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WEBG

WEBG
Big955chicago.png
CityChicago, Illinois
Broadcast areaChicago market
BrandingBig 95.5
SloganChicago's New Country
Frequency95.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)
First air dateMarch 9, 1959 (as WDHF)[1]
FormatFM/HD1: Country
HD2: Smooth jazz
ERP5,300 watts (Analog)
212 watts (Digital)
HAAT425 meters (1,394 ft)
ClassB
Facility ID53971
Callsign meaningWE're BIG Country
Former callsignsWDHF (1959 (1959)–1976 (1976))[2]
WMET (1976 (1976)[2]–1986 (1986))
WRXR (1986 (1986)–1987 (1987))
WNUA (1987 (1987)–2015 (2015))
AffiliationsDelilah (HD2)[3]
OwneriHeartMedia
(AMFM Broadcasting Licenses, LLC)
Sister stationsWGCI-FM, WGRB, WKSC-FM, WLIT-FM, WVAZ, WVON
WebcastListen Live
Websitebig955chicago.iheart.com

WEBG (95.5 MHz) is a country music radio station located in Chicago, Illinois, owned and operated by iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications until September 2014) and branded as "Big 95.5". WEBG has studios located at the Illinois Center complex on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago, and it broadcasts from an 5.3 kW transmitter based atop John Hancock Center.

WEBG broadcasts two channels in the HD Radio format.[4]

History

The station began broadcasting on March 9, 1959 as WDHF, owned by Hi-Fi systems and record store owner James deHaan.[1][5] Its call sign stood for deHaan Hi-Fi.[5] The station operated out of deHaan's store in the Evergreen Plaza in Evergreen Park, Illinois.[5][2] Its transmitter and tower was in Oak Lawn, at 97th and Central.[2] WDHF's studios and deHaan's record store moved to 102nd and Western Avenue in Chicago, in 1961.[2]

In 1964, WDHF was sold to Federal Broadcasting Corporation for $200,000.[2][6] Controlling interest in Federal Broadcasting was owned by comedian Bob Newhart.[6] Its studios were moved to the Loop, at 108 N. State St.[2] In 1966, WDHF was sold to the National Science Network for $427,000.[7] In 1971, the station's transmitter was moved to the John Hancock Center on the Near North Side of Chicago.[2] Under deHaan's, Newhart's and the National Science Network's ownership, WDHF aired an easy listening/big band format.[5][8][9][10]

In 1973, the station was sold to Metromedia for $2.75 million and it adopted an adult contemporary format.[11][12] The following year, WDHF adopted a top 40 format. During this era, WDHF was the local broadcaster of the weekly syndicated program American Top 40.[13] Jim Channell, known on the air as "Captain Whammo", was a DJ on the station during its top 40 years.[14][15][16]

On December 1, 1976, the station's call letters were changed to WMET, while retaining its top 40 format.[2][17] In 1979, Metromedia flipped WMET to an AOR format.[18] In 1982, WMET was sold to Doubleday Broadcasting for $9.5 million.[19]

On January 11, 1985, at 3 p.m., WMET switched to an adult contemporary format.[20] As a promotional stunt, in the days leading up to the format change the station periodically interrupted the rock programming with static and a man's voice stating "enough is enough".[20] Ratings were poor under the new format, and the station was sold to Flint Chicago Associates for $12.5 million in early 1986.[21][22]

In May 1986, the station's call sign was changed to WRXR, and it adopted an early version of what would later become the adult hits format (described as "Male Adult Contemporary" by station management), with a playlist featuring artists like The Beach Boys, The Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top and Sade.[23] In 1987, WRXR was sold to Pyramid Broadcasting for $15 million.[24]

