First Hour: 104.3 WJMK Chicago “Jack-FM” | June 3, 2005
In an attempt to re-brand 104.3 using it’s native call letters and a re-focus of the music in a more 70s directions, Oldies WJMK found itself in much the same position as it was three months prior when it dropped the “Oldies” monniker from it’s on air branding. The music had remained essentially the same era, 60s and 70s but the mix of 70s was raised slightly. It didn’t help.
By June of 05, a sensational new format was sweeping across many places in the US and Canada. A format that began on a Canada-based internet station began to grab the attention of corporate executives at many radio stations, most notably, American based CBS/Infinity Broadcasting. On June 3, 2005, what many considered the unthinkable happened: the formats of Oldies WCBS-FM New York and WJMK Chicago were BOTH changed, along with some other CBS owned stations, to this new Variety Hits format called “Jack-FM”. The format featured one DJ: “Jack”, a laid back, snarky kind of voice that came on about every third song with a liner or voice sweeper. There were no song announcements, backsells, phone calls or contests of any kind, just Jack and the music from the 60s right through the 2000s. One never knew what they’d hear next.
Reaction across the country was mixed. Decried in the various media which covers radio, public reaction was overall negative but quiet, including Chicago. Nowhere, however, was the reaction as dramatic as in New York, where listeners, who had been fiercely loyal to the personalities at WCBS-FM, took to the streets by the thousands to protest the format change. Two years later, CBS would return the Oldies format and some of the original personalities to 101.1 FM. Although the music of the 1960s was gone, a whole new ‘Classic Hits’ legacy would soon be built with some of New York’s greatest Deejays from the 70s & 80s. It was a start, and a ‘first’ for a company to return a format to the airwaves after wave after wave of public protest. In Chicago, WJMK also dropped “Jack” for Classic Hits on March 14, 2011. It seems that Jack was too smart for his own britches.
And now we present a few minutes of the first hour of “Jack-FM”, in all his enthusiasm.