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Chicago Public Radio

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Title: Chicago Public Radio  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: CPR (disambiguation), Chicago, Richard M. Daley, Ira Glass, Hemant Lakhani, Public Radio International, David Sedaris, Lists of This American Life episodes, Charles Madigan, E. Gordon Gee
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Chicago Public Radio

City of license Chicago, Illinois
Branding WBEZ 91.5
Frequency 91.5 MHz
Translator(s) 91.3 W217BM Chicago, Illinois (currently silent; likely to move to a new frequency)
Repeaters 90.7 WBEQ Morris, Illinois
First air date 1943 (1943)
Format Public Radio, NPR
Audience share 1.9 Decrease (July 2010, [1])
ERP 5,700 watts
HAAT 425.1 meters (1,395 ft)
Class B NCE
Facility ID 66649
Transmitter coordinates

41°53′56.1″N 87°37′23.2″W / 41.898917°N 87.623111°W / 41.898917; -87.623111Coordinates: 41°53′56.1″N 87°37′23.2″W / 41.898917°N 87.623111°W / 41.898917; -87.623111 (NAD83)

Former callsigns WBEZ-FM (1983–1988)
Affiliations NPR; Public Radio International; Public Radio Exchange; American Public Media; BBC World Service
Owner Chicago Public Media
Sister stations WBEW
Webcast Flash-based player

WBEZ is a noncommercial, public radio station broadcasting from Chicago, Illinois. Financed primarily by listener contributions, the station is affiliated with both National Public Radio and Public Radio International; it also broadcasts content from American Public Media. The station and its parent organization were known as Chicago Public Radio from 2004 to 2010; the parent company is now known as Chicago Public Media. Some of the organization's output is branded as WBEZ and some as Chicago Public Media.

Stations and call signs

WBEZ operates full-power satellite WBEQ in Morris, Illinois (90.7 FM). The station also formerly operated a low-power translator in Elgin, Illinois (W217BM at 91.3); however, the translator has gone silent and moved to Chicago, where it now has an application filed with the FCC to move to 91.1.

Listeners can also receive the broadcast online with streaming audio, MP3 download or by podcast. As of 2006, the station draws an estimated 600,000 listeners each week.

CPM also operates a web site and radio station named which broadcasts on radio stations WRTE 90.5 FM in Chicago and WBEW (89.5 FM) in Chesterton, Indiana. is also heard on the HD2 channel of WBEZ.

CPR/CPM also managed Loyola University of Chicago's WLUW 88.7 FM, heard on the North Side of Chicago and adjacent suburbs for a few years in the early 21st century. Although WLUW receives equipment and legal assistance from CPM, it is now otherwise financially independent.


WBEZ first went on the air in 1943. For most of its early years, the station broadcast only instructional programs, operating on weekdays on which Chicago Public Schools were in session. In 1972, WBEZ joined National Public Radio and began general programming outside of school hours, not completely dropping instructional programs until the early 1980s. Initially, most programming outside of the instructional programs and NPR programs was jazz music. The Board of Education sold the station to the current license holders, the not-for-profit WBEZ Alliance, Inc., in 1990.[2] The corporate name was changed in 2010 to Chicago Public Media, Inc. The general manager since 1995 is Torey Malatia.


Programming on WBEZ includes the usual world music, quiz shows, and international and local news on a regular basis. It offers such staples as All Things Considered, Car Talk, Marketplace, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, PRI's The World and A Prairie Home Companion.

Currently, WBEZ is best known nationally as the producers of This American Life through Public Radio International, and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! through NPR. This American Life began in 1995 as the local show Your Radio Playhouse; it was renamed in March 1996 and has been national since June 1996.

Generally, news and talk programming is heard during the day and overnight, with arts and culture programming on the weekends.

In addition, Chicago Public Radio founded Third Coast International Audio Festival, a showcase for independent radio producers, and the producer of the weekly program Re:sound.[3]

Legendary jazz disc jockey Dick Buckley had a time slot Sunday afternoons until mid-2008.

WBEZ is also the flagship station of WDCB.

Its morning magazine program Eight Forty-Eight was initially named after the postal address of the station, 848 East Grand Avenue, though the name is sometimes misinterpreted as referring to its air time (originally 9:30am, currently 8:50am to 10:00 am). The show is now called The Morning Shift with Tony Sarabia.

