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Chicago Area Radio
92.7 FM Programming
Monday-Thursday 7pm-5am — Chicago’s Progressive Talk
Sunday 5am-7pm — Chicago’s Progressive Talk
Monday-Saturday 5am-7pm — Polish format Music/News
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights 7pm-5am — Dance Club Music
The 92.7 FM broadcast from Arlington Heights has a long history of a variety of formats. The studio first signed on the air in the late 1950s as WNWC (“North West Communities”) and in its early years it was partially owned by Jack Whistler of Brian Properties — a commercial real estate operator. In the mid-1960s WNWC had a live broadcast of the dedication of the Grace Gym at Arlington High School
By 1968 WNWC became the pioneer rock-music outlet in the Chicago area, including top 40 hits, as WEXI (“Stereo Excitement”). But as the format spread to other area stations, WEXI adopted an easy-listening and talk format by 1970 (“Spreading Clean Air over Chicagoland”) that same year. WEXI station personalities included Ray Smithers, Lou Rugani, Stan Adams, Pat Cassidy, Jon Morgan, Bud Jeffries, and Jonathan Kingsley (the latter hosting “Love in the Afternoon”, a first-name-only call-in show about romantic fantasies and experiences).
In the early 1970s the call letters became WWMM and later WTCO, with a country-and western format.
On January 24, 1983, the 92.7 MHz station made national headlines when the call letters were changed to WSEX with an adult contemporary format called “Love Songs & More”. Later that decade, the station broadcast a “Top 10” format only playing songs from the ’80s that had made Top 10 according to Billboard Magazine.
On January 9, 1989 the station became “Chicago’s Bear”, with the WCBR-FM call letters — probably loosely and unofficially affiliating the name with the successful 1986 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears. The station’s programming consisted of AAA (Adult Album ALternative) programming. Brokered programming was introduced in the 1990s. On air talent on WCBR included Tommy Lee Johnston, Tom Wilson, Ken Sumka, Mark Zander, Greg Easterling, Scott Dirks, and Dave Anton.
In early 1998, Big City Radio Group took over WCBR and WBRO in Kankakee (also on 92.7).
On November 14, 1998, at Noon, WCBR and WBRO launched their new official format, CHR as “92.7 KISS FM”, with the first song being “Kiss” by Prince. WCBR became Chicago’s first true modern CHR (Contemporary Hits Radio) station and had a successful run.
In February 1999, the calls were changed to WKIE and WKIF.
In the summer of 1999, Big City purchased a third station, WDEK 92.5 in Dekalb, Illinois, which had a locally programmed CHR format at the time and began simulcasting it with WKIE and WKIF as a trimulcast, and soon started using “92 KISS FM”.
On January 12, 2001, competitor Clear Channel flipped its stronger signal (Class B) WUBT from rhythmic oldies to CHR as WKSC-FM “Kiss 103.5”. Clear Channel also issued a cease and desist order to Big City Radio insisting they stop using the “Kiss FM” moniker.
On January 26, 2001, 92 KISS-FM signed off with Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss” and the three signals became “Energy 92.7&5”, being launched with DJ Jean’s “The Launch”. On air personalities, and the station’s voiceover Sean Caldwell, continued with the new format. The new format was designed by 92 KISS-FM’s program director, Chris Shebel.
Soon the studio on West University Drive in Arlington Heights was moved to Chicago, and the associated radio antenna was dismantled after the transmitter — part of the trimulcast technology — was moved across Arlington Heights Road to its current location at a larger tower on Boeger Drive just south of Buffalo Grove High School.
Energy 92.7&5 became popular on air and on the Internet and gained a relatively devoted following in the Chicago area and worldwide via its webcast, even producing two consecutive CD-song collections, “Energy92.7&5 Dance Hits Volume(s) 1 & 2”. Considering their niche dance club format and signal limitations, Energy 92.7&5 was competitive in the ratings and in revenues. Energy’s program director, Chris Shebel, consulted the launch of the Energy format in Phoenix, Arizona on KNRJ as Energy 92.7 & 101.1.
