For 42 years until his retirement in 1998, Wally Phillips was a familiar voice on WGN-AM Chicago. The station reports that Phillips died this morning at 82. The Chicago Tribune says Phillips had battled Alzheimer’s Disease in recent years. Phillips had dominated the ratings in Chicago for two decades as host of WGN’s morning show, from 1965 to 1986.
VP/GM Tom Langmyer informed staffers yesterday of Phillips death:
I regret to inform you that longtime WGN personality Wally Phillips passed away early this morning. He was 82.
Almost anyone growing up in Chicago remembers Wally’s kind voice and can recall many stories from listening to him on WGN. Broadcasters around the country respected and admired Wally for his dominance in the Chicago radio market and for an audience connection that others could only dream of.
Wally’s voice was the first millions of Chicagoans heard every morning from 1965 to 1986. In total, he spent 42 years on WGN (1956-1998). His kind approach and connection to his audience was well known in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. He was one of a kind, and he was a "Broadcaster" in the truest sense.
Wally also cared deeply about the community and showed that commitment through the creation of the WGN Radio Neediest Kids’ Fund in 1969, which still serves thousands throughout Chicagoland.
I spent some time with Wally not long after arriving at WGN. He still had a sparkle in his eyes, a strong voice and that great wit for which he was well known.
Wally Phillips was a pioneer. He was someone who kept radio important and relevant. He was a master communicator. We owe Wally’s memory a deep debt of gratitude for his contributions to an incredible chapter in the rich history of WGN and broadcasting, in general.
He remains an inspiration to us as broadcasters in the WGN Radio family.
Wally is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Holly and Jennifer, and son Todd.
We will pass along memorial information as it becomes available.