DJ Dick Biondi is Back
Legendary Dick Biondi back to spinning oldies!
By Robert Feder, Chicago Sun-Times Columnist - November 2, 2006
It's the best radio news of the year: Dick Biondi,
Chicago's greatest rock 'n' roll disc jockey of all
time, is coming back. The broadcast legend and Radio
Hall of Famer signed a multiyear agreement Wednesday
to join ABC-owned "True Oldies" WZZN-FM (94.7) as
Starting next week, he'll be on from 9 p.m. to
midnight Monday through Friday.
"I am so happy to get back on the air and really
excited I get to stay in Chicago," Biondi said of his
new deal, negotiated by agent David Martin.
Biondi, 74, has been in radio limbo since June 2005
when CBS Radio pulled the plug on oldies and ended
Biondi's 21-year run at WJMK-FM (104.3) to make way
for the lifeless adult-hits format of "Jack FM."
For about a year, Biondi was relegated to Internet and
HD Radio outlets, where he could be heard by only a
small fraction of his hundreds of thousands of former
listeners. In a final indignity last July, Biondi was
fired in a corporate cost-cutting binge dubbed "Black
Wednesday" by the trade press.
Of all the blunders CBS Radio bosses have made in
recent years (and there isn't enough room on this page
to list them all), their treatment of Biondi was by
far the most shameful.
But better late than never, ABC seized the opportunity
to hire Biondi and enhance the "True Oldies" outlet
launched last fall by Scott Shannon, the veteran New
York programmer. Shannon, who'll be inducted this
weekend in the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago, has been
providing recorded voice tracks for the station
outside of morning and afternoon drive.
Biondi's hiring closely follows that of another
Chicago radio icon, John Records Landecker, who signed
on as afternoon personality Oct. 16. Mornings are
hosted by Scott Mackay.
"How exciting it is to build a genuine oldies station
here in Chicago," said John Gallagher, president and
general manager of WZZN and news/talk sister station
"The response we received when other oldies formats
went away asking us to bring back some of these radio
legends was overwhelming," Gallagher said. "And by far
the No. 1 personality they requested was Dick Biondi.
He and Landecker really give the station credibility.
They make us authentic."
In addition to playing the rock 'n' roll tunes he
helped make famous, Biondi will draw on his amazing
memory and vast archive of interviews and other audio
clips to personalize the artists and groups featured
by the station.
"John Gallagher has agreed to let me try and do some
things that I don't think have ever been done before
on Chicago radio," Biondi said.
The native of Endicott, N.Y., remains as energetic and
enthusiastic as he was in 1960 when he first came to
Chicago and put WLS on the map as a 50,000-watt
nighttime powerhouse. He'd already been influential in
advancing the careers of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee
Lewis, among others.
Voted the nation's most popular Top 40 disc jockey in
1961 and 1962, Biondi was the first in America to play
a Beatles record on the air when "Please Please Me"
was released in February 1963. He introduced the Fab
Four in concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and Dodger
His firing that year from WLS over an off-air
altercation with a sales manager became the stuff of
Although his radio odyssey saw him crisscross the
country many times, Chicagoans always were among his
most ardent fans. "The Wild I-Tralian" came back to
the market in the late '60s at the former WCFL and
again in the early '80s at WBBM-FM (96.3) before
settling in at WJMK.
"Chicago listeners are the most loyal fans in the
world, and I ought to know," he said. "I've worked
By his count, Biondi has been fired from 24 radio
stations during the course of his 56-year radio
career. "I'm not looking forward to getting fired for
the 25th time," he joked.
Thanks to Dale at the SOWNY Board
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