||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2011)|
|City of license||Chicago, Illinois|
|Broadcast area||Chicago, Illinois|
|Slogan||Chicago's Greatest Hits|
|First air date||1961WCFL-FM)(frequency first used 12 March 1949 by|
|HAAT||480 meters (1,570 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||former branding:
"W JacK fM" and "W MaJiK"
|Former callsigns||WJEZ (1977-1984)
(CBS Radio of Illinois, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WBBM-TV; WBBM (AM), WBBM-FM, WCFS-FM, WSCR, WUSN, WXRT-FM|
WJMK (104.3 FM) is a classic hits radio station in Chicago, Illinois. The station is known as "K-Hits 104.3." The station adopted this format on March 14, 2011, after spending 6 years as Jack FM. Prior to that, WJMK spent 21 years as an oldies station. WJMK is owned by CBS.
The 104.3 allocation in Chicago was originally licensed in 1948 to the Chicago Federation of Labor, and went on the air as WCFL-FM on March 12, 1949. Though licensed for 22,000 watts, it only broadcast from 3pm to 9pm, as a 400-watt simulcast of WCFL (AM) from an antenna on top of the studio. In early October 1949, the Federation shut down WCFL-FM and announced that they would surrender their FM license because they saw no possibility to make money with it.
The station signed on, with the current license, in 1961 as WJJD-FM, co-owned with 1160 WJJD (now WYLL) by Plough Broadcasting. Originally the FM station simulcast the AM station's signal during their operating hours, but changes in FCC rules eventually led to a separate format for the FM. By 1977, the station was known as WJEZ and had a "beautiful country" format, playing instrumental background music with country overtones. This was not a ratings success, and by 1980, WJEZ had a more conventional country music format. In the early 1980s, the station gained competition as WUSN (99.5 FM) also adopted a similar format. At that point, WJJD 1160 adopted a pop standards format and became known as "Music Of Your Life". In 1983, Infinity Broadcasting acquired both WJJD and WJEZ.
In 1984, WJEZ dropped country and flipped to an oldies format as "Magic 104" with the call letters WJMK. Initially, it was similar to what RKO's 103.5 WFYR was playing, except that WJMK played more '50s and early '60s music. WJMK initially also played '70s and '80s music along with a new song every hour. By early 1985, all songs released after 1972 were dropped.
The station focused primarily on songs released between 1964-1969 with a good amount of '50s music as well. In 1991, the station's moniker was changed from "Magic 104" to "Oldies 104.3". In 1992, another acquisition by Infinity made WUSN WJMK's sister station. In 1996 Infinity was sold to CBS, adding classic rock station WCKG (105.9 FM), 70s-based oldies station WYSY (107.9 FM), WBBM-FM (96.3 FM), a rhythmic/CHR station and AAA WXRT (93.1 FM). To stay within the station ownership limits for the Chicago radio market, Infinity/CBS sold WYSY to Spanish Broadcasting System. That move left CBS/Infinity with its limit of 8 stations; 5 FM and 3 AM stations, in addition to WBBM-TV.
WJMK dropped the moniker "Oldies 104.3" by 2001, and returned to their former moniker "Magic 104.3". In 1998, they began to add more '70s music to the format. In 1999, with new competition from the new "Jammin Oldies format of WUBT "The Beat", WJMK added a few disco songs and more '70s and early '80s songs to the playlist.
After WUBT dropped Jammin' Oldies for CHR in 2001, WJMK continued with their oldies format, though they modified the playlist over the years, dropping older music in favor of more recent material. In 2003, the station once again changed monikers, going from "Magic 104.3" back to "Oldies 104.3" and began airing Dick Bartley's syndicated "Rock and Roll's Greatest Hits" to Saturday nights (which they'd drop at the beginning of June 2004 to return the 70s show "Saturday Night 70s"). By the winter of 2004/05, the station dropped the "oldies" moniker and became known as just "104.3 WJMK".
In the spring of 2005, Infinity (the radio division of CBS) had contracted with SparkNet Communications, which owned the U.S. trademarks of an adult hits format known as "Jack FM", which had seen success on a few Canadian stations, to put a variety hits format on stations in some of their markets. That April, they flipped KCBS-FM in Los Angeles and WQSR in Baltimore, Maryland to the new format. On June 3, 2005 at 4 PM, an hour after flipping long-time oldies station WCBS-FM in New York, WJMK became "Jack FM" as well.
Jack FM was a format featuring mostly rock and pop songs that appeal to adults. The roughly 2,000 song playlist consisted mostly of music from the '70s, '80s, '90s, and todays, in addition to a few current tracks. Though WJMK's previous oldies format continued to be streamed online and on their HD Radio subchannel, complaints about the change were prevalent, but not nearly to the extent of those in New York City with WCBS-FM.
The former WJMK airstaff returned to the air on WJMK-HD2 in October 2005. Also, that Fall, WZZN (now WLS-FM) 94.7, saw a format void and after many years of struggling with different formats, switched to ABC's "True Oldies Channel, a satellite-delivered oldies format.
On July 13, 2006, in a cost-cutting move by CBS Radio, the entire airstaff of WJMK-HD2 was laid off, though the oldies format continued to stream online without air talent. Since then, WLS-FM had added a lot of WJMK's former airstaff.
With a format change on WCKG from talk to adult contemporary, Steve Dahl and Buzz Kilman moved from there to WJMK to host mornings starting November 5, 2007, as the only live personalities on Jack FM. Dahl continued there until December 5, 2008. At that time, Jack FM reverted back to having no live personalities. The station's ratings continued to struggle more when Bonneville International debuted "Rewind 100.3" (a mostly 80s-based format) on rival WILV in June 2010.
On March 9, 2011, CBS announced that on March 14, beginning at 1:04 p.m., WJMK would switch to a classic hits format, dropping the Jack FM format and brand. The change marked the station's return to an updated version of the oldies format it dropped in 2005. Station management describes the format as "high energy, music intensive and locally driven". Chicago radio personalities Ed Volkman and Joe "Bohannon" Colborn anchor the station's morning show with Gary Spears hosting mid-days, Bo Reynolds on afternoon drive, and the legendary George McFly for nights. The last song on Jack FM was "Goodbye to You" by *Scandal (American band), before a montage of songs between 1966 and 1989 was played (similar to what WCBS-FM did in 2007 when it relaunched its classic hits format, and using the almost exact same montage that launched the oldies format of WOCL-FM/Orlando). The new station was called "104.3 K-Hits." K-Hits' first song was "Beginnings" by Chicago.
Volkman and Colborn would remain the morning hosts until December 6, 2012, when they were released, with the studio citing low ratings as the main factor.
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