by Shawn Christopher, "Wiggle It" by 2 in a Room, and "People Are Still Having Sex", by one-time B96 personality Bud LaTour were hits during this time. Latin freestyle was also thriving as tracks like "Together Forever " by Lisette Melendez, "Temptation" by Corina, "Bad of the Heart" by George Lamond. “Dreamboy/Dreamgirl” by Cynthia & Johnny O, and "Louder than Love" by TKA were on heavy rotation on B96. In addition, B96 also began to play radio-friendly hip hop artists such as Vanilla Ice {"Ice Ice Baby"), MC Hammer (“U Can’t Touch This”, "2 Legit 2 Quit"), Salt N' Pepa ("Expressions", "Let’s Talk About Sex”), LL Cool J ("Mama Said Knock You Out", "Around the Way Girl"), and Naughty By Nature ("O.P.P."), whereas throughout the 1980s the station played very little hip hop. Even the 2 Live Crew, whose 1989 album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" was riddled with controversy over sexual content and launched a nationwide debate over censorship, was receiving airplay on B96 as PD Dave Shakes proclaimed that he was proud playing "Me So Horny" on B96. However, the station would avoid playing tracks from gangsta rap artists, such as Ice Cube and NWA, though by 1993 such artists would eventually be included on B96's playlists due to the growing popularity of West Coast hip hop. Naturally, R&B artists, such as Bell Biv Devoe, Karyn White, En Vogue, Johnny Gill, and crossover acts, such as Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey, were also featured frequently on B96's playlists. Despite the focus more on Hip Hop and dance music, more traditional pop and adult contemporary artists such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Phil Collins, and Billy Joel were still being featured on B96.

Notable B96 on-air personalities during the Dance-leaning Killer Bee era included George McFly, Coco Cortez, Gary Spears (one of WBBM-FM's original DJs when it first became a top 40 station in 1982), Karen Hand, and the popular morning duo of Eddie & Jobo. One local program that B96 aired was the "Street Buzz" which allowed listeners to socialize about anything that was going on in Chicago, such as what was the hottest trends in the club scene. B96 would also air nationally syndicated weekend programs, such as “Casey’s Top 40”, a pop music countdown show hosted by legendary radio personality Casey Kasem from 1989 to 1998 although B96 would stop airing the syndicated program on July 1993. B96 was one of the first two affiliates of Kasem's new countdown show after he had left "America's Top 40" in 1988, the other being mainstream top 40 station WHTZ "Z100" in New York. Interestingly enough, WBBM-FM had also aired Kasem's previous countdown program "American Top 40" in 1979, back when the station had a soft rock/adult contemporary format. WBBM-FM aired the program until April 3, 1982 (Just a month before WBBM-FM flipped formats from AC to Top 40/CHR), when it moved to WLS-AM 890 due to AT40’s parent company, Watermark, being bought by ABC, who decided to put the program on its radio affiliates instead. Furthermore, rival Z95 had aired "American Top 40" from June 28, 1987, which was hosted by Kasem at the time before he was replaced by Shadoe Stevens a year later, until October 20, 1991 when the station (then known as Hot 94.7 instead of Z95) flipped from Top 40 to simulcasting Talk radio WLS 890 AM. Another syndicated program that B96 aired for a while was “American Dance Traxx”, a weekend dance music countdown that also aired on many Rhythmic CHR/Top 40 stations such as Hot 97 New York, Power 106 Los Angeles, WIOQ-FM "Q102" in Philadelphia, and WLUM-FM in Milwaukee (which has since shifted towards alternative and modern rock beginning in 1994). Although "American Dance Traxx" started in 1987, B96 did not air the program until 1991 when the station was a full-fledged dance-leaning Rhythmic Top 40 station. By the time the program ended in 1993, B96 stopped airing the program.

B96 vs Z95 CHR War (1991)

In 1991, the rivalry between B96 and Z95 would reach its peak. Two years earlier, in a foreshadowing in how intense the rivalry between the two stations would become, Z95 suspended host Alan Kabel, in a twist of irony would later work for B96 from July 1992 to March 1994, for allowing a caller say that B96 can “Suck His Dick”. As 1990 ended, now-struggling Z95 faced uncertainty about its future as a Top 40 station. In an interview with Radio & Records published in January 25, 1991, Z95 PD Ric Lippincott stated that the station was not flipping to country (which ironically would happen on December 26, 1995 though the top 40 format had been abandoned four years prior) and that there was still room for a mainstream top 40 station in Chicago and viewed B96 as the city's third R&B station after WGCI and V103. Z95 management also admitted that B96's approach towards dance music was a major factor in B96 pulling away from them in the ratings, but remained optimistic that their ratings would turn around and dismissed the style of music B96 was playing on heavy rotation as "disco music", believing that radio listeners would grow tired of it.

Yet on January 28, 1991, Z95 had drastically altered its playlist from a more traditional Top 40/CHR to a more dance-leaning Rhythmic CHR to complete with B96 head on, resulting in both stations having near-identical playlists. The ratings between the two stations were going in opposite directions with B96 going up and Z95 going down. For the past year, B96 listeners had complained that Z95 played too much rock and not enough “variety”. In other words, Z95 did not play enough of the dance and R&B songs that were crucial to B96’s rise into becoming Chicago’s #3 most listened to radio station. Despite changing its playlist to mimic that of B96's, Z95 insisted that they weren't a "dance music" station and that they were only playing the records that were hits in Chicago and that popular rock acts at the time, such as INXS, Nelson, & Alias, weren't catching on. In addition to change in music on its playlist, Z95 would go also overboard when it came to on-air attacks on B96, taking shots at morning hosts Eddie & Jobo and even program director Dave Shakes. Among the line of attacks used by Z95 including the following: "Eddie Y JoBo Son Estupidos" ("Eddie & JoBo Sound Stupid"); "B96 Chupa" ("B96 Sucks"); and "B96 Es Para Cabezas De Culo" ("B96 is for Butt-heads"). Z95 even demanded on air that B96 dump its top 40/dance format in exchange for money despite copying B96's successful formula outright. According to Z95 management, the reason that the station called out B96 by name was to let radio listeners that there was a choice for Top 40 radio and that Z95 wanted to make its case on why it was better than B96.

Radio analysts likened the ongoing war between B96 and Z95 to the Top 40 battle between Z95's predecessor WLS-AM "The Big 89" and now-defunct WCLF AM 1000 from 1965 to 1976. At the same time, they were skeptical that Z95's tactics would actually work as one reporter pointed out that attacking a rival station's program director on air was practically meaningless as radio listeners would have no idea who that person is compared to a radio station's on-air personality or DJ. Nonetheless, the onslaught by Z95 had little effect on B96, which continued to dominate in the ratings. For the most part, B96 would ignore Z95's constant assault on them other than declaring itself the "Killer Bee" and its rival as a "wannabe." Behind the scenes, however, B96 management discovered other ways to take out Z95, such as pressuring dance clubs not to do business with Z95 or its parent company, Capital Cities/ABC Inc, as B96 had developed a strong reputation among the nightclubs in Chicago since shifting to a dance-leaning format.

In early March 1991, public outrage, especially among religious listeners, grew over WYTZ's latest publicity stunt, as the station dropped the "Z95" name and was revamped as “Hell 95”. The newly-branded "Hell 95" began using slogans like "Go to Hell" and "You've Gone to Hell", in addition to taking shots at other big-name Chicago media personalities of the period, such as Steve Dahl, Jonathon Brandmeier, and Oprah Winfrey. However, ratings were still disastrous and after two weeks of “Hell”, WYTZ changed its slogan again to “Hot 94.7” on March 18, 1991. A minor controversy occurred when suburban Waukegan top 40 station WXLC 102.3 FM tried to sue WYTZ over the slogan "Hot" as the former was known as "Hot 102.3" at the time. However, WYTZ was allowed to use the slogan "Hot 94.7".

WYTZ owner Randy Michaels had tried to employ some of the same tricks that he had used when he was in charge at Tampa Bay’s rhythmic top 40 station WFLZ 93.3 FM, also known as “the Power Pig”, in their battle against WRBQ FM Q-105, a rival top 40 station in Tampa, FL. His "Power Pig" strategy was successful in making WFLZ the top-rated CHR in Tampa and WRBQ would eventually flip to country in 1993. However, Michaels would not repeat his Tampa success in Chicago as B96 PD Dave Shakes had studied Michaels' playbook and succeeded in counter-programming against him. For example, WYTZ would claim that B96 wasn't playing any music and would encourage their audience to “check them out, while they wait”. When the audience flipped over to B96, they would stop their commercial break at that moment and play music, making it seem that WYTZ was lying to them. Meanwhile, B96 had actually decreased the amount of commercials and played more music per hour as a counter-tactic against its rival. WYTZ stayed with its dance-pop format until April 26, 1991, when they reverted back as Mainstream CHR (albeit a slight rhythmic lean) although it would retain the name "Hot 94.7." However, the station's ratings would remain poor and future shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, who previously worked at B96 from July 1989 to February 1990 as the station was further evolving into a rhythmic CHR, was hired by WYTZ on August 8, 1991 in hopes to turn things around.

On October 25, 1991, it would be too late for WYTZ as low ratings caused the station to flip formats to talk, largely simulcasting its sister station, talk radio WLS-AM 890, although there would be a brief younger-skewing talk format that occurred during 1994. Numerous formats would occur after the station flipped to a holiday music format to conclude 1995, followed by country music as WKXK in 1996, album-based classic rock as WXCD on May 1997 (foreshadowing WDRV 97.1 the Drive, which debuted in 2001), 1980s-based hits as WZZN on November 2000, and alternative rock on September 2001. The final format change to date occurred on September 25, 2005 as 94.7 became an oldies station playing classic hits of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and by 2008 restored the famous call letters “WLS-FM.” As the frequency of 94.7 FM would go through many format changes, B96’s top 40 format would stay largely consistent to this day and after the fall of WYTZ on October 1991, B96 would remain largely unchallenged as Chicago’s top 40 station for the next several years.

The "New Sounds" of B96 (1992-1993)

B96 entered 1992 as Chicago's only top 40 station on a major frequency, playing mostly Dance, Hip Hop, R&B, and upbeat pop music. Other top 40 stations in the Chicagoland area during this time included WXLC 102.3 FM (now a Hot AC format) and WBUS 99.9 FM "The Bus" (now WCPQ with a Polish-language format). However, neither suburban station had a strong enough frequency to compete head on with B96. After the demise of WYTZ in October 1991, it was rumored that Q101 would return to a top 40 format and once again compete against B96. The station had added then-recent pop re-currents to its playlists and added the syndicated countdown radio show "Rick Dees Weekly Top 40", which was hosted by popular KIIS-FM Los Angeles morning show host Rick Dees. However, on July 14, 1992, Q101 flipped formats from Hot AC to alternative & modern rock. Although Q101 started out as a female-based Rock AC after the switch, the station would eventually skew towards an edgier, male-dominated audience and slowly grew into one of the most popular alternative rock stations across the country. With the growing popularity of alternative and grunge artists, such as Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, and the home-grown Smashing Pumpkins, Q101 came at the right time. At this point, one-time CHR rivals Q101 and B96 had very little in common regarding musical taste other than that both stations would compete for younger radio listeners. Some of the tracks that were played on both Q101 and B96 during 1992 included “You Think You Know Her” by Cause and Effect, “Stay” by Shakespeare’s Sister, “Jump Around” by House of Pain, “Temple of Dreams” by Messiah, and “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure. The last track in significant because it was the first song ever played by Q101 after the switch to alternative.

Around the same time as Q101’s debut as an alternative rock station, B96 would broader it’s playlist by adding a few more rock and adult contemporary tracks as there were concerns that only playing dance, Hip Hop, and R&B hits was making the station sound too repetitive. B96 wanted to prove that the station was more than just dance music and introduced a "Song of the Day" hour, which allowed listeners to determine whether they wanted to hear more or less of a particular song, usually a pop or rock record that didn’t exactly fit B96’s dance-based format. PD Dave Shakes cited success of the "You Pick the Hits" concept and pointed to an example that the core B96 audience wanted to hear more of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", a hit 1975 rock song which found new popularity due to the success of the film "Wayne's World" in 1992. This “new sound” of B96 consisted of playing hit songs that the core dance-pop audience of B96 at that time would least expect, in addition to wooing fans of former rival WYTZ "Z95", which had leaned towards rock-based pop hits throughout most of its run. For example, “Under the Bridge” by alternative rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers, received a lot of airplay on B96 during the summer of 1992. “Under the Bridge” was a huge hit on many alternative rock stations nationwide, such as Q101 in Chicago, as well as many traditionally rock-leaning top 40/CHR stations in the country. Even rock ballads, such as “November Rain” by Guns N Roses and " Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" by Def Leppard were receiving airplay on B96. However, the station largely avoided playing the harder, non-ballad rock tracks that were popular on MTV or on several top 40 radio stations, such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. Adult contemporary and softer rock hits such as Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway”, Patty Smyth’s “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough”, and Celine Dion’s “If You Ask Me To” also received plenty of airplay on B96. However, the station would have a habit of being late regarding non-dance hit records as they would play them months after they had peaked in the charts.

Despite the slight tweaks in its playlist, B96 remained heavily committed to rhythmic and dance hits. R&B tracks like “Come and Talk to Me” by Jodeci and “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige received airplay on B96. Crossover artists like Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love You”), Boyz II Men (“End of the Road”), Michael Jackson (“Jam”, “Remember the Time”), and Mariah Carey (“I’ll Be There”) continued to receive heavy airplay. There were many hip hop hits as well, such as “Jump” by Kris Kross, “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot, and “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect. Techno and rave songs, such as LA Style’s “James Brown is Dead”, Fargetta’s “The Music is Movin’”, “It’s a Fine Day” by Opus III, and Phenomania’s “Who is Elvis” were receiving heavy airplay on B96. Although most of the techno sound was imported from Europe, there were US-based techno tracks that were hits such as “Speed”, a remix of the popular 1960s cartoon “Speed Racer” theme by the home-grown Alpha Team and “Jump” by the Movement, who were based in Los Angeles. Despite being overshadowed by techno records during much of 1992, house records were still represented, from the likes of Lidell Townsend ("NuNu", “Get With U”.) and CeCe Peniston (“Finally”, “We Got a Love Thang”). In addition, B96 mixmaster and personality Frankie Hollywood Rodriguez, under the alias “The FHR Project”, produced two house tracks, “Out of Control” and “Get it Right”, both of which received heavy airplay on B96. Freestyle still hung around with hits such as TKA's "Maria", Giggles' "What Goes Around", and George Lamond's "Where Does that Leave Love". Euro-based dance artists like Snap (“Rhythm is a Dancer”), Technotronic (“Move This”), AB Logic (“The Hitman”), Sound Factory ("Understand This Groove"), and 2 Unlimited (“Twilight Zone”) continued to be big on B96.

