Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Sunday Comments ( 06 - 03 - 18 ) : Special Dick Biondi Edition

Kent, my friend;
If you look in the dictionary under "Class," you may well find a picture of Dick Biondi, a man who brings new meaning to the phrase "uncommon decency." I loved Dick Biondi as a kid; I treasure his legacy and his energy and unique persona as an adult.  #Oneofakind.
Rahm and the City of Chicago should have a day set aside to honor this master craftsman.
Chet Coppock

Well, they dedicated Dick Biondi Way a few years ago … but I agree that some type of proper send-off should be held.
I remember many years ago when Biondi was doing one of his countless Toy Drives at York Town Shopping Center … he was center stage at the mic with Ronnie Rice and I was just out there as part of the very large crowd surrounding all the festivities when all of a sudden he called out "Hey, isn't that the Forgotten Hits Guy over there?"  He called me up there with them … one of those TRULY "I am not worthy" moments. 
Dick gave hundreds if not thousands of hours at Christmas Time, trying to raise money and toy donations for the less fortunate Children of Chicago … he would sometimes stay on the air for dozens of hours at a time … and local celebs regularly stopped by to help raise funds.  He fulfilled his every dream of being a broadcaster ten times over … and should be allowed to step into the sunset in a FAR classier manner than just an announcement that he won't be returning to the WLS-FM airwaves.  The man deserves FAR more than this.
Here's to hoping that SOME ABC Executive will demand that those currently in charge collectively remove their heads from up their collective asses and show this man the respect he deserves … and give him a classy send-off that ALL of Chicago can remember and appreciate.  (kk)

Here's a photo of Dick Biondi at the Street Dedication Ceremony with Photographer Michael Bush, who is normally on the OTHER side of the camera lens.  (Mike has a brand new exhibition coming up, showing off some of his collected works from the past 40+ years of hob-nobbling with the rock stars he has photographed ...  both up close and personal as well as acts captured live on stage.  Stay tuned for more details as to where you can check it out.  It promises to be quite the tribute to the artists who have provided the soundtrack to our lives.)

When the Buckinghams first heard that Dick Biondi was let go at WLS, we were very saddened. As Jim Peterik and The Ides said, “You can’t fire a legend like Dick Biondi.”
Dick will have an everlasting impression on radio and the music business as we know it.  Whenever Dick’s name comes up as The Buckinghams travel and perform around the country, we are always pleased to find out how many people, fans and other radio personalities know and love Dick Biondi. He has helped launch so many of our careers when we were starting out, when he would play our records in the early days, defying program directors just to support us. Dick has that God given talent to connect with his audience because he is one of them. 
Dick, you are still a bright star and will always be … so much a part of the music we make. We are all so blessed to know you. 
We will be thinking of you with good thoughts and prayers. 
With Love and admiration. 
Carl Giammarese and The Buckinghams

I first met Dick back in the summer of 1968.  He was making an appearance at the Kane County Fair about 35 miles west of Chicago.  At the time, I was a budding DJ on a local station.  I hoped to introduce myself without all the crowds, so I staked out the entrance to the fair and waited for a fancy car or limo to enter ... and waited.  Finally, when it was showtime, I went to see him and there he was.  Somehow he had gotten by me. 
After the appearance, I did have a chance to meet him and we talked for several minutes about my career and he invited me downtown to watch him do his radio show.  I asked him how he got to the Fair and he showed me a somewhat used dark green VW beetle, that he drove himself ... nothing fancy.  Since then, I did go and watch him do his radio show and met him several more times at area appearances. 
When he returned to WBBM-FM, I was invited to come down to his studio 90 minutes before his show and had the opportunity to interview him for another station.  On another occasion, he recorded several radio-show promos for me, even though I was on a different station in the same market.  Each time we visited I reminded him of that VW beetle and he seemed truly pleased and nostalgic that someone had remembered it.  I always wanted to invite him for dinner, but it never happened.  If it had, my mom would have probably rolled over in her grave, since she practically took the radio away from me whenever he was on-air. 
He is one of the truly nicest guys in the business.
Jon M
St. Charles, IL

Hi Kent,
So sorry to hear that the GREAT DICK BIONDI will not be returning to the Radio Air Waves! He is truly a legend and has meant a lot to my life, growing up listening to him.
I may have been the first person to approach him about starting a Fan Club for him in 1960 or 61. Took a bus, went to the WLS studio and met him with the idea. I still have the written correspondence from him!  lol
Hoping Pam Pulice will have some Library Appearances in the near west Suburbs!  There will NEVER by another DJ  like the "WILD  ITRALIAN  DICK BIONDI"!!!!

