Frank E. Lee, the supremely cool afternoon personality at WXRT FM 93.1, is retiring after 35 years at the CBS Radio album adult alternative station.
Norm Winer, program director of WXRT, announced the move, effective May 8, in a staff meeting Wednesday.
Citing Lee’s “consistent contributions to the sound and image of the station,” Winer told staffers in a memo: “His wide-ranging love and knowledge of music, his remarkable verbal skills, his wry and sardonic sense of humor, impressive sense of professionalism and generous nature have distinguished him among Chicago’s all time great air personalities.”
Lee, whose real name is Frank Intrieri, was born in Chicago, grew up on the South Side and graduated from Columbia College. He joined WXRT in 1980 from KPAS in El Paso, Texas, where he was program director, assistant program director and announcer. Between stints there, he also worked at KZOK in Seattle, Washington.
Starting May 11, Marty Lennartz will succeed Lee from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Lennartz, who began as Terri Hemmert’s morning show producer in 1984, has held a variety of jobs at WXRT, including as host of “The Big Beat” and the movie reviewer known as “The Regular Guy.” He’ll be followed by Jason Thomas from 4 to 8 p.m., and Ryan Arnold from 8 p.m. to midnight.
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, afternoons on WXRT tied for 14th with a 2.8 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 452,400.
Here is the text of Winer’s memo to the staff:
It is with mixed emotions that I share the news that Frank Intrieri, known for these past 35 years as “Frank E. (with a period) Lee” on WXRT, has notified us that he plans to retire following his radio show on May 8th. Frank’s consistent contributions to the sound and image of the station cannot be easily summarized in the context of a memo like this. His wide-ranging love and knowledge of music, his remarkable verbal skills, his wry and sardonic sense of humor, impressive sense of professionalism and generous nature have distinguished him among Chicago’s all time great air personalities. I have often said that single handedly, Frank has kept the art of the “segue” alive and that remains true to this day.
During the next two weeks, while we prepare for Frank’s departure and celebratory send-off, we’ll be combing our archives for memories of Frank’s illustrious tenure here at XRT; some to be shared internally, and other elements, audio and digitally, to be shared with his many fans.
I know you share my gratitude to Frank for being such a great colleague and comrade, and we wish him happiness, good health, and, yes, “Satisfaction” as he enjoys the future with Martha and his lovely daughters, Kara and Jane.
Frank, of course, can never be replaced. But we do need to fill those hours. I’m pleased to announce that starting May 11, you’ll be hearing Marty Lennartz working 1pm-4pm Monday through Friday on WXRT. Marty’s rise through the ranks is well documented, starting as Terri’s morning show producer, initially developing a following as the longtime overnight DJ, and subsequently becoming host/producer of The Big Beat, The Eclectic Company, Live From Studio X, our correspondent for live festival coverage from Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and, of course, Goin’ To The Show With A Regular Guy. Having Marty on the air on a daily basis will enable our listeners to regularly hear one of our prime talents, a skilled interviewer, and a thoroughly knowledgeable fan and student of music from all eras. Please join me in congratulating Marty on his new responsibilities. In addition to Marty’s new weekday shift, effective 5/11/15, Jason Thomas will be subsequently working 4pm-8pm Monday through Friday, with Ryan Arnold moving up one hour earlier Tuesday through Friday evenings to work 8pm-Midnight.
Please save Friday, May 8 for a station-wide celebration of Frank’s achievements and contributions starting at 5pm. Details to follow.