WGCI-FM (107.5 FM) is a Clear Channel-owned urban contemporary radio station that has a city of license of Chicago. WGCI is considered to be the most popular urban contemporary radio station in Chicago, the nation's 3rd largest radio market, and one of the most well-known and best-programmed urban contemporary stations in the country. WGCI broadcasts at an effective radiated power of 3700 watts (3.7 kilowatts) at 107.5 megahertz (MHz) from atop the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. Like many Clear Channel-owned urban radio stations, it uses the slogan "#1 for Hip Hop and R&B", but recently added the sub-slogan "The Big Station", to differentiate themselves and express their dominance in the market. In 2005, WGCI began broadcasting in IBOC digital radio, using the HD Radio system from iBiquity. In 2006 WGCI also won a Marconi Award for Best Radio Station for Hip-Hop and R&B.
107.5 began in operation in the mid 1950s with the original call letters WFMQ-FM
. By the mid 1960s, the calls were WNUS-FM
. It was the last major FM on a shorter downtown Chicago building but was far enough west to avoid most shadowing and interference problems. The current calls WGCI
came from then-owner Globetrotter Communications Inc., who purchased 107.5 and sister station then 1390 WGCI-AM (now WGRB-AM 1390) in the late 1970s and made the stations an urban contemporary
. The stations were later purchased by Combined Communications Corporation who sold to Guy Gannett Broadcasting Inc, operated as WVON-AM 1390 and WGCI 107.5 with 33,000 watts atop the Civic Opera House - Kemper Insurance Building at 20 North Wacker Drive at 625 feet above average terrain. Later, in December 1997, Gannett sold the stations to Chancellor Media, which then merged with Capstar Broadcasting to form AMFM, Inc. In 2000, both stations were acquired by Clear Channel through its purchase of AMFM. The 2 stations shared the WGCI calls until later 2003, when 1390AM decided to change calls to WGRB
to prevent confusion of the stations among union employees. Since mid-2004, WGCI has been the #1 music station and overall radio station in the Chicago radio market.
At any given time, WGCI only plays about 15 different songs within the hip-hop/R&B genre. With approximately 18 hours worth of hip-hop/R&B airtime, that makes for extraordinary repetition. Many hip-hop fans complain that their repetition reinforces the desire for the songs to be played, even if they are of poor quality (i.e. "Laffy Taffy"). This contentious issue is increasingly being addressed within the hip-hop community, with artists like Dead Prez and Da Backwudz leading the effort.
In the mid-1980s, Tom Joyner
, was simultaneously working for both a morning show at K-104 KKDA-FM
in Dallas, Texas
and an afternoon show at WGCI. Instead of choosing between the two, Joyner chose to take both jobs, and for years he commuted daily by plane between the two cities, earning the nicknames "The Fly Jock" and "The Hardest Working Man in Radio." He is now heard on WVAZ. WGCI was also the station that launched the radio career of syndicated personality, Doug Banks
, who was the morning show personality until 1993. Banks was later heard on WPWX in early 2000s until it dropped the show.
The Crazy Howard McGee Show has been replaced by the Steve Harvey Morning Show as of August 1, 2007. Harvey was previously heard on WSRB, but the move to WGCI was made due to poor promotion on WSRB.
As an urban radio station, WGCI competes with urban/hip hop rival WPWX Power 92,
rhythmic crossover station WBBM-FM B96
and its Urban AC counterparts WVAZ V-103
(its sister) and WSRB 106.3, as well as KISSFM, 103.5.