In January 1993, B96 premiered a sex-talk show called “Private Lives” that aired every Sunday night from 10 p.m. to Midnight although the show would move an hour earlier by 1995. The show was hosted by news anchor Karen Hand and psychologist Dr. Kelly Johnson. According to Hand, the show was originally designed for teenagers as a safe place to go for any type of useful information. “Private Lives” later evolved into an adult female show about relationships, making it very popular for the next 10 years. The same year, B96 personality Gary Spears had hosted a Sunday morning show called "The Retro Show", showcasing disco music of the 1970s and early 1980s, replacing Casey Kasem's syndicated countdown program "Casey's Top 40" after B96 stopped airing Kasem's show in July 1993. Spears' show was nationally syndicated on also aired on several Rhythmic CHR stations, such as Power 106 Los Angeles and Hot 97 New York. However by September 1993, Spears was released by B96 and no longer aired "the Retro Show."

In March 1993, B96 had changed it slogan from "The Killer Bee" to "Party Radio" although the "Killer Bee" slogan would still be used occasionally throughout the remainder of the year. Nearly all the rock-leaning pop songs, although few compared to the amount of dance and urban songs that the station had added during the latter half of 1992, were suddenly dropped. This meant that songs like "Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors and "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran, which were huge hits on multiple mainstream Top 40 stations during 1993, did not receive any airplay on B96, being Chicago’s only top 40 station, since those tracks weren’t considered rhythmic. Instead, B96 remained friendly towards dance music, playing tracks like "I Totally Miss You" by Bad Boys Blue, "I’m Gonna Get You" by Bizarre Inc, "More & More" by Captain Hollywood Project, "What is Love" by Haddaway, "Push the Feeling On" by the Nightcrawlers, and even "Perculator" by Cajmere, the latter being a huge Chicago house anthem. Yet it would be R&B acts that would be the big trend that year. Earlier in the year, B96 seemed reluctant to tilt more towards urban contemporary and originally declined to include the track "I’m So Into You" by female R&B trio SWV as management felt that the track and others like it was too "urban" for the station’s more Hispanic/dance-pop leaning audience. Chris Hensley, the regional promotion director of SWV's record label, RCA, hired the Nacho Salaza mariachi band to play the song at B96's studios. The stunt paid off as "I'm So Into You" was added to B96's playlist and SWV's other singles "Weak" and "Right Here (Human Nature)" were soon played on heavy rotation thereafter. More R&B artists such as Toni Braxton ("Another Sad Love Song", "Breath Again"), Silk ("Girl U For Me", “Freak Me”), Xscape ("Just Kickin’", "Understanding"), H-Town ("Knockin’ Boots"), Shai ("Baby I’m Yours", "Comforter", "If I Ever Fall In Love Again"), and Chicago native R. Kelly ("Dedicated", "Bump N Grind"), received heavy airplay on B96. The usual crossover artists like Janet Jackson ("That’s the Way Love Goes", "Again", "Because of Love"), Whitney Houston ("I’m Every Woman", "I Have Nothing"), and Mariah Carey ("Dreamlover", "Hero") continued to be hugely popular on B96. In addition, hip hop continued to grow in popularity, especially west coast artists like Dr. Dre ("Nuthin’ But a G Thang", "Dre Day") and Snoop Dogg ("Who Am I (What’s My Name)", "Gin n' Juice") Other hip hop tracks that received heavy airplay on B96 included "Hip Hop Hooray" by Naughty By Nature, "Informer" by Snow, "I Got a Man" by Positive K, "Ditty" by Paperboy, and "Come Baby Come", by K7, a former member of the freestyle group TKA.

B96’s decision to increase the amount of R&B and Hip Hop artists to its playlist was likely an attempt to better compete against top rated urban contemporary WGCI as B96 still had no major competition in the top 40/CHR market since 1991 and that WGCI was the only music station that was beating B96 in the ratings. In addition, B96 had already been musically closer to WGCI than to alternative rock (and former top 40 rival) Q101, hard rock/glam metal 103.5 "The Blaze" WWBZ (now WKSC), and Hot AC stations 100.3 The Point WPNT (now WSHE) and 101.9 WTMX "The Mix" during this time. Although the two stations were already competitors on the weekend hosting rival mix shows, WGCI for the most part avoided playing dance music outside its mix shows except for the R&B-friendly house hits that were featured on B96, such as “Follow Me” by Aly-Us, “NuNu” by Lidell Townsend, “Show Me Love” by Robin S., "Finally" by CeCe Peniston, & "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" by Crystal Waters. While B96 would never overtake WGCI as Chicago’s #1 overall rated station in the Arbitron ratings reports, it was able to maintain its position as the city's 2nd most listened music station and 3rd place overall among all radio station in the city although it would often battle future sister station WUSN 99.9 FM "US99" for 3rd place due to the growing popularity of country music artists, such as Garth Brooks and Reba MacEntire, as well as the uncertainty of the standard Top/CHR format when compared to its popularity in the 1980s. Top 40 radio faced many hurdles, ranging from popular music videos on MTV to a lack of established artists, such as Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, as many new artists came and went. Between 1991 and 1992, about 150 former Top 40 stations, including B96's former rival WYTZ which temporarily was renamed back to WLS-FM, had dropped the format. A lack of variety was also an issue as Chicago Tribune columnist Dan Kening criticized B96 and other rhythmic Top 40 stations for not playing all the hits regardless of genre and only focusing on a niche selection of songs. Although Kening acknowledged that B96 was popular with its dance-oriented audience and was one of Chicago's top rated radio stations, he wrote that since B96 only played rap, contemporary R&B, dance, reggae, and R&B-leaning pop, it was not a true top 40 station and argued that adult contemporary stations, such as WLIT 93.9 "Lite FM", WPNT (now WSHE) 100.3 “The Point” and 101.9 "The Mix", were more closer to how a vintage Top 40 station sounded like when compared to what B96 was playing. In defense of B96, program director Todd Cavanah, a former on-air personality on B96 who succeeded Dave Shakes in August 1993 after Shakes left to accept the same position at rhythmic top 40 KMEL in his native San Francisco, insisted that B96 was still a Top 40 station and that the definition of a Top 40 station changes over time.

It wasn't just traditional top 40 stations that faced uncertainty in the early 1990s. Many Rhythmic-leaning top 40 stations were also experiencing changing trends as Power 106 Los Angeles, Hot 97 New York, and KMEL San Francisco, were now focusing primarily on Hip Hop and R&B. As a result, these stations began to phase out dance-pop, house, and Latin freestyle almost entirely from their playlists. In addition, the techno sound that defined 1992 would also lose popularity and would be replaced with Euro-Dance, which, like its other electronic dance cousins, also struggled to gain airplay on Top 40/CHR radio, which was now sharply divided between a Hip Hop/R&B sound or a more modern rock sound. After the fall 1993 ratings report were revealed, B96 program director Todd Cavanah soon realize that B96 was overplaying R&B songs and could not afford to alienate its dance-leaning audience which had been crucial to B96’s ratings success since 1990. Cavanah had put the blame on B96’s decision to follow the music industry’s trends, where R&B and hip hop were dominating the charts whereas dance music was struggling to keep up, rather than what was hot in the Chicago streets and clubs. Dance records such as "Give it Up" by The Goodmen, "Mr. Vain" by Culture Beat, the house version of “Dreams” by Gabrielle, and “Yolanda” by Reality, a dance project consisting of hip house rapper Kool Rock Steady on vocals and B96 mixer Bad Boy Bill on production, were soon added to B96’s playlist to provide a better balance between dance and Hip Hop/R&B. Even freestyle acts like Collage (“I’ll Be Loving You”) and the Chicago-based Legacy (“Stay With Me Tonight”, “Girls Do it Just for Fun”) received heavy airplay during a time where Freestyle was experiencing a decline in popularity. Nevertheless, B96 was one of the very few stations across the country that still played freestyle tracks in some faction. B96’s decision to bring its focus back to dance music would pay off as their ratings went up, increasing from 4.7 in the Fall 1993 to 5.4 in the winter 1994 Arbitron ratings report.

Party Radio (1994-1996)

As 1994 began, B96 was focusing back to dance music by increasing its amount of house, Euro-dance, and freestyle songs to its playlist, a stark contrast to what many of the other Rhythmic top 40 stations nationwide were doing, playing heavy dosages of R&B, Hip Hop, and very little dance. This was also likely to response to the station’s more urban sound throughout much of the latter half of 1993 and concerns about focusing less on dance music outside the mixshows. B96 also contrasted greatly with the more rock-leaning mainstream top 40 stations nationwide such as Z100 New York and KIIS-FM Los Angeles. For example, one of the biggest hits on B96 that year was the dance track “Another Night” by Eurodance act Real McCoy. Many Top 40 stations nationwide, including the more Rhythmic Top 40 stations that were now focused on Hip Hop and R&B, largely avoided playing Real McCoy and similar dance acts. “Another Night” would eventually peak at #1 on the mainstream pop charts and #3 on Billboard’s "Hot 100" chart. B96 is often credited as being the first major-market Top 40/CHR radio station to play Real McCoy's track on heavy rotation, paving the way for other stations to add the song to their playlists. Other Euro-dance tracks that were played on B96 during this time included “Rhythm of the Night” by Corona, and “Get-A-Way” by Maxx. In addition, house tracks like “I Want You” by Juliet Roberts, "El Trego" by 2 in a Room, "Short Short Man" by 20 Fingers, "Your Love is So Divine" by Miranda, and "Booti Call" by DJ Sneak and Fast Eddie were popular hits on B96. Freestyle also seemed to be on a comeback as tracks such as "I’ve Been Thinking About You" by Jocelyn Enriquez and "Promise Me" by Lil Suzy, received massive airplay on B96, furthering setting itself apart most of the other Rhythmic top 40/CHR stations regarding dance music.

R&B music continued to be well-represented on B96 even as the focus shifted back towards dance. Hits like “Back and Forth” by Aaliyah, “Bump N Grind” by R. Kelly, "Creep" by TLC, and “How Do You Like It”, by Keith Sweat were heavily played on B96. Hip Hop from the likes of Snoop Dogg (“Gin & Juice”), Salt N Pepa (“Whatta Man”), Warren G (“Regulate”), Coolio (“Fantastic Voyage”), and Chicago-based Da Brat (“Funkdafied”) continued to be popular on B96. Although Chicago was neither a West Coast or East Coast city, B96 seemed to favor West Coast hip hop artists, such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 2pac, Warren G, and Coolio over East Coast hip hop artists, such as the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, and the Notorious B.I.G., although the station would eventually add several of the Notorious B.I.G. songs to its playlists, such as “Big Poppa”. As B96 played hip hop almost as much as it played dance, the station somewhat gained a new competitor on June 1994, when WEJM 106.3 switched formats form Urban AC to Hip Hop and R&B since its parent company also owned V103 at the time. The new station, now known as 106 Jamz, skewed towards younger black listeners and was much more hip hop friendly than WGCI, which at the time leaned heavily towards R&B and played limited hip hop. The slogan 106 Jamz used was “Where Hip Hop Lives” and modeled heavily after WQHT Hot 97 New York and KWPR Power 106 Los Angeles, both of which were finding new success as hip hop-leaning Rhythmic Top 40 stations after phasing out dance-leaning pop. For hip hop fans in Chicago who did not want to hear only the crossover hip hop hits and dance music of B96, the pure R&B of WGCI, or the older-skewing V103, 106 Jamz was much needed. However, there was controversy over the violent image of gangsta rap nationwide as several community leaders, primary in the black community, had threatened to boycott radio stations that played gangsta rap, which was massively popular at the time. Chicago was no exception as B96, WCGI, and 106 Jamz were faced with boycott threats by several Chicagoland area ministers for featuring songs that had explicit language or sexual content on their playlists. By 1997, a weak signal prevented 106 Jamz from making a big enough impact against both WGCI and B96 and would eventually flip formats to Gospel and later again in 2003 to Urban AC as Soul 106.3, competing against one-time sister station V103. Lost in the shuffle in B96's playlist heavily populated by dance, hip hop, and R&B hits throughout 1994 were ballads like “Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb, “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion, and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John. However, such tracks seemed like oddities in a sea of hip hop, R&B, and dance tunes that continued to dominate B96's playlist despite the station’s willingness to have a wider appeal.

On January 02, 1995, B96 partnered with WCIU channel 26, which had recently switched from a Spanish-speaking station to an English-speaking station, to create a new dance program called "U-Dance". The program featured mixes from the five B96 mixmasters (Bad Boy Bill, Bobby D, Julian "Jumpin'" Perez, Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer, and Brian Middleton) and included dancing segments that were also seen on such shows like "Soul Train", "American Bandstand", and MTV’s "The Grind". An additional reason for the creation of "U-Dance" was to give an opportunity for viewers who did not have access to cable TV and thus channels that aired music videos, such as MTV, VH1, & BET, to watch the latest music videos by featured B96 artists. Occasionally, some of the artists that were featured on B96 at the time, such as George Lamond, 2 Unlimited, 20 Fingers, Lil Suzy, Fast Edddie, & DJ Funk would do a performance. However, the show was cancelled on July of the same year. Nonetheless, "U-Dance" was nominated and won an award for "Best Entertainment" in the regional Chicago Emmys in 1995.

Music-wise, B96 remained largely the same like it was in 1994 as many Euro-dance and house music acts continued to dominate the station's playlist. One such track was “Your Loving Arms” by Billie Ray Martin. Although the single was a huge hit on B96 eventually becoming the station’s 7th most requested song of the year, it was often lost in a shuffle where many Top 40 stations nationwide were either rock-heavy or hip hop/R&B heavy. “Fat Boy” by Chicago-based dance act Max-a-Million, was first played by the station around November 1994 yet the song got so popular that it ended up being B96’s most requested song of 1995 whereas the track received limited or no airplay on most Top 40 stations. Max-a-Million’s follow-up singles, “Take Your Time (Do it Right)” and the more reggae-hip hop based “Sexual Healing”, which were both covers of popular songs by the S.O.S. Band and Marvin Gaye respectively, also were heavily featured on B96’s playlists. Real McCoy would continue to popular on B96 as the follow-up singles “Run Away”, “Automatic Lover” and “Come and Get Your Love”, which was a cover of a 1974 hit song by the band Redbone, received heavy airplay. Additional Euro-dance records that were popular on B96 during 1995 included "Close to You" by Fun Factory, "Baby Baby" by Corona, and Nikki French's cover of the 1983 Bonnie Tyler song "Total Eclipse of the Heart." House records that B96 played during this time included "Boom Boom Boom", by the Outhere Brothers, “The Bomb” by the Bucketheads, and the Todd Terry remix of "Missing" by Everything But the Girl. Rap and R&B hits featured on B96 included "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio, "Boombastic" by Shaggy, "Waterfalls" by TLC, and "Action" by Terror Fabulous. Despite the heavy focus on dance and urban hits, B96 would slowly begin to broaden its playlist by adding rock-leaning pop song that were huge hits at the time, such as "Only Wanna Be With You" by Hootie and the Blowfish, “I Believe” by Blessed Union of Soul, “As I Lay Down” by Sophie B. Hawkins, "Dreaming of You" by Selena, and “I’ll Be There You” by the Rembrandts, which happened to be the theme song of the popular TV sitcom "Friends." B96 PD Todd Cavanah added such songs to the station’s playlist due to these songs had more mass appeal to its primarily female listeners than the hardcore dance product the station had been known for, in addition to these songs being too pop-sounding for modern rock stations like Q101, leaving an opening for B96 to play them.

