Art's love for music and dedication to creating a great and entertaining show was only surpassed by his affection for his listeners, co-workers and colleagues. He treated them all with respect, never talking down to them, always interested in what they had to say. In addition, it was clear that his family was always number one, followed closely, I suspect, by his horse!
I had the pleasure of meeting Art in person about 2 years ago. Art and his family were back in Chicago for a wedding and I had invited him to visit Windy 100 and to lunch. I figured that he would be very busy and politely decline, but to my surprise Art was more than happy to stop by. When he arrived, he was an absolute delight. He had lots of questions about our stations and the technology we used. We talked about the current state of radio and he was happy to chat with some of the staff. Afterwards we had lunch and swapped some great stories. I was thrilled to spend the afternoon with a radio legend. He wouldn't even let me pay the restaurant check!
After a cab ride back to the train station, Art was on his way and I was left with a good feeling.
As time passed, we continued to chat. Then the news that Art suffered a stroke, but he came through strong with the support of family and friends. And even though his physical body didn't move the way it used to, Art's mind was as sharp as ever! I always enjoyed trading stories and pleasantries with him via email. And his website was always a treat to read as Art offered advice, support and his special brand of wit.
Unfortunately Art suffered another stroke this past February and it was obvious that his family was very concerned. One of his daughters wrote that she wished that the news was good, but....
Art passed away on March 6th near his home in Nevada.
I always told Art how I looked forward to his return to Chicago for another chance to pay for lunch.
I sure hope he knows how much I appreciated his kindness, concern and friendship.
I'm heart broken about it.
Art was a great guy, and a God of a radio talent!
For the seven short, enjoyable years in the 1960s that I was WLS, my show and Art's followed each other. Through those years we were constantly in touch - he was my colleague, my "friendly competitor", now and then my adversary, but always my friend.
We got together several times after that for industry and WLS anniversary functions and later every week by email. We always had a great deal of fun talking about people and events that took place during the WLS "glory days of Rock & Roll." And what stories we swapped.
After his initial stroke in 1999 I went to Nevada to visit him - and despite it all - wheel chair - limited use of his right side - somehow there was the same old Art - articulating, and as always, creating a new thought or idea a minute - writing a book - tending his website. One morning while I was visiting, his "wonder-wife" Bobbie reminded him to take his pills. I said "thanks for the reminder", as I forgot to take my blood pressure pill. So there we were, Art and Ron sitting in his kitchen taking our respective pills. Art shot out - "Hey Ron, did you ever think when were up there at Sox park introducing the Beatles, that 35 years later we'd be here in the high desert of Nevada taking our medications together." He had a joke for everything! That night they took me to dinner at a great local French restaurant, and the next day I pushed his chair out onto the porch into the mountain sunshine and said goodbye as I headed back East.
Radio has lost another legend who has contributed a great deal of himself to broadcasting and encouraged those aspiring to get into the business.
It's rare in our industry that you retain and value a friendship for over 35 years. I have lost a friend.
God take care of you, Art.
My Art Roberts moments go way back. It was the Spring of 1966. I was 10 years
old and had weekly clarinet lessons in Downtown Chicago. Every week I would
travel down early and make a pilgramage to Marina City (WCFL) and then the Stone
Container Building (WLS) to see the personalities who jumped out of my radio
every night. Those were great days...Top 40 was coming into its own and WLS
& WCFL were the trailblazers.
Usually each Saturday, if you hung around long enough, you'd get a chance to meet a personality. One Saturday I had the chance to meet the man who I would listen to religiously each night on WLS...Art Roberts. He came out of the back offices and thanked everyone who was there for coming down to the station and gave a precious few of us a tour of the station. I still have a momento of that day...his autograph on a WLS survey. Art was as genuine in person as he was on the air. He was the type who made you feel he was talking to you and cherished that bond.
Fast forward to 1997. I had opened up a website featuring Chicago radio history...including old WLS and WCFL surveys, including the WLS personality magazine that came out in 1967. It included a feature on Art. One day I got an email from him and we began a correspondence that went until earlier this year. Even better was we would talk on the phone from time to time. It was great to hear Art share stories of his long and incredible career. The stations he worked at, the people he touch and how amazed he was how many of us remembered him. Scott, you became a special favorite.
