"Playing What We Want"|
"Playing Whatever, Whenever!"
JACK FM is a radio network branding licensed by Sparknet Communications to media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia. The stations that adopt this branding play a very broad mix of songs from the late 1960s to the 2000s, along with some current adult contemporary/hot adult contemporary singles.
Jack's slogan "playing what we want" is also considered to be as more of a motto or philosophy of their programming. They promote themselves as having a larger and more varied playlist than most other commercial radio stations. It is not unusual for a Jack FM station to have a playlist of 700 to 2000 songs, while other FM radio stations may have playlists of fewer than 500 songs. The format has also been likened to an MP3 player set on shuffle. The stations that have the Jack FM format are in most cases officially classified as "variety hits" or "adult hits" by radio research companies.
This is the description of WYDR-FM based in Northeast Wisconsin, which can be considered as a description for almost all Jack FM stations across the world: "We're a very different kind of radio station. We don't have DJs, we don't take requests and we play what we want. Which, by the way, is music ranging from the late 60's all the way to last week. We also don't really care much for news, weather, traffic or useless talk (unless, of course, it's something important enough to stop the music for). Mostly we just care about playing a bunch of songs in a row and having a good time. You'll usually find us doing something cool around Northeast Wisconsin. We're 94.3 JACK-fm."
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 many "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, without permission, 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. The original webstream is still live to this day.
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, and probably the New England station Frank FM.)
Beginning in late 2002, the format was adopted on Canadian radio stations owned by Rogers Communications. The first Jack station was Vancouver's CKLG-FM, which quickly shot to the top of the city's BBM 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 license 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", or even a body of water like "106-5 The Lake" WHLK in Cleveland, Ohio, named for Lake Erie.
On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 11 AM, 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, 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 1950s and early 1960s 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 1960s were no longer played.
The change in New York City 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 fu**ing 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 "Classic Hits" on July 12, a move attributed mostly to the newly appointed CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason. 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. Steve O'Brien, a weekend and fill-in DJ at the time of the format change, would also return in a similar capacity in 2008. However, the Jack FM format now renamed ToNY is still available through WCBS-FM's HD2 subchannel, and via an internet stream at www.1011hd2.com.
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), in addition to WJMK reverting to classic hits in 2011.
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.
All Jack FM stations in the United States and Canada use Howard Cogan as the voice of Jack, while all Jack FM stations in the United Kingdom use former Blake's 7 actor Paul Darrow as the voice of Jack.
Stations using the "Jack" name are very strictly licensed by SparkNet. 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: WBEN 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!" On WLKO "102.9 The Lake" in Charlotte, North Carolina, the tagline is "We Play Anything."
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 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.
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. 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 1980s Top 40 acts such as Madonna, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde, Cyndi Lauper, Falco etc. have been dropped in favor of an all-rock format, and the station's slogan has changed to "Toronto's Best Rock Variety."
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 approximately 2010, the tagline was changed to "Regina's Greatest Hits."
In October 2006, the UK's first Jack FM format station won a broadcast licence for the Oxford area. 106 Jack FM Oxford started broadcasting at 1:06 PM BST on October 18, 2007. On December 2, 2009, Bristol radio station Original FM changed to Jack FM after requesting a format change with OFCOM. Two further Jack FM stations were planned on DAB digital radio from 2008 for Northamptonshire and Northeast Wales and West Cheshire but by August 2009 were a year late with no indication of an ETA. In addition the Oxfordshire Jack was to have been relayed to a wider area. RadioToday has reported The Coast will flip to become JACK FM on July 4, 2011.
In January 2007, KAJR in the Coachella Valley, California launched as a "Jack FM" affiliate in a region unable to receive the KCBS-FM signal from Los Angeles, 100 miles to the West. Now KJJZ, the former-KAJR is no longer "Jack FM" and now airs a soft AC music format branded as "The Oasis" as of February 1, 2010.
