Monday, December 28, 2020

R.I.P.: Danny Lee, Mr. WXRT, Chicago Radio Trailblazer

Danny Lee
Longtime Chicago radio executive Danny Lee died Saturday.  He had been ill for several years. Lee presided over the rise of two Chicago radio stations that are known across the country

Danny Lee's father, Louie Lee, owned an appliance and electronics store on Chicago's north side. In the mid-1950's, Louie Lee also purchased WSBC-AM, a radio station on the west side of Chicago that featured all ethnic brokered programming. With WSBC-AM being so popular that he had to turn away programs due to lack of airtime, Louie Lee purchased a second radio station in 1958: the little-heard college station WFJL-FM, which Lee changed to WSBC-FM. Those call letters were changed to WXRT-FM in 1964.

In the early 1970's Louie Lee's son Danny began taking over operations of the stations, which were legally owned by the Lee family corporation Diamond Broadcasting. In 1972, WXRT-FM stopped having ethnic programming in the overnight hours and instead experimented with a progressive rock format. That rock format slowly grew, starting earlier in the evening, and then in the afternoons, before finally going 24 hours a day in April 1976, becoming the WXRT-FM that Chicago radio fans know and love still to this day, according to a posting at

In addition to WSBC-AM and WXRT-FM, Danny Lee and his Diamond Broadcasting also owned the original WSCR-AM (then on 820 AM), Chicago's first all-sports talk station which launched in January 1992.

Lee sold all of the Diamond-owned Chicago stations in the mid-1990s. Westinghouse/Group W purchased WXRT-FM and WSCR-AM for nearly $60 million in 1995. In 1997, Lee/Diamond sold WSBC-AM to Fred Eyechaner's Newsweb Corporation for $5.5 million.

No comments:

Post a Comment