104.3 WJMK Chicago Flips To Classic Hip-Hop

K-Hits 104.3 Jams Chicago WJMK WBMXAnother change takes place as Entercom takes over CBS Radio as Classic Hits “104.3 K-Hits” WJMK Chicago has flipped to Classic Hip-Hop “104.3 Jams“.

Launching with Notorious BIG’s “Hypnotize”, the new format is taking shots at iHeartMedia’s combination of Urban 107.5 WGCI and Urban AC “V103” 102.7 WVAZ.

The staion began stunting at 10am with sound effects and occasional comments to the like of “What’s Going On Here” and “It’s Almost Time To Start”. The final two songs played were Beatles “Long And Winding Road” and David Bowie “Changes”.

Entercom Communications (NYSE: ETM) today announced that WJMK-FM is ‘The New 104.3 JAMS, Chicago’s #1 for Throwbacks,’ the ultimate destination for classic Hip-hop and R&B.

The New 104.3 JAMS will define the most memory-making era in music and super-serve the entire Chicago community. To celebrate the launch, the station is keeping it real by airing 10,000 songs in a row, back-to-back, and 100% commercial-free starting at 12:00 PM EST / 11:00 AM CST today. Listeners can tune in at 104.3 JAMZ and around the world at 1043jams.com.

The New 104.3 JAMS, will capture the essence of Chicago from when The Bulls won six NBA championships, to when locals like Oprah and Barack Obama became homegrown heroes. “The time has come to usher in a brand new chapter in Chicago radio — a station that is designed by Chicagoans exclusively FOR Chicago,” said Pat Paxton, Entercom’s President of Programming. “Hip-hop and R&B always makes you feel a certain way. The memories will come back to you immediately.”

For the first time since Nielsen started measuring music consumption in the United States, the combined genre of Hip-hop and R&B took the number one spot this year – and is responsible for more than 25% of all music consumption in the U.S.

Radio remains the number one medium in terms of reach (93% of the U.S. population), serving over 271 million people and continues to be the driving force in music discovery.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

24 Comments


  1. Robert Feder (at http://www.robertfeder.com/2017/11/17/entercom-flips-k-hits-hip-hop-104-3-jams) reports that Entercom may move the WBMX calls back to Chicago (from Boston), for this new format.


    • That article by Feder has one quote from Entercom that really caught me by surprise in its’ level of acknowledgement and frankness:

      “K-Hits was one of five different radio stations playing some form of classic rock, classic hits or oldies [ … ] Chicago still loves ’70s and ’80s music, but between The Loop, The Drive, WLS FM, and Me-TV FM, there are a lot of places to hear ‘Don’t Stop Believin”,’ ‘Old Time Rock And Roll’ or ‘Take On Me’ and not a lot of listener loyalty to any one station.”

      Entercom was researching the heck out of all the markets they were coming into, and it’s clear that research was incredibly extensive and exhaustive.


  2. Does this mean Entercom is flipping a station at the top of every hour today? So far today in EST: 10am NYC, 11am Dallas, Noon Chicago


  3. This PR bullshit comment attributed to DeCastro got a laugh from me, ““We will be dancing in the hallways with you, Chicago.” Yeah, 60 something DeCastro dancing in the hallway. Reminds me of the CHR I was at in the mid 90s. GM’s kid didn’t listen to the station. So he fired the PD and MD, the new PD and his cabana boy new MD added all the hip-hop you’ll hear on Jamz. GM’s kid started listening. On the other hand we lost half our audience in about six months time. All the while our 50 something GM would blindly dance in the aisles of the sales office, snapping his fingers off beat to Dre and Snoop — and looking identical to Gene Wilder trying to look street with the help of Richard Pryor in the 70s movie “Silver Streak” — while the shell shocked sales reps kept losing long time accounts. Dance, Jimmy, dance.


    • The difference is that the people who were kids 25 years ago who you couldn’t make any money on are smack dab in the middle of 25-54 now. You can make a lot more money playing these tracks now than you could then, and unlike the Radio One approach to the format, the songs in the format are mass appeal. There’s money to be made here.