Smooth jazz era

WNUA's logo as a smooth jazz station

On August 3, 1987, the station's call letters were changed to WNUA and the station adopted a format which featured new-age music and smooth jazz, along with music from R&B and rock artists that were compatible with the station's sound.[25][26][27][28][29] WNUA's original slogan was "Music For a New Age", and New Age was the source of the station's call letters.[30][26][27] By 1989, the station's slogan was "Smooth Rock, Smooth Jazz".[30][31] "Smooth Rock" would later be dropped from its slogan.[31] As a smooth jazz station, WNUA was a major pioneer in the format.[32][33]

In 1995, the station's owner, Pyramid Communications, was acquired by Evergreen Media.[34] In 1997, Evergreen merged with Chancellor Broadcasting.[35] Chancellor merged with Capstar and restructured as AMFM, Inc. in 1999, and in 2000 merged with Clear Channel Communications making WNUA a Clear Channel station.[36][37]

WNUA was the home of the now-defunct Ramsey Lewis morning show, and it was also where he recorded his syndicated show, Legends of Jazz (which showcased the music of instrumentalists Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson and Miles Davis, as well as vocalists Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald) for distribution to other smooth jazz stations across the nation.[38][39][40] The show lived on in Chicago on 87.7 WLFM-LP during that station's run, and continues on 90.9 WDCB.[41][42] Other on-air staff included Karen Williams, Rick O'Dell, Danae Alexander, Dave Koz, Bill Cochran, Scott Adams, Annie Ashe, and Porsche Stevens.[43][44][45][46] Rick O'Dell was also program director/music director.[47][48]

In late 2006, three Smooth Jazz personalities, WNUA's Ramsey Lewis, Annie Ashe, and Dave Koz, were tapped by Broadcast Architecture to syndicate their respective shows on its Smooth Jazz Network.[49][50]

WNUA won Radio & Records' Smooth Jazz Station of the Year award eight consecutive years, from 1998 to 2005,[51][52] and was the recipient of the Marconi Award for NAC/Jazz Station of the Year in 2004.[53]

Smooth Jazz returned to the 95.5 frequency on the HD2 feed in December 2018, much to the delight of fans of the original WNUA Smooth Jazz format.

Spanish-language era

On May 22, 2009, at 9:50am, after the station played David Sanborn's "Chicago Song", WNUA stunted for 5 minutes with a ticking clock and an announcer saying "In _ minutes, 95.5 reaches its big/mega event."[54] Along with the clock sound, they aired a recap of jingles and moments from its history as WDHF, WMET, WRXR, and WNUA. 95.5 then had a countdown from 10 to 1 switching in the middle from English to Spanish.[54] At 9:55 am, WNUA flipped formats to Spanish hot AC as Mega 95.5.[54][55][32] The Smooth Jazz format was picked up a few hours later by television station WLFM-LP (Channel 6), whose audio is available on 87.7 FM.[56]

Following lackluster ratings as Mega 95.5, on June 19, 2012, after playing "Creo en Ti" by Mexican rock band Reik, WNUA shifted to a Regional Mexican format known as "El Patrón 95.5" to more directly compete with 107.9 WLEY and 105.1 WOJO.[57][58] However, the station failed to improve on its ratings as Mega 95.5.[59]

WNUA-HD2

From 2012 to 2016, WNUA-HD2 carried ESPN Deportes Radio programming, which was translated by Hillside-licensed W248BB at 97.5 FM, a station owned by the Educational Media Foundation, a frequent collaborator on iHeartMedia's translator operations.[60][61][62]

Smooth Jazz returned to the former WNUA 95.5 frequency on the HD2 stream in December 2018, much to the delight of fans of the original WNUA.

