Although, I haven’t listened to B96 regularly in over a decade, it is still sad to see this once-mighty station fall so far. However, the station’s downfall has gone longer than that, especially when they started cutting back on dance music in the late 90s. I remember reading old Radio-Info threads of the state of B96 in the mid-2000s during their hip-hop period and that Kiss FM 103.5 finally caught them in the ratings. That said, even B96’s ratings back then were better than they are now.
A summary on how B96 got to this point:
No Longer Cutting Edge/Lack of Marketing - In the old days, especially the 90s, B96 was everywhere with the bumper stickers, billboards, music/radio trade magazines, etc. The music they played was incredible as there’s still nostalgia for dance-era B96. They were consistently in the top 5 most listened to Chicago radio stations throughout the 90s and early 2000s and nowadays they’re at 18th or 22nd. Nobody cares anymore. I’m shocked that Todd Cavanah & Erik Bradley, who were with station since “Party Radio” days are still running the station. Time for some new blood?
Alternatives to FM radio – Younger people that Top 40/CHR stations target are getting new music from other sources (YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, internet radio, etc)
Losing audience to 104.3 Jams – The arrival of sister station 104.3 Jams has hurt B96 with the upper demo of the 18-35 females. There’s a better chance of Entercom sacrificing 104.3 Jams to save B96 rather than B96 flipping to another format
Current state of CHR/Top 40 – the newer pop music just isn’t that good and both B96 & Kiss are stuck playing them.
Cutting back on the Street Mix – canceling Flipside at 5, moving the mixes back to midnight, the mixers only spinning top 40 remixes. The days of Bad Boy Bill, Julian Perez, Bobby D, and the rest of those guys are long gone.
Despite B96's problems, I’ll be shocked if B96 flips to any format. What’s out there that isn’t older-skewing, too niche, not already occupied by another station? I agree with Jeremy that Entercom won’t flip B96 to AC. Then again, WBBM-FM was a A/C station before they flipped to Top 40 in 1982, but A/C was much different back then than it is now. Alternative to compete with WKQX?
Instead of keeping a mainstream Top 40 format like Kiss, maybe B96 should go back as Rhythmic like they were between 1990 and 2012, though they started shifting back to mainstream in late 2008. B96 had their best ratings as Rhythmic rather than Mainstream. However, instead of hip hop, there should be a modernized spirit of the old Killer Bee/Party Radio days focusing on current dance-based hits & remixes.
Another idea to give up on current Top 40 and is flip to the dance-pop side of older Rhythmic, like what WYTZ95fm proposed in an older thread on what 103.4 Jams should had been) whereas Jams focuses on old school hip hop/R&B from that same period. But I doubt Entercom would want TWO Rhythmic old school stations. There's always The Beat Chicago online.
One scenario that more likely to happen if B96 should ever flip is that Entercom moves Jams to 96.3 and flips 104.3 to another format, such as becoming a simulcast of 670 the Score. An alternative is that they could move the FM simulcast of Newsradio 780 (in order to be more consistent with the call letters WBBM) and flip 105.9 to something else, again using a simulcast of 670 the Score to the FM dials.
Any other ideas?
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