Saturday, February 4, 2012



We've raided the Chicagoland Radio and Media Vault BIG TIME this week as it pertains to "Soul Train" Host and Founder Don Cornelius.  Chicagoland Media has planned some major tributes to Cornelius this weekend and we wanted to pass the info along to our readers so that they, too, could tune in where applicable.  Read on ...  

First comes this news about WCIU's Tribute to the late Don Cornelius.  (WCIU was the first station to air Cornelius' legendary "Soul Train" program back in 1971, a couple of years before the show was syndicated around the country)  Hopefully, we're not posting this too late for some of you to actually see it, 'cause it sounds like a pretty stellar line-up of programming ... including Don's first and last nationally syndicated episodes!  (kk):

With the shocking news earlier today of the death of Don Cornelius, the former Chicago radio / TV personality and creator / host of the iconic "Soul Train" television show, Weigel Broadcasting's WCIU-TV will pay tribute to the legend tomorrow morning, and then again for many hours this weekend. WCIU-TV, the first television station Don Cornelius ever worked for and where "Soul Train" was created, will do this first on their weekday morning program "You & Me This Morning," and then later by simulcasting a seven-hour marathon from Bounce-TV on Saturday night.
Beginning at 6:00 am tomorrow (Thursday) morning, WCIU-TV's "You & Me This Morning" will be be spending much of the two-hour show celebrating the life of Don Cornelius. Hosts Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman take a look back at the start of Don Cornelius' television career on WCIU-TV in the late 1960s, and his rise to national fame in the 1970s and beyond.
The tributes won't end tomorrow morning, though ...
Bounce TV, the first-ever national over-the-air broadcast television network specifically targeting African-Americans, which is seen in Chicago on Weigel Broadcasting-owned WWME 23.2, will be airing a seven-hour long marathon of "Soul Train" episodes Saturday evening, beginning at 6:00 pm. WCIU-TV will be stopping all of its pre-planned programming for that evening to instead simulcast the Bounce TV broadcast of the "Soul Train" marathon. The special presentation will be hosted by TLC's Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas. The marathon will begin with "Soul Train's" first-ever nationally syndicated episode and conclude with Don Cornelius' final episode as host.
The Bounce TV salute to Don Cornelius and "Soul Train" will be able to be seen over the air on WWME 23.2, as well as the stronger HD signal on WCIU 26.1. For those with cable / satellite systems, WCIU-TV, aka "The U," can also be seen locally on Comcast / Xfinity HD 183, RCN 6, RCN HD 606, WOW 6, WOW HD 207, AT&T U-verse 10, AT&T U-verse HD 1010, DirecTV HD 26, and Dish Network 26.
Here is the list of scheduled "Soul Train" episodes for Saturday night's marathon:
6:00 pm: The very first episode of "Soul Train," with live music guests Gladys Knight & The Pips -- Original air date: October 2, 1971
7:00 pm: Live music guest Al Green -- Original air date: February 19, 1972
8:00 pm: Live music guests The Commodores -- Original air date: February 12, 1977
9:00 pm: Live music guests Kool and the Gang -- Original air date: December 17, 1983
10:00 pm: Live music guest Janet Jackson -- Original air date: March 29, 1986
11:00 pm: Live music guests En Vogue -- Original air date: May 19, 1990
Midnight: Don Cornelius' last show as host, with live music guests The Commodores -- Original air date: June 26, 1993

And Sunday has been declared "Don Cornelius Day" by legendary Chicagoland Broadcaster Herb Kent:   

