Mainstream Top 40

WYTZ (Z95) – Chicago – 9/10/86 – Peter B

In 1986, 94.7 WLS-FM in Chicago changed its call letters to WYTZ and began referring to itself as “Z95”. This new approach, along with a long list of personnel changes, made the station became a serious competitor to the market’s heritage CHR, WBBM-FM (B96).

KCDD (Power 103) – Abilene, TX – 6/28/97

According to Wikipedia, KCDD has been known as Power 103 since 1987, making it one of the longest-running CHR stations in the United States. This is a sample of the station about ten years into its existence.  

WLKT (104.5 the Cat) – Lexington, KY – 6/8 & 6/10/96 – Shane Collins

“We’re in the tune in your head…Lexington’s new 104.5 the Kat.” In the early to mid 90’s, as the CHR format disappeared across the U.S., the idea of a single station offering multiple genres of music had become foreign in many areas. This is presumably why WLKT heavily employed the slogan “Music for All People” on this aircheck (which I believe was recorded not long after the sign-on) — and you will hear, they did a great job of living up to that promise. Note that this aircheck consists of several segments recorded on two separate days (not a single continous recording), so certain songs are heard twice.

KSLZ (Z107.7) – St. Louis – 5/29/98 – Rich Stevens, Danny Wright

Jacor (now Clear Channel) debuted KSLZ in October 1997 and filled a huge hole in the St. Louis market for a true CHR/Top 40 station.  This is a sample of the station from the following May during Saturday night mixshow programming.

WZZP (Fun 107) – Atlantic City, NJ – 5/15/98

The last Class B signal to debut in the Atlantic City market began testing in late February 1998. 107.3 WZZP was owned at the time by Spring Communications with a tower at the top of the Trump Taj Mahal casino. As the station got closer to debuting for good, the testing turned more towards stunting. There was a day of looping Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping”, followed by Classic Rock billed as “ZZ 107” and later a turn towards CHR as “ZZ 107 – The Zipper”. Finally, or so we thought at the time, on April 25 the station began billing itself as “Fun 107” using the same branding as its sister station WFHN in New Bedford, MA. This stunt was much more prolonged than the rest, as many were under the impression that this would be the final for...

WAQQ (95.1 The Edge) – Charlotte, NC – April 1994

WAQQ is among the more interesting radio stations to be featured on FMairchecks.com. The “Edge” name instantly brings to mind “Alternative”. But while the station certainly played a lot of Modern Rock selections, it was still very much a CHR that even played recurrents from the likes of C&C Music Factory and Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch. Also included is a rather amusing, lengthy sweeper (voiced by Mark Driscoll) listing many (if not all) areas in the market capable of receiving the station. This aircheck was recorded presumably at the beginning of the “Edge” area. According to Wikipedia, the call letters changed to WEDJ at some point — they were apparently still WAQQ at the time of this recording. Please be aware that while this montage is...

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.

WBLI (106.1 ‘BLI) – Long Island, NY – 2/7/98 – Doc Medek

WBLI was an upbeat, fun-sounding CHR outlet, offering Long Island a locally focused alternative to similarly formatted stations from New York City.  

WVRT (Variety 97.7) – Williamsport, PA – 1/20/99 – Joe Mama

“Variety 97.7, WVRT” was (and may still be) one of the best small-market CHRs I’ve ever heard.

KZZP (104.7 ZZP) – Phoenix – 1999 – Karen Rite, Marino, Chris Cruze, Ron and Don

During the 80’s, KZZP 104.7 FM in Phoenix was one of the most successful Mainstream CHR stations in the country. According to the station’s Wikipedia page, it “produced a long list of future stars in the radio business”, and offered a music mix that was adventurous for a Top 40 station. However, a combination of changes in personalities, management, and overall pop music tastes led to the station’s downfall (in April 1991). Five years later, owner Nationwide Communications brought KZZP back to the airwaves with a Modern AC format, making an attempt to appeal to the listeners who grew up with the station as a CHR. The station performed well, ranking #1 in key demos by 1998. However, by that point, Jacor (now Clear Channel) had taken ownership of KZZP along with KGLQ (96.9). On Labor Day Wee...

WIOQ (Q102) – Philadelphia – 11/19/98 – Terry Young

This is a sample of Philadelphia’s longtime CHR, hosted by one of my favorite personalities of all time — Terry “Motormouth” Young (who was most famous in the market for his time at Hot Hits! 98 WCAU in the early 1980’s.) In early 1998, after several years with a pronounced Rhythmic lean, Q102 moved in a more Mainstream direction. However, as heard on this aircheck, the station still had quite a few few dance selections (mostly recurrents/classics) in rotation at this time.  

WPST (97.5) – Trenton, NJ – November 1991 – Andy West

At the start of the 90’s, as mainstream pop music became much more fragmented, many formerly “Mainstream” CHRs chose to lean towards either Adult Contemporary or Rhythmic/Dance music. WPST, along with some of its other neighbors in the Philadelphia region like “Y102” WRFY Reading and WSTW Wilmington went in a Rock 40 direction. When was the last time a station ran an all-request show at 3am?

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