The late Don Cornelius will be inducted into the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame exactly 42 years to the date (August 17, 1970) that television’s legendary “Soul Train” debuted from Chicago studios.
“Sadly, our previously planned 2012 induction of Mr. Cornelius will now be a posthumous induction,” remarked Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association. “That said, his well-deserved induction allows us to formally recognize the genius behind “Soul Train” and celebrate his countless contributions to our industry,” continued Lyle.
Cornelius learned of his invitation for IBA Hall of Fame induction just days before his untimely death late last year. IBA Director Emeritus Marv Dyson, a personal friend of the famous host, reached out to Cornelius last December to personally deliver the invitation and reported Cornelius was delighted to learn of the news and graciously accepted the invitation for 2012 induction. Days later, Cornelius passed away.
“Don Cornelius’ historic career is woven seamlessly through Illinois broadcast history,” said Earl Jones, IBA Chairman of the Board. “ His legacy takes root in Chicago radio and television, which ultimately became a stage for exposing many iconic musicians to a wider audience.”
Cornelius caught the attention of WCIU-TV in 1967 while working as a news reporter and fill-in disc jockey at WVON radio in Chicago, hiring him to work in the station’s news and sports departments. Soon after, the TV station took interest in Cornelius’ “off duty” work in promoting and emceeing a caravan of local concerts by local artists at area high schools that Cornelius billed as “The Soul Train.” On August 17, 1970, “Soul Train” debuted on WCIU-TV’s airwaves as a “live” local weekday afternoon show with Cornelius as its host. Within a year, the program was syndicated around the country and well on the way to becoming a national hit.
As with all of IBA’s Hall of Fame inductions, the August 17th Cornelius induction is a private event open only to IBA-member stations and guests.