WVAZ-FM / V103 and Herb Kent will have a special presentation on the air this Sunday, calling it "Don Cornelius Day." During Herb Kent's regular Sunday shift of Noon - 7:00 pm, instead of just playing old favorite music, the show will be focused on an old favorite legendary talent: the late Don Cornelius. For seven hours, the station will be celebrating the life and legacy of legendary, trailblazing broadcaster.
While Sunday afternoon's show will be a celebration, the reason behind this celebration is a sad one. Yesterday morning, the country was shaken by the shocking news of
the death of Don Cornelius, the former Chicago radio / TV personality and creator / producer / host of the iconic "Soul Train" television show. Cornelius, a native of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, and who started his incredible media career and "Soul Train" show here locally, was only 75 at the time of his death.
Throughout Herb Kent's seven hour show, very special guests will join him in talking about the greatness of Chicago's Don Cornelius. Among those scheduled to participate are former WBEE-AM / WCIU-TV / WGN-TV legend Merri Dee, former WVON-AM great Bill "Butterball" Crane, WBEZ-FM's Richard Steele, singer / Cook County Commissioner Jerry "The Iceman" Butler, and singer Gene "The Duke Of Earl" Chandler. Of course, Herb Kent, a radio legend himself, former co-worker of Cornelius' at WVON-AM, and life long friend of his, will be sharing his many memories throughout the day. Additionally, fans will be welcomed to call into the WVAZ-FM studios on Sunday afternoon to share their reflections of Don Cornelius.
Derrick Brown, Clear Channel Chicago's Director of Urban Programming, said in a statement late today: "Don Cornelius was a true visionary. He took "Soul Train," a local concept and made it a worldwide phenomenon. He deserves our gratitude and respect."
Herb Kent pointed out: "Without Don Cornelius and the "Soul Train" show, music wouldn't be what it is today. He gave R&B music a giant boost."
The Sunday afternoon radio salute will be able to be heard over the air on 102.7 FM in Chicago, as well as worldwide via
the V103 website and Clear Channel's iHeartRadio app.

Here's Chicagoland Radio and Media's original coverage of the death of Don Cornelius ...
Written by Larz   
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 08:57
According to numerous reports, Don Cornelius, the former Chicago radio personality and creator / host of the iconic "Soul Train" television show, has died. Reports claim that Cornelius was found in his at his Mulholland Drive home in Los Angeles at approximately 4:00 am (PST), dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his own head, in what looks to be a suicide. He was officially pronounced dead at 4:56 am at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Authorities are investigating deeper.
Donald Cortez Cornelius was born in Chicago on September 27, 1936. He worked quite a few other jobs before he became nationally famous. He was an insurance salesman, a cartoonist, a writer, a journalist, and a traffic police officer. It is said that he was "discovered" by WVON-AM radio announcer / news director Roy Wood. After Officer Cornelius pulled over Wood for a traffic violation, Wood so loved the quality of Cornelius' soulful voice, that he convinced him to come down to the radio station and make a demo reel. Cornelius eventually signed up with a local broadcasting school, took Roy Wood up on that offer and the rest is history. (Supposedly, Wood still was given the traffic ticket.)
Don Cornelius was a part-time DJ and news anchor for Chicago's WVON-AM in the mid-1960's (starting in 1966). He had also been hired to use his cool, deep voice to do some station announcing and sports anchoring for WCIU-TV.
As many DJs did in the 60's to make extra cash, Cornelius emceed concerts, "record hops," and high-school dances around the Chicago area, calling these events "The Soul Train." WCIU-TV and Cornelius thought it would be fun to bring these types of live events to television. They sought to combine the excitement of the Cornelius-hosted live events with the format of TV's "American Bandstand." Cornelius shot and produced the pilot for the show on his own, using $400 of his own money. WCIU-TV loved the pilot and signed it up right away. The locally produced, locally-only shown daily dance show called "Soul Train" began airing on WCIU-TV in August 1970. The initially very low-budget show was shot & aired live in the later afternoons, right after Chicago schools let out, to help draw in the younger viewers. It was an almost instant hit in Chicago. Just over one year later, in October 1971, the show was moved to Los Angeles and became a nationally syndicated weekly smash, eventually being seen in almost 100 markets.
More than that, the program, in its prime, was a cultural phenomenon and historically important program. Not only did "Soul Train" help to launch or springboard up the careers of numerous artists, the show simplistically helped break down racial barriers that still existed in the 1970's. Black artists, music, fashion, dance styles, culture -- even Black commercials -- that were not previously widely seen by White, middle-class America, were being shown to the masses, and being openly accepted and appreciated in homes nationwide, thanks to popularity of "Soul Train."
The show's creator and producer, Don Cornelius, hosted the program from its start until 1993. The show itself lasted until 2006, with various other hosts, but none had the magic touch or cool charisma of Cornelius. The show currently holds the distinction the longest-running, nationally syndicated program in television history. (At least for a few more years, until "Entertainment Tonight" and/or "Wheel of Fortune" will surpass it).
The City of Chicago honored Cornelius and "Soul Train" last summer with the first-ever
"Soul Train" Photo Exhibition at a Chicago gallery (which also featured "Soul Train" dances on weekend nights), by announcing the honorary naming of a street after him, and with a giant "Soul Train 40th Anniversary Concert" on Labor Day at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion, with Don Cornelius himself at the show.
Cornelius was said to have been in ill health and suffering from various ailments in recent years. He went through a ugly divorce in 2009, ending a bitter marriage that had very public fights and incidents.
Despite how his life may have ended, it is how he lived his life, the paths he blazed, and all the countless of hours of incredible music & entertainment that he gave to a worldwide audience, which will be remembered forever.
As the man himself would say as he ended his weekly "Soul Train" program: "...And you can bet your last money, it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey. I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!"

