WERV-FM, also known as 95.9 The River, is a classic hits radio station, playing familiar rock and pop songs that span from the early 1970s through the mid 1990s. Its digital HD 2 channel "The Rapids!" plays hard rock/heavy metal from the 1970s through the late 1990s. The Aurora/Naperville, Illinois station serves the suburban Chicago market and is owned by Alpha Media, through licensee Alpha Media Licensee LLC.

WERV broadcasts two channels in the HD Radio format.[2]


This station was the radio dream of WLS Radio engineer Russ Salter, who put this station (then WKKD-FM); along with WKKD-AM on the air. WKKD-AM debuted in September 1960 and WKKD-FM in March 1961.[3] Both stations broadcast out of a very small building, on the east side, on Plain Avenue. At the time, this was a remote part of the Aurora area. Studios, transmitters and the towers were all at this location.

In the 1960s the stations served the Will, Kane, Kendall and DuPage County areas (hence the call letters W-K-K-D) airing a full service format that focused heavily on Country music,[4][5][6][7] with the FM extending the AM's programming into the evening hours. In 1966, veteran Chicago weathercaster Tom Skilling began his career at WKKD, while he attended High School in Aurora.[8] By the early 1970s the stations had separated and the AM station changed its calls to WFVR (Fox Valley Radio) continuing to air a country music format.

WKKD-FM aired a Beautiful music format in the 1970s,[9] but this format would evolve soft AC in the 1980s. The station would keep this format into the early 1990s,[2][2] going by the handle "K-Lite 96 FM."[2] In the early 1990s, WKKD-FM again began simulcasting WKKD AM 1580.[13] Its format switched to oldies at this time and it became known as "Pure Gold 96".[13] In 1998 the station changed its branding to "Kool 95.9."[2]

In 2000, the Salter family got out of broadcasting and sold WKKD-AM & FM, as well as WRWC in Rockford, Illinois to Radioworks.[2][2] WKKD-FM & AM were sold to NextMedia Group in 2001.[2] On January 25, 2001 the new owners switched the FM to WERV "95.9 The River," [2] with the AM holding onto the WKKD calls as a local and satellite delivered news/talk outlet.

NextMedia sold WERV-FM and their 32 other radio stations to Digity, LLC at a price of $85 million; the transaction was consummated on February 10, 2014.

Effective February 25, 2016, Digity and its 124 radio stations were acquired by Alpha Media for $264 million.

WERV-FM serves the Aurora/Naperville area as well as much of DuPage, northern and eastern Cook and parts of Kane and Will counties. The River's air talent line up is the morning show of "Mackay in the Morning" with Scott Mackay and Danielle Tufano(who doubles as Program Director), Beth Reynolds in middays, the legendary Mitch Michaels "doin' the cruise" in afternoon drive and Bob Zak in the evenings from 7p - midnight. Weekend air talent includes Laura Vaughn, Jessi Barretta and Mike Sanders.

In the spring of 2005, WERV-FM became the first suburban Chicago station to broadcast a digital HD Radio signal. By 2006, the station debuted it HD-2 secondary signal. It is a hard rock gold format reminiscent of 103.5 The Blaze, called "The Rapids!"