WGN Radio Walk of Fame takes a strange detour in the suburbs
Whatever happened to WGN Radio Walk of Fame?
It all started in 2014 as a promotional gadget designed by radio impresario Jimmy deCastro. Plaques honoring dozens of current and former personalities have been encrusted on the sidewalk outside the demonstration studios of WGN 720-AM at the Tribune Tower, 435 North Michigan Avenue.
From legendary WGN morning stars Wally Phillips and Bob Collins to “Flying Officer” Leonard Frank Baldy and “Tenpin Tattler” Sam Weinstein, their unique contributions to the history and legacy of the information / maintenance station were to be honored for the ages.
With the station moving to 303 East Wacker Drive in 2018 (and the sale of Tribune Tower to a condo developer), the location of all those plaques on the roadway was a mystery.
It turns out they were moved to a grassy area adjacent to the WGN transmitter site on Martingale Road north of Biesterfield Road in the northwest suburb of Elk Grove Village.
A photo of the makeshift arrangement posted on social networks Monday drew taunts. “The Hall of Fame plaques that were once in Tribune Tower now look like misplaced cemetery markers at the WGN transmitter site in Elk Grove,” joked Kathy O’Malley, former co-host of noon WGN and one of the first Walk of Fame Laureates.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Mary Sandberg Boyle, vice president and general manager of WGN, said the Elk Grove site is only a temporary place until a “suitable new home” can be found.
“Court of the pioneers [outside Tribune Tower] is torn and we had to pull them out of the ground, ”she explained. “We don’t have a showcase studio at 303, so the sidewalk here doesn’t make a lot of sense. We’ve talked about a lot of options, but we haven’t fixed anything yet.
It’s unclear when or if WGN will resume annual Walk of Fame inductions, which were suspended along with other special station events during the pandemic.
WGN has been under new management since Nexstar Media Group took over in 2019 – the same year the last group of winners were inducted.
Monday’s commentary: Kenneth C. McReynolds: Congratulations, Jackie Kostek. After winning two Emmy Awards in Las Vegas, it’s great to see her come back to Chicago and CBS 2. She’s a star who will shine brightly.