Listen LIVE Right Now!
Between 1963 and 1965, WLS was the only Top 40 station in Chicago. This situation was unusual, as most major cities had two or even three stations featuring pop music. Consequently, WLS had become somewhat complacent as it had no real competitors. This all changed in 1965, when WCFL became a Top 40 music station, competing with WLS. The station also moved from the American Furniture Mart where it had been since 1931 to the then new Marina City where it remained for the next 20 years. While the station itself was on the 16th floor of the Commercial Building (today the Hotel Chicago Downtown) WCFL also had a "VIP Room" on the fifth floor where the "WCFL VIPs" (DJs) hosted various events such as record parties and autograph sessions for listeners who were members of the WCFL VIP Club. One of the station's first promotions was the "Bold" campaign-describing itself as a bold, new way of presenting today's music and its listeners (who wore "I'm Bold!" buttons) as bold enough to want a change.
General Manager Ken Draper ran the station from 1965-1968 and brought many of the original staffers with him from the big Cleveland rock station (KYW/WKYC) he had run before. These included not only DJs but also chief engineer Mike King (later, Jim Loupas, and members of the crack newsroom team, which included the unstoppable Jeff Kamen. WCFL gained fame in 1966 when Kamen followed Chicago Civil Rights leader and comedy star Dick Gregory to Mississippi and wound up getting beaten by the KKK while reporting on a voter registration protest. The network TV film of the attack was seen by millions. A still picture ending up on newspapers' front pages. Prior to Draper's establishment of an eight-person news department, news was gathered by taking the copy from the station's news wires and reading it on the air.
In their Top 40 years, some famous disc jockeys on WCFL included Jim Runyon (1931-1973), Joel Sebastian (1932-1986), Dick Williamson, (who was already with WCFL at the time of the format change, Jim Stagg (1935-2007), Ron Britain, ("America's First Psychedelic Disk Johnny", who did a second stint at the station in 1978, the legendary Dick Biondi, (still on the air in Chicago-2010) whose Mutual Radio syndicated Dick Biondi's Young America show was heard here 3 years before his actual arrival, Barney Pip (1936-1994), Ron Riley, Sid McCoy and Yvonne Daniels (1991) with late night jazz during the earliest days of the change to Top 40. In late 1966, WKYC popular afternoon DJ Jerry Ghan (now Jerry G. Bishop)(1936-2013) also decided to follow Draper to WCFL for AM drive. Later, WIND's former long-time morning man Howard Miller (1994), who was a decided departure from the youthful staff, came to helm 'CFL's 6-9AM spot in 1968.He was replaced before long by Clark Weber, long-time WLS morning man.
WCFL's Rock & Roll Legacy