As 1996 began, B96 claimed that the new year would be "the year of B96". The "Flame Thrower Five" most-requested-tracks hour, a staple on B96 as early as 1985 when the station was still a mainstream top 40 station, was expanded and replaced with the "Nine Most Wanted", playing the nine most requested songs of the day every weeknight on the 9 p.m. hour. The station would continue to develop a broader sound by adding more rock-leaning pop songs. For example, Alanis Morrisette was one of the biggest names in pop and rock music in 1996. Even though she did not exactly fit in a rhythmic or dance leaning top 40 station, her hit singles, such as “Ironic”, “You Oughta Know”, and “Head over Heels” received heavy airplay on B96. Additional pop songs that were receiving airplay during the year include “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis and "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion. Despite a broader playlist compared to how B96 sounded in 1994 and 1995, dance tracks would remain popular. Some of the biggest dance hits on B96 during 1996 included "Children" by Robert Miles, "Everybody be Somebody" by Ruffneck, “Do You Miss Me” by Jocelyn Enriquez, and “Where Do You Go” by No Mercy. Rap and R&B acts continued to have a presence as artists like the Fugees, Boyz II Men, LL Cool J, Brandy, and Monica were heavily played on B96.

It was also in 1996 that B96 and sister station WBBM-AM Newsradio 780 would gain new sisters stations in country WUSN-FM 99.9 ("US99"), WJMK-FM Oldies 104.3 (now a classic hip hop format since 2017), adult alternative WXRT-FM 93.1 ("Chicago's Finest Rock"), classic rock WCKG-FM 103.5 (now WCFS and simcasting WBBM-AM since 2011), and sports talk WSCR-AM 820 "the Score" (which moved to the 670 frequency in 2000 after the demise of WMAQ-AM) after CBS Radio, which owned B96 and Newsradio 780, and Infinity Radio, which owned the rest of the stations, merged. This was due to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 on February 8, 1996, which made it easier for media companies to merge or to buy smaller media companies on the intention of growing larger. A year prior, CBS Radio had merged with Westinghouse, resulting in WBBM-AM and its chief rival, now-defunct WMAQ-AM news 670, under the same ownership.

In October 1996, B96 had changed its slogan from “Party Radio” to “Chicago’s Dance Beat” although the "Party Radio" slogan would still be occasionally used until the spring of 1997. One possible but unconfirmed reason for the slogan change was that it had been rumored that WPNT (now WSHE) 100.3 "The Point" would flip from its then-current Hot AC format to a dance-CHR format modeled after its then-sister station in New York, WKTU. Although the dance/CHR station from New York was only in its infancy that year, it was instantly successful in the ratings and provided a dance-friendly radio station for those in the Big Apple after WQHT Hot 97 had abandoned dance in favor of hip hop three years prior. However, the rumors of WPNT going dance would not come to pass as Evergreen, WPNT's parent company, eventually sold the station to Bonnville since the company, which merged with Chancellor and has since become Clear Channel and again to iHeartRadio, owned too many radio stations and was forced to sell three of them. One of those stations was WPNT, which ultimately had flipped to Adult Contemporary in October 1997 and was rebranded as WNND 100.3 "Windy 100", which resulted in competing against long-time adult contemporary WLIT 93.9 Lite FM instead of B96. Another reason for the change of format was that 100.3's new sister station, WTMX 101.9 "The Mix", had already provided the female-friendly rock-leaning, Hot AC format in Chicago. Had the 100.3 frequency became a dance station instead, it would have been B96's first direct competition since 1991 and B96's slogan of "Chicago's Dance Beat" would have been seen was a warning to the new station that there was only room for one dance station in the Windy City. It would be another two years until B96 would get actual competition in the Top 40/CHR format.

From Chicago's Dance Beat to Hits and Hip Hop (1997-2008)

As 1997 was coming to a close, B96 continued to call itself “Chicago’s Dance Beat”. However, the station had quietly begun to phase out many of the dance songs that were heavily featured on the station's playlist for the past seven years. Instead, the station decided to grow into a more broader-based Rhythmic Top 40 format, ranging from dance (Real McCoy, Rockell, Le Click), hip hop (Puff Daddy, Busta Rhymes, Will Smith), R&B (Blackstreet, Keith Sweat, En Vogue), teen pop (Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, Hanson) and even modern rock (No Doubt, Chumbawamba, Third Eye Blind). Part of the reason for the change was that B96 wanted a larger appeal to the Chicago-land suburbans and not just solely focus on the ethnic-based club scenes in the big city. In addition, management felt that it could not justify avoiding non-rhythmic artists, such as Jewel, who were having hit records that were being played on other major Top 40/CHR stations across the country. Nonetheless, B96 still insisted that they were still a dance station but added that the broad selection of songs helped to give the station more mass appeal while continuing to serve the needs of their core audience. From a strategic perspective, B96 felt that playing more styles of music enabled them to keep the Top 40 format to themselves without worrying about other stations challenging them in the Chicago market as B96 was still the city's only major Top 40/CHR radio station during this time.

By the end of the 1990s and into the new millennium, B96 continued with its broader-based Rhythmic Top 40 format although it would put a bigger emphasis on hip hop and R&B artists, such as Jay Z, Destiny’s Child, Mya, 112, and Brian McKnight. Dance music was still present, along with dance remixes of pop and R&B songs, on the 12 p.m. lunch mixes and 5 p.m. traffic jam mixes, but by the end of 2000, they would be replaced by more down-tempo hip hop & R&B tracks. Meanwhile, B96 also started to embrace the growing popularity of teen pop, which featured artists such as Robyn, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Hanson, the Spice Girls, and Christina Aguilera. Latin-pop artists, such as Ricky Martin ("Livin' La Vida Loca", "The Cup of Life"), Jennifer Lopez ("Waiting for Tonight", "If You Had My Love"), and Enrique Iglesias ("Bailamos", "Be with You") would also become widely popular. In addition, B96 would also continue adding more rock-based pop songs that were popular at the time, such as Jewel's "Foolish Games", Aerosmith’s "Don't Want to Miss a Thing", and the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris". Meanwhile, electronic dance acts that were becoming popular, such as the Prodigy, Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, and the Chemical Brothers, were non-existent on B96 and other rhythmic-leaning top 40 stations. Instead, such tracks being played on alternative rock stations like Q101, whose predominately male audiences were previously lukewarm towards electronic dance music. In fact, the only dance tracks that had any significance on B96 between 1998 and 2000 included "Music Sounds Better with You" by Stardust, "Around the World" by Daft Punk, "It Feels So Good" by Sonique, "Better Off Alone" by Alice Deejay, "Blue" by Eiffel 65, and "Believe" by Cher. Despite the slow shift away from dance-based hits, B96’s ratings remain consistent, even seeing an increase to 5.3 in the summer 1998 Arbitron ratings report.

New Competition (1997-2002)

In May 1997, WCBR-FM, known as Cyber Radio 92.7, premiered on a trio of three Chicagoland suburban stations: WDEK DeKalb, WKIE Arlington Heights, and WKIF Kankakee, creating a trimulcast. Not only was the station a dance-leaning CHR format, it was also the first Chicago-based radio station to be broadcast on the internet. Cyber Radio poked fun of B96’s now-ironic slogan “Chicago’s Dance Beat”, featuring liners such as "This is a dance beat, This is Not" (clips of dance songs such as Love Tribe's "Stand Up" or Reel 2 Real's "Jazz it Up" and R&B songs such as Keith Sweat's "Nobody" or Babyface's "This is for the Lover in You" would be used) and “We’ve Got the Beat”, reminding its listeners that down-tempo R&B songs, which were becoming more prominent on B96, did not qualify as "dance beats". In September 1997, Cyber Radio was taken off 92.7 FM and temporary aired Friday Nights on talk/rock hybrid WCKG 105.9 (now WCFS). Since then, Cyber Radio lives on as an internet radio website known as "CyberRadio2000.com" (since renamed to "1club.fm" and again to AddictedtoRadio.com).

In November 1998, the same trio of frequencies that previously aired Cyber Radio just a year earlier would flip to a more traditional top 40 station as “The New Kiss FM 92.7”, giving B96 a competitor and Chicago’s first true top 40/CHR station since 1991. One of Kiss FM’s personalities included former B96 host George McFly. However, the station would be short-lived when in January 2001, Clear Channel (now iHeart Radio), which owned the “Kiss-FM” trademark, threatened a lawsuit against 92.7 FM’s parent company, Big City Radio, when it flipped Jammin' Oldies station WUBT 103.5 “The Beat” to a top 40/CHR station Kiss FM 103.5 WKSC-FM. 92.7 FM would easily give in as it had a much weaker frequency and that Clear Channel was a much larger media company than Big City Radio. WKSC-FM 103.5 would replace the 92.7 FM frequency as B96’s chief competitor. Like the previous Kiss FM before it, the newer Kiss FM carried a more traditional Top 40 format that was modeled after long-time successful sister station KIIS-FM in Los Angeles although it slightly leaned rhythmic. WKSC would occasionally take shots at B96 for not playing Hot AC & Modern Rock hit songs while at the same time taking shots at WMXT-FM 101.9 "the Mix", which had become a successful female-friendly Hot AC station since 1996 after years as a struggling AC station, for not playing the R&B and hip hop tracks that B96 was playing at the time. It should be noted that Randy Michaels, who was previously in charge during the dying days of WYTZ 94.7 "Z95" as a top 40/CHR station, was a consultant for Clear Channel at the time and was instrumental in 103.5 changing from Jammin' Oldies to Kiss-FM.

An interesting note is that prior to Kiss FM and even The Beat, the 103.5 frequency was once home of Rock 103.5 WCRX. The station had been revamped from a hard rock and glam-metal based format (formerly WWBZ "The Blaze") in 1994 and would take shots at other rock stations in Chicago, such as Q101, WLUP the Loop 97.9, and WCKG classic rock 105.9 (now WCFS). Although B96 had not been a rock-leaning top 40 station since 1986 and had rarely played hard rock-based pop hits since then, it was not immune from being mocked by Rock 103.5, which poked fun of the station for playing rap/R&B music as well as Europop dance acts, such as Ace of Base. Interesting enough, WGCI, which would become one of Rock 103.5’s future sister stations, was exempt from Rock 103’s mocking even though it too also played R&B and hip hop. By 1998, falling ratings and the departure of then-popular morning show shock jock Mancow Muller to its rival Q101 caused WCRX to flip formats to "Jammin Oldies'" and three years later, the station flipped again to become the new Kiss FM 103.5 and to this day remains B96’s top competitor.

After losing the Kiss FM slogan, 92.7 FM would return to a dance format as Energy 92.7 & 92.5 on January 26, 2001 and played the popular dance tracks at the time, as well as the classics, that B96 very rarely if ever played. Dance music fans in Chicago were hungry for a dance-friendly CHR after B96 had slowly eliminated much of its dance music from its playlists outside its mixshows beginning in the summer of 1997 and focused much more on teen pop, R&B, and Hip Hop. Despite a limited signal and a lack of respect for dance music by both the music and radio industries, Energy 92.7 developed a cult following both on the radio and on the internet. In retrospect, Energy 92.7 was, in a way, a spiritual successor to B96 regarding dance music, the same way B96 was to now-defunct urban contemporary WBMX after that station became V103 in 1988. In November 2002, Energy 92.7’s parent company, Big City Radio, filed for bankruptcy and sold the station and many of its other entities to Spanish Broadcasting System. On January 5, 2003, Energy 92.7 flipped formats from dance to Spanish, leaving Chicago without a dance-friendly radio station. On November 22, 2004, the Spanish format proved to be a failure and 92.7 flipped formats again, this time simulcasting variety hits station Nine FM 99.9 FM (which since has flipped to a simulcast of liberal talk station WCPT 820 AM in 2008 and more recently a Polish-based station “Polski.FM”). Meanwhile, B96 would add a dance HD-2 channel in December 2005 which followed the fold of the now-defunct Energy although the main 96.3 FM frequency still focused much more on hip hop than dance at that point.

Declining Ratings (2002-2008)

Although B96 had quietly celebrated 20 years as a Top 40/CHR radio station in 2002, it would the following year where the station would go through a major rebrand. In January 2003, The “Killer Bee” slogan that was used between 1990 and 1993 returned to B96 as the station changed its now-outdated slogan “Chicago’s Dance Beat” to “the New Killer Bee B96.3.” The station also added the “.3” to its logo as a reference to its frequency of 96.3 FM. In addition, morning show duo Eddie and Jobo would play a flashback from the station’s glory years of the 1990’s on their morning show. However, dance music, which played a huge role during B96’s success during the original Killer Bee era, was still largely ignored in favor of hip hop and R&B. Prominent artists that were featured on B96's airplay during this time included Eminem, Ludacris, Nelly, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Eve, and Missy Elliot. Many of the teen pop acts, which were popular on B96 from 1997 to 2001, would see a decline in popularity. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake (after the breakup of 'N Sync) would be exempted as they continued to be popular top 40/CHR acts. Notable on-air personalities on B96 during this period include Dougie Stylz and Justin "J. Roman" Roman, better known as the duo "Stylz and Roman." Roman was previously a member of the Chicago-based boy band Vi3, whose song "Eyes Closed for Tight" received moderate airplay on B96 in 2002.

In April 2002, controversy surrounded R. Kelly, whose music had been featured on B96 since 1992, when he was accused of engaging in sexual activity with under-aged girls. Several radio stations nationwide had boycotted his music while others, such as WGCI, stood by him. B96 had stopped playing music from R. Kelly's album "The Best of Both Worlds" (which was a co-production with rapper Jay-Z), but claimed that it wasn't because of his then-recent controversies but rather because the single "Take You Home With Me" had not caught on with its audience. R. Kelly would eventually be acquitted of all charges and B96 would resume playing his music on its playlist.

