Jack FM

Jack FM

Jack-FM is the moniker and on-air brand of 49 radio stations in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Jack stations play a mix of 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s hits with some current hot adult contemporary singles. Jack stations use the slogan "playing what we want", and promote themselves as having a larger and more varied playlist than other commercial radio stations. It is not unusual for a Jack-FM station to have a playlist of over 1000 songs compared to normal FM stations which sometimes have playlists of fewer than 500 songs. The stations are officially classified as the Variety Hits or Adult Hits format by radio research companies.

History and timeline

One of the early originators of this format was radio programmer Bob Perry, on an American Internet radio stream in 2000. Perry named the station after a fictitious persona, "Cadillac Jack" Garrett, "a hard-living radio cowboy". The back story created by Perry for the original web stream was that Garrett, a DJ who had worked a lot of "big sticks", finally got his own radio station and after years of being told what he was to play on-air was creating a station where the motto was "playing what we want." However, according to Rogers Communications, the only thing taken for the first Jack-FM radio station, in Vancouver, was the name and the tagline. Pat Cardinal, one of the first JACK Program Directors, says that he was unaware of the type of music on the American website and that "JACK" was one of several names that were considered for the format. Rogers Communications came to an agreement with Perry for the use of the Jack-FM name in Canada soon after the launch.

Jack was also inspired by the success of CHUM Limited's "Bob FM" brand on CFWM radio in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Program director Howard Kroeger was inspired to create Bob FM after hearing a mix tape at a friend's 40th birthday party. Other Canadian broadcasters copied the concept as well, adopting such brands as Corus Entertainment's "Dave FM" and "Joe FM". In 2003, an Ottawa station launched "Frank FM" as a one-day Halloween prank. (The prank's name was possibly also inspired by the Canadian satirical magazine "Frank".)

radio ratings. The format was consequently adopted on other Rogers stations in 2002 and 2003. The format proved popular in many markets where it was introduced, although its success was not always as dramatic as it had been in Vancouver.

In 2004, SparkNet Communications, the owner of the Jack-FM and "Playing What We Want" trademarks outside of Canada, started to licence Jack-FM's in the United States. NRC Broadcasting's KJAC 105.5 in Denver, Colorado was the first U.S. station to become "Jack-FM" on April 14, 2004. The success of Jack caused a cloning effect, with some stations using the names of famous locals to promote their version of the format, such as WABZ "Abe FM" in Springfield, Illinois, named for Abraham Lincoln, WBEN-FM "Ben FM" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, named for Benjamin Franklin, "100.5 FM Louie" in Louisville, Kentucky, "Doug-FM 93.1" WDRQ in Detroit, Michigan, "96.7 Steve FM" WLTY in Columbia, South Carolina, named after current University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, or "The Chief 92.5 FM" in Champaign, Illinois, named for the controversial symbol of the University of Illinois, Chief Illiniwek, or local symbols like WARH in St. Louis (licensed to Granite City, IL), known as "106.5, The Arch".

On July 29, 2005, Rawlco's CKCK in Regina, Saskatchewan became the first non-Rogers station in Canada to directly license the Jack-FM brand rather than adopting an alternate name.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at noon, WQSR, an oldies station in Towson, Maryland which targeted Baltimore area listeners, changed its format from oldies to Jack-FM. Listeners and staffers alike were surprised by the sudden change because many long-time DJs and on-air personalities were considered almost a Baltimore institution. WQSR received a large amount of negative publicity regarding their format change. Popular former WQSR personality Steve Rouse has since resurfaced as the new morning show host at sister station, the Soft AC-formatted WLIF.Not long after, on Friday, June 3, 2005, at 5:00 p.m. EDT, WCBS-FM, the oldies station in New York City, switched to Jack-FM without any prior warning. The switch to a more generic format has been termed "The Day the Music Died" by some New Yorkers and has drawn criticism even from non-listeners of the station, [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/opinion/nyregionopinions/19LIgoldman.html 'The Day The Music Died' New York Times, June 19, 2005] ] particularly due to the sudden firing of DJs of historic renown such as Cousin Brucie. In a partial nod to this controversy, on June 14, 2005, it was announced that the station would be unique among those with the Jack format in that it would occasionally include '50s and early '60s songs in its rotation as well as songs by performers like Frank Sinatra that are normally not part of the Jack format, though a later Web update retracted this and songs from before the late '60s were no longer played. The change in New York generated the most negative publicity of any market that switched a station to the Jack format, including a derogatory comment by the mayor himself. According to the New York Post, mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the change by declaring he would "never listen to that f***in' CBS radio ever again", which the new Jack station picked up on, making jokes about his quip ("Hey, Mayor Bloomberg. I heard you took a shot at us in The Post. What's with all the swearin' like a sailor? Fleet week is over. It's just music.") Initially, Arbitron ratings showed a sharp decline and while ratings did recover, they never surpassed the levels that WCBS-FM had before the format switch.

