Windy City Radio: Chicago’s Best 11 AM Radio Stations

We’ve got you covered if you want to learn about Chicago’s best 11 AM radio stations.

In this article, we’ll tell you about the different stations in the Windy City. We’ll also cover the type of programs each channel airs.

Top 11 AM Radio Stations in Chicago


Chicago riverboat on clear blue waters against a backdrop of the city
WBBM, founded in 1924, is one of Chicago’s leading AM news stations.

● Frequency: 780 kHz.

● Format: All-news radio

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1924

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 864,100

● Owner: Audacy

WBBM has been around for many years. The station has made a name for itself as the go-to channel for news.

The broadcast offers listeners a well-rounded look at current events. For instance, the news wheel will pop up at the top of every hour.

This segment covers subjects including traffic, weather, sports, and business. Besides that, some shows examine different aspects of living in Chicago.

You can hear invaluable business by tuning into the Noon Business Hour.

It’s a show that holds public affairs interviews and economic debates.

Finally, on the weekends, WBBM airs the CBS News Roundup. That goes over all the significant events of the week.


● Frequency: 670 kHz.

● Format: Sports

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1922

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 402,300

● Owner: Audacy

Tune into WSCR-AM if you’re a Chicago sports fan. This channel follows all the latest news on athletic events.

When it first launched, the station adopted a music format. It would air jazz and easy-listening tunes all day.

This didn’t bring in a vast audience base. So, WSCR shifted towards more sports content.

Today, the channel is the exclusive radio outlet for DePaul Blue Demons men’s basketball. It’ll update you on the scores of games and give you play-by-plays.

On top of that, WSCR has quite a few call-in segments. Listeners can share their opinions with the station over the phone.

Finally, the channel is home to The Dan Patrick Show, which provides sports commentary.


● Frequency: 720 kHz.

● Format: News/talk

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1922

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 339,500

● Owner: Nexstar Media Group

WGN is one of the oldest radio stations in Chicago. When it first aired, it held the call sign WDAP.

It wasn’t until 1924 that the station took on the mantle of the World’s Greatest Newspaper (WGN). As you can imagine, the channel mainly covers current events.

During the week, the broadcast features many hosts that cover various issues. Some of the most notable names include:

● Lisa Dent

● John Williams

● Rollye James

● Dave Plier

● Bob Sirott

Other than that, WGN carries a few nationally syndicated shows. An example is America at Night, a mix of interviews and pop culture reports.

The station offers listeners some sports coverage. In fact, it serves as the flagship station for the Chicago Blackhawks.


Chicago Bean against a clear daylight sky and Chicago skyscrapers
WMVP, owned by Good Karma Brands, is the flagship radio station for the Chicago Bears.

● Frequency: 1000 kHz.

● Format: Sports radio

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1926

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 232,000

● Owner: Good Karma Brands

WMVP has worn many hats during its operational years.

At first, the station used to air music content with a Top-40 format.

Later, the channel took a religious turn. This included broadcasting Christian music and a few sermons now and then.

Yet, this would only last a few years. In 1993, WMVP switched its format again to a talk show style. It broadcasted several shows with comedic undertones.

After that, the station converted to a sports format. Today, it’s the flagship of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

Besides that, WMVP broadcasts a few segments about game scores and sports commentary.


● Frequency: 890 kHz.

● Format: Talk radio

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1924

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 161,600

● Owner: Cumulus Media

The WLS call sign stands for the World’s Largest Store. This may seem odd for a talk radio station, but there’s a reason behind it.

It’s because the department store chain Sears founded the channel in 1924. WLS functioned as an additional retail outlet.

People could call in from anywhere in the city and mail order products.

Then, after several format changes, the station landed on a talk show style. It airs conservative shows like Red Eye Radio and America in the Morning.

These cover all sorts of subject matter, like lifestyle and entertainment.

In addition, the weekend lineup of WLS offers listeners an in-depth look at various aspects of life. That includes health, money, real estate, travel, and technology.


● Frequency: 1390 kHz.

● Format: Urban gospel

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1923

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 64,700

● Owner: iHeartMedia

The first time WGRB was on the air, the station used a news format. About a year later, this would change, and it adopted a music style.

