Dance Top 40

KNHC (C89.5) – Seattle – 9/17/97

For more than 40 years, KNHC – owned by Seattle Public Schools and operated out of Nathan Hale High School – has been one of the best examples of non-commercial, student-run radio done right. For the majority of that time, it has focused on dance music, making it the longest-running (and one of the very few) stations of that format in the United States. This is a sample of the station from September 1997, when it was transitioning from “C89” to “C89.5”.    

WCBR (Cyber Radio 92-7) – Arlington Heights/Chicago, IL – 6/13 & 6/14/97 – Tony Ortega, Magic Juan (Part 1 of 2)

“Broadcasting from Chicago to the world…” Cyber Radio 92-7 was a brokered Dance CHR format that aired on weekends from approximately May to September 1997 on the suburban WCBR signal. According to this message board posting, it was the first radio station in the Chicago area to broadcast on the Internet. Cyber Radio debuted around the same time that longtime heritage Rhythmic CHR WBBM 96.3 FM “B96” shifted its focus from Dance music to a more traditional Rhythmic CHR approach, yet continued to position itself as “Chicago’s Dance Beat”. Cyber Radio poked fun at its competitor, featuring liners such as “This is a dance beat…(insert dance song)…this is not (insert R&B song)” and “We’ve Got the Beat”. Also from the aforementioned message board posting, legal issues took Cyber Radio off 92....

KKFR (Power 92) – Phoenix – 5/5/95 – Carey Edwards

Recorded on Cinco de Mayo 1995 – this is a sample of the only CHR serving the Valley of the Sun in the early to mid-90’s. In late 1993, despite enjoying great success as a Rhythmic CHR, Power 92 flipped to Modern Rock-heavy Mainstream CHR.  Ratings declined, and the station began to move back towards Rhythmic CHR by the Fall of 1994.  When this aircheck was recorded, the station used a Dance-heavy approach; the sound evolved to one more based on R&B (but remained Dance-friendly) by the Fall of 1995, which led to the station achieving an all-time high 7.0 Arbitron share (12+). Featuring entertaining sweepers voiced by Marc Driscoll, Power 92 was just a fun station to listen in this era.  Especially now, I appreciate that they always had live legal IDs at this time.  Also, I&...

KKFR (Power 92) – Phoenix – April 1995 – Brian Simpson

This aircheck is a flashback to KKFR’s days as a 100,000 watt powerhouse originating from South Mountain in Phoenix.   Following an ill-fated attempt at a Modern Rock oriented Mainstream CHR format during the first half of 1994, Power 92 began making a gradual transition back to Rhythmic CHR.  By the Spring of 1995, as demonstrated on this montage, Dance and R&B-oriented titles dominated the playlist.

WBBM-FM (B96) – Chicago – 3/16/97 – Julian Perez, Tim Schommer, Candi

During the 1990’s, Chicago’s B96 was one of the most unique Rhythmic CHRs in the U.S. This is a montage of the broad-based, personality-heavy “Street Flava” program.  

WZBZ (B105.5, The Buzz) – Atlantic City, NJ – 3/5/99

In the Spring of 1998, 107.3 WZZP teased Southern New Jersey with a Rhythmic CHR format. With no promotion or publicity, this brand new signal garnered a 2 share (12+) in its first ratings book. Seeing the hole for something between Urban AC WTTH and Adult leaning CHR WAYV, Margate Communications rolled the dice with hopes of being different. Pulling the plug on recently acquired satellite Modern Rocker WDOX, Margate moved the southern half of the Urban AC “Touch” simulcast from 105.5 to WDOX’s 93.1 slot. Rimshotting greater Atlantic City area from Cape May Court House, WBNJ (which quickly became WZBZ) debuted with a Dance CHR format designed to target WAYV, while still protecting WTTH. Within a year, WZBZ moved to 99.3 in Pleasantville, while retaining the 105.5 simulcast as WGBZ, giving ...

KHTO (Hot 106.7) – Springfield, MO – 2/15/97

An uptempo, dance-friendly CHR is not necessarily what one would expect to find in a small Midwestern market, but that’s exactly what Hot 106.7 was at this time.

WFMF (102.5) – Baton Rouge, LA – 12/26/89 – Hollywood

“102.5 WFMF” is one of the more heritage CHR/Top 40 stations in the United States – although, according to Wikipedia, it has strayed away from its format and especially its name multiple times over the years. Like many CHR outlets in that era, WFMF took a high-energy, dance-leaning approach. NOTE: The logo shown above is not necessarily the one used at the time this aircheck was recorded; it is likely from an earlier era.

KXMG (Mega 93.3) – Austin – November 2001

Mega 93.3 was a great-sounding but short-lived Dance CHR, serving the Austin market from 2001 to 8/15/03, when it flipped to Urban as “Hot 93.3″. The station’s spirit lives on via the HD2 signal of KBPA 103.5 FM as “Mega 103.5 HD2“.

KKFR (Power 92) – Phoenix – Nov 22/23, 1995 – Roxanne Steele

“Today’s Hottest Music is on Power 92”.  This aircheck, recorded on the night before Thanksgiving 1995, represents the sound of KKFR (92.3) Glendale/Phoenix that led the station to an all-time high 7.0 Arbitron share (12+).  At this time, Power 92 offered superb all-around music, air talent, and production values.  Hosted by Roxanne Steele (who later spent over a decade at Chicago’s B96).

WQHT (Hot 97) – New York – 9/17/91 – Jeff Thomas, Fast Freddie Colon

This is a montage of New York’s Hot 97 from its days as a high-energy Dance CHR. The station debuted with the same format as Hot 103.5 five years earlier, moved to 97.1 in 1988, and began evolving into a hip-hop-oriented station in early 1993.

Kiss 100 – London – 7/21/97

This is a sample of London’s long-running Rhythmic CHR. More information about the history of the “Kiss” franchise can be found here.

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