WXRT host Lin Brehmer dies at 68

Lin Brehmer often ended his radio test segment “Lin’s Bin” by saying, “Don’t take anything for granted. It’s great to be alive.

That was the mantra for years for the longtime WXRT-FM (93.1) host — who has become a household name in Chicago, known for his wit and sense of humor. Countless listeners who never met Brehmer considered him a friend.

Brehmer died Sunday at the age of 68.

“It is with heavy hearts that we must inform you that we have all lost our best friend. Lin Brehmer fought cancer for as long as he could,” fellow host Terri Hemmert wrote in a post Sunday morning. “He passed away early this morning, peacefully, with his wife and son by his side.”

Brehmer announced last July that he was taking a break from the resort to undergo chemotherapy for prostate cancer. Brehmer briefly returned to the air in November, telling TV station WBBM that “radio has been my life”.

Brehmer has been with WXRT for over three decades, most of it as a morning DJ until he moved to midday in 2020.

Lin Brehmer in his office at WXRT located on the 4900 block of West Belmont in 2006.

Lin Brehmer in his office at WXRT in 2006. “I think in another life he would have been an English teacher,” his colleague Mary Dixon said.

He is perhaps best known for his “Lin’s Bin” segments, which consisted of his answer to a listener’s question, interweaving prose with his encyclopedic knowledge of music and popular culture.

“Lin’s Bin” was often funny and sometimes serious.

“‘Lin’s Bin’ was so well designed, it was a work of art,” said Norm Winer, who was WXRT’s program director when he hired Brehmer in 1984. golden age of radio. It would make you laugh out loud. It would make you cry.

These radio essays satisfied a creative desire of Brehmer, who developed a love for literature in high school. “It’s a creative outlet. There’s no one looking over my shoulder,” Brehmer told the Sun-Times in 2018.

Mary Dixon, who worked alongside Brehmer as a host for 28 years, said: “I think in another life he would have been an English teacher. He was a nerdy, philosophy and English student at Colgate. But he appeared at a time when rock and roll was the new poetry.

Brehmer bonded with countless Chicagoans, even though they never met him in person.

“There’s a reason I heard a few people crying today, saying they felt stupid because they didn’t even know him – but they did,” Emma Mac said, host of WXRT. Brehmer’s “connection with you was genuine, positive, genuine and kind.”

Posts honoring Brehmer flooded social media following his death.

“Lin Brehmer was the voice of Chicago. His voice was unique and a perfect way to start the day,” said the former mayor and current U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Rahm Emanuel wrote on Twitter.

“Chicago has lost its best friend,” U.S. Representative Mike Quigley said. job.

Brehmer, a season ticket holder for the Cubs, had his name displayed on the marquee at Wrigley Field on Sunday.

Born in Queens, New York, Brehmer began his radio career as a Sunday morning DJ in Albany. The first song he ever played as a professional DJ was The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” because “I’ve always felt that life is flowing through you, but especially without you,” Brehmer said in 2017.

At this station, he was nicknamed “The Reverend” because he recited poetry during song introductions. “I would slip into Dylan Thomas or William Wordsworth,” he once told the Sun-Times.

When asked who he would like to meet in Heaven, Brehmer replied, “Here’s the thing, most of my musical heroes may not be in Heaven, they may be in the third ring of Hell.”

Brehmer moved to Chicago in 1984 to be music director for WXRT. He worked behind the scenes until 1990, then took a short-lived radio job in Minneapolis. “I was there for 12 months, had a great time…then I found out that my radio station owner was bankrupt, so that made it very risky,” Brehmer said.

He returned to WXRT the following year and took Hemmert’s place as morning DJ.

Brehmer once described himself as an “anti-shock athlete”.

“It’s just not who I am,” he told the Sun-Times. “The closest I’ve come to shocking jock is defending civil rights or religious liberty. It’s very shocking these days.

Brehmer loved Chicago’s theater, music and food scene, he said in a 2017 WXRT interview. “I love dining in Chicago,” he said. “Whether it’s an Italian beef with hot peppers or a 12-course menu at Acadia, I love the culinary scene here.

“And of course the most important thing is the music: Chicago blues, going to Buddy Guy’s Legends, seeing all the artists who choose Chicago as one of their main stops on their tours,” said he declared.

Brehmer also had an affinity for sailing on Lake Michigan. “There’s something about that moment when you hoist the sails and turn off the engine and it’s nothing but the sound of the wind. It’s one of the greatest moments you can have,” he said in the interview.

Brehmer was also a supporter of the ALS community, serving as a spokesperson for events and fundraisers for nearly three decades. “Lin’s dedication to the ALS community as a spokesperson for the Les Turner ALS Foundation was legendary.” Andrea Pauls Backman, chief executive of the foundation, said in a statement.

WXRT will celebrate Brehmer’s life on air Monday at 10 a.m.

“We will support each other during this heartbreaking time,” Hemmert wrote. “Lin would like that. Take nothing for granted.”

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