WLUP-FM: Wikis


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Loop Logo
City of license Chicago, Illinois
Broadcast area Chicagoland
Branding The Loop
Slogan Chicago's Rock Station
Frequency 97.9 FM (MHz) (also on HD Radio)
97.9 HD-2 for Loop Loud!
Format Rock
ERP 4,000 watts
HAAT 425 meters
Class B
Facility ID 73233
Callsign meaning W LUP--play on the word LOOP, as in The Loop, Chicago's downtown district and the station branding
Owner Emmis Communications
Sister stations WKQX
Webcast Listen Live
Website WLUP website

WLUP-FM (97.9 "The Loop") is a mainstream rock FM radio station serving the Chicago metropolitan area. It is owned by Emmis Communications. WLUP transmits its signal from an antenna located the top of the Willis Tower in Downtown Chicago at a height of 1,390 feet with an effective radiated power of 4,000 watts. WLUP can be heard as far away as Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is 90 miles from Chicago.


History of 97.9

Frequency use prior to WLUP

WLUP's first call letters in the 1950s were WEHS, which was originally owned by Evanston Township High School in the 1920s. Richard Hoffman, owner of WHFC, in the early 1930s bought out two radio stations which shared the 1420 kHz frequency of his station: WEHS and WKBI. He revived the WEHS call letters in the late 1940s for a new FM station. WEHS broadcast background music for National Tea Grocery stores in the Chicago area. When the contract with National ran out in the mid-1950s, WEHS simulcast WHFC-AM's foreign language and black programing for six hours a day, the minium broadcast time to keep the license. When the Chess Brothers purchased WHFC-AM and changed its call letters to WVON (We're the Voice of the Negroes), they changed the WEHS call letters to WHFC(FM). The station now simulcast WVON 24 hours a day. In the mid 1960s, the station began airing separate programming as WSDM (We're Smack Dab in the Middle of the FM dial). The format featured all female announcers (Yvonne Daniels and Cody Sweet among others) playing light jazz and instrumental music. In the 1970s WSDM began to mix album rock music with its light jazz. Although WVON was sold to the Potter Palmer family in the late 1960s, the Chess family held on to WSDM, which was being run by one of Chess' sons.

Owned by the Chess family of Chess, Checker and Cadet Records fame, through their company, L & P Broadcasting. "L" stood for Leonard Chess, who primarily ran the record labels and recording studio, while brother Phil Chess ("P") was president of the radio company. Son Terry Chess was General Manager of WSDM through much of the early and mid-70's. The WSDM call letters acronym stood for "Smack Dab in the Middle", "the middle" meaning the exact middle of the FM radio dial. The radio station positioned itself as "jazzed up rock" and the "station with the girls" — a reference to the all-female air talent. Its original program director was Burt Burdeen. Among the disc jockeys were Connie Szerszen, Cindy Morgan (who later left radio, went to Los Angeles and became an actress, her career including roles as Chevy Chase's girlfriend in "Caddyshack", and a lead role in the sci-fi film, "Tron"), Danae Alexander, Linda Ellerbee, Yvonne Daniels, Dr. Cody Sweet, Kitty Loewy, Susan Payne, Janice Gears and Glorie June. There were guys on "the station with the girls", too. Announcers such as David Witz (cousin of former WCFL General Manager Lew Witz) and Don Davis (later an air talent on WDAI/Chicago and then a Program Director for DC-101 in Washington, DC and WCKG-FM in Chicago) appeared on WSDM in the mid-70s. Davis made the transition from WSDM to the WLUP airstaff when the format changed in 1977.


The call letters changed to WLUP in March 1977. The station called itself "The Loop" which is what the main business district in Chicago is nicknamed. WLUP programmed a low-key female-friendly AOR format (similar to today's 97.1 The Drive). Jay Blackburn was Program Director and Tom O'Toole served as the stations first morning host and was the first Loop DJ to sign on the air. The original Loop air staff included O'Toole in mornings, Captain Billy Martin in middays, Les Tracy in afternoon drive, Greg Budell evenings, and Don Davis overnight.

Congressman Cecil Heftel (from Hawaii) purchased the radio station in early 1979, kept the call letters and "Loop" identifier. Lee Abrams was hired as consultant. The rock format was kept in place, but emphasis was put on harder-edged rock. Steve Dahl, who had been unemployed since WDAI (94.7) went to a disco format in December 1978, becoming the basis for one of the most infamous promotions in sports history, Disco Demolition Night, was hired for mornings in March 1979. Overnight disc jockey Matthew "Mondo" Meier was teamed with Dahl to do news. He started using his real first name "Garry." Garry became Steve's full-time sidekick when Buzz Kilman was hired as the newsman in 1980. Chuck Swirsky provided sports reports. Steve and Garry were fired in 1981 for "assaulting community standards". A series of morning men including Matt Bisbee, Mark McEwen (who later gained national fame as a CBS network TV weatherman), and the team of R.J. Harris and Pat Still tried their hand until Jonathan Brandmeier was hired in April 1983. Kilman remained as newsman and Bruce Wolf replaced Swirsky when he went to WGN in 1981. Steve and Garry returned in 1986 to host afternoons.

In 1985 Heftel Broadcasting bought AM 1000 WCFL, which was once a powerful CHR station but now a Christian music and teaching station. In April 1987 that station became WLUP "The Loop" as well as making the FM station WLUP FM. The religious format was dropped from 1000 WLUP and the station simulcast WLUP FM overnights. During the day though WLUP 1000 ran a full service rock format while focusing on talk. By 1990 the AM station would evolve to mostly talk with a few rock songs mixed in an hour.

