Sunday, July 10, 2005

Radio Review: Chicago's New 104.3

I wanted to not like "Jack FM" the station that has taken the place of Chicago's beloved Oldies 104.3 WJMK.

For one, I grew up on Oldies 104.3, listening to "Breakfast with the Beatles" during the Sunday morning car ride to Sunday School and the Dick Biondi evening show on weeknights. After 98.7, Chicago's classical music station, Oldies 104.3 played the oldest collection of songs on FM radio (admittedly 98.7's music is a wee bit older). Now the only station where any "golden oldies" can be found on Chicago radio is 97.1 The Drive, but that station focuses more on classic rock than anything else.

Furthermore, the slogan of Jack FM is smug and, well kind of autocratic: "Playing what we want." Listening to Jack FM is like listening to an iPod on shuffle--not your iPod though, Jack's.

I must say though, whoever Jack is, he has a great collection and a nice variety. He listens to everything from Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" to Billy Idol's "Eyes without a Face" to the Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like an Eagle." Speaking of Marvin Gaye, today I heard a medley of "Mercy Me" and "I Want You," (sung by someone else) and then Black Box's "Everybody, Everybody" (a catchy, early-1990s sounding dance song that I hadn't heard in ages). Nearly every time I flip to Jack FM (why is it called that, by the way?), I hear something I like. Plus, other then the annoying voice that brags that there is "no talk," there really is no talk.

So I give Jack FM high marks in a world where good radio stations are few and far between, but I wish it hadn't replaced another one of those stations. Plus the station is not perfect. Sometimes the iPod shuffle lands on a song that is better skipped, that song still on the iPod for no better reason than that Jack hasn't gotten around to deleting it. Case in point: as I write this, Alanis Morisette's "Hand in My Pocket" is playing.


Al said...

I grew up outside of Chicago. I remember listening to WLS on a tiny am radio my Dad gave me. Is WLS still around?

Jack has a brother out here in the SF/Oakland bay area named Max. The exact same format and lame slogan. Wonder how many more clearchannel 'brothers' are out there in other cities?

Elaine said...

Hi Al,
I believe WLS is still around, but it looks like they broadcast the likes of Sean Hannity, so it's probably changed since your dad was listening to it. Yeah, I looked up Jack and turns out it's all over the place. Oldies 104.3 on the other hand was a unique Chicago institution.