Obituary: WFMT program director Norman Pellegrini, 79

Posted on: July 10, 2009

In last Friday’s (7/3) Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein wrote, “Although other people have played supporting roles in making Chicago fine arts radio station WFMT-FM a unique broadcast outlet that is respected around the world, one man saw to it that 98.7 FM would remain to this day an oasis of class, style and intelligence amid the rock-and-yak-dominated dial of commercial radio. That man was Norman Pellegrini. … The station’s longtime program director and one of the great figures in local broadcasting history, Mr. Pellegrini, 79, died Thursday, July 2, in St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. The cause of death was liver and pancreatic cancer, according to his longtime partner, Donald Knight. … He also was the longtime host of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s radio broadcast series, and produced and hosted countless other programs for WFMT even after his departure from the station. … More than anyone else, Mr. Pellegrini gave the station its quirky intelligence, its willingness to treat listeners like thinking, culturally literate adults. If this struck some people as elitism, Mr. Pellegrini (who preferred the term ‘select’ to ‘elitist’ anyway) didn’t care. He ran WFMT for a radio audience willing to support quality programming, and he fought doggedly throughout his sometimes rocky tenure to preserve it.”

Posted July 10, 2009