WGN’s Orion Samuelson to have heart surgery

Orion Samuelson

Orion Samuelson

On the eve of his 55th year on the air at WGN AM 720, Radio Hall of Famer Orion Samuelson announced he will undergo heart surgery next week.

Samuelson, 81, legendary agriculture-business reporter for the Tribune Media news/talk station, said he’ll have surgery Monday at the University of Chicago Medical Center to repair or replace a leaky heart valve.

“I’m not clear yet on whether or not I get a new valve or they just repair the old one, but I’ll get clarification on that,” Samuelson told listeners Thursday on Steve Cochran’s WGN morning show.

“This has been an ongoing thing. I think it’s the fact that the valve is 81 years old and it begins to wear down a little bit. . . . It’s been something we’ve been aware of for seven, eight years and now, OK, time to fix it,” he said.

Samuelson, who grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario, Wisconsin, joined WGN as farm services director in 1960. As host of “The U.S. Farm Report,” he became the best known voice of agriculture in America. He was inducted in the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2003.

Samuelson said he hopes to be back on WGN in time to celebrate his 55th anniversary September 25. “I think I should be able to,” he added. “After all, I am Norwegian. So I should recover very quickly.”