CHICAGO (September 24, 2020) – WGN Radio announced that legendary agribusiness broadcaster Orion Samuelson will retire on December 31, shortly after celebrating his 60th anniversary with the station. Samuelson’s first day on the air at WGN was on September 26, 1960 at “milking time”, 5 a.m., at age 26.
Since then, Samuelson has become one of the most recognizable voices and faces of agriculture in the country. “The Big O”, as he is affectionately known, presents daily agriculture and business reports on WGN, in addition to co-hosting “The Morning Show” on Saturdays with Max Armstrong. Over the course of his illustrious career, Samuelson has interviewed nine presidents, been involved in four official government trips, and broadcast from more than 40 countries, including the former USSR and Cuba.
Samuelson’s lifelong commitment to agriculture has been recognized by organizations in all segments of agri-business. Among the numerous accolades and awards Samuelson has received over the years include Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Illinois and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Distinguished Service Award. In 2001, he was named a Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and honored with the Lincoln Medal, the highest award bestowed by the state of Illinois. In 2003, Samuelson was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and was presented the award by fellow Hall of Famer Paul Harvey.
Orion Samuelson’s name adorns the Junior Livestock Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and an honorary street sign on the southeast corner E. Illinois Street and N. Cityfront Plaza Drive in Chicago.
“Orion has been a uniquely comforting voice in both calm and tumultuous times. Generations of listeners have enjoyed his enduring presence whether or not they knew what a hog or soybean future was,” said WGN Radio Vice President and General Manager Mary Sandberg Boyle. “Orion’s loyalty to every person tuning in to WGN Radio made him a star. Not a Hollywood star, but a star that joined listeners daily in their cars, homes, offices, and on their farms. Orion Samuelson has been a constant for 60 years and we are fortunate WGN Radio was the platform for his wonderful journey.” For a retrospective on Orion Samuelson’s 60-year career, including audio of Samuelson reading a breaking news bulletin about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, photos and more, visit wgnradio.com/orion.