WLUP FM also began mixing more talk into the format by simulcasting the AM station and evolved to a Talk/Comedy format by 1993. Shortly after, the AM station became a sports station. WLUP FM became WLUP again and evolved to a talk format with a few rock songs mixed in per day.

WLUP (97.9 FM) in Chicago was one of the first stations to have the "FM talk", comedy talk format in the early 1990s. Some of the shows were Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, Danny Bonaduce, Liz Wilde, Kevin Matthews, Jonathon Brandmeier, with News man Blues man Buzz Killman, Chicago Ed Schwartz and Seka.

By the early 1990s, Heftel had acquired a lot of Spanish radio stations. Its English speaking stations were sold off one by one, and WLUP FM was sold to Evergreen as a result. Evergreen kept the talk/comedy/rock format. WLUP switched to a modern rock/Hot AC format late in 1996. In 1997 Evergreen and Chancellor merged. Evergreen opted to sell WLUP to Bonneville in July which already had a modern rock/Hot AC outlet, and they then switched WLUP to a classic rock format. Brandmeier left WLUP and Kilman became the morning man for a brief period before he rejoined Johnny B. at WCKG. In June 1998 WLUP adopted the slogan, "Classic rock that really rocks".

When Emmis took over the station, WLUP has slowly evolved into a mainstream rock format, while continuing to lean on older rock with a harder edge. This prompted for former sister WDRV to acquire the classic rock format and for rival WZZN to switch from active rock to oldies in 2005.

In 2004, Emmis Communications traded three of their stations in Phoenix to Bonneville for WLUP-FM and $70 million. One year later, Emmis brought back Jonathon Brandmeier to do mornings on The Loop again.

On January 15, 2007, Chicago's NBC owned and operated station, WMAQ-TV channel 5, began a new weekday morning show called ''Barely Today which airs from 4:30-5 a.m. The new morning show is simulcasted on WLUP-FM and is hosted by Bruce Wolf, who was the former weekday morning traffic/sports anchor for WMAQ.[1][2]

On 2008-09-08, Emmis announced a programming partnership with WorldBand Media and will be using WLUP's HD-3 signal to produce programming for the South Asian communities in 3 major cities including Chicago. [3]


In 2009, Jonathan Brandmeier exited WLUP 97.9 The Loop. Byrd, previously on middays, moved into morning drive and weekender Pat Capone took over Byrd's midday time slot[4]. Pete McMurray also took over the 7pm to 12am shift[5].

Weekend and sub DJs include Tom O'Toole (the first WLUP DJ to sign on), Mike Noonan, Pat Capone, Alan Daley, and Don Nelson.

Some of the theme shows include:

  • Think Pink [Pink Floyd music show Monday nights at 10pm]
  • Get The Led Out [a three-song set of Led Zeppelin songs weeknights at 8pm]
  • Saturday Night Rock of the '80s [an all-'80s rock music show from 7-9pm]
  • High Voltage [heavy metal cuts Wednesday nights at 10pm]
  • LOOP On-Stage [a full hour of live rock music at 10pm on Friday nights]

"Saturday Night Rock of the '80s" was originated by Mark Zander but is currently hosted by Pat Capone.

Advertising and Promotion

In the early 1990s, WLUP aired a popular television commercial featuring a fat man dubbed "Joey Bag O' Donuts" dancing to Aerosmith's "Walk This Way".[6] In the time span since the original commercial was aired, the footage of the dancing fat man in the commercial has been used by numerous other radio stations across the country. The original WLUP commercial was re-created in the mid-late 2000s and briefly featured Kelly the Loop Rock Girl.

On April 25, 2008, The Loop crowned its first ever Rock Girl Roadie[7] winner, Mike Gentile, a paramedic, from Westchester, IL[8], at the Loop Rock Girl Finals at Austin's Saloon in Libertyville.[9] Gentile got to shadow the station's 2008 spokesmodel, Kelly, also known as The Loop Rock Girl, [10] for an entire year as she went onstage for band introductions, backstage to meet musicians, or in the front row of the audience to watch the show. Gentile kept a detailed blog[11] for The Loop's Web site[12] about all of his experiences. Gentile gained local celebrity status when he hosted a Hometown Tour pilot with 97.9 "The Loop's" Mid-day radio personality Erin Carman [13] and with a highly viewed video featuring the 2008 Loop Rock Girl, Kelly, getting guitar lessons from Mike. In the video, Kelly hinted that there would be a series of videos showing her progression.[14]


  1. ^ Eggerton, John. "New Morning Show for NBC's Chicago WMAQ." Broadcasting & Cable. December 21, 2006. Retrieved on October 12, 2007.
  2. ^ Staff Writer. "NBC5 To Air 'Barely Today' At 4:30 A.M.." WMAQ-TV. December 21, 2006. Retrieved on October 12, 2007.
  3. ^ PR Newswire (2008-09-09). "Emmis and WorldBand Media Partner to Launch First-of-Its-Kind Digital Radio Network". Press release. http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/09-09-2008/0004881712&EDATE=. Retrieved 2008-09-13. "Top 3 U.S. markets to offer programming in HD for the South Asian ethnic community"  
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ "Joey Bag O Donuts." YouTube. September 27, 2006. Retrieved on October 12, 2007.
  7. ^ Rock Girl Roadie Webpage,
  8. ^ Roadie Bio
  9. ^ Austin's Saloon events log
  10. ^ Loop Rock Girl Webpage
  11. ^ Rock Girl Roadie's Official Blog
  12. ^ Official Loop Webpage
  13. ^ Hometown Tours
  14. ^ Roadie's Guitar Lessons

External links

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