John Williams

Bill Leff’s tribute to John Williams

WGN’s overnight host host Bill Leff joins John before the holidays to discuss a tribute reel for John before he leaves as well as Bill’s new time slot on the station.

Bill Leff

Bill Leff


50 Comments to “Bill Leff’s tribute to John Williams”

    Laura said:
    December 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    I had thought that John Williams was leaving because he had chose to but from what I am reading he was let go. WHY WHY WHY! We loved to listen to him in the car. My husband would always listen to him when he was in the tractor. Just recently I set my radio in a room where I could hear it all day and now he will no longer be there. Guess I go back to CD's.

    Randy said:
    December 20, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    yeah and looks like the podcasts are gone too! Back to the 1950s for WGN???

    Sandy said:
    December 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    John is now going and Milt is gone! What's happening? Each of you is so good at your craft.
    Thank you so very much. The ride was glorious….

      Paula said:
      December 20, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      I won't be listening to WGN any longer….Still miss Kathy and Judy and John was the only other personality that I listened regularly. Am very disappointed in WGN!

    Katie said:
    December 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    What the heck is happening to WGN radio? Everyone we listened to in the past have left. It's not for the better. John is last one to leave. I'm sure it's not his decision but the station's. There are so many people who don't listen to WGN anymore with all the changes.

    I don't know who is in charge but they are missing the boat. Do they think that they will have a younger audience listening? Think again! The younger people don't listen to WGN. They are busy working or going to school. It's the older people who are home to listen to the radio. Get with the program!

      Margaret said:
      January 4, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      I so agree with Katie. What next? Not much left during the day anymore.

    Mark said:
    December 20, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    In the congratulatory light of good choices made-you made the classic mistake of "the evil of good is better" and lost your way. Losing the most educated show for those who are truly academics or just wanting to learn about something not known all that well- Milt Rosenberg is irreplaceable. John was just as informative in a popular sense- he made you think. Truly without these two people you are dumbing down your programming – shame on you. I am a physician- I and I enjoy education of the mind. It was nice to hear it as an alternative to reading. You have failed more than you realize in these decisions. My grade for you- D- and job not done well.

    David said:
    December 21, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    WGN Radio is not what is was when I was growing up as a child when my grandmother would listen to the legends. Maybe it's the times but I don't know. I think the problem is that they are letting go the hosts who had been there for years such as the greats like Steve & Johnnie, Milt Rosenberg, and John Williams. I hope they don't ever get rid of Gary Meier. He's a true legend as well. If you want to let anyone go, let go the talent who have only been there a short time.

      Dave said:
      December 21, 2012 at 3:31 AM

      I think what is going to wind up happening is now that Milt Rosenberg is one the station will take a ratings dive.

    leo said:
    December 21, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    it is only a matter of time and this station will go off the air..and it should with the management they have.
    They probably did not have the capacity to even understand what Milt talked about on his shows!!!

    karen said:
    December 21, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    What is going on on WGN is ridiculous !Not only getting rid of hosts that so many of us love to listen tobut playing reruns instead of having a live night time host ! I really do not enjoy WGN any longer and will find a new station to listen to and I do realize that management does not care.

    Kathy said:
    December 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I have boycotted WGN since they let go of Kathy and Judy. A radio dial mishap got me to 720 today and what do I hear…John Williams is gone after today? The last man standing after the horrible changes that started in 2009. So sad that such a good thing was cast away so carelessly.

    Bella said:
    December 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    I will miss King John. He makes me think and he makes me smile. Good luck in Minneapolis. Can I llisten on the Internnet?

      WCCO fan said:
      December 21, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      yes you can

    Rick said:
    December 21, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    These are indeed sad days for my favorite radio station. With the departure of John Williams I will no longer be tuning in to WGN, until the Cubs are again on the air. This must be a decision which the management believes will benefit the station, but it seems counter intuitive to release the personalities that appeal to an intelligent audience.

