Chicago City Hall reporter Bill Cameron to retire from WLS Radio

Bill Cameron

Bill Cameron, who’s reported on every Chicago mayor since Richard J. Daley, has announced his retirement as dean of the City Hall press corps.

“Half-a-century of day-to-day duties on the beat is probably enough,” Cameron tweeted Friday. “Time to go see more national parks!”

August 20 will be Cameron’s last day on the air at WLS 890-AM, the Cumulus Media news/talk station, where he also hosts the weekly public affairs show “Connected to Chicago.” The date also marks his 21st anniversary at the station.

A native of East St. Louis, Illinois, and graduate of Indiana University, Cameron joined WLS in 2000 after a 30-year run at the former WMAQ Radio, which dropped its all-news format that year. He moved full-time to radio in 1970 after a year as a news writer for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.

His career almost ended in 2008 when he was forced out of WLS in a wave of layoffs by previous owner Citadel Broadcasting. But three months later he was reinstated. “I couldn’t be happier to be back on the beat I’ve loved for 40 years,” he told me at the time.

Cameron once told Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman the key to his longevity was in advice he took from Ernie Banks: “Find something you love to do and stick with it,” he said.

WLS news director Nick Gale called Cameron “one of the most important cogs in the wheel that moves the needles at WLS,” Adding: “Bill is a walking encyclopedia of political knowledge. Having covered nine mayors, numerous governors, as well as an endless stream of government corruption, his institutional knowledge of the ins and outs of city and state government will be greatly missed.

“I know I speak for everyone in the newsroom past and present when I say that we wish nothing but the best to the dean of Chicago political reporters as he prepares to enjoy a much-deserved retirement.”

Thursday’s comment of the day: Kar Uchima: Will Svengoolie and Bill Leff’s cartoon show be the only local shows produced in Chicago left? Oh sure, there is Geoffrey Baer on public television, but we only see new shows when they need to raise funds. I realize it is expensive when a local show bleeds money, but Chicago is where the talent and a lot of the creative ideas come from. A new, innovative format has to shake things up with personalities that have not been discovered yet. That includes the musical chairs of local news. Chicago has always pioneered the arts, theatre and media.