On January 5, 2003, at midnight, Energy signed off with “The Launch” by DJ Jean serving as a bookend for the stations after going bankrupt in late 2002. The station became a Spanish radio format “Onda 92”, launched with “Suerte” by Shakira. Energy’s program director Chris Shebel and former Energy DJ Joe Vlazny-Smith (a.k.a. Joey V) moved West to launch the dance club music format in San Francisco on KBTB, which is now known as KREV 92.7 Rev FM.
Onda 92 did not survive long and signed of with “Suerte” by Shakira at midnight November 22, 2004.
On November 22, 2004 at 9:00 a.m., WDEK and WKIE began simulcasting with its new adult hits sister station WRZA as “Nine FM”. The first song on the Nine FM simulcast was “With or Without You” by U2. WKIF was switched to a full-time simulcast of CNN Headline News.
Sky Daniels, who was program director for the successful WLUP rock station, became the program director for Nine FM, and continued on Nine FM until 2005. Sky Daniels was replaced by Matt DuBiel. Nine FM’s format tightened a bit over time, to attract more casual listeners, eliminating many of the more obscure songs on the station’s playlist.
“NINE took seemingly disparate artists (on paper) from different genres and created ‘sets’ of music that worked. We still utilized the time-honored art of the ‘segue’. I have thousands of emails from people that FREAKED when they would hear a Kanye West song go into a funky Jeff Beck track and have a seamless transition. NINE was critically acclaimed– Billboard named it the Station of 2005, the local papers were extremely strong in their praise. NINE’s problem was two-fold–it spent the better part of a year only utilizing its Kankakee signal–which barely reached the southern suburbs of Chicago; and we did a ‘soft launch’ of the station–meaning we didn’t market until 9 months into the station being on-air. I viewed a topographical map of where NINE’s signal reached, and where 85% of Arbitron diaries fell–we didn’t reach that area. So that made it impossible for us to get ratings–which is the end-all and be-all of radio. Early on, I had one of the PDs of a major station in Chicago tell me “the station is remarkable in its creativity, but in Chicago’s metro it is all static. You are doomed.” I know its subjective, but a LOT of creative radio programmers have reached out to let me know how much they loved NINE and were inspired by it. Very gratifying.”
— Sky Daniels (interview by Andre Traversa)
On May 19, 2006, the dance format similar to Energy 92.7&5 returned to 92.7 MHz when Chris Chudzik of TKC Entertainment began leasing air time on Saturday nights from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM Sunday morning to a dance music show called Dance Factory FM. The dance music programming was hosted by Kyle Kelly (a former DJ from Energy 92.7&5). Dance Factory FM expanded to Friday nights 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM starting on August 12, 2006, hosted by Luis 2Live Lopez — also a DJ from the Energy 92.7&5.
On May 14, 2007, Nine FM and expanded Dance Factory to seven nights a week from 9:00 PM to 4:30 AM. The weekend shows carried a DJ mix style format, while the weekday shows carried a Dance Hits music format with live mixes several times nightly.
On October 20, 2008 Newsweb Corporation dropped the Nine FM programming on all three signals and began a simulcast of sister station WCPT from 5:00 a.m. until 9 p.m. Dance Factory still continued to air overnight, and gained an extra half hour — staying on to 5 AM. The last song on Nine FM was intended to be “Kiss This Thing Goodbye” by Del Amitri, but ended up being “Crush” by Jennifer Paige, likely an homage to the “WKIE” call letters’ 10 year run with “Crush” being one of the first hit songs on the station.
On October 27, 2008, the station changed its callsign from WKIE to WCPT-FM, to go with the Chicago’s Progressive Talk format.
On June 2, 2014, WCPT-FM changed their daytime format to Polish, branded as “Polski FM” and changed their call letters to WCPY.
The night format is progressive talk radio (WCPT) which runs Monday-Thursday from 7pm to 5am and Sunday 5am to 7pm