On October 22, 2007 WJMK in Chicago announced that radio personality Steve Dahl would be morning drive personality as of November 5, the first personality on the station since it went to the Jack format. In March 2011, WJMK dropped the Jack format and is now known as "K-Hits" with a similar format of 1960s-1970s-1980s classic hits. Eddie & Jobo (Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon, former morning hosts at WBBM-FM) now do the morning show.
From 2007 to present, many Jack FM stations were added in cities in the United States, while some Jack stations changed to other radio formats, e.g.: CJAQ in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Starting on August 1, 2011, the military radio station Armed Forces Network, Afghanistan, switched over to the "Jack FM" format as a way to expand the playlist and reduce operational personnel. On June 29, 2012, it was announced that KJQN in Salt Lake City would drop the "Jack FM" format on July 16, 2012 and begin to simulcast the talk radio format of KLO, picking up the call letters KLO-FM.
On August 2, 2013, the Jack FM station in San Diego, CA decided to restrict their online radio streaming to just the city of San Diego. This move by the program director caused the ire of fans who live outside the city limits. including the large US Military personnel stationed overseas. The program director, Mike O'Reilly, characterized this move as "Our radio industry is continually adapting to changing metrics, which are sometimes out of our control within our competitive landscape. I understand your frustration and I can assure you this decision to restrict our streaming efforts to San Diego was based on multiple factors including the licensing issues outlined on our website. In addition, radio stations that do not 100% simulcast their signals online are essentially competing with themselves. Technically they are considered two separate radio stations in the way they are rated. By restricting our signal to San Diego only, our online stream and our air signal at 100.7FM will be considered one unified station." The station achieved this effect by restricting the signal based on the mobile phone's IP address. However, fans within the city of San Diego were prevented from hearing the station as well. In addition to this move, the station will be charging for their local morning radio show via podcast in September 2013.
|Regina, Saskatchewan||CKCK||94.5 FM||Rawlco Communications||only Jack FM station in Canada not owned by Rogers Media|
|Smiths Falls, Ontario||CJET||92.3 FM||Rogers Media||serves Ottawa market|
|London, Ontario||CHST||102.3 FM||Rogers Media|
|Vancouver, British Columbia||CJAX||96.9 FM||Rogers Media|
|Calgary, Alberta||CJAQ||96.9 FM||Rogers Media|
|Dartmouth, Nova Scotia||CFLT||92.9 FM||Rogers Media||serves Halifax market|
|Toronto, Ontario||CJAQ||92.5 FM||Rogers Media||Became top 40 CKIS-FM (KiSS 92.5) in June 2009, although it was a mainstream rock station from 2006-2009.|
|Barrie, Ontario||CICX||105.9 FM||Larche Communications||Became country (KICX 106) in 2008.|
|Victoria, British Columbia||CHTT||103.1 FM||Rogers Media||Became top 40 (KiSS 103.1) on February 24, 2015.|
|Parker, Arizona||KPKR||95.7 FM||Arizona's Hometown Radio Group|
|Paragould, Arkansas||KDRS||107.1 FM||Mor Media|
|Los Angeles, California||KCBS||93.1 FM||Entercom|
|Susanville, California||KAJK||96.3 FM||Huth Broadcasting|
|Vero Beach, Florida||WJKD||99.7 FM||Vero Beach Broadcasters|
