Ultimate Guide to Chicago’s Best 11 Radio Stations for Music

Are you after Chicago’s best 11 radio stations for music? Well then, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll go over the most popular broadcasts in the area.

We’ll also cover a little of their history and the type of music they transmit.

Top 11 Radio Stations for Music in Chicago

Chicago has many radio stations that specialize in music. Some focus on certain genres, while others offer an eclectic style.

This means you should be able to find a broadcast that plays your favorite songs. Although there are plenty of options, finding the best station can take a while.

That’s what inspired us to put together this list of all the music channels in Chicago.

We’ll also list what type of music you can expect to hear when you tune into each station.


Back shot of a man in Chicago wearing headphones and crossing the street
WLIT plays soft adult contemporary tunes to an audience of 1.4 million people.

● Frequency: 93.9 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Soft adult contemporary

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1958

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 1,446,300

● Owner: iHeartMedia

WLIT is one of the most popular radio stations in Chicago. That’s probably because the channel broadcasts easy-listening music.

This allows the audience to relax and sway with the tunes.

Therefore, it’s the perfect radio station to play when you’re stuck in traffic.

The soft music will make forgetting about the stress of the road a piece of cake.

On top of that, you’ll get to hear some of your favorite songs.

WLIT boasts a current playlist that features the biggest artists on the planet.

To top it all off, the channel is home to Delilah, a call-in and dedication show. So, you can ask the station to play certain songs and send messages to your loved ones.


● Frequency: 94.7 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Classic hits

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1948

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 1,083,800

● Owner: Cumulus Media

If you’re a fan of music from the ’70s and ’80s, listen to WLS. This channel broadcasts some of the world’s greatest classic hits.

The playlist is a hybrid of oldies and adult Top 40. You’ll get to hear the most popular songs from the New Wave era.

Most of the music dates back to the late ’70s and early ’80s, although the station sprinkles in a few surprises now and then.

For instance, they’ll play songs from the ’60s and ’90s. This gives you a range of tunes while waiting in traffic.


● Frequency: 97.1 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Classic rock

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1955

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 947,100

● Owner: Hubbard Broadcasting

The call sign for this channel stands for The Drive. That’s because the programming is ideal for a long day on the road.

When it launched, WDRV was mainly an easy-listening channel that focused on playing jazz and show tunes.

Then, in 2001, the station changed ownership and format. It began to play all-day sets from some of the biggest artists.

These include Barbara Streisand, the Beach Boys, Madonna, and the Beatles.

This brought a whole new audience to the channel. Because of that, WDRV has maintained a classic hits format since then.

In addition, the station is home to The Sherman and Tingle Show.


Hands holding out a phone playing the radio outside
Hear hot adult contemporary on WTMX, which has nearly a million listeners.

● Frequency: 101.9 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Hot adult contemporary

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1961

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 935,400

● Owner: Hubbard Broadcasting

WTMX wasn’t always an exclusive music channel.

At first, it used a full-service format. The broadcast included classical music, talk shows, and various other programs.

Then the station went on to try a few different formats. WTMX spent some time as a beautiful tunes channel. This is a genre of music that solely focuses on instrumentals.

Finally, WTMX made the switch to a hot adult contemporary format.

That’s a collection of the best hits from the ’60s and ’70s. Because of that, this station plays a lot of ballad-heavy tunes.

So, if you plan to sing your heart out, this may be your channel.


● Frequency: 93.1 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Adult album alternative

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1960

● Broadcast area: Chicago Market

● Number of listeners: 878,700

● Owner: Audacy

WXRT’s slogan is “Chicago’s home for music lovers,” and it doesn’t disappoint.

The channel follows an adult album alternative (AAA) format.

This is a combination of classic ’70s albums and ’80s alternative rock. The playlist consists of a wide variety of tunes and genres.

These include blues, reggae, folk-rock, pop, and rock and roll.

Plus, WXRT hosts All Vinyl Saturdays a few times a year. So, if you happen to be on the road during the weekend, you’ll get to enjoy these segments.

They tend to have clearer audio with smooth and open sounds.


● Frequency: 102.7 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Urban adult contemporary

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1950

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area and Northwest Indiana

● Number of listeners: 728,700

● Owner: iHeartMedia

WVAZ has been a staple in the music industry since it opened its doors in 1950. Although, when the channel began, it mostly aired progressive rock.

