This project, which was to be a small tribute, ended up becoming quite a big endeavor! And it's never really finished. As initially
envisioned in 1998, this 75th Anniversary "exhibit" in the Chicago Radio Time Capsule section of
my main website, www.scottchilders.com
became a full-blown history and tribute site as
www.WLSHistory.com. I must say, it really has been a labor of love.
Although these pages were neither commissioned by WLS Radio, ABC or
Citadel Broadcasting, I think they underscore the effect the station has had upon it's listeners. It has inspired hundreds of people to get into the radio business and
it has fascinated thousands more listeners, both from Chicago and around the nation. It's amazing to see the emotional attachment that folks have to WLS and to the people who have
worked and currently work there, both in front of the microphones and
behind the scenes as well (see the "your thoughts" section).
I also lived the dream of being on air in Chicago for the last twenty or so years, as midday personality on WNND "Windy 100" from 1997-2002 as well as a traffic reporter and part-time air personality on several stations in and around Chicago before and after Windy.
While I consider myself somewhat of a WLS expert, my research for these pages has uncovered some fascinating people and stories that I had not known. Paging through several books on the Prairie Farmer Magazine/WLS, as well as the station's "Stand By" magazines and "Family Albums" taught me that before the rock and roll, there was more to WLS than just country music and the
National Barn Dance on Saturday nights. And recalling my first hand experiences as a WLS listener in the
1970's, 80's and 90's provided more information than I could ever use. I
guess that it also helped that I am a pack-rat and have kept nearly everything I've collected that deals with The Big 89! Most of what you see and hear in this presentation has come from my own personal collection.
Three big sources of information to fill in the fuzzy areas have been
Jeff Davis, Tommy Edwards and Harvey Wittenberg. Jeff
is the definitive WLS Historian and even after his 14 1/2 year tenure, he still holds his former station dear to his heart. His special programs, ranging from the 1985 25th Anniversary up to the most recent six-hour extravaganza marking the station's 75th Anniversary
and his active participation in the Big 89 Rewind illustrate his affinity and pride in being a part of WLS. A tip of the
microphone to Jeff! He is now a top voiceover talent in Los Angeles. Visit him at
I am also in
debt to former WLS Program Director Kipper McGee and former Marketing
Director Timothy Johnson and former Program Director Mike
Elder, who not only endorse and encouraged my
work with the website, but also understand that a great radio station
like WLS is what it is today because it embraces it's rich past. Current
General Manager Michael Damsky and Operations Chief Drew Hayes
are like-minded. Many of
these same folks have played a part in the production of my book WLS
Radio Chicago 1924-2007.
Plus, a hearty thank you to all those who have written, emailed and sent items in for inclusion on the site. Your help and encouragement is truly
©1999-2011, Scott Childers and Munchkin Studios™