Dick Biondi still remembers when fans would stand in the alley outside his old radio studio on Michigan Avenue and yell up to him through the fifth floor window. Soon the legendary disc jockey will be able to call that spot his own.
The Chicago City Council approved a resolution Wednesday to name the area just off Lower Wacker Drive near East Lake Street and Garland Court "Dick Biondi Way." It's adjacent to the‚ 360 North Michigan Avenue building that housed the studios and offices of WLS-AM (890) for decades.‚ It also housed the famed London House night club, where top music acts of the '60s played.
Biondi, 77, who earlier this month celebrated the 50th‚ anniversary of his first broadcast on WLS, said he was overwhelmed by the honor. "That is so great," he told me just after the vote made it official. "For a skinny Italian kid from the North Side of Upstate New York, I can't believe all this is happening." Particularly delighted by the alley's "underground" location, Biondi quipped: "I'm always telling everybody that my fan club has their headquarters on Lower Wacker."
Five decades after he first signed on at WLS-AM, Biondi is still going strong -- and sounding better than ever -- on "True Oldies" WLS-FM (94.7), where he holds forth from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. Both stations are owned by Citadel Broadcasting.
Veteran broadcaster Bob Sirott (who helped relaunch Biondi's career in Chicago with a "Where Are They Now" feature he reported on WBBM-Channel 2 in 1982) spearheaded the effort for the honorary street designation. It was sponsored in the City Council by 42nd‚ Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly. No date has been announced for the dedication.
Although Biondi has long been enshrined in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame, the designation of "Dick Biondi Way" marks his long overdue recognition from the city where he helped put WLS on the map as America's premier rock 'n' roll station and where he discovered and nurtured many of the biggest recording artists of the Top 40 era.
"Dick Biondi has been a landmark in Chicago over the last 50 years, so we are most appreciative of the city for honoring that status," said Michael Damsky, president and general manager of WLS. "We feel honored to work with him everyday."