Landecker elected to Radio Hall of Fame on first ballot

John Records Landecker (Photo: WTTW/Chicago Tonight)

John Records Landecker, a giant of Chicago radio and one of the most celebrated disc jockeys in rock and roll history, has been voted into the National Radio Hall of Fame after his first appearance on the ballot.

Landecker was announced Sunday as one of eight who’ll be inducted this fall in the Chicago-based shrine honoring radio’s all-time greatest performers and programs.

Sean Hannity

This year’s seven other inductees are Sean Hannity, Robin Quivers, Tom Barnard, Bobby Bones, Bill Handel, Joseph Field and Bob Sievers. (Bio information on them is at radiohof.org.) Landecker, Hannity, Quivers and Barnard were selected by a panel of nearly 1,000 industry professionals; Bones and Handel were picked in online voting by the public, and Field and Sievers were chosen by the National Radio Hall of Fame steering committee.

“Each year the enthusiasm and participation from those in our industry and the voting public grows by leaps and bounds,” chairman Kraig Kitchin said in a statement. “We’re so happy to induct this truly deserving, talented group of broadcasters this year into the National Radio Hall of Fame.”

Here’s what Landecker said after receiving the news: “I first found out about the induction while I was buying a chain saw at a hardware store. You have to remember these things. When my wife Nika heard the news, she shed some tears. When my daughter Amy found out, she ‘got a little weepy.’

“My first thought was: ‘I wish my parents were alive to see this.’ I am so grateful to the broadcast professionals who deemed me worthy of this unbelievable honor. Thanks to everybody who listened to me, everybody who worked with me and everybody who married me.”

National Radio Hall of Fame

Landecker’s induction will mark the culmination of a stellar radio career spanning close to 50 years.

Long enshrined in the radio wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, he achieved legendary status at Chicago’s WLS AM 890 during his first run from 1972 to 1981 when he drew millions of listeners across the country with such trademark bits as “Boogie Check” and “Americana Panorama,” along with sharp political satire in the form of parody songs (“Make a Date with the Watergate”).

While still in his 20s, Landecker elevated Top 40 radio to performance art each night with his blazing wit, masterful timing, and unique audio production sensibilities. (See this award-winning documentary on YouTube about him, “Studio A: A Profile of a Disc Jockey,” produced in 1977 by James R. Martin.)

Personalities as diverse as Rush Limbaugh, Eric Ferguson and Jonathon Brandmeier have cited Landecker as a major influence on their careers.

“He didn’t just talk,” Brandmeier recalled in Landecker’s 2013 autobiography, Records Truly Is My Middle Name. “He had this rhythm in his voice. If Larry Lujack showed us all that it was OK to be yourself on the air, John Records showed us not to forget the showbiz. Records was showbiz. He worked the music. He talked in rhythm with the music, on the beats; he became a part of the song. There was no better radio guy, pure Top 40 energy, no one better.”

Was it destiny? As Landecker often explained, his parents prophetically chose his mother’s maiden name — Records — as his middle name. “They had no way of knowing that their son would become a radio disc jockey, or that this name they had chosen would become my unlikely calling card,” he wrote in his memoir.

The National Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be November 2 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications at 360 North State Street.

John Records Landecker (1981)