Killer Bee Party Radio B96 Chicago's Dance Beat

Retrospective of Chicago's top 40 radio station WBBM 96.3 FM, better known as B96, during the time period when the station was a dance-heavy rhythmic CHR from the late 1980s through the end of the 1990s. B96 was just another top 40 station throughout much of the 1980s but towards the very end of the decade started playing more dance-based pop rather than rock-based pop. The shift towards a rhythmic-leaning format began sometime in the summer of 1986, but it did not become more noticeable until about 1989-1990. B96 likely continued where 102.7 WBMX left off after the latter became Urban AC V103 and no longer played mixes in October 1988.

The time period presented here is roughly 1986 to 2000, although by then the station had stopped playing EDM songs (outside the mixshows) and became a hip hop-based Rhythmic top 40, in addition to playing all that teeneybopper stuff (Britney Spears, N Sync, Backstreet Boys, etc) that was popular at the time. Anything the station played after 2000 is not included here as I’m not interested in what the station was playing after that point since the station had gone downhill. By 2001, B96 was a hip hop-heavy Rhythmic Top 40 station and continue this path until late 2008 when it started to shift back towards a mainstream Top 40 format. In recent years, the station became even more of a joke and no longer resembled the station's street-driven glory years of the 1990s.

Featured in the list are nearly all the house, techno, Latin freestyle, euro-dance, booty bass, hip hop, R&B, synthpop, and upbeat pop tunes that were being played on B96 between from the late 80s through the year 2000. Songs are listed in order based on the year they came out or when B96 started to play them. I left out most of the AC/soft rock tracks and the few rock-leaning pop songs the station had played at the time as I want to focus of the "Party Radio" sound the station had been known for when it shifted to dance-leaning top 40 format. As a result, I left out most of the pop/rock & A/C stuff (Huey Lewis, Chicago, Phil Collins/Genesis, etc) the station actually played during the late 80s. I also included tracks that were featured in the B96 mix show sets but not featured on rotation (and in the case of some, were featured on playlist rotation on other significant Rhythmic Top 40 stations of the period like Hot 97 NY, Power 106 LA, KMEL San Francisco, Power 96 Miami and so on). Finally, I also decided to include those 70s/80s disco retro flashbacks that were occasionally played alongside what was popular at the time.

After B96 had stopped playing dance music regularly (outside the mixshows) in the late 1990s, dance moved on, although very briefly, through Energy 92.7 and 92.5 from January 2001 to January 2003.
https://www.discogs.com/lists/Energy-92-Chicago-2001-2002/264685

I also created another list focusing on the weekday lunchtime and 5pm mixes they used to do:
https://www.discogs.com/lists/B96-Lunch-Party-Traffic-Jam-Mixes-in-the-1990s/963550
  1. 1
    Babe, We're Gonna Love Tonite
    Lime (2)
    B96 did not play this one when it was brand new in 1982 (the same year WBBM-FM changed to its top 40 format which is still around today) as it still leaned heavily towards rock as many top 40 station back then did. Instead this song, along with Lime's other hits such as "Angel Eyes" were staples on the mixes on defunct-WBMX. This song and "Angel Eyes" would often be played as flashbacks or during mix shows on B96 during the 1990s.
  2. 2
    Angel Eyes
    Lime (2)
    B96 did not play this one when it was brand new in 1983 as it still leaned heavily towards rock as many top 40 station back then did and kept dance/R&B product to a minimum. Instead this song, along with Lime's other hits such as "Babe We're Gonna Love Tonight" were staples on the mixes on defunct-WBMX. This song and "Babe We're Gonna Love Tonight" would often be played as a flashback or during mix shows on B96 during the 1990s.
  3. 3
    Situation
    Yazoo
    B96 may had played this when it was brand new as this is a staple of 80s pop music. Nonetheless, I often heard this a flashback or during old school mixes in the 90s.
  4. 4
    Don't Go
    Yazoo
    B96 may had played this when it was brand new as this is a staple of 80s pop music. Nonetheless, I often heard this a flashback or during old school mixes in the 90s.
  5. 5
    Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
    Eurythmics
    A staple of US pop music stations in 1983. Would hear this as a flashback of during old school mixes in the 90s. There was also a house remix in 1995/96 that got a lot of airplay both in the mixes and on regular rotation
  6. 6
    Let The Music Play
    Shannon
    B96 actually played this record when it was brand new in 1984 during its rock-leaning/mainstream top 40 days in the 80s. Unlike most of the songs that B96 was actually playing in the early-to-mid 80s (John Mellencamp, Elton John, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Hall & Oates, etc.), this song, along with "Give Me Tonight" would often be played in the mix shows (especially freestyle sets) or whenever B96 played a flashback from the early-to-mid 80s.
  7. 7
    Give Me Tonight
    Shannon
    Unlike "Let the Music Play", B96 did not actually played this record when it was brand new in 1984 during its rock-leaning/mainstream top 40 days in the 80s. Unlike most of the songs that B96 was actually playing in the early-mid 80s, this song, along with "Let the Music Play" would often be played in the mix shows (especially freestyle sets) or whenever B96 played a flashback from the early-to-mid 80s.
  8. 8
    When I Hear Music
    Debbie Deb
    B96 did not play this song when it was brand new (1983/84) yet this song, along with "Lookout Weekend", would be one of the most played 80s flashbacks the station played during the 90s. Instead, the two Debbie Deb songs would be staples in the mixes on R&B station 102.7 WBMX.
  9. 9
    Lookout Weekend
    Debbie Deb.*
    B96 did not play this song when it was brand new (1983/84) yet this song, along with "When I Hear Music", would be one of the most played 80s flashbacks the station played during the 90s. Instead, the two Debbie Deb songs would be staples in the mixes on R&B station 102.7 WBMX.
  10. 10
    Jam On It
    Newcleus
    B96 did not play this song when it was brand new (1984) but this song would often be played as a flashback (or during old school mixes) during the 1990s. Instead, this song was played on the R&B stations (WBMX and WGCI). If I recall, B96 played the first five minutes of the 12 inch version instead of the radio edit version whenever they went old school.
  11. 11
    All Night Passion (Club Mix)
    Alisha
    A staple of the old WBMX mid-80s mixes. B96 did not play this one when it was new (1984) but I would often hear this one as a flashback or during old school mixes.
  12. 12
    The Glamorous Life
    Sheila E.
    B96 actually played this when it came out (1984) but it was also played as an 80s flashback during the 90s.
  13. 13
    I Feel For You
    Chaka Khan
    B96 actually played this when it came out (1984) but it was also played as an 80s flashback during the 90s.
  14. 14
    Let's Go Crazy
    Prince And The Revolution
    B96 did play this one when it was brand new (1984), as was the case with every top 40 station in the US at the time. I often heard "Lets Go Crazy" (as well as many of Prince's 80s songs) as a flashback during the 90s.

