Friday, November 29, 2013

Dick Biondi, WCFL and a "Found" Record

In 1963, Dick Biondi was the first DJ to play the Beatles.  The song was "Please Please Me" and the radio station was WLS-AM 890 in Chicago.  Fifty years later, Dick Biondi still spins records on WLS.  Although he has appeared on stations all over the country, Chicago has been his home for most of his career.  Now 81 years old, Dick Biondi is a Chicago tradition.  In fact, I have listened to Dick Biondi my entire life.

Avoiding the crazy "Black Friday" crowds, I decided to stop at my local thrift shop today in order to peruse the selection of vinyl.  And there, in a stack of discs, a young Dick Biondi smiled up at me.  He had thick hair back in 1968, large black-rimmed glasses and a suave smile.  Here was the "Wild I-Tralian," as he liked to call himself.

In 1968, Biondi was spinning records on WCFL AM 1000, the first true rival to WLS, where he had worked for several years.  The album I held in my hands was Big 10 Summer Gold, released by WCFL in 1968.  It was a promotional album, featuring a picture of Biondi and the other djs at the station. The album was billed as a sampling of the "WCFL Hall of Fame."

In the picture, all are wearing WCFL long-sleeved t-shirts, trying hard to look as cool as possible. Biondi was the only one actually pulling it off.

The album features some great music from the late 60s.  Tommy James and the Shondells, the Turtles, the Association, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Shirelles just to name a few.  The album is actually in really good shape, considering it is 45 years old and found in a storage bin at thrift store.  I forked over a dollar for it, brought it home and gave it a nice soapy bath.  As I write these words, "Five O'Clock World" by the Vogues plays on the turntable, an occasional pop and crackle a pleasant reminder of  the past.

A past that includes a Chicago icon.

Today, Biondi has the 11pm-2am shift on WLS-FM, 94.7.   Much too late for me, but I am feeling rather nostalgic for the voice that I can still hear in my head with his signature sign off: "Be good to your fellow human beings."

Thanks, Dick Biondi.

Vinyl Voyage Radio was created because of people like you.

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Dick Biondi was recently featured on NPR.  Click here to listen to the story.






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