WGN radio host Wally Phillips has died after battling Alzheimer’s disease for the last five years. See Wally Phillips photos, biography, and videos here.
Wally Phillips, whose wit and charm dominated the art of the on-air radio personality in Chicago for two decades, was a Radio Hall of Famer.
“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.”
Wally Phillips was a retired radio personality best known for hosting WGN’s morning radio show for twenty-one years from January 1965 until July 1986, and was number one in the morning slot from 1968 until he left for an afternoon radio slot in 1986.
Phillips was a pioneer of the radio call-in talk show format, the format that now pervades WGN radio.
He began his career in Cincinnati where he established his call-in format. He moved to Chicago, Illinois along with staff announcer and future Bozo the Clown star Bob Bell in the 1950s.
His WGN morning show was consistently top-rated in Chicago, and led to his being labeled the king of morning radio.
Phillips was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, in the Museum of Broadcast Communications, in 1993.
At the peak of his popularity 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: