Biondi had been hosting Saturday and Sunday mornings until April 2017, when the 85-year-old was hospitalized for what was described as a leg ailment. Several weeks later, he released a statement that said: “My doctor has assured me they doing all they can to get me back into fighting shape and I look forward to getting back on the air as soon as they say I’m ready! I want nothing more than to get back to entertaining the greatest radio audience in the greatest city in the world!”
It’s not clear exactly when Biondi’s status as an “inactive employee” changed to “former employee,” reports Chicago Media Watcher Robert Feder.
When Dick Biondi turned 85 last September 13, WLS 94.7-FM honored the legendary radio personality with a daylong celebration that included an outpouring of on-air salutes and social media messages along with a “Happy Birthday, Dick Biondi” web page.
No one knew it at the time, but those tributes turned out to be Biondi’s farewell from the Cumulus Media classic hits station, writes Feder.
Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Chicago, confirmed Wednesday that Biondi’s employment ended months ago. He’s no longer on the WLS website, and he’s not expected to return as weekend morning host.
In any case, the move signals the end of an era in Chicago radio — and an association between Biondi and WLS that dates back six decades. At night on Top 40 powerhouse WLS 890 AM from 1960 to 1963, “The Wild I-Tralian” commanded a 60 percent share of all listeners, attracting millions of adoring teens in 38 states and Canada. After numerous stops along the way, he was reunited with the iconic call letters at WLS 94.7-FM in 2006.
Calling himself The Wild I-tralian. Biondi was one of the original "screamers," known for his screaming delivery as well as his wild antics on the air and off. In a 1988 interview, Biondi related he had been fired 23 times; both fits of temper and jokes gone wrong were part of the tally. Over many years and many frequencies, Dick's close-of-the-program line was, "God bless, bye, bye, Duke. Thanks a million for dialing our way."
Biondi gained national attention in the 1950s and 1960s as a disc jockey on leading AM radio stations in Buffalo, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Los Angeles, California. Biondi is credited as the first U.S. disc jockey to play the Beatles, on Chicago's WLS 890 AM in February 1963, with the song "Please Please Me".
Since 1984, Biondi has been a mainstay on Oldies stations in the city where he first earned his reputation, Chicago. On 2 May 2010, Dick Biondi celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first Chicago broadcast. WLS-AM and WLS-FM presented a 5-hour simulcast special from 7 PM to midnight, featuring memorable moments in his career and special celebrity guests, with Biondi as its host.
Biondi is an inductee of the National Radio Hall of Fame.