B96 in the ’90s made its way to tv with their U Dance With B96. The show featured local dancers, music videos from B96 artists including George Lamond as well as live performances from artists and the B96 Mixmasters
U Dance with B96 was hosted by B96 on-air talents including Julian Jumpin’ Perez, Frankie Hollywood Rodriguez, George McFly (while he was here in Chicago) and others on Chicago’s WCIU, Channel 26, “The U”
The show debuted on Jan. 2, 1995. It didn’t last long, ending in July of that year however, the show was nominated and won a “Best Entertainment” award at the Chicago Emmys that year.
This is where you’ll find great video footage from that show on Chicago’s Channel 26, “The U” and quite possibly see yourself, friends or family members from back in the day.
The 1980’s WBMX legacy carried forward at B96 in the 90’s
You cannot talk about the success B96 had in Chicago radio without acknowledging where it’s success came from. Chicago’s contributions to the DJ community and music world are well documented. Radio stations in Chicago have also had their impact on the world. U.S. Dance Music Hall of Fame radio station back in the ’80s, WBMX is one of those stations. When WBMX was sold for 28 million dollars in 1988, there was a lull for a bit in dance music but it wouldn’t last long as B96 would bring over some of WBMX’s important parts to make a name for itself in the 90’s.
B96’s rise in popularity came at the heels of the sale of WBMX in 1988. The new owners of the station changed the name to V103. They were very, very anti-dance, anti-house and anti-young demos. Don’t let them bullshit you, they took it away, it didn’t ‘go away’.
It’s not that what they put on was bad, it’s that they acted like what they just paid over 27 million dollars for – the crown jewel of Chicago radio, was somehow inferior. That’s BS, the original owner paid through the ass to bring Lee Michaels back to fix what the owner wrecked so he could get the station sold at that high price. It was an R&B station but the mixes were the difference, the street influence of DANCE music was the difference from all other stations in the market.
Enter Joe Bo at B96 and his understanding of how important the mixes were to WBMX’s success and the unmistakable influence the ‘club DJ’ had on the listeners. He wasn’t living in denial of what ‘kids’ were listening to back then whereas most in radio simply fed us all whatever they were paid to feed us.
While B96 had “mixes,” they weren’t having much impact on anyone, few if any listened due to the music and marketing of the ‘mixes.’ It was no WBMX style that’s for sure.
Brian ‘Hitmix’ Middleton was under heavy constraints at B96 for their mix shows while at WBMX, it was ‘do your thing.’ Middleton had to stick to the dry format of the station. Other stations like Z95 were simply playing the day’s hits, nothing unique. Other than WBMX before it was sold, there was really no ‘alternative’ to the played-out hits of the day (sound familiar?)
Eventually, Connie V at B96 (Julian Perez’ on-again, off-again girlfriend) was working at B96 and finally got one of the most inept PD’s in the history of radio to make some adjustments to the mix shows. As he left, another inept PD who was as useless as they come finally succumbed to the fact that maybe he should just get out of the way and let dance music do its thing. It should be said that before this unnamed putz #2 came along, Joe Bo was very, very instrumental in fighting for hits like “If You Only Knew” by Chip E and others to be added to B96. Joe was always the smarter guy in the room at B96. CLICK HERE FOR A BOBBY D RETROSPECTIVE
Anyways… Julian, Bad Boy Bill, Frankie Hollywood Rodriguez, Bobby D and others would go on to carry the traditions of WBMX over to B96. In fact, Frankie would go on to be an on-air talent along with Tim and Julian.
Throughout the 90’s, Brian Middleton proved he could hang with the ‘big boys’ in his mixes for sure. Check out an amazing collection of those mixes from Bobby D, DJ Markski, Tim, Julian, Bad Boy Bill, To Kool Chris and more below.