On January 5, 2003, B96 and rival 103.5 Kiss FM both aired commercials on Energy 92.7, trying to woo listeners of that station as Energy 92.7 would flip formats from dance to Spanish due to the bankruptcy of Energy’s parent company, Big City Radio. Despite dance being viewed as a niche format and a weaker frequency, Energy had attracted enough listeners to prove that there was still room for a dance-friendly radio station in Chicago. To add insult to injury to Chicago dance music fans, B96 would not even bother to alter its hip hop-heavy playlists to add more dance songs that were popular on Energy 92.7 prior to its demise, considering the station’s once-prominent heritage as a dance-friendly CHR. Kiss FM’s playlist was also largely void of dance music, but that station was intentionally a standard top 40 station and did not feature the dance heritage that B96 had.

As 2005 concluded, B96, now realizing it played almost entirely hip hop and R&B, adopted a new slogan “Hits and Hip Hop”. Because of this direction, B96 was competing not only against 103.5 Kiss FM but also more directly against long-time urban contemporary 107.5 WGCI and its rival WPWX "Power 92", which debuted in 2001 and could be considered the spiritual successor to now-defunct WEJM 106 Jamz. As a result, B96 would start to collapse in the ratings, dropping to 8th place behind rival Kiss FM. It would be the first time that Kiss FM finished ahead of B96 in the ratings since debuting in 2001. During this time, B96 added more “Hurban” and Reggaeton artists, such as Daddy Yankee and Pitbull, to its playlist to maintain its Hispanic-friendly reputation largely due to new competition from WVIV-FM 93.5 & 103.1 FM, a Spanish Rhythmic CHR known as "La Kalle". Only on a rare occasion would there be a dance song airing on B96, such as Madonna’s "Hung Up" or Cascada’s "Every Time We Touch" yet a dance track would be an oddity surrounded by hip hop and R&B hit records, which was a stark contrast a decade earlier where dance songs were far more common on B96's playlist. The same year, B96 also introduced the "Slow Jam Mix Tape" airing every late night except on Friday and Saturday. The program was much like the "Quiet Storm" on V103 and WGCI’s "Whispers in the Dark", but played more mainstream CHR ballads from the past, such as Stevie B's "Because I Love You (The Postman song)", Taylor Dayne's "Love Will Lead You Back", Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply" as well as down-tempo R&B ballads that were popular at the time. However, the "Slow Jam Mix Tape" program would eventually be dropped.

Current Era: Return to Mainstream Top 40 (2008-present)

In October 2008, B96 changed its slogan from "Chicago's Hits & Hip-Hop" to "Chicago's #1 Hit Music Station", a slogan the station previously used in the late 1980s. The change was to help better promote the station as a rhythmic CHR station and promised that it would not play as much hip hop as before. At the time when B96 was "Chicago's Hits & Hip-Hop", ratings were falling and B96 was making many changes in their air-staff. Since 2009, it seemed that dance-leaning pop was on a comeback, as artists such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Pitbull, Usher, Nikki Minaj, Black Eyed Peas, and David Guetta had a more "electronic" sound compared to the pop music earlier in the decade, which was heavily influenced by down-tempo R&B and hip hop. Meanwhile, the most requested songs are still counted down every weekend night, though the "Nine Most Wanted" has been replaced by the "Top 8 at 8", airing an hour earlier. Annually, B96 continues to close out the year by counting down the top 96 (referencing the station's frequency of 96.3 FM) songs, something the station has done as early as 1990. On April, 1, 2011, B96 maintained its call letters as WBBM-FM when failing AC station WCFS-FM Fresh 105.9 flipped formats to a simulcast of WBBM-AM Newsradio 780. In March 2012, Mediabase moved B96 from its Rhythmic Top 40 chart to its Mainstream Top 40 chart. As a result, B96 returned as a Mainstream Top 40 station for the first time since 1989 as the station now played the same amount pop/rock hits that rival Kiss FM featured on its playlist.

New Ownership and Ratings Freefall (2017-2018)

As of 2017, Todd Cavanah & Erik Bradley, who have been B96's program director and music director respectively since the summer of 1993, remain in their respective roles although Cavanah has since became vice president of programming for Chicago radio stations owned by CBS Radio in recent years. This means that he is also in charge of other CBS Radio-owned radio stations in Chicago such as country music station WUSN-FM 99.5 "US99". On February 02, 2017, B96's long-time parent company CBS radio announced plans to merge with Entercom which became official later on November 17. B96, including WBBM-FM's earlier incarnations such as "Stereo 96", "Soft Rock 96", and "Hot Hits 96 Now", had remained under CBS ownership even as the media company had merged with other media companies over the years, such as Westinghouse in 1995, Infinity in 1997, and Viacom in 2000.

By 2018, B96 has added more pop/rock artists to its playlist, such as Panic in the Disco, OneRepublic, Ed Sheeran, and Shawn Mendes, making it sound closer to Hot AC station WTMX 101.9 "The Mix." Ratings-wise, however, B96 has been free-falling as long-time rival 103.5 Kiss FM has taken a commanding lead in the Top 40/Pop battle in Chicago. In the May 2018 Neilsen Radio ratings report, B96 finished #20 among all Chicago radio stations with a 2.4 rating, possibly the worst the station has been since becoming a Top 40 station in 1982 while Kiss FM was tied with 7th with WSCR 670 "The Score" (one of B96's sister stations) with a 3.6 rating. Some radio insiders see the arrival of Rhythmic/classic Hip Hop station WBMX 104.3 Jams (formerly WJMK "K-Hits" and one of B96's sister stations) in November 2017 having an negative effect on B96's upper demos in the 18-34 demographics. B96's recent cookie-cutter approach under owner Entercom, when compared to the station's more edgier street promotions during the 1990s and 2000s when CBS owned the station, was also a key factor in the station's fading image among Chicago radio listeners. In addition, the current state of pop music being dominated by electronic-based pop and mumble rap, as well as younger radio listeners going to alternatives to FM radio, such as online streaming services like iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube, are also seen as factors of declining ratings for Top 40/CHR stations nationwide.

The Mix Shows

A popular feature that has defined B96 since 1989 is the weekend mix shows, playing the best of dance and occasionally hip hop music every Friday and Saturday night. The mix show was originally known as the "B96 Dance Party" in 1989 but has been since known as the "B96 Street Mix" in 1993, except for a brief period in the mid-2000s when it was known as the "B96 Afterparty". Many of the DJ mixmasters over the years on B96 included Brian "Hitmix" Midddleton, Bad Boy Bill, Julian "Jumpin'" Perez, Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez, Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer, Bobby D, DJ Marski, To Kool Chris, DJ Speed, Maurice Joshua, Mixin’ Marc, DJ Spin, and DJ Flipside. Brian Middleton, a weekend host at B96 since 1985, was that station's first ever mixer and had hosted a Saturday night mix show on B96 that began in the fall of 1986. However, he did not have full control on what songs he could mix with and was limited to just mixing tracks from the hottest pop artists at the time, such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Jody Watley, Taylor Dayne, Duran Duran, Expose, and so on. The edgier Chicago house music sound, featuring the likes of Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, Steve "Silk" Hurley, Marshall Jefferson, DJ Pierre, Ralphi Rosario, Mickey "Mixin' Oliver", etc., as well as the house, techno, and freestyle songs that were being put out in other cities like New York, Detroit, Miami, and even overseas like in London, that was growing more popular on the mix shows at urban contemporary stations 107.5 WGCI and 102.7 WBMX was largely off limits on B96. Nonetheless, the station's management were aware of the popular Chicago house music scene as the station briefly included the song "If You Only Knew" by Chip E on the DJ International label in its playlist although it did not report it to the radio & music trade magazines, such as Billboard and now-defunct Radio & Records (R&R). In addition, Middleton had remixed the 1987 house track "Communicate" by Full House (another DJ International release) on Hot Tracks, a popular remix service label at the time.

The Forerunner to Dance-era B96: 102.7 WBMX

The dance music predecessor to B96, WBMX, introduced its weekend mix show “Saturday Night Ain’t No Jive Chicago Dance Party” in 1981 which consisted of host Armando Riviera and a group of DJs known as the Hot Mix 5: Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, Scott "Smokin'" Silz, Ralphi "The Razz" Rosario, Kenny "Jammin'" Jason, and Mickey "Mixin'" Oliver. These mixmasters would mix disco, R&B, electro, synthpop, hi-NRG, and imported Italo-disco records before eventually creating their own club records which became known as house music. The success of the Hot Mix 5 resulted in WBMX adding a Friday night mixshow and a Hot Lunch Mix hour. In 1985, future B96 mixer Julian "Jumpin'" Perez joined WBMX as the station’s newest mixer. However, Silz had already left the station by the time Perez joined the roster. In 1986, Farley would leave WBMX for rival WGCI, which already had its own team of mixers, consisting of Mario "Smokin'" Diaz, Mario Reyes, Mike "Hitman" Wilson, Fast Eddie, and future B96 mixer Bad Boy Bill. The rest of the Hot Mix 5 would soon follow Farley the very same year. The departure of the original Hot Mix 5 was a coincidence as WBMX began losing in the ratings to WGCI to the point that the station would not recover. Filling the void left by the original Hot Mix 5 were guest mixers, such as Bad Boy Bill, Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez, Mike "Hitman" Wilson, Pharris Thomas, and Frankie Knuckles mixing alongside Julian "Jumpin'" Perez although Farley "Jackmaster" Funk would actually return to WBMX in May 1987. After WBMX’s demise in October 1988, Farley would mix at college station 89.3 FM WKKC before eventually returning to WGCI’s “Club 107.5” mix show and reunite once again with the rest of the Hot Mix 5. Despite their great influence on both the WGCI and B96 mixmasters, as well other mixers in the Chicagoland area, none of the original members of the "Hot Mix 5" would do mixes on B96.

The B96 Dance Party (1989-1992)

The demise of WBMX would eventually benefit B96, which was in a process of growing into a dance-heavy rhythmic Top 40 station. Entering 1989, WGCI’s “Club 107.5” was the only mix show on a major, full-signal radio station in Chicago although there were dance-based mix shows that aired on college radio stations or suburban-based stations that had weaker frequencies, such as Columbia College-operated WCRX-FM 88.1, Loyola University-operated WLUW-FM (Energy 88.7), Kennedy-King College-operated WKKC-FM 89.3, Northwestern-operated WNUR-FM 89.3, and WCYC-FM (now WRTE) 90.7. Former WBMX mixer Julian "Jumpin'" Perez would be approached by B96’s management about creating a new mix show. The station’s management knew that the ratings that his show had on now-defunct WBMX had a positive impact and wanted to bring that power to B96. In March 1989, the B96 Dance Party was soon created and would be instantly popular, more than doubling the ratings within the first three months and providing a serious challenge to WGCI’s “Club 107.5”. The success of the new B96 Dance Party would pay dividends for the station, which would lead to an increase of airtime. Aside from Julian "Jumpin'" Perez, additional mixmasters include Bad Boy Bill and Frankie “Hollywood” Rodriguez, both of whom were with Perez during the last years of WBMX. Bad Boy Bill would soon be the station’s most popular mixer as he was credited for producing a mass amount of legally licensed mix tapes, such as the “Hot Mix” series from 1988 to 1994 and the “Bangin’ the Box” series from 1995 to 2003. Brian Middleton, B96's original mixmaster, remained a member of B96’s revamped mix show. Initially, there were guest mixers on the first year of the B96 Dance Party, such as Mike "Hitman" Wilson, who previously done mixes on both WGCI and WBMX and would continue to do occasional guest mixes on B96 through 1993. Another guest mixer, Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer, would become a regular member of the B96 mixmaster team. Unlike the other B96 mixmasters, Schommer focused more on Latin Freestyle rather than house in order to stand out better since his style of house was largely the same as Bad Boy Bill and Julian "Jumpin'" Perez. Nonetheless, Schommer would also mix house and later on hip hop in his sets.

The B96 Dance Party mix show predominately mixed house records with some freestyle and crossover dance-pop thrown in. Each hour featured a 50-minute set from each of B96's mixmasters. Some of the big house tracks during this time include “Big Fun” by Inner City, “Rock to the Beat” by Kevin "Reese" Saunderson, and "I Wanna Have Some Fun" by Samantha Fox. In fact, some of these tracks like “Big Fun” and Inner City’s follow-up single “Good Life” were hugely popular on B96 and were being played outside the mix shows and alongside the tracks by mainstream pop artists such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Phil Collins, and New Kids on the Block as the station continued to evolve into a dance/top 40 station. Meanwhile, Hip Hop was almost non-existent on B96 mix sets outside a few up-tempo tracks that were faster than 110 BPM, such as “I’m that Type of Guy” by LL Cool J, "It Takes Two" by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock, “Me Myself and I” by De La Soul, “I’ll House You” by the Jungle Brothers, "Wild Thing" by Tone Loc, & "Bust-a-Move" by Young MC. However, the fusion genre of hip hop and house, known as hip house, was massively popular on the B96 mix sets during this time. Most of the hip house records that were featured in the B96 mixes were Chicago artists, such as Fast Eddie ("Hip House", "Yo Yo Get Funky", “Git it Up”), Mr. Lee ("Get Busy", "Pump That Body"), Kool Rock Steady ("Let's Get Hyped", "You Ain't Nobody") and Tyree Cooper (“Turn Up the Bass”, “Let the Music Take Control”). However, New York-based artists like Two Without Hats (“Try Yazz”), and Doug Lazy (“Let the Rhythm Pump”) would also be featured in the mix sets. In addition, Euro-based house tracks, such as the mega-hit “Pump Up the Jam” by Technotronic, were also popular on B96 at this time.

Around 1991, B96 would air live at the various nightclubs in the Chicagoland area such as Todos, Prime & Tender, and Eric's North Warehouse. By 1992, the B96 Dance Party started to play more techno, rave, & breakbeat records, such as “James Brown is Dead” by L.A. Style and "Who is Elvis" by Phenomania, instead of the usual house product as the hip house sound that defined 1989 through 1991 was declining in popularity. In addition, the length of the B96 mixes was shortened from one 50-minute set to two 20-25 minute sets per hour as a commercial break was added in-between mixes although 50 minute mix format would return briefly both in the early months of 1993 and again in 1995.

