WSHE changes course (again), rebrands as Throwbacks 100.3

Station shifts music to 1990s-2000s to attract younger listeners

As first reported by Radio Insight, Hubbard-owned WSHE-FM adjusted its music playlist Thursday to feature pop hits from the 1990s and 2000s and rebranded itself as Throwback 100.3.

WSHE is also promoting the new format by launching a promotion where listeners have a chance to win a “throwback experience” and qualify for a million-dollar prize. The station is also going commercial-free on Thursdays.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of a station brand built around the two decades of the best pop music ever released, the 90s and early 2000s!” said WSHE/WTMX VP of Brand and Content Jimmy Steal, although that point is debatable. “The New Throwback 100.3 brings back all the good times and great feelings those amazing songs gave us then and now.”

“Congratulations to everyone in Chicago. Throwback 100.3 is finally here!” said Hubbard Chicago VP and Market Manager Keith Lawless, who also oversees Hot AC WTMX and Classic Rock The Drive (WDRV-FM.) “All the hits of pop music’s most exciting time can now be enjoyed in one place”.

From Friday, May 3 from 3 to 4:30 p.m., here’s what WSHE played, obtained from their website:

Miss Independent – NeYo (not a Kelly Clarkson cover)
Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
Ms Jackson – Outkast
Paparazzi – Lady Gaza
Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Madonna – Like A Prayer (from 1989, hey they’re cheating)
1979 – Smashing Pumpkins
Womanizer – Britney Spears
Iris – The Goo Goo Dolls
Dilemma – Nelly/Kelly Rowland
Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
Somebody That I Used to Know – Kimbra/Goyte (2011)
I Want You Back – NSYNC
U Got it Bad – Usher
3 AM – Matchbox Twenty
The Climb – Miley Cyrus

So as you can see, a wide variety of music from several genres.

Despite the change, WSHE is maintaining its airstaff – a good move considering this isn’t usually the case in instances like this. The move is meant to attract millennial listeners, who generally aren’t heavy radio users but did just before other alternatives emerged such as the iPod, satellite radio, and streaming music services. The change puts them in direct competition with Audacy’s 104.3 Jams, which leans hip-hop, and B96, who added more throwbacks to its Top 40 playlist and played many of those same hits when they were currents.

But in reality, Chicago radio was quite segregated during this time – B96 hardly played any rock hits (with some exceptions) and leaned very rhythmic with a good mixture of pop, hip-hop, and dance while WTMX was the place to go for light rock and Q101 was the home for alternative. Throwback 100.3 mainly resembles early Kiss 103.5 FM more than anything else when they did play all the hits, but even WKSC adjusted their playlist to better compete against a rhythmic-fueled B96. Those listening to Chicago radio during these periods weren’t likely to hear Matchbox 20 and Snoop Dogg on the same station.

Since the old WLOO eased out of the “beautiful music” format in the late 1980s as it fell out of fashion with advertisers, the 100.3 frequency hasn’t found a successful music niche, running the gamut from easy listening to Hot AC to 80s to love songs as WXEZ, WPNT, WNND, and WILV.

In the March 2024 ratings period, WSHE finished in a tie for 21st place in overall ratings after making a similar format adjustment only two years ago. 


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