    Donald Hallberg said:
    December 21, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    John you will be missed and with your departure many of us will not be full time NPR listeners. In the last year you, and Orion, were the only reason to listen to GN. I am sorry. Please connect with the "Big O" to discuss how to survive moving to the land of Scandinavian Lutherans. Be well…Donald Hallberg

    Donald Hallberg said:
    December 21, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Typo above…we will now be full time NPR listeners…so long GN!!!

    Susan Drummond said:
    December 21, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    WGN has lost everyone accept Nick Digilio. I am beyond disappointed with all the head people at GN, who will listen anymore? Might as well go off the air. After Kathy and Judy left, my heart broke. The comments above are so true. Older people who are at home or older people who still work listen to talk radio, young people don't!!! What is wrong with this station? It is a very, very sad day when all the best are now gone.

    Sherryl said:
    December 21, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    I have listened to King John since he arrived at WGN. I always enjoyed his thought-provoking topics, humorous anecdotes and his general intelligence, class, and sensibility. Since moving to the Iowa City area 4 years ago his show has been my connection to Chicagoland. Our loss is Minneapolis's gain. All the best to you John.

    Susie said:
    December 21, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Can't believe John is gone! Things started going downhill when Kathy and Judy were let go and now they have hit bottom with John leaving. Ridiculous. The above comment about the radio station looking for the younger listener is right – they aren't listening to the radio – and some of us who used to listen to WGN aren't either. Jonathon Brandmeier – really??? Garry Meier – aren't there enough angry people in the world without having to listen to one rant on the radio? Goodbye WGN. Best of luck, John, and thank you.

    Anne said:
    December 21, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    It is so sad John Williams is leaving. When Kathy and Judy left there was still Steve and Johnnie and John Williams. Now they are all gone. Some weeks ago someone mentioned Bob Collins and the host asked who Bob Collins was. The current hosts don't know WGN history. The new hosts talk fast and talk nonsence I don't care to listen to so I turn off the radio. Thank you John Williams for a good show.

    MMS said:
    December 21, 2012 at 3:34 PM


    Ricardo said:
    December 21, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    WGN has totally lost it, McConnel is the only good thing left.
    What a shame p, Chicago now only has W SHIT to listen to

    john said:
    December 21, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I agree with the above comments. I have begun changing my radio. NOw I need to change the car radio. I may not even be back for the north side team, what's there name?

    sue cox said:
    December 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Goodbye WGN. I wasn't able to listen to John's last day and I can't even listen to a podcast. What's the deal with that? Bummer.

    Mike Kelly said:
    December 21, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Does anyone have a good talk radio station to listen to? What happend to the class of WGN?

      Karen said:
      December 21, 2012 at 6:41 PM

      WCCO in Minnepolis is pretty good. John is on from 3 to 5 or 6. Also their 10-12 PM guy is very
      entertainting. Oh, I forgot, Steve Cochran is on the WIND evening drive. So Good-bye WGN.

    Jolene said:
    December 21, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Clearly WGN does not pay ANY attention even to the comments posted on here, on their own website. They just continue hemorrhaging talent and listeners, digging their own grave. I've never seen such blatant mismanagement of a once-successful business in my life.

    patrice said:
    December 21, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    john williams is a nice boring guy….yawn…..good luck…….bring on the new wgn radio…so far so good. garry at 3 p.m. is fantastic!

    Julia said:
    December 23, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    will listen on the internet

    Mark said:
    December 25, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    I'll miss John and will not be listening to much of WGN anymore.

    j b said:
    December 27, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    First Kathy& Judy now KIng JOhn He will be missed, Like the girls, The only ones left JonnyB& Garry! Iwill still listen to them. Please find someone better than Mike Mc Connel! I can't listen to him, he's got nothing! I'm retired have time to listen,,So sad I will miss King John & will listen on the internet!