The Street Mix (1993)

By February 1993, the name of the B96 mix show was changed from "The B96 Bud Light Dance Party" to “the New B96 Bud Light Street Mix” with Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez as the host. Rodriguez also hosted a program called "Street Buzz" which showcased the latest news in the Chicago club scene and even play a few dance cuts that were normally not part of the station's playlist. The addition of hip hop mix sets, alongside the usual house, techno, & freestyle product, was a possible factor on why B96 changed the title of its mixshow from the “Dance Party” to the “Street Mix”. In March of 1993, B96 added mixes done by guest DJs and also held a contest "The Final Six" in search for a new mixmaster. The finalists consisted of Alan "Baddmixx" Boyd, Rustin "Jammin" Harris, Bobby D, Joe "Naw-T-Boy" Nardi, Phil K Swift, and Paul B. Although Alan "Baddmix" Boyd was the winner of the "Final Six" contest, it was the 3rd Place finisher, Bobby D, who was known for his “Edit Crazy” mix-tapes and had previously done guest mixes on WGCI, that eventually became the newest B96 mixmaster. Veterans of the Chicago house scene were also doing guest mixes on B96 during this period, such as Tyree Cooper and Mike “Hitman” Wilson, who had previously done guest mixes on B96 in 1989 and 1990. However, the guest mixers weren't limited to those who represented the Chicago club scene. Mixers and producers representing other cities would occasionally do guest mixes on B96 during this time, such as Todd Terry, Roger Sanchez, Frankie Knuckles, Junior Vasquez, and Kevin Saunderson, all of whom represented New York except for Saunderson, who represented Detroit. The addition of the New York-based house mixes was largely due to B96 airing a New York-based syndicated program called "Sounds Of The New York Underground" which was hosted by Deborah Rath & Jeff Romanowski, on-air personalities on New York’s Rhythmic Top 40 station WQHT "Hot 97". Besides B96, other rhythmic top 40 stations, such as KWPR "Power 106" Los Angeles, and 106 KMEL in San Francisco, also aired the syndicated mix show. Despite the name change from "Dance Party" to "the Street Mix", the addition of guest mixers, newcomer Bobby D., and the syndicated "Sounds of the New York Underground", B96's original mixmaster lineup of Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez, Julian "Jumpin'" Perez, Bad Boy Bill, Brian Middleton, and Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer remained intact.

The main style of B96 mixers had also changed throughout 1993 as the techno and rave sound that dominated much of the airways in 1992 was being phased out in favor of returning to house music. However, the style of house music differed from the hip house style that was prominent from 1989 to 1991. A new wave of Chicago house artists was growing in popularity, such as Cajmere ("Percolator"), Dajae ("U Got Me Up", "Brighter Days"), DJ Sneak ("Work It"), and DJ Funk ("Pump It"). House records and remixes from New York-based artists, such as Todd Terry ("Jumpin'", "Sum Sum Sigh" under the alias House of Gypsies), Masters at Work ("I Can't Get No Sleep" with vocalist India, "Love & Happiness (Yemaya Y Ochùn)" under the alias River Ocean), Erick Morillo ("I Like to Move it" and "Go On Move" as a member of Reel 2 Reel), David Morales ("In De Ghetto", the def club remix of Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover") and Armand Van Helden ("Witch Doktor", "Donkey") were also featured heavily in the B96 mix sets. Each B96 mixer was also developing a distinct sound as Bad Boy Bill had a rawer house sound, while Bobby D combined a mixture of sounds ranging from house, commercial euro-dance, and booty bass music. Perez experimented with deep house and garage cuts, although he would revert to a style similar to what both Bad Boy Bill and Bobby D were doing at the time. Schommer remained loyal to freestyle while Rodriguez would often mix flashbacks varying from 1970s disco to the 1980s-dance sound of defunct 102.7 WBMX although by 1994 he would stop providing mixes. Middleton would slowly evolve into a more disco-based underground house sound after the rave and techno sound had ran its course. Occasionally, some of the B96 mixers would briefly mix Hip Hop alongside the house sound those it would be a few years before B96 would gain a regular mixmaster who specifically mixed hip hop sets when DJ Speed joined the station in 1998. Although the B96 mixes were never syndicated to air in other markets, there would be a rare occasion where one of the B96 mixers would do a guest spot on an out-of-market radio station's mix show, such as Bad Boy Bill doing guest mixes on Power 106 Los Angeles' "Powertools" mix show. Bill and longtime "Powertools" mixer Richard "Humpty" Vission later teamed up in a pair of Mix CDs called "The House Connection" from 1997 to 1998.

The B96 Lunch Party, Traffic Jam, & 10 O'Clock Remix

In February 1993, the B96 5 O'Clock Traffic Jam premiered and was a special project of mixes engineered by Hot Tracks, Ultimix, X-Mix, Powerhouse, and other remix services, although most were engineered by 1 individual. Unlike the B96 Dance Party/Street Mix sets, there was usually no DJ Identification other than a station ID throughout the mix although some of the regular mixers, such as Brian Middleton, would do some of the sets. Arizona-based C.L. McSpadden also provided mixes that aired during these hours. The 5 O'Clock Traffic Jam was a 1 hour mix that aired at 5 p.m. on weekdays consisting of contemporary music during the era in dance/house/pop formats. Many tracks featured where off DJ-only mix compilations and thus were rarely heard outside of the FM dial. For example, there would a dance remix of a popular R&B or pop song, such as "Dreamlover" by Mariah Carey, that is heard only during these mix sets whereas the LP or single version would normally be heard outside the mix shows. The 12 O'clock Lunch Party and the 10 O'Clock Remix, which were both identical to the 5 O'Clock Traffic Jam, were also introduced during this time. By 1995, the 10 O'Clock Remix would evolve away from just remixes of what was popular on the station at the time and more towards sets done by one of the B96 mixmasters which would normally be heard every Friday and Saturday night. A year later, the 12 p.m. Lunch Party was expanded into four hours. The first hour mix would usually consist of flashbacks from the 1970s and 1980s while the rest of the mixes consisted of then-current dance remixes, although occasionally there would be mix sets consisting of pop, R&B, and hip hop songs that have a BPM ranging from around 90 to 105. Beforehand, a flashback hour was added between the morning show and the playing older tracks roughly between 1977 and 1992, ranging from disco, synthpop, freestyle, house, R&B, and hip hop. By the end of the 1990s, the flashback hour and flashback-based mixes would be dropped.

The B96 Street Flava (1994-1999)

In late 1994, Julian “Jumpin'” Perez created a broad-based, personality-heavy radio show that would represent the music evolution occurring on the streets and in the night clubs of Chicago. The show was called "the B96 Street Flava". Airing every Sunday night, the "Street Flava" was an immediate hit and sounded even more rhythmic that what the station normally sounded during the non-mixshow hours. Each hour contained a 10 to 15-minute mix ranging from house (usually the harder, tech house sound that both Bad Boy Bill and Bobby D were playing rather than the soulful garage house sound that would be heard on rival WGCI), hip hop, freestyle (both the then-new artists and old school favorites), and old school (usually 1980s/early 1990s dance music once popularized on defunct 102.7 WBMX). The mixes were usually done by guest DJs rather than the regular B96 mixmasters. Some of these guest mixers would eventually become regular B96 mixmasters in the future, such as DJ Speed, Mixin' Marc, DJ Flipside, and Dan Morell, who mixed under the name "DJ Smurf" before going under his real name. Veteran Chicago house DJ and producer Mike Dunn was the voice-over announcer during the "Street Flava." The success of the "Street Flava" prompting B96 management to promote Julian as a weekday overnight on-air personality in 1995. Teaming with fellow mixmaster Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer and later a female co-host Candi Gomez (known on-air simply as "Candi"), Julian "Jumpin'" Perez enjoyed the success of hosting the highly-rated "Street Flava" for the next several years until the show's cancellation in late 1999.

The B96 Mixmaster Throwdown series (1996-2001)

In 1996, B96 released a series of mix CDs called the “B96 Mixmaster Throwdown” containing 10-minute mixes from each of the B96 Mixmasters. There were six CDs total in the series lasting from 1996 to 2001. Prior to the "Mixmaster Throwdown" series, B96 had released a mixed CD called "Summer '95" in the Summer of 1995 as a contest prize exclusive. In 1996, B96 also gained added two new mixers to its mixmaster lineup: DJ Markski and To Kool Chris. DJ Markski would focus primarily on Euro-Dance as prior to his arrival, only Bobby D would occasionally mix Euro-dance records in an otherwise house-dominated mix show. Before joining B96, DJ Markski previously had done mix sets for dance-leaning college radio station WLUW-FM "Energy 88.7." To Kool Chris, meanwhile, mixed more diverse styles, ranging from hard house, euro-dance, freestyle, and old school cuts of the 1980s and early 1990s. During this period, hard house records from local labels, such as Underground Construction, to Los Angeles-based labels like Aqua Boogie, would be the most prominent style of house that was being mixed on the B96 mixes.

Mix Show Shake Up (1998-2006)

Throughout the 1990s, B96's main rival on the weekend night mix show battle was "Club 107.5" on WGCI, which featured then-newer house and old school R&B, disco, and house records that were popular in the 1980s. The style of house music that was featured on WGCI tended to be deep house or garage house, compared to the harder, tech house that B96 often played. WGCI’s mixers consisted of the original Hot Mix 5: Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, Mickey "Mixin'" Oliver, Kenny "Jammin'" Jason, Ralphi "The Razz" Rosario, and Scott "Smokin'" Silz. Other mixers who did sets on WGCI at some point throughout the 1990s included Edward "Get Down" Crosby, Mario “Smokin'” Diaz, Martin "Boogieman" Luna, Steve "Miggedy" Meastro, Pharris Thomas, DJ Kelly G, and the Boolu Master. By June 1999, “Club 107.5” was cancelled and its successors "Operation Getdown" and "The A-Side", would focus mainly on hip hop mixes. By 2002, house music would be phased out entirely on WGCI and would only be featured the mix shows that aired on its sister station and one-time rival station, V103 (formerly WBMX). Aside from house music, V103's mix show would largely focus on old school R&B, Funk, & Disco music of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. In the late 1990s, Q101 also had a Saturday night mix show called “Sonic Boom” and lasted until its cancellation in 2004. The music featured on Q101’s mix sets was very different from what both B96 and WGCI were doing at the time. Some of the music styles included alternative-friendly dance, industrial, Drum 'N' Bass, and on occasion house.

By the end of the 1990s, the once-dominant mix shows on B96 were becoming stale and lacked diverse styles as most of the DJs were mixing hard house and tech house records. Bad Boy Bill had left the station in 1998 to focus more on his worldwide DJ tours. Furthermore, the "Street Flava" Sunday night show would be shortened from four hours to three due to an expansion of the popular sex advice show "Private Lives" and later cancelled by the end of 1999. The same year, new members of the B96 mixmaster team were introduced. One such mixer was Mixin Marc, who mixed progressive/tech house & trance records. He would remain on B96 until 2012, but returned two years later mixing under his real name, Marc Stout. Another addition to the B96 Street Mix lineup in the late 1990s was famed house producer Maurice Joshua, known for the 1988 house anthem "This is Acid" and more recently remixed hits for various R&B and pop artists, joined the B96 mixmasters team. His style of house music was deep and soulful, much like what the DJs on rival WGCI were mixing at the time, and contrasting greatly with the hard house style done by most of the other B96 mixers. B96 hired hip hop mixers DJ Speed and Dan Morell (formerly known as "DJ Smurf") were added for more musical diversity. Both DJs had previously been guest mixers on B96's "Street Flava" show before becoming the station's regular hip hop mixers.

By 2003, new rival WSKC 103.5 "KISS-FM" would also create a mix show called "Klub Kiss" and even managed to lure Julian Jumpin Perez away from B96 after his contract was not renewed on October 28, 2002. However, Julian "Jumpin' Perez would return to B96 just one year later and brought along his new team of mixers, such as Josh “The Funky One’, DJ Boogie Boy, Billy the Kid, DJ Nonstop, and Double Impact, a duo consisting of Louie Loop & Greg the Groove. Thus, Bobby D, To Kool Chris, and DJ Markski would be tossed from B96 to make room for Perez and his team who were known as the "Super Mix 6" during their time at 103.5 Kiss FM. In additional to his return to B96, Perez became the station's new mix show director. However, he was soon criticized by some of his long-time fans for his shift away from house music and heavy emphasis on hip hop during this time. Another member of the B96 mixmaster team during this period included DJ Spin. It was also around this time that B96 Street Mix" was rebranded as the "B96 Afterparty."

Long-time personality and mixer Brian Middleton, who had stopped providing mixes by 2002, remained at B96 until his release in 2006. Around the same time, Tim "Spinnin" Schommer was also gone from the station. By 2000, Schommer had focused more on house music rather than freestyle, which was finally dead as a genre after a mid-1990s revival, although he would occasionally still mix older tracks from the classic artists, such as TKA, the Cover Girls, George LaMond, Safire, etc., in addition to the classic house and dance tracks from the 1990s. The weekend shows wouldn't be the only ones suffering as the 12 p.m. Lunch Mixes and the 5 p.m. Traffic Jam were also losing a lot of their luster compared to where it was in the 1990s as the sets now focused mainly on Hip Hop and R&B rather than dance remixes of popular songs. By this time, the four-hour "At Work Dance Party" format would ultimately be dropped and would be reverted to one hour at noon. The traffic jam mixes continued until 2003, when JamTraxx media took over and by 2006, the Traffic Jam mixes were discontinued. Since then, B96 mixer DJ Flipside had taken over duties as the 5 p.m. Traffic Jam mix, bringing some life back to the once-stall mixes.

Current era (2007-present)

The B96 Street Mix was re-introduced after phasing out the "Afterparty" brand in late 2007. DJ Flipside remains a member of the B96 mixmaster team, in addition to newer mixers in recent years, such as DJ Spin, DJ Metro, DJ Josh R., DJ Trentino, DJ Simone, and the station's first female mixer DJ Meg. In 2009, veteran DJ Bad Boy Bill returned to B96 to provide guest mixes and by 2012 would return as a full-time member of the B96 mixmaster team. In 2010, B96 introduced Noon Ka-Boom, mixing classic 1980s and 1990s dance, R&B and rap songs from the original “Killer Bee” & "Party Radio" eras as well as rap, r&b, and even dance hits of the early 2000s. However, the mixes have since been discontinued. In 2014, Marc Stout, previously known as Mixin' Marc, returned to the B96 Street Mix lineup after a two-year absence.

On August 03, 2018, The B96 Street Mix was cut back from seven hours to four hours, airing on 12:00am instead of 10:00pm. It is not exactly known why the Street Mix hours were cut back, though rumors suggested that Entercom executives considered the show not to be Portable People Meter (PPM)-friendly. The Street Mix itself also faced some criticism among some fans as the mixers were regulated to a tighter playlist of Top 40 remixes instead of playing what they want, resulting in a more stale product. In addition, DJ Flipside's 5:00pm mix hour "Flipside @ 5" was also cancelled.

