Ken Nordine, 'The Voice' and 'Word Jazz' creator, dies at 98

ByMarsha Jordan via WLS logo
Sunday, February 17, 2019
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Ken Nordine created and hosted "Word Jazz" on WBEZ.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ken Nordine, known as "The Voice" in the Chicago creative community for eight decades, died Saturday at his home in the Edgewater neighborhood. He was 98.

He did groundbreaking work in radio and visual arts with people including David Bowie and Jerry Garcia.

Some may not know his name, but know the sound of his famous "Word Jazz," show on WBEZ. He was the creator and host of the show, which was an iconic feature for 40 years.

Nordine went to Lane Tech high school in Chicago and the University of Chicago. He grew up near Wrigley Field, where his family said he used to park cars for a nickel.

He launched a career in radio, and was the voice for thousands of commercials.

Fred Astaire even danced to Nordine's voice during a TV special and brought him on stage for a bow after being so impressed by the inspiration.

Nordine did most of his work -- including narration, visuals and music -- on a computer. He had his studio in a sprawling home in Chicago.

He had been in decline since a stroke a year and a half ago.