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I hope this isn’t one of those “things happen in threes”

January 14, 2013

Yeah, I’m a middle-aged white guy. That used to mean, in the Chicago area, at least, that I would automatically have to listen to WGN radio. I never did, though. I work in a music field, at least part of the time. So if I have a radio station on it will be a talk station, not a music station.

In the 1980s and early 90s I listened to WLUP-AM when it was in its heyday – Jon Brandmeier, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, and especially Kevin Matthews. (I’m sure some are spelled incorrectly. Not looking them up right now, sorry.)

Anyway, WLUP turned into ESPN Radio suddenly one day, and I moved to WLS-AM because that was the station where Rush Limbaugh was broadcast. I’ve pretty much stuck with them. They have a conservative slant, and I appreciate it. I don’t listen to Roe and Roeper much in the afternoons, but I used to listen to Don Wade and Roma a lot in the morning, and the the sort of rotating local hosts that inhabited the 9-11 AM slot. Nobody stayed on there more than two or three years, I think.

Anyway, last fall Don Wade had a stroke and he and wife Roma were off the air while he started his recovery. They decided not to return to the air a few weeks ago. Don is improving but the early morning hours had to be tough, and they did it for decades. Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft moved from the 9-11 slot to the early morning drive, and seem to have been working out pretty well. That time slot was then filled by Jake Hartford, who had done weekend  fill-in for some time for WLS, with John Kass, a well-known Chicago Tribune columnist.

Jake Hartford (real name Jim Edwards) passed away yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 63. He had a long and varied – and very successful – career in radio and TV, much of which I never knew because he was a behind-the-scenes guy much of the time. I am saddened by his passing and I really hope this is not one of those “things happen in threes” situations. Neither Don Wade nor Jake Hartford were in poor health prior to their medical incidents, and for me, in my late 50s, it’s another warning of my own mortality.

Anyway, my condolences to Jake’s family. I’ve listened to these folks for years and years and while they didn’t know me, after listening almost every day I feel like I know them a little. It’s kind of unnerving.

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