March 27, 2008

A Legend Passes


Wally Phillips 1925-2008

The Pond is in mourning right now, as the news of the death of Wally Phillips hits home.  If you lived in the Midwest in the '70s or '80s, or you've worked in the radio business, you know who Wally was: the most popular morning drive host of all time.

Get this, Pond Readers... Wally Phillips was the morning host of Chicago's WGN-AM (720 on your dial) from 1965 to 1986.  During that time, WGN's morning show was not only #1 in the Arbitron ratings (Arbitron is the Nielsen of radio), but was far and away the highest-rated show in Chicago, at times garnering HALF OF THE MARKET.  His successors, Bob Collins (from 1986 until his death in a small plane crash in 2000) and Spike O'Dell (2000-present), have just carried on with the immense ratings.

But that was just in Chicago and the suburbs!  WGN-AM is a 50KW station, and can be heard in 38 States and Canada. 

In a business where five years is a long time, and 10 years is forever, 21 years is eternity.  21 years on the top of the ratings sheet is unheard of... but Wally did it in one of the largest markets in the country.  He's often called the father of talk radio, though that might be stretching things a tad... certainly he was one of the originators of the genre.  If you listen to a call-in radio show, you're hearing things that Wally pioneered.

He was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.  One of the quickest of wits ever on the radio, he died, ironically, of complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

You'll be missed, Wally.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:51 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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