As a result, on July 6, 2007, WCBS-FM announced it would be switching its Jack format back to "Oldies" on July 12, a move attributed mostly to the newly appointed CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason. [http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=63620&Nid=32050&p=407397, Retrieved on 2008/06/12.] . Three of the fired DJs and staff (Dan Taylor, Bob Shannon, and Mr. G) returned to the station, along with newsman Al Meredith (who had stayed at the station during Jack-FM doing his Sunday morning public affairs show), as well as DJ Pat St. John who had previously left CBS-FM for Q104.3 about a year before the flip to Jack.

On the same day that WCBS-FM made the switch, another station owned by CBS, 104.3 WJMK, an oldies station in Chicago, Illinois, changed format to 104.3 Jack-FM as well. The change at WJMK didn't attract as much attention as the change to WCBS, but it still drew the ire of its listeners. The oldies format has since returned to the Chicago airwaves with the introduction of WZZN (94.7 FM; now WLS-FM).

All Jack-FM stations in Canada and the United States, except for WBUF use Howard Cogan as the "voice" of Jack. Bob Perry's original webstream features the voices of Famous Amos, Anita Bonita, and Bob Perry. WBUF in Buffalo, New York does not use Howard Cogan because they are located at 92.9 MHz; they are trying to distance themselves from Toronto's 92.5 Jack FM, as both stations can be picked up easily in most of each other's markets.

On July 5, 2005, it was announced that Bohn & Associates Media and Wall Media formed SparkNet Communications L.P. as the exclusive International licensor and owner of the Jack-FM format. SparkNet has, in turn, licensed the format to Dial Global for satellite-based syndication to stations in U.S. markets outside the 40 largest. This satellite-fed Jack became active in October 2005, and now serves many of the smaller Jack stations, such as Evansville and Knoxville.

Stations using the "Jack" name are very strictly licensed by the format's owner, SparkNet Communications. There are several terms that the station must agree to, one of them being the fact that disc jockeys are not to be used for at least the first few months of the format, among other things. SparkNet has also been very protective of its format, unsuccessfully filing suit against Bonneville International for its use of the Jack-FM "Playing What We Want" trademark and other phrases said to infringe. For this reason, many stations using a Jack-like format use slightly different slogans to avoid infringing on SparkNet's service marks: BEN in Philadelphia uses the tagline "playing anything we feel like", for instance. WDRQ in Detroit uses the line "93.1 DOUG FM - We Play…EVERYTHING!"

In late September 2005, CJAQ-FM in Toronto, Ontario announced that it would become the first DJ-free station in Canada. Pat Cardinal, general manager and program director of the station, announced that "The move came as a result of listener feedback". "The audience has been telling us that they want no DJs on Jack. They want more music." When it first launched - 92.5 Jack-FM operated without disc jockeys in an effort to establish the "Playing What We Want" concept which was new to Toronto. DJs were introduced within weeks. In November of 2005, Cardinal defended his decision in an interview with Michael Hainsworth of Report on Business Television and stated why he doesn't see commercial-free iPods and satellite radio as a threat to a non-DJ format [ [http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Jack_FM_-_History/id/5173186 History Of Jack FM] ] .

In mid-October 2005, Entravison Radio launched a Spanish-language version of the Jack format dubbed "José" with the "We Play What We Want" tagline translated into Spanish as "Toca lo que Quiere." "José" went live on six FM and AM stations in Sacramento, Stockton, and Modesto, California, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Denver, Colorado [Leila Cobo, "José Is The Latin Jack," "Billboard", 11/12/2005, Vol. 117 Issue 46, p. 32.] . Currently, "José" stations have no affiliation with Jack, SparkNet Communications or Bob Perry.

On October 25, 2005, Infinity Broadcasting announced that it would be replacing Howard Stern with Jack-FM on some of its stations. Stern left terrestrial radio for Sirius Satellite Radio in late 2005.

In mid-May 2006, the playlist of CJAQ-FM in Toronto, Ontario evolved into a classic rock format. The '80s Top 40 acts such as Madonna, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde, Cyndi Lauper, Falco etc. have been dropped in favor of an all-rock format. Station IDs such as "Playing What We Want" remain.

In September 2006, Rawlco-owned CKCK-FM (the only non-Rogers operated Jack-FM station) changed its slogan from the traditional "Playing What We Want" to "The Greatest Rock Of All Time" and added announcers to their afternoon drive show. This station also follows the "classic rock" format, similar to CJAQ-FM in Toronto.

In October 2006, the UK's first Jack-FM format station won a broadcast licence for the Oxford area [http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/news/2006/10/nr_20061012, Retrieved on 2008/06/12.] . 106 Jack FM Oxford started broadcasting at 1:06 PM BST on Thursday 18th October 2007 Fact|date=June 2008 Three further Jack-FM stations are currently planned on DAB digital radio from 2008 for the Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire region, Northamptonshire and Northeast Wales and West CheshireFact|date=June 2008.