These above two comments are priceless … especially the one from Carolyn, who started the very first Dick Biondi Fan Club!  (I forwarded these to Pam Pulice, who is making the Dick Biondi Documentary that we keep telling you about.)  Both of these stories belong in this film … and Pam agreed.  (In fact, I would even suggest that she interview Carolyn on film so she can show her 1960 Dick Biondi memorabilia!)

Here is a copy of her comment back …

Dear Kent,
Wow! Thank you so much for sending these to me. I would love to capture their heart-warming stories.  Yes, please put me in touch. Thanks again, Kent.

I don't recall if I told you that Paul Shaffer, who is in the film, made a generous donation. If we had 50 people like Paul, the doc could be finished in a matter of months. I give kudos to Ron Onesti of Onesti Entertainment for helping us get that interview with Paul and others, and for getting behind this project from the very beginning. Ron is a standup guy whose heart is in the right place. I just love this guy! And I can't thank him enough. He is right now putting together a fundraising committee to get this done ASAP so Dick can have the honor he so richly deserves. 
I feel so grateful for all the people who have come forth to make this dream happen. There's a community of loving good folks in my life now that I never knew existed before. Life is full of surprises and connecting with all these people has enhanced my life tremendously.  
This week my coeditor Steve Zagata and I are heading to the Cumulus / WLS FM studios to show the entire staff our 21 minute screener. Cumulus VP Marth Nyren is inviting the press to be there as well and has offered to help us by taking donations on the WLS FM website. We are very excited about this opportunity! This is BIG. 
Kent, thank you for all your doing to help us spread the word. Keep up the great work! Love to you and all music makers, DJs, recorders of history, fans and friends who keep the music alive. 

Here are several Dick Biondi newspaper clippings I’ve collected over the years … as well as a short piece of my interview with WLS Program Director Gene Taylor giving his take on what happened when Biondi left WLS in 63.  This is from my personal interview with Gene in 1991.  
Clark Besch

Remember this moment on Letterman?  Hope this can be viewed somehow.  Not sure if this was on youtube or off one of my video tapes.  Has been on my computer for ages. 
Clark Besch
The only way I could figure out how to share this video was to offer it as an attachment to anyone who wanted to see it after reading this week’s special posting.  It is especially cool to see Paul Shaffer … who just made a sizeable donation to get the Biondi Documentary done … single out our Local Hero on national television!  So, if you want a copy, drop me an email at and we'll send it along to you via email.  
Thanks, Clark!  (kk)

Here are a few of the previous tributes we received after WLS announced that Dick Biondi would not be returning to the airwaves ...

I’m sorry, but you cannot fire Dick Biondi. That term will never apply. You cannot terminate a spirit as strong as his. You cannot compare him to anyone else on radio.  
How can you put an expiration date on a legend?
A legend lives forever, changing the world for everyone in the range of his voice. Dick would never buy into his own divinity, which makes him even more divine. 
He is a burning star in the galaxy of rock and roll ... and nothing can stop him from shining. 
Dick, we are all thinking of you right now.  And loving you forever.  
Jim Peterik and all the Ides of March

