Wally Phillips, WGN broadcaster and legend of Chicago Radio radio,
dies at 82
March 27, 2008 BY SUN-TIMES STAFF
Wally Phillips, one of Chicago's most popular and influential radio
personalities of all time, has died, WGN-AM (720) is reporting this
Phillips, a Radio Hall of Famer, had been battling Alzheimer¹s disease
since 2004. He died at his home in Naples, Fla., at the age of 82, the
He began his ground-breaking 42-year run at WGN in 1956, when he
arrived from WLW-AM in Cincinnati. For 21 years, he was the undisputed
king of morning radio, drawing an astonishing half of all listeners at
At the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk powerhouse, Phillips pioneered a
new form of radio by engaging his audience through phone interaction
and employing his impeccable sense of comedic timing with random drop-
ins and sound effects.
At the peak of his popularity as morning star at WGN, Phillips
attracted half of all Chicago area radio listeners -- an audience of
nearly 1.5 million each day -- making him the most listened-to radio
host in the country.
"When we say 'WGN Radio is Chicago,' I quickly add that 'Wally
Phillips is WGN,'" said Wayne Vriesman, vice president and general
manager of the Tribune-owned station. "He is the most creative,
humorous and innovative person I have ever met in broadcasting. . . .
(with) a lifetime of great radio listening and a public service never
equaled in broadcasting."
Phillips, a native of Portsmouth, Ohio, began his broadcasting career
in 1947 as an announcer at WJEF-AM in Grand Rapids, Mich., and moved
on to three stations in Cincinnati before joining WGN in 1956. "It's
been a joy and a ton of good fortune ever since," he said. "I'm on
that 'Luckiest Guy in the World' list someplace."
A pioneer in what now would be called interactive radio, Phillips was
among the first to take phone calls on the air.
Along with Marilyn Miller, his producer for more than 25 years,
Phillips was able to track down presidents and potentates at a
His show was characterized by his quick wit, generous heart and clever
use of taped drop-ins.
He also was the first to offer a $ 1 million prize. In his most famous
and longest-running promotion, listeners were invited to guess what
was inside "Wally's Black Box." No one ever did. The box turned out to
contain a note bearing the name of Jean Rogers, a movie heroine
Marking his 50th year in radio in 1997, Phillips was inducted into the
National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Among his legacies at WGN was establishment of the Neediest Kids Fund,
for which he raised more than $25 million.
>Wally Phillips, WGN broadcaster and legend of Chicago Radio radio,
>dies at 82
>March 27, 2008 BY SUN-TIMES STAFF
>Wally Phillips, one of Chicago's most popular and influential radio
>personalities of all time, has died, WGN-AM (720) is reporting this
>Phillips, a Radio Hall of Famer, had been battling Alzheimerąs disease
Mornings...Wally Phillips and the giveaway was always pantyhose.
Didnt he divorce and marry the same woman like 3 times?