    • For all intents and purposes WLS-FM is playing K-Hits’ playlist–and so to a certain extent is MeTV FM (along with everything else, including the AC gold that the competition didn’t play). The new format is going after an audience that no other urban in town is going after (OK, you’ll say V103 and WSRB, but they’re conservative on hip-hop and are aimed at an older audience). I will add that the hip-hop and R&B records of the 90s sold better and had more CHR airplay than the overrated grunge rock that you probably wanted this (fictitious, I bet) station to play. If you had any balls you would say your real name and the call letters and city of the station–if it actually existed. But I guess you’re jealous that Jimmy DeCastro is a successful broadcaster and you’re not.


      • I remember this era in CHR well. Where I cut my teeth in radio, the leading CHR in the market for awhile was rhythmic and had a large audience but the billing was horrible. Most of the accounts were direct: local urban clothing stores, street promoters, bars, concert promoters. They were all cash accounts (good) but the rate card wasn’t great because they were too heavy on the 18-24 side and not 25+.

        At one point the owner finally caved in to the sales department and went mainstream for about a year, which made nobody happy.

        The 1990s were rough years to be working in CHR. So yeah, I don’t doubt the guy’s story. The difference is now these songs make money. It’s the same reason that all of the AC stations who used to preach “no rap or hard rock” all play Shaggy and Fugees today and put Jon Bon Jovi on their billboards. There’s a new generation holding court in 25-54, and radio stations who target those folks are holding up a mirror and reflecting back their tastes.


  4. First thought was that Mark wasn’t worth reply. Second thought, considering the emotion in his response, I reread my words and determined he might have a good point about my post. My apologies for the offense. Allow me to make a few points.

    1) First, John, the points you’ve made are the same as those I’ve used numerous times in response to persons like Charles Everett and others on this very board.

    2) The point of my comment was simple. I find the language in many, make that most, radio press releases to be extremely over the top, humorous, and easily read through exaggeration. It wasn’t to bash classic hip-hop, any GM or Jimmy DeCastro. Just that I find the inclusion of an idea of a 60 year old dancing in the aisles to 90s hip-hop quite funny. The reason, in part, was the story I told of my 1990s GM. That, and the story that follows.

    3) I’ve never directly worked with Jimmy DeCastro. I have met him on two occasions. The first time was when he was first breaking through in Chicago. His station was co-owned with a dance station I worked for in another market. He flew into town and attended a client party for that radio station. The evening made obvious that dancing was, perhaps just at that time, not his talent.

    4) I can appreciate Mark’s very candid defense of Jimmy DeCastro. In the two times he and I have met, I found him to be professional to a fault. I understand that he is a manager who inspires great confidence and great loyalty in his team along with great results for his employer. That is something to be honored. If what I wrote implied anything else, I foolishly failed in making my point.

    5) There is a reason that I chose to not name the radio station I referenced. You’ll have to accept that I will not offer that reason. Yes, in reflection, there is a harshness in the brevity I chose to tell my story. It was a frustrating time. Some frustration lingers even today. Perhaps I should have chosen not to tell the story at all. Like with Mr. DeCastro, it was not intended to but apparently did reflect negatively. I can only attempt to assure you, the GM too had a sense of humor about his less than fleet footwork.

    6) More pointedly, as with Mark, I’ve posted this using first name only. If you want more, sorry. Figure out what the FWPP means, dig deep into radio history (it pertains to a stunt I was part of at the radio station I referenced that you might still be able to Google a reference to) and perhaps you’ll determine a last name.

    Mark, the bottom line is that you can choose to believe what you want. To some of us, market size isn’t a determining factor in career goals. Nor is it a determining factor in success or what you might consider a lack thereof. I can assure you that the radio station I referenced did exist and — despite that mid 90s downturn in a then very conservative media market — still does.

    Again, my apologies. So long.


  5. First of all, someone needs to inform Entercom’s brilliant research staff that millenials are not aged 35 to 44. How fitting that clueless, crusty antiquated CORPORATE RADIO front office types are completely misapplying the phrase “millenial” to describe an age group.

    Second, how long before low-rated, failing 94.7 Fresh FM in Washington, D.C. gets flipped by Entercom? Classic hip-hip or classic hits would seem to be reasonable options.