Where Are They Now?

On May 19, 2006, former B96 mixer To Kool Chris leased time for a Saturday night music show called "Dance Factory FM" that aired on the same frequencies that was once home to Cyber Radio and Energy 92.7 & 92.5. After the demise of Energy 92.7 in January 2003, there had been a desire for dance music to return to the Chicago airways. Aside from To Kool Chris, other DJs featured on Dance Factory FM's lineup included former B96 mixers Bobby D and DJ Markski, in addition to other mixers such as Erik K, DJ Caffeine, and Danny V. Luis "2Live" Lopez, who worked at the old Energy 92.7 & 92.5, was Dance Factory FM's host. A year later, on May 14, 2007, Dance Factory was expanded to seven nights a week from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. The weekday shows carry a dance CHR format with live mixes several times nightly while the weekend shows remained a DJ mix format. However, there would be no plans for Dance Factory FM to air 24/7 as the "Nine FM" variety hits format that aired during the rest of the hours on the 92.7 frequency was retained. Nine FM would since be abandoned and replaced with a simulcast of its sister station, liberal talk radio WCPT 820 AM in 2008. In addition, Dance Factory FM's hours would be trimmed back in recent years, airing only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

After leaving B96 in 2006, Brian Middleton would join WILV (now WSHE) 100.3 "Love FM", which was a rhythmic-leaning Adult Contemporary station at the time. In 2007, WILV introduced a Saturday Night mix show, playing primary disco and pop records of the 1970s and 1980s. Middleton was featured as one of WILV's mixers as was Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer, who departed from B96 around the same time as Middleton did. Other mixers included Martin "Boogieman" Luma and DJ JM3. However, by the end of 2008, WILV would cancel the Saturday night mix show. Middleton remained at 100.3 FM, which had shifted its focus to 1980s-based AC hits and again to current-based AC hits, until his release in 2014.

In 2011, WKQX-FM "Q101", which was now suffering from poor ratings, flipped formats to an all-news format. Thus, the newly-created WIQI was now competing against B96’s sister station WBBM-AM Newsradio 780, which was also simulcast on WCFS 103.5 FM. However, the all-news approach was hugely unpopular and WIQI flipped formats to a 1990s-based adult hits format on July 12, 2012, which was the format that WCFS used prior flipping to a simulcast of WBBM-AM Newsradio 780. The station slowly became more rhythmic by 2013 and featured a weekend night mix show, “The History of House Party”, hosted by former B96 mixer and personality Frankie Hollywood Rodriguez. Other mixers included White Knight, Teri Bristol, and former B96 mixer Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer. The music featured on the mix show consisted of both then-newer dance hits and the classics dance tracks of the late 1980s and 1990s. However, ratings were still poor and station owner Merlin Media sold the station to Cumulus Media on January 10, 2014, which flipped WIQI back to alternative rock and restored the call letters “WKQX”. However, the station does not have the rights to the name “Q101” and is a separate entity rather than a continuation of the Q101 brand from 1992 to 2011.

On June 10, 2017, WBMX, which is credited for popularizing the Chicago dance music scene in the 1980s, returned to the Chicagoland area radio airwaves as the official website dedicated to the original WBMX Chicago provided airtime playing classic dance songs every Saturday on suburban Elmhurst-based WCKG 102.3 FM, which featured a brokered format, focusing on syndicated conservative and libertarian talk shows during the weekday. The Rhythmic AC/Dance format focuses mostly on 1970s disco, classic 1980s dance hits that were popular on the original WBMX, and 1990s dance music that was originally popular on B96 back when they were new. Occasionally, dance classics from the 2000s and more recent dance-pop hits would be played as well. In addition, the nightly mix show, "Saturday Night Live Ain’t No Jive Chicago Dance Party", a staple of the original WBMX, also made a return featuring mixes by many veteran Chicago-based DJs, such as original Hot Mix 5 member Mickey "Mixin'" Oliver and former WBMX & B96 mixer Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez. Other featured DJs include Martin "Boogieman" Luna, Tony "Boom-Boom" Badea, DJ Al Mooshey, Quick Mix Mike, DJ Tony Cano, DJ Triple H, DJ Perry, and DJ Quick Vic. Weekly guest mixers, such as former B96 mixer Tim "Spinnin'" Schommer, would also be featured. The mixes largely consist of dance classics of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and newer dance records consisting of both original records and remixes of older songs. A Friday night mix show would later be added, named "Friday Night Jams" much like the original WBMX. By December 2017, direct references to the call letters WBMX would be dropped when Entercom-owned 104.3 WMJK flipped formats from classic hits of the 1970s & 1980s to classic hip hop/R&B of the 1990s & 2000s and changed their call letters to WBMX. As a result, WBMX.com was eventually rebranded as "The Beat Chicago" launching an online-only 24/7 radio station without WCKG's unrelated brokered programming. On April 23, 2018, WGCK flipped formats from brokered talk to an affiliate of Fox Sports, becoming a sports talk radio station. Nonetheless, the Friday and Saturday night mix show hours presented on The Beat Chicago continued to air on WGCK.

On November 18, 2017, 1970s/1980s-based classic hits station WJMK 104.3, one of B96's sister stations, changed formats to a classic hip hop/R&B format, playing songs from the 1990s, 2000s, and early 2010s. Weeks later on December 04, the newly-minted 104.3 Jams would changed its call letters to WBMX, the very called letters used by new rival 102.7 V103 (WVAZ) from 1973 to 1988 before the latter's change from mainstream urban to urban AC, a format that 102.7 FM still has today. Between 1988 and 2017, the call letters WBMX had been used by sister station Mix 104.1 FM in Boston, which carries a Hot AC format. The station in Boston would change its call letters to WWBX as the WBMX call letters came to 104.3 FM in Chicago. On December 29, 104.3 Jams announced a new mix show team, "the BMX Four", which consisted of former and current B96 mixers DJ Flipside, DJ Nonstop, DJ Metro, and Julian "Jumpin'" Perez (who was also a mixer at the original WBMX), which would make its on-air debut on New Years Eve 2017. Julian "Jumpin'" Perez would also become an on-air personality on 104.3 Jams.

Eddie and Jobo

Although B96's heavily blend of dance, R&B, and Hip Hop music played a massive role in catapulting the station into becoming one of Chicago's top rated radio stations in the early 1990s, perhaps the biggest trademark of the Killer Bee/Party Radio era of B96 was the popular morning duo Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon, better known as Eddie & Jobo. </p>

First stint (1988-1994)

Bohannon first signed on at B96 in 1984 hosting evening as “JoBo In Chicago”. Bohannon was also the station's music director from 1984 to 1989. Volkman started at B96 in 1986 hosting the morning drive along with Karen Hand and Mike Elston. On October 25, 1988, Elston was gone from B96 and Bohannon would be moved to the morning drive alongside Volkman and Hand, thus “Eddie & JoBo” show was born. The duo enjoyed success and contributed greatly to B96’s increase in the ratings for the next seven years before the duo’s controversial firing in May 1994. They invited their listeners, who they dubbed “The World’s Most Dangerous Audience”, to assist in some classic radio bits such as confession Wednesdays, cold water wake-up calls, the daily Twinkie check, and the infamous mattress attacks.

Eddie & Jobo were known for their pranks. Case in point to an "April Fool's Day" broadcast in 1993, where the duo tricked listeners into believing that B96 was flipping formats from top 40/dance to an NPR (National Public Radio)/jazz-like format. Although Eddie & Jobo were not exactly shock jocks in the style of Howard Stern or Steve Dahl, their antics would often give B96 the wrong type of attention. On May 4, 1991, the duo was suspended four days without pay by B96 after airing a hoax during a "Confessions Wednesdays" feature, in which a female caller, claiming to be the wife of a WLS-TV Channel 7 executive, confessed that her family had been selected as a Nielsen family participant, which violated the ratings service's rules. It should also be noted that WLS-TV was owner by CapitalCities/ABC Inc., the same ownership that also owns B96's then arch-rival WYTZ 94.7 FM.

Controversy & Firing (1993-1994)

In September 1993, B96 endured controversy when Eddie and Jobo found themselves in a multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit filed against them by then-WMAQ-TV NBC 5 newsanchor Joan Esposito. On a March 23, 1993 broadcast, JoBo falsely aired a statement that Esposito had been impregnated by a member of the Chicago Bulls basketball team instead of her then-late husband, Bryan Harwood, prompting Esposito to sue. In addition to Esposito's lawsuit, Eddie & Jobo found themselves in more trouble on March 4, 1994, when they were hit with a libel suit by William P. O'Malley, a Cook County Circuit Court judge, when the duo suggested on air that the judge had taken a bribe by Major League Baseball slugger Jose Canseco, who was acquitted by O'Malley on April 22, 1993 after hearing a case where Canseco, who played for the Texas Rangers at the time, was accused of hitting a man at a nightclub in Chicago.

On May 10, 1994, Eddie and Jobo were fired after leaking classified details of the $1 million settlement in Esposito's defamation suit against them to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker. Esposito eventually won $1 million and a public apology from B96, which aired on July 1994. There was also growing tension between Eddie and Jobo as Eddie felt that he should have not been blamed for JoBo's statement that got the duo in trouble in the first place. The duo was rumored to be splitting up yet on October 27, 1994, Eddie and Jobo would be hired by WIOQ-FM, a Top 40 station in Philadelphia which had shifted away from a rhythmic format similar to B96 on to a more mainstream format, playing rock-leaning pop artists such as Gin Blossoms, Melissa Etheridge, the Pretenders, and Bon Jovi. Eddie, a proud Chicagoan, was hesitant to work in another city. However, the duo would last only a year in their new city as Eddie left WIOQ on September 1995 and Jobo was fired in January 1996. The absence of Eddie and Jobo would ultimately hurt B96, especially in the morning show slot for the next two years.

Morning Show Woes (1994-1997)

After the firing of Eddie and Jobo in May 1994, "Private Lives" host Karen Hand and Gary Spears, who was temporary rehired by B96 after being released in September 1993, briefly took over morning on B96. The station soon decided to move the morning drive in a new direction, asking the listeners to "choose" the new morning drive in what was known as "the B96 Morning Show Open Auditions" which ran through the summer of 1994. Terry Jacobs and Bill Cody were eventually chosen by B96 listeners to be the successors of Eddie & JoBo and would debut on September 12, 1994. However, very few people warmed up to “T.J. & Wild Bill” and the number of listeners dropped when compared to Eddie & JoBo's show. B96 began to suffer in the morning ratings as Eddie & JoBo’s 5.7 share in the ratings plummet to a 1.9. T.J. & Wild Bill lasted just 10 months at B96 and were fired. In a 1995 Billboard interview, B96 PD Todd Cavanah admitted that the T.J. and Wild Bill morning show was like a bad blind date with little chance of working. In addition, both men had lacked direct ties to the Chicagoland area and could not connect to the core B96 audience.

On July 24, 1995, former B96 evening host George McFly, and former overnight host Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez, who at this point stopped providing mixes on the B96 Street Mix, were moved to the morning drive in hopes to offset the drastic ratings slide. Unlike T.J. and Wild Bill, George and Frankie were familiar to B96 listeners and were not random outsiders. However, this also proved to be very unpopular as “George & Frankie” could only deliver a 2.1 share. McFly would ultimately leave B96 on July 1996 and joined now-defunct top 40 station WXTR "Z104" in Washington, DC. Compared to 1990-1994, B96’s overall ratings during 1995 and 1996 were lower due to the aftermath of firing popular morning duo Eddie and Jobo and their hugely unpopular replacements, TJ and Wild Bill. Also during this time, B96 would find themselves fighting to maintain its 3rd place position against adult contemporary WLIT 93.9 "Lite FM", country WUSN 99.9 FM, Urban AC 102.7 WVAZ (V-103), alternative WKQX "Q101" and sister station all-news WBBM AM 890. At this point, B96 was never going to leapfrog WGCI or WGN-AM as Chicago’s overall #1 radio station.

Once again B96 took morning drive in a new direction by "splitting up" the time slot and airing 2 separate shows. Frankie’s morning show aired from 5 a.m.-8 a.m., followed by B96’s hugely popular Sunday night sex talk show "Private Lives" hosted by Karen Hand and Dr. Kelly Johnson. "Private Lives" aired from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Finally, B96 began to see marked improvement in the ratings, but only in the 8 a.m.-10 a.m. slot as Frankie’s ratings continued to suffer severely. Caving into pressure from a campaign lead by former co-workers and on-air host Karen Hand, plus a relentless barrage of phone calls and letters sent by Eddie and JoBo loyalists, B96 announced on December 12, 1996 that Eddie & JoBo had been re-hired, and would return to host morning drive along with Frankie “Hollywood” Rodriguez on January 13, 1997 from 5 a.m.-8 a.m. Reaction to B96's decision to bring back Eddie & Jobo was so positive that the duo had won the Silver Dome Award for "Best Personality of the Year 1996" by the Illinois Broadcasters Association even though the duo was only on the air in commercials airing on December 1996 to promote their return to the station.

B96 began to see significant improvements in their morning drive ratings as the combo “Eddie & JoBo And Frankie” show and “Private Lives” as ratings slowly went upward, although Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez would be gone from the program. Afraid of another possible lawsuit, station management had strict control over the show. They made on-air staff changes and imposed a taped delay, at times as long as 20 minutes. Every word spoken by the duo was closely monitored and had to be approved by a member of management prior to airing. In addition, a member of management had to be in the studio with Eddie & JoBo at all times or they could not broadcast. Eddie & JoBo adapted to the changes, and ratings continued to climb back to their former glory.

Second Stint (1997-2008)

At first, the Eddie and Jobo show remained popular on B96 upon returning in January 1997. The popular Private Lives show would be dropped from morning drive in 1999 and would eventually end its run on B96 in 2002. Eddie & JoBo hosted from 5 a.m.-10 a.m. under tight restrictions until May 29, 2002. Rival station WKSC-FM 103.5 Kiss FM made an offer to them to do morning drive unrestricted on their station. B96 pulled the show as a negotiation tactic in the hopes of keeping the show. Negotiations continued until July when B96 announced at an on-air press conference that Eddie & JoBo had signed on with the station in a 7 year, $21 million deal to begin immediately in addition to ending all restrictions on the show. B96 no longer felt a tape delay was needed, and Eddie & JoBo resumed a live show on July 22, 2002. Unfortunately, Eddie & JoBo would start to decline in the ratings as the years went by. Many observers attributed this to the overall station’s severe decline in ratings ever since dropping its heavy dance music format for an all hip-hop and R&B format in the late 1990’s that became more obvious by 2002. Ever since abandoning dance music almost entirely, B96 has witnessed a steady decline from #1 in 1998 among younger radio listeners, all the way down to #9, and even lower in during the mid-2000s. In addition, Eddie and Jobo were getting older and did not fit B96’s key demographic of 18 to 34-year-old females. Erica Cobb, a younger female co-host, was added to the program in October 2005 to provide a better fit in the station’s demographics. B96 PD Todd Cavanah, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, had described the Eddie and Jobo Show prior to Cobb’s arrival as a “Sausage-Fest” after Karen Hand’s departure from B96 in 2002. On November 21, 2008, Eddie & Jobo, along with Cobb, were fired by B96 for the second and final time.