Don Cornelius in Chicago - 2011
Photo credit: Paul Natkin

LOTS of DON-STUFF going on ...  

Time Out Chicago columnist Rob Feder reports ...  

Fans, friends and colleagues of Don Cornelius will pay tribute to the legendary creator, producer and host of Soul Train at a public memorial service Wednesday at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 North State Street. Doors will open at 5:15 pm, and the event will be broadcast live from 6 to 8pm on WVON-AM (1690), the Midway Broadcasting news / talk station.
Cornelius, a native of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, began his career in radio on the Chess Brothers’ original WVON before joining Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU-Channel 26, where he launched Soul Train in 1970. He died at 75 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound earlier this week at his Los Angeles home.
Speakers at the service are expected to include the Rev. Jesse Jackson, soul singer and Cook County Commissioner Jerry The Iceman Butler, Radio Hall of Famer Herb Kent, radio executives Marv Dyson and Melody Spann Cooper, producer Don Jackson, and colleagues Richard Steele and Jeanne Sparrow, among others.
Billed as a celebration of the life and career of Cornelius “and the Soul Train generation he inspired,” the service is being presented by WVON, WCIU/The U, and Clear Channel urban adult-contemporary WVAZ-FM (102.7).
In a related event, V103 has designated Sunday Don Cornelius Day, with Kent hosting a special edition of his show from noon to 7pm. Celebrity guests and listeners will reflect on the legacy of the Chicago visionary and legend.
“Without Don Cornelius and the Soul Train show, music wouldn’t be what it is today,” Kent said in a statement. “He gave R&B music a giant boost.”
Because of plans for the Cornelius memorial, the Museum of Broadcast Communications has postponed A Salute to Radio Hall of Famer Herb Kent, which had been scheduled for February 11.  

Here's another link to Artie Wayne's personal reminisces ...  

Kent ... 
Berry Gordy, Jr. might have introduced MOTOWN as the “SOUND of YOUNG AMERICA”, but it was Don Cornelius who brought the “SOUL of ALL AMERICA” into our living room for 35 years. His syndicated TV show, SOUL TRAIN was the safest place to see the latest fashions, the newest dance steps, and for a long time the only place to see African-American performers on a regular basis.
Artie Wayne   

And this from one of our readers after our initial report ...
Thanx for your clever turn of phrase in your announcement of Don Cornelius demise ... it was so precisely stated as to draw tears ... "... bought his own ticket on the Soul Train to the great beyond ..." Yeah ... exactly.  Sad.  RIP, Don!