On October 22, 2007 WJMK in Chicago announced that radio personality Steve Dahl would be morning drive personality as of Nov. 5, the first personality on the station since it went to the Jack format.

There is one nationally syndicated satellite format using the "Jack FM" name; after several years at ABC Radio, it was recently acquired by Dial Global.


One of the main criticisms of the Jack FM brand has been that with the reduction or elimination of the role of the DJ, radio is losing its main selling point over an iPod, which is the sense that a live person is programming your music. "Newsday" described the format, with a lack of local programming and personalities, as "another step toward the McDonaldization of radio". As well, despite the brand's cultivated image as a largely freeform format that responds to widespread listener dissatisfaction with the tightly formatted, carefully scripted and heavily focus-grouped images of many modern commercial radio stations, the format has also been criticized as being just as strictly researched and commercialized as the formats it purports to rebel against. For example, the format does not liberate programmers to genuinely play "anything" they want — the musical selections that may be playlisted, and the order in which songs of different genres may be played, are still carefully regimented by market research. [ [http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2006/07/71362 "'Imitation iPod' Invades Radio"] , "Wired", July 13, 2006.]

CKLG in Vancouver, British Columbia has faced allegations of racism around some of its promotional bumpers, in which a radio engineer for the station named Vijay Chandra sings in an Indian accent to advertise the "Larry and Willy" show [http://www.jackfm.com/jacktv, Retrieved on 2008/06/12.] .

Jack FM stations

Radio stations are listed here if they specifically use the Jack FM brand. Stations branded as Bob FM are listed on that article; stations using alternate brands are listed at adult hits.

Canada (arranged by province)

* Calgary, Alberta – CKIS 96.9
* Vancouver, British Columbia – CKLG 96.9
* Victoria, British Columbia – CHTT 103.1
* Toronto, Ontario – CJAQ 92.5
* Smiths Falls, Ontario – CJET 92.3
* Regina, Saskatchewan – CKCK 94.5

United States (arranged by state)

* Kodiak, Alaska – KRXX 101.1

* Fresno, California – KFJK 105.9
* Los Angeles, California – KCBS-FM 93.1
* Palm Springs, California – KAJR-FM 95.9
* Redding, California – KESR 107.1
* Sacramento, California – KQJK 93.7
* San Diego, California – KFMB-FM 100.7
* Susanville, California – KLZN 96.3
* Aspen/Vail, Colorado – KKCH
* Denver, Colorado – KJAC 105.5/102.3 (as of September 1, 2008)
* Hayden/Craig/Steamboat Springs, Colorado – KIDN 95.5/95.9
* Vero Beach, Florida – WJKD 99.7
* Chicago, Illinois – WJMK 104.3
* Marion/Carbondale, Illinois – WXLT 103.5
* Norridge, Illinois – WRHS 89.7
* Evansville, Indiana – WEJK 107.1
* Sioux City, Iowa – KZSR 102.3
* Lake Charles, Louisiana; KBIU 103.3
* Baltimore, Maryland – WQSR 102.7
* Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota – KZJK 104.1
* Jackson, Mississippi – WWJK 94.7
* Columbia/Boonville, Missouri – KWJK 93.1/103.5
* Kansas City, Missouri – KCJK 105.1
* West Plains, Missouri – KSPQ 93.9
* Missoula, Montana – KYJK 105.9
* Buffalo, New York – WBUF 92.9
* Las Vegas, Nevada – KKJJ 100.5
* Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – KOJK 97.3
* Chattanooga, Tennessee – WHJK 95.3
* Knoxville, Tennessee – WRMX/WQRX 95.7/106.7
* Nashville, Tennessee – WCJK 96.3
* Amarillo, Texas – KPRF 98.7
* Bryan/College Station, Texas – KJXJ-FM 103.9
* Dallas, Texas – KJKK 100.3
* Houston, Texas – KHJK 103.7
* Longview/Tyler, Texas – KAJK-FM 99.3
* Lubbock, Texas – KJDL-FM 105.3
* McAllen, Texas – KJAV 104.9
* Midland, Texas - KFZX 102.1
* San Antonio, Texas – KJXK 102.7
* Salt Lake City/Provo, Utah – KJQN/KNJQ 103.1/105.1
* Seattle, Washington – KJAQ 96.5
* Wheeling, West Virginia – WYJK-FM 100.5
* Stevens Point, Wisconsin – WSPT 97.9

United Kingdom

* Oxford, Oxfordshire – 106 Jack FM www.jackfm.co.uk (has a sponsorship deal with local football club Oxford United FC)

ee also

* Bob FM


External links

* [http://www.jack.fm/ Sparknet Communication's JACK FM website]
* [http://www.sparknetcommunications.com/ SparkNet Communication's website]
* [http://www.geocities.com/billyjanderson2005 Billy Anderson's Jack & Bob FM Guide]
* [http://www.howardcogan.com/ The website of Howard Cogan, "the voice of Jack"]

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