Eddie & Jobo After B96 (2011-2012)

After being fired by B96 in 2008, Eddie & Jobo were hired by B96's sister station 104.3 WJMK on March 14, 2011. WJMK had re-branded as a classic hits format “K-Hits” after dumping its polarizing variety hits format “Jack-FM”. Other former B96 alumni George McFly and Gary Spears also worked at K-Hits. However, WJMK played classic rock-based hits of the 1970s and 1980s rather than the dance and R&B based hits of the 1980s and 1990s that B96 once played when those DJs were there. On December 12, 2012, Eddie and Jobo were fired from WJMK due to low ratings. In late 2017, WJMK flipped formats from classic hits to classic hip hop & R&B of the 1990s and 2000s, playing many of the songs once featured on B96 when Eddie & Jobo were there.

Post-Eddie & Jobo Era (2008-present)

On December 31, 2008, it was announced that Julian Nieh and Jamar "J Niice" McNeil would replace the Eddie & JoBo & Erica Show. "J Niice & Julian on the Radio" made its debut January 5, 2009 in the 5:30 a.m.-10 a.m. slot, where B96 saw its ratings go up. On November 28, 2012, Julian Nieh left B96 and the show was renamed "The J. Show with Showbiz Shelly" with J. Niice as the main host and Michelle "Showbiz Shelly" Menaker as the co-host. In April 2018, B96 hired Kevin “DreX” Buchar, who was the morning host for rival 103.5 Kiss FM from 2003 to 2010, as the station's new morning show host, replacing J Niice and Showbiz Shelly, the latter jumping ship to 103.5 Kiss FM not too long after being let go by B96. However, ratings were not impressive as DreX debuted in 22nd place among all Chicago radio morning shows.

Concerts

Since the 1990s, B96 has sponsored annual concerts featuring artists whose music is featured on the station’s playlist. Perhaps the most popular of the concerts is the Summer Bash which is usually held every June since its debut in 1992. Since 2006, the Summer Bash but since settled at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, which is also home of Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the Chicago Fire. Prior to that year, the venue of the Bash has varied throughout the Chicagoland area such as the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Tinley Park (1994-1998), Route 66 Raceway in Joliet (1999-2003), and Maywood Park in Melrose Park (2004). In 2005, the Summer Bash was not held and instead there was a "Bee-Kini" Bash held at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, which featured a much smaller lineup of performers. More recently, the streak of concerts held at Toyota Park ended in 2016 when the Summer Bash was held at Allstate Arena in Rosemont instead. Noted for featuring several marquee performers in a day-long series of sets, the B96 Summer Bash is one of the most premier radio station concerts in the U.S., alongside other such events like 102.7 KIIS-FM's "Jingle Ball" and "Wango Tango" in Los Angeles, WHTZ-FM Z100's "Jingle Ball" in New York, and rock station KPNT 105.7's "Point Fest" in St. Louis.

The Summer Bash concert series proved so successful that B96 also began adding other concert series such as the Halloween Bash that debuted around 1996 and the Jingle Bash around the Christmas holiday season since 2000. Both concert series are often held at the Allstate Arena (formerly known as the Rosemont Horizon until 1999) as opposed to outdoor venues like the Summer Bash due to the colder weather Chicago experiences during the fall and winter months. However, the Halloween Bash has since been discontinued as the most recent Bash occurred in 2002.

Summer Bash Lineups

Year Date Venue Town Performers Notes
1992 n/a n/a n/a n/a the first Summer Bash held; Note: The original lineup from the 1992 event is unknown at this time.
1993 n/a n/a n/a RuPaul, Silk, Snow, & 5 other acts that are unknown at this time. known as "Summer Jam '93" and was hosted by Eddie and Jobo
1994 June 26 New World Music Theatre Tinley Park K7, Color Me Badd, Jocelyn Enriquez, Gabrielle, Chantey Savage, Zhane, Stevie B, DJ Miko, 2 in a Room, Jon Secada, Salt N Pepa known as "Summer Jam '94"
1995 June 24 New World Music Theatre Tinley Park K7, Real McCoy, Da Brat, Crystal Waters, 69 Boyz, Cynthia, Technotronic, George Lamond, 20 fingers ft Gillette, and Fun Factory. Known as Summer Jam '95; Paula Abdul arrived in helicopter, but did not perform.
1996 June 29 New World Music Theatre Tinley Park White Knight, J'son, Big Sister, Buffy, Monica, Planet Soul, Lime, Shannon, Max-a-Million, 3T, 2 Unlimited, Real McCoy, Amber, Coolio, Too Kool Chris, Tony Rich Project, the Outhere Bros., All 4 One and the Quad City DJs. known as Summer Bash '96
1997 June 29 New World Music Theatre Tinley Park Wild Orchid, 3rd Party, Le Click, Real McCoy, Jon Secada, AZ Yet, Freak Nasty, Salt N' Pepa, Erasure, DJ Company
1998 June 29 New World Music Theatre Tinley Park Boyz II Men, Destiny's Child, 'N Sync and K.P. & Envyi.
1999 July 19 Route 66 Raceway Joliet N'Sync, 98 Degrees, Shanice, Tyrese, Venga Boys, Busta Rhymes, Keith Sweat, and Ricky Martin. Britney Spears was scheduled to perform but had cancelled her appearance.
2000 June 17 Route 66 Raceway Joliet Sisqo, Brian McKnight, Pink, LFO, Mandy Moore, Joe, Eiffel 65, Ice Cube, Enrique Iglesias, Destiny's Child, Eve, Hanson, and Faze 4
2001 June 30 Route 66 Raceway Joliet Jay-Z, Faze4, Willa Ford, Trick Daddy, K-Ci & JoJo, Dream, Tyrese, Ricky Martin, 3LW, O'Town, Eden's Crush, ATC and Sisqo
2002 June 22 Route 66 Raceway Joliet Nelly, Brian McKnight, Fat Joe, Shakira, P. Diddy, Paulina Rubio, Mary J. Blige, Naughty By Nature, Nick and Aaron Carter, Ja Rule and Ashanti
2003 July 26 Route 66 Raceway Joliet Lil' Kim, Ginuwine, Da Brat, Sarai, Ludacris, Smilez and Southstar, Frankie J, Mya, Nick Cannon, and Fabolous.
2004 August 24 Maywood Park Melrose Park R. Kelly, D12, Twista, Ma$e, J-Kwon, Houston, Jojo, the Ying Yang Twins, and Nina Sky.
2005 June 12 Six Flags Great America Gurnee Frankie J, Baby Bash, and Natalie The Summer Bash was not held that year. Instead, B96 held the "Teeny Weeny Bee-Kini Bash" which featured a much smaller lineup of performers
2006 June 24 Toyota Park Bridgeview Mary J Blige, Sean Paul, Pink, Ray-J, T-Pain, Chameleon Pin, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, the first SummerBash held at Toyota Park
2007 June 14 Toyota Park Bridgeview Akon, Rihanna, T-Pain, Ciara, Ne-Yo, Hilary Duff, MIMS, Gym Class Heroes, Paula Deanda, & Dude N Nem
2008 June 13 Toyota Park Bridgeview Nastasha Bedingfield, Flo Rida, Pitbull, Jesse McCartney, Danity Kane, Ray-J, & T-Pain
2009 June 13 Toyota Park Bridgeview Akon, Kelly Clarkson, The Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, LMFAO, Kid Cudi, Twista also known as "B96 Summerbash XV"
2010 June 12 Toyota Park Bridgeview Charice, JLS, Travis Garland, B.O.B., Taio Cruz, Cascada, New Boyz, Jason Derulo, Lyaz, T-Pain, Ludacris
2011 June 11 Toyota Park Bridgeview Joe Jonas, Far East Movement, Lupe Fiasco, Jay Sean, Big Time Rush, Keri Hilson, New Boyz, Chris Brown, Pitbull
2012 June 16 Toyota Park Bridgeview Flo Rida, Gym Class Heroes, The Wanted, Big Time Rush, Sean Paul, Dev, Mike Posner, Karmin and more DJ Flipside and Bad Boy Bill provided DJ mixes
2013 June 15 Toyota Park Bridgeview Zedd, Avril Lavigne, Demi Lovato, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Timeflies, Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Cher Lloyd, Sammy Lloyd, and Miley Cyrus Sammy Adams was a replacement for Ariana Grande, who was one of the original performers but cancelled.
2014 June 14 Toyota Park Bridgeview G.R.L., Hot Chelle Rae, Icona Pop, Little Mix, Jason Derulo, Austin Mahone, Iggy Azalea, Jennifer Lopez, and Pitbull
2015 June 20 Toyota Park Bridgeview Usher, Axewell InGrosso, Nick Jonas, Flo Rida, Walk the Moon, Fifth Harmony, R5, Tove Lo, Natalie La Rose, Jake Miller
2016 June 26 Allstate Arena Rosemont Ariana Grande, Daya, BeBe Rexha, Mike Ponser, Charlie Puth, Calvin Harris, Meghan Trainor, & Frankie Bebe Rexha filled in for Iggy Azalea, who was originally supposed to attend; Also the first Bash not held at Toyota Park since 2005
2017 June 24 Allstate Arena Rosemont Cheat Codes, Dua Lipa, Noah Cyrus, Hailee Steinfeld, Liam Payne, Camila Cabello, Niall Horan, Zedd, Jason Derulo, & Kygo

Halloween Bash Lineups

Year Date Venue Town Performers Notes
1996 October 31 Rosemont Horizon Rosemont The Fugees, Bayside Boys, Love Tribe, Rob Base, Jocelyn Enriquez, Stevie B., Donna Lewis, No Mercy, La Bouche and Quad City DJ's. Culture Beat was scheduled to perform but cancelled
1997 October 30 Rosemont Horizon Rosemont En Vogue, Hanson, Le Click, Backstreet Boys, Roybn, Aaliyah,
1998 October 29 Rosemont Horizon Rosemont Usher, Monica, Pras, Mya, Nicole, Inoj, Sweetbox, Tantaya Ali
1999 October 27 Allstate Arena Rosemont 98 Degrees, Britney Spears, Lou Bega, L.F.O., Blaque, Christina Aguilera, and Tracie Spencer. Rosemont Horizon was renamed Allstate Arena on June 09, 1999
2000 October 27 Allstate Arena Rosemont R. Kelly, Pink, Mikalia, Ruff Endz, and Kandi, Faze 4, & Christina Aguilera
2001 October 27 Allstate Arena Rosemont Fabolous, Lil Mo, Eve, P Diddy, Afroman, Vi3, Craig David, & Toya
2002 October 24 Allstate Arena Rosemont Christina Aguliera, Kelly Rowland, LL Cool J, Missy Elliot, Shaggy The final Halloween Bash held

Jingle Bash Lineups

NOTE: The Jingle Bash lineups from 2002 and between 2004 and 2007 are currently unknown at this time.

Year Date Venue Town Performers Notes
2000 December 9 Allstate Arena Rosemont 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men and Shaggy This was the 1st held Jingle Bash
2001 n/a Allstate Arena Rosemont Alicia Keys, Vi3, 112, Missy Elliot, & Tweet
2002 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2003 December 13 House of Blues Chicago Wyclef Jean, Baby Bash, Frankie J., Avant, & Murphy Lee
2004 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2005 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2006 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2007 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2008 December 16 Allstate Arena Rosemont Rihanna, Chris Brown, David Archuleta, Jesse McCartney, Shontelle, Kevin Rudolf, and Brody Jenner
2009 December 13 Allstate Arena Rosemont Justin Beiber, Pitbull, Jump Smokers, Jerehim, Livvi Franc, Jay Sean, David Guetta, Sean Kingston, Keri Hilson,
2010 December 11 Allstate Arena Rosemont Justin Beiber, Far East Movement, Mike Posner, Bruno Mars, Nelly, Jason Derulo, Auburn, and Jump Smokers
2011 December 17 Allstate Arena Rosemont Enrique Iglesias, Joe Jonas, Selena Gomez, Jason Derulo, Cobra Starship, LMFAO, and others
2012 December 15 Allstate Arena Rosemont PYS, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Carly Rae Jepsen, Calvin Harris, Austin Mahone, and Afrojack
2013 December 14 Allstate Arena Rosemont Avicii, Ariana Grande, Austin Mahone, Armin van Buuren, Jason Derulo, Jonas Brothers, and Pitbull
2014 December 6 Allstate Arena Rosemont Ariana Grande, 5 Seconds of Summer, Rixton, MKTO, Lil Jon, Martin Garrix, Pharrell Williams
2015 December 12 Allstate Arena Rosemont Demi Lovato, 5 Seconds of Summer, Jason Derulo, Shawn Mendes, Pentatonix, Omi, and Hailee Steinfeld
2016 December 10 Allstate Arena Rosemont Britney Spears, Shawn Mendes, Fifth Harmony, the Chain Smokers, G-Easy, One Republic, DNCE, and Alessia Cara.
2017 December 7 Allstate Arena Rosemont Taylor Swift, Backstreet Boys, Fifth Harmony, Khalid, Logic, and Sabrina Carpentner
2018 December 8 Allstate Arena Rosemont Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B, Mike Ponser, Why Don't We, & Lauv

The B-Bash and Other Concerts

Listed below are other concerts B96 has sponsored over the years, such as the B-Bash.

Year Date Venue Town Performers Notes
1990 May n/a n/a Louie Louie, Perfect Gentlemen, Linear, and George Lamond. Known as the "B-Bash" and was held around May 1990 to celebrate WBBM-FM's Top 40 format debut on May 02, 1982. Eddie & Jobo are the hosts and Julian "Jumpin'" Perez & Bad Boy Bill provided mixes.
1991 n/a Riviera Theatre Chicago C&C Music Factory, Stevie B Annual "B-Bash". Additional performers are not known at this time.
1993 November n/a n/a Shai, Collage, Fast Eddie, White Knight, and Reality (Bad Boy Bill and Kool Rock Steady) Known as the "Turkey Jam" and was held sometime around the Thanksgiving holiday.
1994 November 26 n/a n/a Ini Kamoze, Crystal Waters, Jade, Rochelle, Miranda, Fast Eddie, & DJ Sneak Annual "B-Bash"
1995 July 15 Soldier Field Chicago Boyz II Men and TLC Known as the "B96 Superfest"

Awards

Since finding success as a Rhythmic Top 40 station in the 1990s, B96 has been nominated multiple times for awards given by key media companies, such as Billboard. Below are some of the known awards the station has won.

