As Steve Cochran said the other day, it only took Nick Digilio 28 years to become an overnight success at WGN AM 720.
In a testament to remarkable perseverance, hard work and talent, the perennial weekend and fill-in host has been promoted to full-time personality at the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station. Starting Sept. 4, Digilio, 48, will be on from 2 to 5 a.m. weekdays (leading into Cochran’s new morning show) and from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturdays.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” he told friends on Facebook. “And I really want to thank everyone who has supported me through the years.”
WGN listeners first met Digilio in 1985 through legendary midday star Roy Leonard, who invited the Chicago native and Columbia College student onto his show to talk about movies. That led to a regular segment for Digilio and eventually to part-time hosting work on the station.
In a tip of the cap to his mentor, Digilio has invited Leonard to call in to his Saturday night show with occasional movie reviews, starting Sept. 7. “I started my career calling in with my movie reviews on his Saturday show 28 years ago,” Digilio recalled on Facebook. “It has come full circle, and my mind is officially blown.”
Leonard, who retired from WGN in 1998 and now lives in Evanston, said he was pleased for his protege and delighted to contribute to his show.
“Two things came to mind when Nick Digilio called me and asked if I’d be interested in joining him on the air occasionally to talk about movies,” Leonard told me by email Sunday. “The first was that at last WGN recognized that they had a talent worthy of having a regularly scheduled block of time on the air. There is nothing I admire more than hearing someone on the radio with the intelligence and knowledge of the subject at hand, without pandering to the less informed audience.
“Secondly, it’s flattering to think that an 82-year-old guy who’s been around the block more than just a few times might have something interesting to say.”