Big 95.5

On January 5, 2015, at Noon, WNUA flipped to country as "Big 95.5", giving 99.5 WUSN its first local competitor since 94.7 WKXK in 1997.[59] The first song on Big 95.5 was This Is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line.[59]

On January 12, 2015, WNUA changed call letters to WEBG to match the "Big" branding. Those call letters were previously used by Orlando, FL sister station WRUM from 2004 to 2005.[63]

References

  1. ^ a b 1971 Broadcasting Yearbook, Broadcasting, 1971. p. B-60. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i History Cards for WEBG, fcc.gov. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  3. ^ All Stations - Delilah
  4. ^ [hdradio.com] Archived 2016-09-16 at the Wayback Machine HD Radio Guide for Chicago
  5. ^ a b c d Ghrist, John R. (1996). Valley Voices: A Radio History. Crossroads Communications. p. 284-285.
  6. ^ a b "Changing hands", Broadcasting. December 16, 1963. p. 70. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  7. ^ "Changing hands", Broadcasting. April 18, 1966. p. 48. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  8. ^ "Stations By Format", Billboard. October 16, 1965. p. 62. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  9. ^ "Stations By Format", Billboard. November 19, 1966. p. 38. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  10. ^ Duston, Anne. "WCLR-FM Clarions 'Clear Sound' MOR as Others Probe Rock Chance", Billboard. April 14, 1973. p. 22. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  11. ^ "An even dozen for Metromedia", Broadcasting. March 19, 1973. p. 53. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  12. ^ Hannigan, Ingrid. "Roberts Revamps WDHF-FM: Using Mature 'Top 100' Pitch", Billboard. October 6, 1973. p. 32. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  13. ^ "American Top 40 Is Moving Alot of Burgers in Waterloo", Billboard. May 3, 1975. p. 23. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  14. ^ "Classic Christian Gold, Saturdays at Noon EST on SnT Radio.com", SnT Radio.com. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  15. ^ "WDHF-FM's Captain Whammo Jingle - Spring/Summer 1976", Chicagoland Radio and Media. May 7, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  16. ^ Zorn, Eric. "Deejay's Fate Was Etched in Concrete", Chicago Tribune. March 4, 1985. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  17. ^ "WDHF Changes To WMET - 12/01/76", Chicagoland Radio and Media. December 1, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  18. ^ "Top 40 Fading at WMET-FM", Billboard. April 21, 1979. p. 18. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  19. ^ "Doubleday Buys WMET Chicago for 9.5 Million", Billboard. September 4, 1982. p. 3. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Zorn, Eric. "WMET's Advertising Prank More Than Enough", Chicago Tribune. January 14, 1985. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  21. ^ Zorn, Eric. "Soft Rock Format a Losing Proposition, So WMET Owner Decides To", Chicago Tribune. September 19, 1985. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  22. ^ "On April 14, 1986 Flint Chicago Associates, Inc. Finalized their $12,500,000 acquisition of WMET-FM Chicago, Illinois from Doubleday Broadcasting, Inc.", Broadcasting. April 28, 1986. p. 95. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  23. ^ "WMET Now 'Male AC' WRXR", Radio & Records. May 2, 1986. p. 3. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  24. ^ "Changing Hands", Broadcasting. March 2, 1987. p. 72. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  25. ^ "Chicago Enters New Age With WNUA", Radio & Records. July 24, 1987. p. 1. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  26. ^ a b Alexander, Katina. "Tune In, Turn Down, Cool Out; Third-Grade Romance; Going to California", Chicago Reader. September 03, 1987. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Freeman, Kim. "Vox Jox", Billboard. August 1, 1987. p. 15. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  28. ^ Freeman, Kim. "Vox Jox", Billboard. September 19, 1987. p. 15. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  29. ^ Feder, Robert. "Punching Up the News: Gilmer joins WBEZ bloggers", Time Out Chicago. August 1, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  30. ^ a b Chicagoland Radio Waves, MediaTies. Summer 1988/Spring-Summer 1989. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  31. ^ a b Reich, Howard. "WNUA's Success With 'Smooth Jazz' Is Based on a Simple Idea", Chicago Tribune. July 5, 1998. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  32. ^ a b Rosenthal, Phil. "WNUA swings to Spanish format", Chicago Tribune. May 22, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  33. ^ Archer, Carol. "Three Signals, 20 Amazing Years; The Honorable Histories Behind WNUA/Chicago, KKSF/San Francisco and WNWV Cleveland", Radio & Records. August 17, 2007. p. 12-13. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  34. ^ Stark, Phyllis. "Evergreen Signs Deal to Purchase Pyramid; Julie Kahn Exits Shamrock's KNEW/KSAN", Billboard. July 29, 1995. p. 114. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  35. ^ Peers, Martin. "Viacom Radio Signs Off", Variety. February 18, 1997. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  36. ^ "Chancellor to Become AMFM Inc.", AdAge. May 20, 1999. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  37. ^ "Clear Channel-AMFM Merger Gets Approval", Associated Press. Los Angeles Times. August 30, 2000. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  38. ^ Harrington, Richard. "A Jazz Legend Nurtures His Gospel Roots", Washington Post. May 19, 2006. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  39. ^ Kirk, Jim. "Karen Williams Making Smooth Exit From WNUA", Chicago Tribune. October 15, 1998. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  40. ^ "Program Schedule". WNUA. Archived from the original on October 15, 2002. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  41. ^ Feder, Robert. "WDCB brings back 'Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis'", RobertFeder.com. December 23, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  42. ^ "Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis", WDCB. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  43. ^ "On-Air Personalities". WNUA. Archived from the original on October 15, 2002. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  44. ^ "Koz To Afternoons, Alexander In Nights On WNUA", All Access Music Group. December 1, 2006. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  45. ^ WNUA Smooth Jazz Reunion Party w/ O'Dell, Cochran, Adams, More", Chicagoland Radio and Media. September 26, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  46. ^ Feder, Robert. "Web streaming keeps 'Real Oldies' spinning", Chicago Sun-Times. September 21, 2006. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  47. ^ "WNUA-FM's Rick O'Dell Ousted as Clear Channel Starts Cutting; CEO Confirms Elimination of Around 1,850 Jobs", Chicago Tribune. January 20, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  48. ^ "CRM Interview: Rick O'Dell", Chicagoland Radio and Media. March 24, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  49. ^ Sterling, Christopher H.; O'Dell, Cary (2010). The Concise Encyclopedia of American Radio. Routledge. p. 385. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  50. ^ "Wilson To Host Middays On BA Smooth Jazz Network", All Access Music Group. October 6, 2006. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  51. ^ Archer, Carol. "To the Victors Go the Spoils", Radio & Records. July 8, 2005. p. 51. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  52. ^ Hough, Alexander. "Chicago Smooth Jazz Ambles On", Chicagoist. June 8, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  53. ^ "2004 Marconi Radio Award Winners", National Association of Broadcasters. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  54. ^ a b c "Smooth Jazz WNUA Becomes Mega 95.5", Format Change Archive. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  55. ^ Venta, Lance. "WNUA Chicago Becomes Mega 95.5", Radio Insight. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  56. ^ Venta, Lance. "'The L 87.7' WLFM Quickly Fills Chicago's Smooth Jazz Hole", Radio Insight. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  57. ^ Venta, Lance. "Mega 95.5 Flips to Regional Mexican", Radio Insight. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  58. ^ "Mega 95.5 Becomes El Patrón", Format Change Archive. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  59. ^ a b c Venta, Lance. "iHeartMedia Launches Big 95.5 Chicago", Radio Insight. January 5, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  60. ^ "ESPN Deportes To Also Debut Tomorrow On 97.5 FM", Chicagoland Radio and Media. January 31, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  61. ^ "Clear Channel To Launch 97.5 ESPN Deportes/Chicago On Wednesday", All Access Music Group. January 31, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  62. ^ Villafañe, Veronica. "iHeart Chicago’s 97.5 FM drops ESPN Deportes", Media Moves. November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  63. ^ Feder, Robert (January 12, 2015). "It's out with WNUA, in with WEBG at new country Big 95.5". RobertFeder.com. Retrieved January 12, 2015.

External links