|Decatur, Illinois||WEJT||105.1 FM||The Cromwell Group|
|Vincennes, Indiana||WFML||96.7 FM||The Vincennes University Foundation||As of June 30, 2014|
|Davenport, Iowa||KQCJ||93.9 FM||Regional Media radio (Virden Broadcasting)||Debuted September 1, 2016|
|Burlingame, Kansas||KSAJ-FM||98.5 FM||Alpha Media||Debuted December 26, 2017|
|Baltimore, Maryland||WQSR||102.7 FM||iHeartMedia|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota||KZJK||104.1 FM||Entercom|
|Columbia/Boonville, Missouri||KWJK||93.1 FM/103.5 FM||Billings Broadcasting|
|Kansas City, Missouri||K273BZ||102.5 FM||Cumulus Media|
|Missoula, Montana||KYJK||105.9 FM||Simmons Media Ventures|
|Buffalo, New York||WBUF||92.9 FM||Townsquare Media|
|Elko, Nevada||KLKO||93.7 FM||Elko Broadcasting||Formerly Bob FM|
|Fargo, North Dakota||KRWK||101.9 FM||Midwest Radio||Formerly 101.9 Talk FM|
|Williston, North Dakota||KDSR||101.1 FM||Marks Radio Group||Formerly Bob FM|
|Columbus, Ohio||WJKR||103.9 FM||North American Broadcasting|
|Dayton, Ohio||WGTZ||92.9 FM||Alpha Media||Formerly Soft Rock 92.9. Jack Debuted September 1st, 2017, at 5 p.m.|
|Sisseton, South Dakota||KJKQ||99.5 FM||Armada Media|
|Greenville, South Carolina||W258CB||99.5 FM||SummitMedia||translator for WJMZ-HD3|
|Dyersburg, Tennessee||WASL||100.1 FM||Burks Broadcasting|
|Nashville, Tennessee||WCJK||96.3 FM||Midwest Communications|
|Dallas, Texas||KJKK||100.3 FM||Entercom|
|San Antonio, Texas||KJXK||102.7 FM||Alpha Media|
|Victoria, Texas||KTXN||98.7 FM||Broadcast Equities Texas|
|Seattle, Washington||KJAQ||96.5 FM||iHeartMedia|
|Wenatchee, Washington||KKRV/K232ED||104.7 FM HD3/94.3 FM||Alpha Media|
|Neenah/Menasha, Wisconsin||WYDR||94.3 FM||Midwest Communications|
|Louisville, Kentucky||WXMA||102.3 FM||Alpha Media||Debuted August 31, 2017|
|Rock Springs, Wyoming||KSIT||99.7 FM||WyoRadio||Debuted January 1, 2017|
|Hudson, Wyoming||KTUG||105.1 FM||MORCOM Bdcstg||Debuted November 1, 2016|
|Westover, West Virginia||WZST||100.9 FM||Spectrum Radio||Debuted December 26, 2016|
|Fisher, West Virginia||WQWV||103.7 FM||Thunder Associates, LLC||Debuted July, 1998|
|Mobile, Alabama||WYOK||104.1 FM||Cumulus Media||Switched format to CHR as WABD in February 2012, now Urban AC as WDLT-FM.|
|Kodiak, Alaska||KRXX||101.1 FM||Kodiak Island Broadcasting||Now as a Hot AC format.|
|Bakersfield, California||KRJK||97.3 FM||Buck Owens Broadcasting||Switched format to Country music on October 14, 2016|
|Chico, California||KHEX||100.3 FM||Huth Broadcasting||Switched format to Classic country on March 2, 2017|
|Fresno, California||KFJK||105.9 FM||Cumulus Media||Switched to a simulcast of KMJ 580 AM in March 2009.|
|Palm Springs, California||KAJR||95.9 FM||RM Broadcasting||Switched format to Soft AC in 2010.|
|Sacramento, California||KQJK||93.7 FM||iHeartMedia||Switched format to classic rock on April 3, 2017.|
|San Diego, California||KFMB-FM||100.7 FM||Tegna, Inc.||Dropped most pre-2000 titles in early 2014, assuming a modern rock format but retaining the branding. Switched to mainstream rock on January 4, 2016 as "KFM-BFM."|
|Denver, Colorado||KJAC||105.5 FM||NRC Broadcasting||Switched format to sports talk in 2012 as an affiliate of ESPN Radio, and currently features an AAA format. Was the first station in the United States to license the "JackFM" brand.|
|KDHT-FM||107.1 FM||Max Media||Switched format to alternative rock in 2014, now features classic hip-hop.|
|Steamboat Springs, Colorado||KIDN-FM||95.9 FM||AlwaysMountainTime||Switched format to Hot AC in 2010.|