The other local program heard Monday-through-Friday is Worldview, an international news and analysis program that began in 1985 as Midday with Sondra Gair. After Gair's death in 1995, her producer Jerome McDonnell took over the program and has hosted since. It was heard nationally on Sirius Satellite Radio's now-defunct PRI channel from Sirius' inception until 2006. Starting March 2007, Worldview is aired on the satellite XMPR channel nightly.

In the early part of 2012, a new two-hour local program, The Afternoon Shift began airing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The program is a "a live talk show featuring in-depth interviews and conversations with [mostly local] newsmakers, artists, writers, and innovators".[4] Original host Steve Edwards left the station after a few months,[5][6] and long time Chicago Tribune journalist Rick Kogan temporarily replaced him.[7][8] As of 2013 and the conclusion of Kogan's interim stint, WBEZ introduced Niala Booodu as the show's permanent on-air host.

The local arts program, Hello, Beautiful!, formerly aired Sunday mornings, but has now been canceled. The three hours of local talk shows as of 2012 cover local arts daily with interviews and live musical performances.

The rock music talk show Sound Opinions, which moved from WXRT in 2005, is distributed nationally by American Public Media and airs on Friday evenings at 8:00 pm, following This American Life and again on Saturdays at 11:00 am. On Saturdays, it follows Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and This American Life since October 2012 when original Car Talk programs ceased airing. The "radio comic strip" 11 Central Avenue airs on Friday mornings during Morning Edition and is distributed nationally through the Public Radio Exchange.

Other program changes happened in October 2012. Fresh Air moved back to its 11:00 am time weekdays earlier in the year; the weekend highlights show was dropped in the October schedule changes. Car Talk reruns are aired Sunday afternoon following the news. The 1:00 pm slot Mondays to Thursdays is again Here and Now with Robin Young. Smiley and West from PRI was quietly dropped from the Sunday afternoon line-up.[9]

CPR is a founding member of the Public Radio Exchange, a programming cooperative for public radio stations and independent producers.

News and news discussion/documentary programs aired weekdays or weekends before midnight include Latino USA from NPR; Canadian CBC Radio shows Q, Ideas, and Under the Influence with Terry O'Reilly; and Radio Netherlands: The Shape We're In.[10]

Other programs air weekly, including Snap Judgement with Glynn Washington, a story-telling show from PRX and NPR.[11]

Programming changes

As of January 8, 2007, overnight music programming was dropped. The current overnight schedule is made up of programming from the BBC World Service between 0:00 and 5:00 on weekday mornings (1:30—6:00 on Saturdays and 1:00—5:30 on Sundays).

The music program remaining on the schedule is the world music program Radio M (formerly Passport) on Friday nights. All other music hosts are being reassigned to other positions at the station, according to a March 2006 article in the Chicago Reader.

The replacement of music programming, which management said is caused by the prevalence and popularity of other music delivery systems, has caused controversy amongst many music buffs. Protest web sites were established; none remain active at this time.

A Time Out Chicago article in August 2006 described the format as hosts in two-hour shifts programming what fits their fancy, be it interviews, pre-produced pieces, music or commentary. The general on-air tone of the hosts is intended to be more informal and personable than that of the usual public radio host, which is often perceived to be detached and stodgy. In line with this, will not be marketed as a public radio station, will not broadcast any nationally-produced public radio programs and will not use on-air pledge drives as a funding source. Listener-supplied material will be culled from material uploaded to the station web site and recorded in neighborhood satellite studios and mobile recording stations at libraries, stores and events, similar to the "StoryBooths" of David Isay's StoryCorps project. Material will be posted on the web site for public listening and comment before broadcast.

A website was initially established at website is now in operation and streaming daily programs.

Station management announced a five-year plan for Chicago-oriented programs to cover all seven hours between the national news programs.[12] What this means for its own international news program Worldview at noon, and the popular Fresh Air is yet to be seen.


External links

  • WBEZ 91.5 — official website
  • Query the FCC's FM station database for WBEZ
  • Radio-Locator information on WBEZ
  • Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WBEZ
  • Third Coast International Audio Festival
  • "The Business: All Talk,", Chicago Reader, April 14, 2006, Section 2, pg. 2
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