Published on Monday, 08 February 2010 09:32
Today marks a sad anniversary in the Chicago radio history books. It was ten years ago this afternoon that beloved WGN morning show personality Bob Collins lost his life when his private jet accidentally collided with another in the skies over Lake County. Collins was only 57 years old -- just two weeks shy of his 58th birthday.
Collins joined WGN-AM in 1974, after spending time on the radio in Wisconsin, California and Florida. In the summer of 1986, he took over the morning show time slot from the legendary Wally Phillips. Collins' fun & lovable personality behind the microphone help WGN enjoyed amazing ratings success in the mornings, with the station coming in at or near the top with each ratings book. The WGN Gold website has numerous tribute pages up for Chicago's "Uncle Bobby." There is a terrific musical & audio tribute HERE
, a page of featuring many dozens of audio clips from his radio shows HERE
, a photo gallery HERE
, and much more which can be found HERE
. Earlier this morning, WGN's overnight hosts, Steve King & Johnnie Putman paid tribute to their fallen co-worker on their program. (If/when audio of that tribute gets posted up on the WGN website, this blog will be updated to include that link.)
In October of 2000, E. Illinois Street, which runs alongside Tribune Tower just to the north, was renamed "Bob Collins Way" as a way to honor Collins' memory.
In addition to his many years of entertaining Chicago through his radio programs (and occasional, but reluctant television appearances), Bob Collins left another legacy. The skies above Waukegan Regional Airport are now safer. Since his collision was largely blamed on the lack of radar at the small airport, the airport quickly gave into public pressure and installed a radar system to avoid losing any more lives due to pilot blind spots.
In 2007, a federal judge exonerated Bob Collins is a wrongful death lawsuit resulting from the mid-air collision, ruling that the lack of radar was the clear cause of the three sad deaths that fateful day. In 2008, Bob Collins was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Three men have hosted the WGN-AM morning show since Bob Collins' death 10 years ago. However, he has yet to be replaced in the hearts of his millions of fans. He will forever be flying high there.