Kent -
I enjoyed your tribute to Dick Biondi. It’s hard to believe that I never had the pleasure of meeting Dick, having worked in only one market at the same time and that was your city .
Without question, Dick is truly a Radio Icon and should be remembered for the impact he had on the industry. (Hey, we should all be as fortunate to have as long a run as Dick had in a very tough business.)
Keep your fingers crossed, Chicago … maybe someone will come along and welcome him with open arms.
Then again, Dick might say “Thanks but no thanks!”
Either way, thanks Dick, for a magnificent career.
Johnny Holliday
Hi Kent, 
We just received a very generous donation from Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band! We are honored to have Paul in the film, and especially grateful because this means we can get back to piecing together our story.  Paul’s generosity gets us one step closer to the finish line.  
We are actively seeking our passion partners … people who believe in our mission and want to help us bring the Dick Biondi story to PBS. Now, more than ever, knowing Dick will not be returning to the airwaves at 94.7 WLS-FM, we feel it is vital to finish this project in a timely fashion.  If any of your readers would like their name, group, or company associated with “The Voice That Rocked America: The Dick Biondi Story,” please have them call me at 630-670-8411.  Or visit our Donate page
Kent, we are screening our new 20 minute prevue followed by a Q&A at select venues around Chicagoland and getting a lot of great reactions from people in spite of it being a work in progress.  We’ve got two  screenings booked and are planning more.  Hope to see you at one. You never know who’s gonna show up, like John Landecker who surprised me at the Michigan City Library last Sunday.  John calls himself the Dick Biondi Ambassador and has been a great supporter of the project. Of course John’s in the film along with so many great, great personalities.  What a journey this has been for me to get to know all these DJs and artists I grew up listening to.  Incredible. 
June 5th - 1:00 PM - Fremont Library - 1170 N Midlothian Rd - Mundelein, IL 60060
July 1st - 2:00 PM - Sulzer Library - 4455 N Lincoln Ave - Chicago, IL 60625 with Special Guest Ronnie Rice, who will talk about Dick’s impact on the music of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s
As always Kent, thanks for keeping us informed and keeping the music alive.
Pam Pulice
Director, The Dick Biondi Film 
(630) 670-8411 
Film website
Daily Herald article 
Tax deductible donations  
All donations to this project are tax- deductible and will be received through our fiscal sponsor, Chicago Filmmakers, which is a Non-Profit 501(c) 3 organization. 
Checks can be made payable to Chicago Filmmakers — write Dick Biondi Project in memo line.
Mail to: 
Dick Biondi Project c/o Chicago Filmmakers
5720 N. Ridge Avenue 
Chicago, IL 60660    
If you’ve got some comments you’d like to make about the storied career of Dick Biondi, please send them along … and we’ll make sure he sees them! (kk)

As mentioned yesterday, Dick Biondi has officially been terminated by WLS Radio, the station he helped put on the map back in 1960.
At 85 years of age (some would say 88), Biondi has certainly fulfilled his lifelong dream of being a disc jockey … a thousand times over … yet there is still a veil of sadness here in The Windy City to hear that he will not be returning to the airwaves again (unless another station in town happens to pick him up through his final ride off into the sunset.)
The general tone of the dozens and dozens of emails we received today echo the sentiment of “The End Of An Era” … Biondi came along at a time when rock and roll was still fairly new and there weren’t a lot of rules yet in broadcasting.  Despite the age difference, he immediately appealed to the teenage audience who bought rock and roll records, went to concerts and came out to the many record hops held all around The Windy City.
He pioneered a style of broadcasting that brought out the rebel in dozens of disc jockeys who followed him down the road of prominence in the radio industry.
I’ve known Dick for many years now, first interviewing him for our feature on “Who Played The First Beatles Record In The United States” series that ran nearly twenty years ago and helped put Forgotten Hits on the map.  (The answer to that question, by the way, IS Dick Biondi!!!)
I’ve been to dozens of events he’s MC’d over the years … everything from toy drives to pizza parlors to amusement parks to car washes … to record hops and concerts he has mc’d.  A nicer human being you’re not going to meet.
Biondi has felt the love of this great city for nearly sixty years … and embraced it right back … he is in every sense of the word a radio icon.
Which is all the more reason this documentary about his career needs to be made.

We heard from Pam Pulice this morning after she read the news in Robert Feder’s column … she has spear-headed this project and is executive producing the film.
She sent me this note, which was also posted on the various websites devoted to raising funds for this film …
We just read the sad news, folks. We are sorry to hear that Dick will not be coming back to 94.7 WLS FM. We will work even harder to finish our tribute to Dick and we thank Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Chicago, for supporting our mission. 
Dick, if you're reading this, we love you and send prayers for your restored health. Friends, if you have something to say to Dick, please leave your messages and we will pass them on. Please share this with your friends. 
You can read the full Robert Feder column here: