Former WGN Radio host, Wally Phillips, dies at 82

NAPLES, Fla. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease five years ago, according to WGN Radio, and died in Naples, Fla., Thursday morning.

Phillips informed, amused and entertained listeners for more than 20 years on Chicago's airwaves. Phillips broadcast out of Studio A at WGN Radio on Michigan Avenue. He worked at the station from 1956 to his retirement in 1998.

"I think those of us who have been here for a number of years certainly were greatly influenced by him. Many people out there who have been listening for decades remember him well, as well," said Steve Bertrand, WGN Radio.

Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1925, Phillips came to WGN Radio from Cincinnati and quickly became an ambassador for Chicago. He woke up many Chicagoans as radio host on WGN's morning show from 1965 to 1986.

"He had such a huge following. It was not at all unusual to be sitting at a stoplight when he was on the air in the morning. If you would look around, you would see other people laughing at the same time you were at something Wally had said or done," said Max Armstrong, WGN Radio.

Philips was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2004, the city of Chicago named a street after him.

"If you go up and down the street and talk to some of the folks at some of the other radio stations in town, many of them would tell you that were if not for Wally Phillips, they wouldn't have been as enthusiastic about this business. And, they learned things from Wally and little tricks of the trade that they still apply every day," said Armstrong.

Phillips was a model for many radio broadcasters now on the air and is also credited with making AM Radio such a vibrant part of Chicago culture. At a time when other AM stations struggled with the popularity of FM-Radio, Phillips kept loyal listeners coming back.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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