Art was especially touched after his stroke in '99 with the outpouring of get well wishes. One day I was surprised when he gave me a call out of the clear blue. Yes, he was as sharp as ever. He joked that he wouldn't be skiing that much in the Sierras as he had in the past, but I have a feeling he did make it back to the slopes. Art was always upbeat about people and radio. I never heard a bad word and always encouragement. And always a special appreciation for those who reached out to him.
I had heard that Art suffered another stroke two weeks ago and that it was far more serious than the first one. I was deeply saddened when I learned of his passing this morning but will always cherish his memory and friendship. My deepest sympathies go to his family, especially his daughter Dahlene, who continues to run his website.
My mailbox has been loaded with messages from Art's many friends. This is very sad news. My very first job was working for Art. Gene Taylor hired me to gopher for Art in 1965. I did it proudly for almost two years, and I learned at the feet of the master.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Art but he is most certainly the first disc jockey I have any memory of. To have worked where he worked was an honor. How lovely that you had such great opportunities to get to know him.
Art was a welcome companion every night on WLS. His enthusiasm for radio was certainly a factor that encouraged me to go into broadcasting. When my Starbeat's "What's Happening" was heard over WLS I could only think of the honor it was to be on those airwaves that Art helped make so famous. Art's voice will continue to echo out through the cosmos from those years at 50,000 watt WLS.
To family and friends I want to express my deepest sympathy. Only time can soothe the pain of such a great loss, but fond memories can never be lost only cherished.
Starbeat Intermedia, Inc. (Starbeat presents "What's Happening!")
Starbeat Recording Studios
That story you told is pure Art. I only knew him from WCFL.
We really hadn't kept in touch and one Sunday afternoon several years back he phoned me. He was visiting some friends in Milwaukee and must have looked up my number. What a surprise. It wasn't like we were buddy buddy, but he sure made you feel good.
The Aircheck Factory
He was a rare gem... not many of those left to discover...
Just like WLS, the one where Art worked, he was both unique and truly one-of-a-kind. And, similar to the great songs he enjoyed and played for his large and loyal audiences over the years, the memories ... will last forever. WLS would not have been the same, without him!
God bless you Art.
I will never forget Art's smooooth and mellifluous vocal delivery. Like so many of Art's fans, I grew up listening to him on WLS. Back in 1980, I had the opportunity to meet Art -- quite by accident actually... At the time, I was attending Northern Illinois University along with Johnny Marks, another Chicago radio enthusiast. (I seem to recall that Marty Zivin was with us too?) All three of us worked together at WKDI-FM, the college campus station. We had all aspired to one day work in the Chicago radio market. One day that spring, we planned a trip to WKQX-FM (Q101). We didn't have the common sense to call ahead and let the station know we wanted a tour. Upon entering the station's reception area at the Merchandise Mart, we were told that it was against the station's policy to give tours. (big surprise, right?) At that very moment, Art was exiting the station when he overheard the discussion. I couldn't believe it: Art turned around and gave us an hour-long tour of not only WKQX, but also WMAQ-AM, and WMAQ-TV (NBC 5)! We were appreciative beyond words. The epilogue is that upon conclusion of his tour, we exchanged good-byes, and he wished us the best in our future endeavors. What a guy!
~Paul Christensen, Esq.
I just now discovered on the website that Art Roberts has passed away, presumably last year. How sad I am to hear of my pal's passing. He was my "pal" in the general sense that in the early '60s, when WLS' studios were on floor 5 of the Stone building, they welcomed walk-in visitors, sometimes even into the DJ's booth. I got to know most of the crew of DJs on a first-name basis, but Art was the warmest, friendliest of the bunch. Once, he even spent his off-time with me in the lobby, chatting about my interest in radio, and even submitted to an impromptu interview which I had published in the Tuley High School newspaper! Although I haven't been much of a radio listener the past 35 years or so, those guys always remained in my fond memory, especially Art. (Dick Biondi ran a close second, and I never could get close enough to Gene Taylor to talk with him about his career). We've lost a true believer in the passing of Art Roberts, my condolences to his friends and family. We'll miss him. I understand by reading Scott C.'s page that he lived somewhere in Nevada, my current place of residence. We all miss him. God rest his soul.
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