    The B-Side track "Erotic City" was not played on rotation when it was new, but was occasionally played during old school mixes during the 90s.
  15. 15
    Relax
    Frankie Goes To Hollywood
    B96 actually played this when it came out (1984/1985) but it was also played as an 80s flashback during the 90s.
  16. 16
    Conga! (Dance Mix)
    Miami Sound Machine
    B96 actually played this when it came out (1986) but it was also played as an 80s flashback during the 90s.
  17. 17
    Into The Groove
    Madonna
    B96 played this when it was new (1985) and often played this and other 80s Madonna songs as a flashback during the 90s.
  18. 18
    Don't Stop The Rock
    Freestyle
    One of the most common 1980s dance flashbacks that B96 played, considering that the station didn't play this song at all when it was brand new in 1985/1986. Instead it was heard frequently heard in the mix sets on WGCI and now-defunct WBMX.
  19. 19
    Rain Forest
    Paul Hardcastle
    Would hear this track often on now-defunct WNUA smooth jazz station mistakenly believing that it is B96 playing this track due to the frequencies of the two stations being next to each other. Turns out that B96 occasionally would play this track during weekday flashback mixes during the mid-to-late 90s.
  20. 20
    Sidewalk Talk
    Jellybean*
    Unlike most of the early to mid 1980s dance cuts heard on the mixes on WBMX & WGCI at the time, B96 actually played this one in 1985 (probably because it featured Madonna).
  21. 21
    Can You Feel The Beat
    Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Full Force
    B96 did not play this when it was brand new (1985/1986) as it was still a rock-leaning top 40 station back in the early to mid 80s and didn't play too much R&B/dance product yet this track and others like it would be played as flashback or during mix shows during the 1990s during the station's dance years.
  22. 22
    All Day / Everyday (Is Halloween)
    Ministry
    b side - everyday is halloween

    Not listed on B96's playlist but was sometimes played during mix show sets in early 1989. the station's rival at the time "Z95" WYTZ (now WLS-FM) had this song in its playlist in May 1989, strange considering that this song is from 1985 and even stranger that the band Ministry was now an Industrial Metal band shedding all traces of its synthpop origins.
  23. 23
    I Love My Radio (Midnight Radio)
    Taffy
    51 copies from $1.50
    A staple of the old WBMX mid-80s mixes. B96 did not play this one when it was new (1986) but would often hear this one as a flashback or during old school mixes.
  24. 24
    I'll Be All You Ever Need
    Trinere
    B96 did not play this song when it was brand new (circa June 1986) yet it would often be played as a flashback (or during old school/freestyle mixes) during the 1990s. Instead it was heard frequently heard in the mix sets on WGCI and now-defunct WBMX.
  25. 25
    Diamond Girl
    Nice & Wild
    Another very common 1980s dance flashback that B96 played during the 1990s, considering that the station didn't play this song at all when it was brand new in 1986/1987. Instead it was heard frequently heard in the mix sets on WGCI and now-defunct WBMX. Had the station fullly embraced dance/house/freestyle acts earlier, this song most likely would had been featured on the station's playlist.
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