If you’re old enough to remember when the evening slot was considered the headliner, you may remember Dick Biondi, the legendary Chicago DJ who had stints on several Chicago stations, notably the evening shift on WLS in the early 60’s. He passed away late last month, at 90.
He disappeared from WLS after an on-air incident, I think he said he wound up working in Montana or Wyoming, but worked his way back to Chicago a few years later, initially holding down the graveyard shift at WCFL. My roommate at Northwestern and I were frequent callers during his overnight shifts. (And I had a hefty phone bill from it, too, because that was a 3 unit call from Evanston in those days.)
He had a 67 year career on the radio, making the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Thanks for posting this.
We first encountered him while he was at WJMK during our Northwestern years in the late 80s through the 90s. We met him at the Brickyard Mall during a Toys for Tots drive and relayed a story where we heard his voice from his Buffalo days while in Paris at a production of Grease. They used “classic” DJ voices as background when the curtain was down. Our ears perked up as that is the only DJ voice we know by sound and definitely the only DJ we could pick out from a crowd. Note: he was not paid residuals for this usage
One of the Legends of Chicago Radio. Probably was the most fired jock in Chicago - I remember him on WCFL in the early 70’s.
Reputed to be the guy who “discovered” Tommy James & the Shondells “Hanky-Panky” in a stack of demos at the station.
His wit didn’t always play well with the management of his employers, but he usually had a real core audience that followed him from station to station.
Aircheck from WLS
There are more airchecks here, including his 30th year anniversary, and Larry Lujack who was another WLS “bad boy.”
I actually remember Biondi here in L.A. even before he moved to Chicago. He made the move during my freshman year at NU, and I remember thinking “that guy sure sounds familiar!”
Re Coach Roy’s comment on Jon Miller: yes, he’s still the lead PxP guy for the Giants and he’s still great. He did make the transition to TV, as he was the lead announcer for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball for 20 years.
Although I remember Biondi’s WLS years, I remember Art Roberts better, especially his 10:15 PM ‘bedtime stories’, which he recorded on an album that I still have. Roberts passed away after a stroke in 2002, at the age of 70.
His daily signoff was “This has been a work of Art. Excelsior!” After his signoff, I’d often switch over to WGN and listen to the velvety voice of Franklyn MacCormack, who loved to recite poetry on the air.
Lujack never really interested me, but I largely stopped listening to WLS after I got to Northwestern, especially when I discovered WSDM-FM, an all-jazz station. “Smack Dab in the Middle, the station with the girls, and all that jazz.”
Lujack’s show was always about Lujack… I never cared for him either.
The Chicago show I miss is Exension 890 wiht Milt Rosenberg - the late night all whatever talk show. Used to listen to it dirving home from Choir Practice. Always had a lot of NU Profs on the show too.44
Back when he did overnight radio, Larry King was interesting, but when he started his newspaper ‘column’ (a throwback to the Winchell grammar style book but without Walter’s wit or ghost writers and without Walter’s inside knowledge) and then went to TV, King became a cartoon figure of himself.
WGN was an eclectic radio station. Franklyn MacCormack overnight then 2-3 hours of Orion Samuelson’s farm reports, then Wally Phillips, then The Breakfast Club, then the Cubs, then Music Unlimited in the early evening. And during football season you had gossip columnist Irv Kupcinet doing color commentary for the Bears. (To be fair, Kup was an NFL player in the early 30’s.)
I don’t know if this link to a Tribune story about Dick Biondi will work for folks, but I’m hoping the documentary on Biondi that it talks about gets a good release somewhere, I know I’d like to see it.