This would last a while, and the station would build a huge following. Nearly a decade later, to boost WVAZ ratings, it switched to an oldies format.

Finally, the broadcast made the change to urban contemporary music. The channel promotes artists of color and gives them a platform to shine.

On top of that, WVAZ carries not one but two syndicated shows. These are The Steve Harvey Morning Show and The Sweat Hotel with Keith Sweat.


● Frequency: 92.3 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Urban contemporary

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1949

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area and Northwest Indiana

● Number of listeners: 348,300

● Owner: Crawford Broadcasting

When this channel began, it held the call sign WJIZ. During this time, the station would host segments on talk shows, high school sports, and news.

Then, in 1959, Percy Crawford bought the channel and switched up the format. Instead of various programs, the station moved to a Christian style.

This would last until the beginning of 2001. WPWX started broadcasting urban contemporary music.

It features an eclectic mix of various music styles and genres. Plus, the channel is home to The Rickey Smiley Morning Show.


Man wearing a yellow polo t-shirt sitting down with his head titled back, his eyes closed, and his arms crossed while listening to a radio in a room with vintage furniture
WVIV plays the best of Spanish CHR in Chicago.

● Frequency: 93.5 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Spanish CHR rhythmic

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1960

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: 315,200

● Owner: Uforia Audio Network

If you’re after music with a little Latin flare, then try listening to WVIV. This station broadcasts a Spanish CHR rhythmic format.

That means you’ll enjoy some of the most popular Hispanic tunes. These include a nice balance between energetic pop songs and toned-down melodies.

For that reason, you won’t get overwhelmed with loud music out of nowhere.

The channel also features a couple of talk shows and podcasts. These usually discuss different topics, like the origin of music.

Finally, WVIV sprinkles in a few Spanish oldies from time to time.


● Frequency: 89.3 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Urban adult contemporary

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1975

● Broadcast area: South Side Chicago

● Number of listeners: N/A

● Owner: City Colleges of Chicago

Even though WKKC is one of the smallest channels on our list, it has a rich history in the music industry.

For starters, this station was the first in Chicago to play rap music. In fact, it had an entire show dedicated to the genre called rap house.

Other than that, it was home to DJ Rashad, who would go on to become an electronic musician.

Today, WKKC boasts one of the most diverse urban playlists out there. You’ll hear music from every era, focusing on contemporary tunes.

10. WONU

● Frequency: 89.7 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Contemporary Christian

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1967

● Broadcast area: South Suburban Chicago, Kankakee, and Iroquois Counties

● Number of listeners: N/A

● Owner: Olivet Nazarene University

WONU began its journey as a campus radio station for Olivet Nazarene University.

It broadcasted different shows about life as a student.

For instance, some programs followed college football and various fundraisers. Then, in 1988, the channel switched to a music format.

This lasted for many years until the station shifted to Christian content. Today, it broadcasts praise and worship music.

In fact, the channel promotes and hosts concerts for contemporary Christian musicians.

In addition, there are a few other segments dedicated to religious education.

11. WRTE

● Frequency: 90.7 MHz.

● Modulation: FM

● Format: Public radio, jazz

● Scope: Local

● Established: 1970

● Broadcast area: Chicago metropolitan area

● Number of listeners: N/A

● Owner: Chicago Public Media

WRTE has gone through many changes throughout its lifetime. The station began as a part of the Boy’s Clubs of Chicago.

This is an organization that provides voluntary after-school programs for young people.

After that, WRTE became the property of the National Museum of Mexican Art.

During this time, the channel would broadcast educational segments about Mexican history.

The programs were available in both English and Spanish. Sadly, the museum had to part ways with the radio station because of funding issues.

Today, WRTE is mostly a public channel that plays music. It focuses more on jazz and easy listening than any other genre.

Wrapping Up

There are plenty of options if you’re looking for Chicago’s best 11 radio stations for music. WLIT and WPWX are excellent choices when you’re after contemporary music.

These offer an eclectic mix of current tunes that’ll keep you dancing while you wait in traffic.

Other than that, if you want to listen to Spanish music, tune into WVIV. This channel features some of the greatest contemporary hits.

WONU provides listeners with a Christian music playlist. That way, you can find your center with praise and worship tunes as you make your way to work.

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