    • Anyone 35-44 would have been 17-27 when the calendar changed to 2000. Therefore, it is appropriate to refer to them as Millennials.
      As for what the fanboys want in Washington? Big 100 fills the Classic Hits hole adequately. Rap Oldies is not an option even in majority-black D.C.


      • It isn’t “rap oldies.” It’s Rhythmic Gold. Much of which had wide crossover appeal. Your position is poorly informed at best, at worst it’s bigoted.


        • Charles has been saying the exact same uninformed things he’s said for the past three years WRT the format. No one ought be surprised.


      • In large part because of their close proximity to each other, both the D.C. and Baltimore markets are relatively under-signaled. That makes it less likely for even somewhat-niche formats to be used here. (To put it another way, we’re still waiting for true Classic Hits to return. Big 100 has really been Classic Rock for several years.)

        Also, while the District itself and Prince George’s County are “majority black”, the metro area overall isn’t.


    • Millennials have no informal start date… the disparity ranges between 1980 and 1985. Its a blanket term used for people to mostly complain about people in both Generations Y and Z.

      By the way, I don’t see anyone else using the term “rap oldies.” No industry professionals or credible journalists use it.


      • “Classic” is a weasel word for Old. “Hip-Hop” is a weasel word for Rap.


        • Still doesn’t change the fact that no one else uses the “rap oldies” prejorative to describe the format.


          • Who’s seen the old Fonda movie “12 Angry Men?”

            Charles is juror 3.


          • Just like “oldies” is now what you call any pop music before the Beatles broke up. And hip-hop has always been the preferred term by those who perform and produce the music and the surrounding culture, even if they refer to it as “rap” every so often. By and large, “rap” is the perjorative used by white male rockists, usually in conjunction with an expletive that rhymes with “rap.”


          • Offering this from Billboard:

            http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/7981673/macklemore-chelsea-interview-preview-video

            Quoting: “(Macklemore) later discussed what he thinks the difference is between rap and hip-hop. “Rap is something that you do, hip-hop is something that you live — that would be like from the purest hip-hop standpoint,” he told Handler. “Rap is an element of the culture so it’s a part of the craft.”


  6. Well, Feder’s column also mentioned them bringing the WBMX call lettters back to Chicago.

    This is where it gets interesting. WBMX, as an online entity has been around for a while now. The website is tied to a very active, vibrant social network presence on Facebook. WBMX is back is what has been used for much of the year on 102.3 FM where they also have an FM

    It should be interesting to follow as the laws are still lagging when it comes to situations like this.

    Let the roller coaster begin


    • Ordinary people use an on-air station name. Fanboys have a fetish for “Call Letters” which are Government-Speak.
      WBMX is assigned to 104.1 in Boston. Any use of that callsign anywhere else by a third party is infringement, contrary to what Robert Feder thinks. And I’m surprised that the station on 102.3 has not received a Cease and Desist order from Entercom (or even CBS Radio).


  7. Vomit! K-Hits was my second favorite station after Tampa Bay’s Q105.

    I get it. From what I’ve been told, despite attempting to go after people in my age group and a format change in-between, K-Hits had trouble getting away from its oldies past and skewed too old. The result was apparently a station that billed an average of about $500,000/month, which is anemic in Chicago for a station on the Sears (or is it Big Willie now?). It’s a shame. The station sounded great, and, from a personal point of view, I had a hard time finding a replacement station for when Q105 went stupid at work today.

    I’m sure, in the short-term, B96 Classic will pay dividends for Entercom. I don’t, however, see how the format has legs unless Entercom knows something nobody else does.


  8. In looking at the October ratings–and with the caveat about 12+ being “beauty pageant” numbers–WJMK was the weakest CBS station (XRT in the top 10 for perhaps the first time ever!) and caught in a knock-down drag-out between the established WLS-FM (which happened while JMK was still Jack) and the locally-owned newcomer that wasn’t expected to perform at all MeTVFM. I don’t blame Entercom for wanting to get out of the fight and try something different. (And let it be said that WLS-FM is going to be the beneficiary of all this–I think that Me has picked up as much of the over 50 audience that powers their station as they’re ever going to get.)

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