Thursday, March 27, 2008

82-year-old Wally Phillips, a National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame member, whose wit and charm dominated the art of the on-air radio personality in Chicago for two decades, has died at his home in Naples, Florida after losing his long time battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Phillips held down morning drive on WGN Radio from January 1965 until July 1986, and was number one in the morning slot from 1968 until his departure for an afternoon radio slot in 1986. He retired from WGN in 1998 after 42 years with the station, but came out of retirement the following year to host a weekly two-hour program on WAIT-AM, a station based in
Crystal Lakes

Phillips also was the first to offer a $1 million prize. In his most famous and longest-running promotion, listeners were invited to guess what was inside "Wally's Black Box." No one ever did. The box turned out to contain a note bearing the name of Jean Rogers, a movie heroine Phillips admired.

Among his legacies at WGN was establishment of the Neediest Kids Fund, for which Phillips raised more than $25 million.

Bob Collins, who died in a plane crash in 2000, succeeded Phillips as WGN’s morning man.