This happened when Coyne Electrical School purchased the channel. At the time, WGRB would broadcast live piano performances by artists like Ray Kroc.

By the time the late 1970s came about, the station focused on disco music. That slowly developed into an urban contemporary format.

WGRB would air and promote the talents of people of color. This brought in a whole new audience and raised the station’s profile.

However, contemporary music faded away after a while. Instead, WGRB adopted an urban gospel format.

Now, it’s one of the city’s most popular praise and worship music stations.


Overhead view of Chicago by the water shot by day with a clear blue sky
WVON is an African-American talk station that once aired R&B.

● Frequency: 1690 kHz.

● Format: African-American-oriented talk

● Scope: Local

● Established: 2003

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 47,500

● Owner: iHeartMedia

The story of WVON began when the owners of Chess Records purchased the station. They immediately started broadcasting R&B music.

This boosted the channel’s popularity virtually overnight. Citizens from all over Chicago would listen and lose their worries in the calming tunes.

At first, WVON exclusively targeted African-American listeners. So, most of the artists featured on the station were of color.

Although to increase its audience base, WVON aired a few songs by white artists.

This started a conversation about race and inequality that is still going on today. That’s because the channel switched its format to African-American-oriented talk.

It discusses the issues that people of color face daily.


● Frequency: 1450 kHz.

● Format: Spanish variety

● Scope: Local

● Established: 2006

● Broadcast area: Chicago market

● Number of listeners: 41,900

● Owner: Midway Broadcasting

WRLL originally aired on 1690 kHz. Then, when WVON took over the frequency, it moved to 1450 kHz.

Initially, both channels aired the same content. They played songs that dated back to the mid-’50s to the late ’80s.

After a year, WRLL converted to a Spanish-language format called Radio Latino. It broadcasts a variety of shows.

For instance, the channel will play Spanish music daily. Other than that, some segments talk about politics and culture.

This allows the Latinx community to feel like they’re part of the conversation.

Besides that, some shows discuss money, health, entertainment, and even sports.


● Frequency: 950 kHz.

● Format: Catholic talk and teaching

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1922

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 24,200

● Owner: Relevant Radio

WNTD began broadcasting over 100 years ago. Although, back then, the station aired orchestral music and popular tunes.

As time went by, this changed, and WNTD diversified its playlist. It went on to add jazz and soul music to its lineup.

Soon, it became one of the top channels in the urban community. People from all over the city would listen to the hottest hits of the time.

After that, WNTD spent a short while as a sports station. Lastly, the station switched its format to a Catholic talk and teaching one.

The broadcast now features Christian music, sermons, radio dramas, and news.

10. WAUR

Chicago theater district at night with cars in the street and glowing lights
WAUR broadcasts all sorts of country tunes on AM.

● Frequency: 1550 kHz.

● Format: Country music

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1964

● Broadcast area: Kendall County

● Number of listeners: N/A

● Owner: Nelson Multimedia

Even though WAUR is one of the smaller AM radio channels, it still has a large fan base. That’s because the station plays country music all day long.

Listeners will hear the latest hits, along with some of the good old classics. This means that both young and older citizens can enjoy the broadcast.

Aside from that, WAUR also airs a few other segments. These include shows on local news, high school sports, and weekly fishing programs.

11. WCGO

● Frequency: 1590 kHz.

● Format: Brokered programming

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1946

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: N/A

● Owner: Pollack Broadcasting

WCGO spent many years as a talk station. Radio personalities like Milt Rosenberg hosted shows that covered plenty of topics.

For instance, they would discuss politics, psychology, religion, and foreign policy.

Yet, when Pollack Broadcasting acquired the channel, it changed the format. Instead of talk shows, the station shifted its focus to brokered programming. Producers will pay a fee to get their show on the air.

Wrapping Up

These are Chicago’s best 11 AM radio stations. When searching for news and current event updates, tune into WBBM or WGN.

Both these channels will give you in-depth information on public affairs. WSCR and WMVP are the way to go when searching for sports coverage. Finally, if you want Spanish content, tune into WRLL.

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