Billboard Radio Awards 1991 major- market Top 40 station of the year
Billboard Radio Awards 1991 Major Market Program/Operations Director of the Year - Dave Shakes
Billboard Radio Awards 1991 Major Market Music Director of the Year - Todd Cavanah.
1991 Gavin Seminar: Top 40 Major Market Station of the Year.
1991 Gavin Seminar: Top 40 Major Market Program Director/Operations Manager of the Year - Dave Shakes
FMQB 1992 "CHR/Top40" Station of the Year.
Best Personality of the Year 1996 - Eddie & Jobo (Silver Dome Awards by the Illinois Broadcasters Association)
1998 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)
1999 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)
2000 Billboard Airplay Monitor Radio Seminar & Awards - Erik Bradley (Music Director)
Radio Station of the Year in 2000 by Ted Cox (Daily Herald TV/Radio Columnist of the Daily Herald)
2000 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)
2001 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)
2002 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)
2002 Billboard Radio Awards - major market Rhythmic Top 40 PD (Todd Cavanah)
2002 Billboard Radio Awards - major market Rhythmic Top 40 assistant PD /music director (Erik Bradley)
Billboard Airplay Monitor Radio 2003 Awards - Rhythmic Top 40 Radio Station of the Year-Major Market
2006 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)
2007 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)
2008 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic Station of the year (markets 1 -15)
2008 Radio & Records (R&R) Rhythmic MD of the Year (Erik Bradley)

Staff

Notable DJs and on-air personalities during the last 35 years.

The original B96 "Hot Hits" staff in 1982

Bob Lewis (1982-1983)
Dave Robbins (1982-1985)
Frank Foster (1982-1984)
Gary Spears (1982-1984, 1990-1994)
Joe Dawson (1982-1986)
Steve Davis (1982-198?)
Tony Taylor (1982-1984)

1980s (misc.)

Brian Middleton (1985-2006)
Bubba The Love Sponge (1989-1990)
Carla Box (1984-198?)
Christopher Randolph (1988-1989)
Chuck Evans (circa 1985-198?)
Dick Biondi (1983-1984)
Don Geronimo (1983-1985)
Ed "Eddie" Volkman (1986-1994, 1996-2008)
Geno Jones (1986-198?)
Joe "Jobo" Bohannon (1984-1994, 1996-2008)
Jose Solis (circa 1989)
Karen Hand (circa 1984-2002)
Mark Windsor (1982-198?)
Mike Eltson (circa 1984-1988)
Pat Reynolds (1988-1990)
Paul Donovan (1986-1990)
Tony "Wild Child" Hamilton (1985)
William Bud LaTour (1987-199?)
Zach Harris (circa 1986-1988)

1990s

Alan Kabel (1992-1994)
Baltazar (1991-1992)
Bill "Wild Bill" Cody (1994-1995)
Candi Gomez (circa 1995-2008)
Coco Cortez (1990-1996)
Dr. Kelly Johnson (1993-2002)
Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez (1992-1997)
George McFly (1990-1991, 1994-1996)
Greg Murray (1990-199?)
Jeff Andrews (1993-199?)
Jennifer Keiper (circa 1992-199?)
Julian "Jumpin’" Perez (1994-2002, 2003-circa 2006)
Rich Scott a.k.a. Scott Childers (B96 traffic reporter - 1992-1998)
Roxanne Steele (1996-2008)
Terry Foxx (1993-1999)
Terry "TJ" Jacobs (1994-1995)
Tim "Spinnin’" Schommer (1995-2005)
Todd Cavanah (1990-1993)

2000s & 2010s

DJ Flipside (200?-2018)
Dougie Stylz (of Stylz & Roman) (2004-2016)
Erica Cobb (2005-2008)
Jamar “J Niice” McNeil (2008-2018)
Jason Cage (2011-2016)
Jerzy (200?-2011)
Julian "the Night Ninja" Nieh (2006-2012)
Justin "J Roman" Roman (of Stylz & Roman) (2004-2016)
Nikki (circa 2009-present)
Rebecca Ortiz (2008-present)
Michelle “Showbiz Shelly” Menaker (2005-2018)
Kevin “DreX” Buchar (2018-present)

Announcers & Voice-Overs

David Lee (198?-1988)
Mitch Craig (1988-2002)
Michael Horn (1995-2013)
Pat Garrett (2002-20??)

Program Directors

Buddy Scott (1982-1989)
Dave Shakes (1990-1993)
Todd Cavanah (1993-present)

Music Directors

Dave Robbins (1982-1984)
Joe “JoBo” Bohannon (1984-1989)
Paul Donavon (1989-1990)
Todd Cavanah (1990-1993)
Erik Bradley (1993-present)

Syndicated Programs

List of nationally syndicated programs that aired on B96 over the years:

"American Top 40" with Casey Kasem (1979-1982) (program aired while WBBM-FM was an adult contemporary station and was dropped just months before it flipped to its still-current Top 40 format)
"Top 40 Satellite Survey" with Dan Ingram (1984-1986)
"Countdown America" with John Leeder (circa 1985)
"Future Hits" with Joel Denver (circa 1985-1993) (program began from 1984 to 1995 but B96 dropped the program in July 1993)
"Casey's Top 40 Countdown" with Casey Kasem (1989-1993) (program lasted from 1989 through 1998 but B96 dropped the program in July 1993)
"Rockin' America Top 30 Countdown" with Scott Shannon (Circa 1989-1991) (program began in 1984 and ended in 1992, although B96 dropped the program in 1991)
"Hotline USA" with Shadoe Stevens (circa 1989-1990)
"Direct Hits" with Bill Lee (circa 1989-1990)
"American Dance Traxx" with Jeff Wyatt & Julie Brown (circa 1991-1993) (program started in 1987 but B96 did not pick up the program until 1991)
"American Top 40" with Shadoe Stevens (circa 1992-1993) (New Years Day 1992 and New Years Day 1993 AT40 year end countdowns only)
"On the Radio" with Gary Spears (1992-1993)
"The Retro Show" with Gary Spears (1993)
"Sounds of the New York Underground" with Deborah Rath & Jeff Romanowski (1993-1994)
"Dance Connection" with Kim Farley (circa 1997)
"Perez Radio" with Perez Hilton (2008-present)
"Cannon's Countdown" with Nick Cannon (2011-2013)

Slogans

"Hot Hits 96 Now" (1982-1983)
"B96...Music" (1983-1985)
"Most Music" (1983-1986)
"Chicago's Hot Music" (1983-1984)
"Nothing But the Hits" (1984-1985)
"Chicago Rocks to B96" (1985)
"Station of the 80s" (1986-1988)
"Chicago's No. 1 Hit Music Station" (1988-1991)
"The Killer Bee" (1990-1993)
"Party Radio" (1993-1997)
"Chicago's Dance Beat (1996-2002)
"The New Killer Bee 96.3" (2002-2005)
"Hits & Hip Hop" (2005-2008)
"Chicago's #1 Hit Music Station" (2008-present)
"Chicago's #1 Hit Music Channel" (2008-present)
"Chicago's New Hit Music" (2018-present)

References

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"October 27 - B96 Halloween Bash concert in Chicago". XRay: The Largest Britney Spears Image Gallery. 27 Oct 1999. http://www.breatheheavy.com/xray/thumbnails.php?album=4826

Taubeneck, Anne. "A Marathon Bash." Chicago Tribune. 19 Jun 2000. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-06-19/features/0006190034_1_thong-song-sisqo-singing

"B96 Halloween Bash 2001" Crazy for Vi3. 2001. http://www.geocities.ws/crazy4_vi3/halloweenbash.html

Carlozo, Paul. "The Rap on R. Kelly". Chicago Tribune. 19 Apr 2002. http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-020419kelly-story.html

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"Klub Kiss". 103.5 Kiss-FM.. 21 Apr 2003. https://web.archive.org/web/20030421155434/http://www.kiss1035.com:80/everywhere/klubkiss.php <br?

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"B96 Summer Bash with Lil' Kim, Ginuwine, Da Brat, Sarai..." Chicago Tribune. 23 Jul 2003. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-07-23/news/0307240341_1_los-lobos-porcupine-tree-lincoln-park-zoo

Neyfakh, Leon. "Getting Juicy" The Harvard Crimson 30 Sep 2004. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2004/9/30/getting-juicy-my-friend-juiceboxx-is/

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“Street Talk”. P. 23. Radio & Records. 11 Oct 2005. http://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Music/Archive-RandR-IDX/IDX/00s/05/RR-2005-11-11-OCR-Page-0025.pdf#search=%22b96%22

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"PowerTools Mix Show (10-24-1992)". Simfonik. Jun 2011. http://simfonik.com/2011/06/powertools-mix-show-10-24-1992/

"A History of the B96 Summer Bash". B96 9 Jun 2011. http://b96.cbslocal.com/2011/06/09/a-history-of-the-b96-summerbash/

"WBBM-FM's 'B96 Jingle Bash 2011' Coming December 17th." Chicagoland Radio & Media. 13 Oct 2011. http://chicagoradioandmedia.com/news/1999-wbbm-fms-b96-jingle-bash-2011-coming-december-17th

"Wbbm-Fm B96 Station Overview." StudyMode. 13 Dec 2011. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Wbbm-Fm-B96-Station-Overview-875636.html

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Phil Swift. "B96 Chicago Mixer Search The Final 6 DJ Battle At the China Club 1993 Phil K Swift". YouTube. 12 Mar 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d70_94z5J_o

UpperMidwestAircheck, "WBBM-FM Chicago October 1992 Alan Kabel." YouTube. 9 May 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-9g_w7q7Uc

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"WCBR (Cyber Radio 92-7) – Arlington Heights/Chicago, IL – 6/7/97 – Magic Juan." FM Airchecks. 22 Jun 2013. http://fmairchecks.com/2013/06/22/wcbr-cyber-radio-92-7-arlington-heightschicago-il-6797-magic-juan/

West, Steve & Robyn Watts. "Chicago CHR Wars 2 – “B96” WBBM-FM, “Z95” WYTZ & “Q101” WKQX | 1991." Airchexx. 24 Jun 2013. http://airchexx.com/2013/06/24/chicago-chr-wars-2-b96-wbbm-fm-z95-wytz-q101-wkqx-1991/

"WBBM-FM (B96) – Chicago – 12/31/95 – George McFly & Frankie Hollywood Rodriguez (Top 96 of ’95)" FM Airchecks 31 Dec 2013. http://fmairchecks.com/2013/12/31/wbbm-fm-b96-chicago-123195-george-mcfly-frankie-hollywood-rodriguez-top-96-of-95/

Amato, Sal & Lee Michaels. “U-Dance With B96.” WBMX.com. 29 Sep 2015. http://wbmx.com/u-dance-with-b96/

"Mediabase Makes Panel Changes". All Access. 9 Mar 2016. http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/103369/mediabase-makes-panel-changes

dth1971. "An AT40 history on the Chicago 94.7 FM frequency". American Top 40 Fun & Games Site. 27 May 2016. http://at40fg.proboards.com/thread/4787/at40-history-on-chicago-frequency

Buczak, Lizzy, "The B96 Pepsi Summer Bash Recap – This Is What You Came For!". B96. 27 Jun 2016. http://b96.cbslocal.com/2016/06/27/the-b96-pepsi-summer-bash-recap-this-is-what-you-came-for/

"Smokin’ Joe Dawson on B-96 WBBM-FM Chicago | September 2, 1986". Airchexx. 25 Aug 2016. https://airchexx.com/2016/08/25/smokin-joe-dawson-on-b-96-wbbm-fm-chicago-september-2-1986/

Paul H. "WBBM 96.3 FM CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Week: 10/09/82". ARSA. 31 Aug 2016. http://www.las-solanas.com/arsa/surveys_item.php?svid=68577

"B96 Announces Jingle Bash 2016 Lineup." Chicagoland Radio & Media. 21 Sep 2016. http://www.chicagoradioandmedia.com/news/8465-b96-announces-jingle-bash-2016-lineup

"WBMX brings back the city’s most listened to dance music party in its history". WBMX.com. 1 Jun 2017. http://wbmx.com/saturday-night-live-ain-no-jive-chicago-dance-party-june-10-2017/

"WBBM (B96)/Chicago Announces Lineup For Pepsi Jingle Bash". All Access. 6 Oct 2017. https://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/170310/wbbm-b96-chicago-announces-lineup-for-pepsi-jingle

Venta, Lance. "104.3 WJMK Chicago Flips To Classic Hip-Hop". Radio Insight. 17 Nov 2017. https://radioinsight.com/headlines/121092/104-3-wjmk-chicago-stunting/

"104.3 JAMS Chicago Flips Call Letters to WBMX-FM". Radio Online. 8 Dec 2017. https://news.radio-online.com/cgi-bin/rol.exe/headline_id=n34984

Andrews, Jeremy. "BMX new mixshow". Chicago Media Chat. 29 Dec 2017. http://members.boardhost.com/chicagomediachat/msg/1514572138.html

Venta, Lance. "Showbiz Shelley Joins 103.5 Kiss-FM Chicago." Radioinsight. 19 Apr 2018. https://radioinsight.com/headlines/167903/showbiz-shelley-joins-103-5-kiss-fm-chicago/

Feder, Robert. "Chicago radio ratings: ‘Eric in the Morning’ reigns supreme". Robert Feder. 12 Jun 2018. https://www.robertfeder.com/2018/06/12/chicago-radio-ratings-eric-morning-reigns-supreme/

"B96 Cancels Flipside at 5". Chicago Media Chat. 31 Aug 2018. http://members.boardhost.com/chicagomediachat/thread/1535743932.html

"The 2018 B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash." B96. 17 Sep 2018. https://b96.radio.com/jinglebash

"B-96 Street Mix/WKQX Electric Playground." Chicago Media Chat. 27 Sep 2018. http://members.boardhost.com/chicagomediachat/thread/1538086884.html

Childers, Scott. "A Quick History of Chicago’s 94.7 FM." WLS history. 1999-2015. http://www.wlshistory.com/new/947.htm

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"Chip E." Discogs. http://www.discogs.com/artist/Chip+E.

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“103.5 The Beat” flips from Rhythmic Oldies to CHR “Kiss-FM”. Format Change. https://formatchange.com/1035-the-beat-flips-from-rhythmic-oldies-to-chr-kiss-fm/

"Sounds of the NY Underground". Jeff Romanowski. 2017. http://www.jeffromanowski.com/