    tom w. said:
    December 29, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    As a listener of some 60+ years it is somewhat disappointing that truly intelligent and thoughtful dialogue is ebbing away in favor of mile-a-minute and thoughtless brandmeier (morning drive is tough for anyone on any station today) or always "angry" meier (though if you really listen and ignore the jr high locker room stuff, he is also quite intelligent and thoughtful AND a long time Chicagoan). Milt Rosenberg will be missed but he intimated that he may be back on an internet only platform/blog/podcast. I will say that even though the station has skewed older, we listen and we do have the disposable income that none of the demo-experts seem to value. C'est la vie!! Regarding John Williams—I think if you read between the lines of his comments from his last week and especially his last day and with his 'gn contract coming up for renewal, he had to make a decision about continuing on just one radio station. There were many a day that you could tell he was tired and not as sharp as he would like to be. The integrity of what he puts on the air is very important to him and therefore, he chose the stability of WCCO/CBS (and a town that he had worked in previously) versus the uncertainty of WGN. God only knows what the Tribune Company's new owners and management are going to do to monetize the assets of all their media properties (at least they do not have to worry about the Cubs as an owned asset). As long time listeners we should give the new folks a chance. I, personally, am not very hopeful BUT Bob Collins (and other subsequently popular hosts) did not hit it out of the park right away. I cannot imagine how dificult it is right now to be a program manager trying to be profitable with lots of folks (known and unknown) looking over his shoulder. There are still some bright spots for me. Saturday mornings with Lou and Bill are almost appointment radio and can be listened to while running errands or doing tasks around the house. Sunday mornings with Dean Richards (as well any time he subs) are also appointment radio. Paul Listek did an admirable job filling in last week in the 900 to noon slot. Nick is Nick!! And lastly, Judy, Andrea, Leslie and Steve are still there ready to be as much or as little a part of the show as the on-air hosts allows!!
    p.s. I am a retired educator and am not in the business nor do I know any of these folks personally—just a long-time listener wistfully lamenting the potential demise of a long-time "friend"…

      tom w. said:
      December 29, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      I apologize for the Paul Lisnek typo and missing an "f" in difficult

    candace said:
    December 31, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    When I would receive a call asking which radio station I listen to I always said WGN but with Brandmeier and Garry Meier, they're more suited for the LOOP than WGN. During the morning drive the last thing I need to hear is someone yelling or being obnoxious, that's for kids and they listen to their own music not talk radio, don't hear the music when you drive in the morning? certainly not talk.

    Jeffrey Ring said:
    January 2, 2013 at 5:37 AM

    I turn your station off right after Bill Leff signs off and WOULD turn it back on at the end Mike McConnell. Now with John Williams gone will I leave the radio off until Garry signs on? Get rid of Brandmier, and McConnell. THEY ARE NOT WGN type radio personalities.

    Roger Simon said:
    January 3, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    I was a faithful and constant WGN listener from the late 60's (Wally Phillips! Bob Collins! Milt Rosenberg! Spike O'Dell! John Williams! Kathie & Judy! Roy Leonard! Even early Chuck Swirsky and Bill Berg!) until the day they unveiled Jonathan Brandmier. At that point,I realized that all hope for quality programing, already having faded, was lost forever. Brandmier? McConnell? Meier? Seriously???? An educated, thoughtful, humorous and entertaining talk-show line-up morphed into a shrieking, ego-centric cast of mental midgets. For me, the only good news is that I discovered that listening to ESPN sports every morning is actually a vast improvement over current WGN fare. Yes–believe it or not–"Mike & Mike in the Morning" and "The Waddle & Sylvie Show" are actually quieter, more thoughtful, and WAY more entertaining than the above mentioned goof-balls. News, sports, and Dean Richards' Sunday mornings are about all that is left of the WGN many of us knew & loved for so many years. So long WGN…good luck increasing your current 1.6 share by continuing to chase the "youth" market, who–as many previous comments point out–aren't listening to talk radio in any case and those of us who would be are sickened by the product you put out these days.

    bob mueller said:
    January 6, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    interesting seeing negative comments been feeling same for quite a while now garys show is the pitts i just go down the dial

    Karin Berg said:
    January 7, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Insure have enjoyed bill in the morning. Johnny b is not for me. I don't listen to wgn much anymore. most

    of my favorite hosts are gone.

