Published on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 10:55
Effective tomorrow, September 19th, suburban radio station WJJG becomes WCKG, adopting the famous Chicago radio call letters and logo. After nearly five years away, the WCKG call letters return to the Chicago airwaves -- this time on AM 1530.
The newly-named station will continue to air the same main WJJG line-up of Mancow Muller, Alex Jones, and Michael Savage. It also plans to continue to be "The Voice of DuPage County." General Manager Matt DuBiel plans to move forward in the old WGKG tradition of adding some live and local talk shows to the weekday and weekend line-up, as well. As showcase studio at its suburban studios is also being planned.
Just over one year ago, Matt DuBiel took over as the station's General Manager
. In that year, the station has dramatically retooled it's programming lineup, marketing, studios, and engineering.
In a statement issued today, DuBiel said: "My mission is to bring WCKG to a worthy DuPage County suburb. It's high time for DuPage to have a marquee radio station with top level talent serving our communities and mainstreet businesses." DuBiel added a sales pitch: "If you need to reach people in DuPage County, WCKG is the station. Call me directly. We want to help you reach people in your backyard."
Chicago's original WCKG was launched by Cox Communications on 105.9 FM in February 1985 as a music station, playing new & classic rock songs. Within a few years, the station had dropped the current rock tracks and focused only on classic rock. Cox Communications sold the station to Infinity/CBS Radio in May 1996. Within a matter of months, the station started adding talk shows, including Howard Stern in mornings (syndicated from New York) and Steve Dahl in afternoons. Just a few years later, the classic rock was pushed out* and the station was a full-time talk format, which is how it is best remembered. (*Although there was a brief period where the classic rock returned for overnights and parts of the weekends only.)
In addition to Stern and Dahl, the station featured talk local shows from Kevin Matthews, Jonathon Brandmeier, Garry Meier, Pete McMurray, Stan & Terry, Matt Dahl, Buzz Kilman, Bob Sirott & Marianne Murciano, Karen Hand & Dr. Kelly Johnson's "Private Lives," and "Bob & Ron's Record Club." The station also became the flagship home for the Chicago Bulls radio broadcasts for one year. Syndicated shows included Opie & Anthony, Penn Jillette, Tom Leykis, Bill O'Reilly Jim Cramer, "Loveline" with Dr. Drew & Adam Carolla, and Rover (whose short-lived syndicated show originated from Chicago).
WCKG-FM went through numerous branding changes, calling itself such names as "Super CKG," "105.9 The PaCKaGe," "Chicago's Fun House," "Talk That Rocks," "Free FM," and "Chicago's FM Talk Station."
By the end of 2007, CBS Radio decided to kill the expensive talk format on WCKG-FM, and flipped the station to the cheaper Hot AC music format called "Fresh 105.9 FM." The call letters were changed to WCFS-FM. Steve Dahl's show was shifted to another CBS-owned radio station and every other show -- both local & syndicated -- along with the staffers, were released.
The classic Chicago radio station call letters remained available and unattached to any other US radio station since that time. Last week, WJJG's parent company, Joseph J. Gentile, Inc., filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to adopt the call letters as its own.
WCKG, the now-former WJJG, has its studios and transmitter located in the west suburban Berkeley/Elmhurst area. WCKG is a Class D, sunrise to sunset-only station, transmitting at 760 watts, easily covering much of DuPage and Cook counties.
Fans outside the signal coverage can listen online 24/7 via WCKG's free iPhone, iPad and Android apps available at WCKGChicago.com
. The station can also be picked up via the TuneIn radio app.