|Seaford, Delaware||WSUX||1280 AM||Seaford Media||Switched to Spanish in August 2017|
|Jacksonville, Florida||WWJK||107.3 FM||iHeartMedia||Rebranded as "107.3 Jacksonville" on April 18, 2017, then rebranded again as "107.3 The River" on May 26, 2017.|
|Chicago, Illinois||WJMK||104.3 FM||CBS Radio||Switched format to classic hits on March 14, 2011.|
|Effingham, Illinois||WHQQ||98.9 FM||Cromwell Radio Group||Switched format to sports talk in 2014.|
|Peoria, Illinois||WHPI||101.1 FM||Advanced Media Partners, LLC||Switched to a simulcast of WZPN in June 2018.|
|Evansville, Indiana||WEJK||107.1 FM||The Original Company||Switched format to classic hits in 2014.|
|Indianapolis, Indiana||WJJK||104.5 FM||Cumulus Media||Switched format to classic hits in September 2006, then dropped the Jack FM brand that December.|
|Larned, Kansas||KSOB||96.7 FM||Rocking M Media||Dropped the branding in favor of Bob FM in 2007. Switched to classic country in 2013.|
|Lake Charles, Louisiana||KBIU||103.3 FM||Cumulus Media||Switched format to adult contemporary on March 23, 2012.|
|Jackson, Mississippi||WJXN-FM||100.9 FM||Flinn Broadcasting Corporation||Switched to classic country in 2014.|
|West Plains, Missouri||KSPQ||93.9 FM||Missouri Ozark Radio Network||Switched format to classic rock on April 1, 2016|
|Holdrege, Nebraska||KMTY||97.7 FM||Legacy Communications, LLC||Switched to country on June 17, 2013.|
|Las Vegas, Nevada||KKJJ||100.5 FM||CBS Radio||Switched to a simulcast of KXNT in August 2010.|
|New York, New York||WCBS-FM||101.1 FM||CBS Radio||Reverted to classic hits on July 12, 2007. The Jack FM format was moved to 101.1-HD2, dropped the branding in 2008 for "Tony FM," and eventually was dropped altogether in 2012.|
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||KKNG-FM||97.3 FM||Tyler Media||97.3 Jack Fm became 97.3 KKNG, and 93.3 FM became 93.3 Jake Fm. Today 97.3 KKNG is a Catholic Broadcasting station.|
|Columbus, Ohio||WJKR||98.9 FM||Salem Media Group||Format switched following an ownership change on November 1, 2012 to Talk radio. The format and call letters resurfaced in July 2013 at the former WMNI-FM.|
|Pierre, South Dakota||KLXS-FM||95.3 FM||Riverfront Broadcasting LLC||Switched format to country in 2012.|
|WQJK||95.7 FM||Midwest Communications||Dropped the format in August 2012 in favor of CHR, then active rock, and currently is classic country.|
|WRJK||106.7 FM||Blue Ridge Broadcasting Company||Ended a WQJK simulcast in February 2012 when the station was leased, then sold, to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and assumed a CCM format.|
|Amarillo, Texas||KPRF||98.7 FM||Townsquare Media||Switched format to classic rock on June 29, 2017|
|Houston, Texas||KHJK||103.7 FM||Educational Media Foundation||Switched to AAA in May 2009. Sold by Cumulus Media to Educational Media Foundation in 2012 (which operates it today as an Air 1 affiliate).|
|Midland/Odessa, Texas||KFZX||102.1 FM||ICA Communications||Switched to classic rock in 2010.|
|Salt Lake City, Utah||KJQN||103.1 FM||KLO Broadcasting||Switched to a simulcast of KLO in 2012, and later to adult contemporary.|
|Wheeling, West Virginia||WYJK||96.5 FM||FM Radio Licenses||Switched format to sports talk and active rock in 2014.|
In the UK, the Jack FM stations are licensed to OXIS Media which manages the brand. The stations are individually run by Passion Radio (Oxford) or Madejski Communications Limited.
A portal to access the sites is available at http://www.jackfm.co.uk