    Tom said:
    January 8, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Being a truck driver for 20 + years I have listened to a lot of radio, talk, music, all have changed., and will continue to change through the years. Will miss John, like I have missed many radio personalitys over the years. Change! Hmmm, good or bad? Bill LeffI really enjoy, but I only get to listen to him for a short time. Johnny B.? Well he needs to cut out a lot of the nonsence. REALLY enjoy Mike Oconnell, Gary Meir, well what can I say, long time fan and listener. He really makes my afternoon and evening. Sad to see ya go John, and good luck!

    Carol said:
    January 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    I won't say anything about the people you have let go, others already have! Turi Ryder are you kidding? When she knows what she is talking about, it is boring!

    Kay said:
    January 21, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    I agree with all of the comments above . Wgn management has lost their minds. To get rid of John w. and Milton r were very sad days fr me . Thank goodness for Nick D and Bill L or you would have lost me .

    Mary said:
    January 24, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    THE TRIBUNE IS NO LONGER A GREAT NEWSPAPER so why be surprised that WGN has gone down hill since Kathy and Judy were fired. WGN had older followers, they just picked the wrong sponsors. Being older is not bad,it just takes guts and money (which I have) and the Tribune does not. I have three children and eight grandchildren, no one tunes in to WGN or buys the Trib- I understand things change, one would hope it would be for the better and when it does not it is time to move on.

    Tana said:
    February 2, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    We agree with all previous comments. We emailed right away about the morning show to no avail, of course. We get our news from WBBM now and no longer disucss what we heard on the radion with our friends. WHY? BECAUSE NO ONE IS LISTENING ANYMORE!! When Big O goes, we are DONE.

    Dorothy said:
    March 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    I am reluctant to make a negative comment about anyone on WGN but I will no longer try to listen to Turi Ryder. A talk show host should at least listen to what the caller has to say before inserting her own opinion. Bill Leff is golden as is Nick D. Best wishes to Milt who is saddly missed.

    Bettie said:
    March 22, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    So sad. I've lost all interest in WGN after 30 years of enjoying all the good personalities from the past. Now, with the last of the best, John Williams, gone, what kind of audience will be listeners? It's certainly a lot different and disappointing.

    Ron Barber said:
    March 25, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Ward Quaal brought genius to the station in the 50s and 60s; every time slot was hosted by a giant from Wally Phillips to Franklyn MacCormack; Jack Quinlan was a 'must' for every boy among us who loved the Cubs—and Jack's brilliance behind the mike.
    Visit, and listen for yourself.
    When WGN-Radio dispensed with Steve Cochran, that was the death knell.
    One of the greatest radio broadcast giants has been brought to its knees by the inept bumbling of out-of-town managers who had no skills to begin with much less the qualities a legend and titan deserved.
    It's a slap in the face to every one of us, too, who grew up with WGN-Radio as part of our daily lives.

    Maeyet said:
    March 25, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Ditto to all of the above comments. Have you heard the phrase "If its not broken, DON`T FIX IT"!!!!!!!! I have listened to WGN for many years. Prior to now, I used only one word to describe GN–"CLASS". Now, I feel like I`m at a wake. I especially want Steve Cochran and John Williams back.
    Go ahead, MAKE MY DAY and listen to your listeners.

    Sheila McGuire said:
    April 13, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    I am another dissatisfied WGN listener. I no longer listen between 6:00 and 10: a.m because of the juvenile and distasteful antics of Jonathan Brandmeier. It is an insult to any intelligent listener. I was first upset with the departure of Kathy and Judy, late with Steve and Johnnie, later with Milt and John Williams, etc. etc.
    Some of the replacements, Garry Meier and Mike McConnell, are good and enjoyable to listen to, but, once I have gone to another I often do not get back. At least the news people and many reporters are still there, and, for that, I am grateful.

    Rich C said:
    April 18, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    The one thing all the new hosts have in common, is they like to hear themselves talk. Meier, Brandmeier,
    They talk over everybody, guests and callers. Meier can't shut up, Brandmeier, repeats EVERYTHING and includes idiotic drop-ins. They are both impossible to listen to.
    Manfridini, Leff, Digilio are the only hosts that are worth listening to.
    It figures though, they hired the program manager from LUP. This guy must go, and fast.

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