Lin Brehmer, WXRT Host, Dies at 68

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Lin Brehmer often ended her “Lin’s Bin” radio essay segment by saying, “Don’t take anything for granted. It’s great to be alive.”

It was the mantra for years for the longtime WXRT-FM (93.1) host, who became a household name in Chicago, known for his wit and sense of humor. Countless listeners who never met Brehmer considered him a friend.

Brehmer died Sunday at the age of 68.

“It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you that we all lost our best friend. Lin Brehmer fought cancer for as long as she could,” host Terri Hemmert. wrote in a post Sunday morning. “He passed away early this morning, peacefully, with his wife and his son by his side.”

Brehmer Announced last July he was taking a break from the station to undergo chemotherapy for prostate cancer. Brehmer briefly returned to the air in November, narration television station WBBM that “radio has been my life.”

Brehmer was with WXRT for more than three decades, most of them as a morning DJ until moving to noon in 2020.

Lin Brehmer in her office at WXRT located in the 4900 block of West Belmont in 2006.

Lin Brehmer in her office at WXRT in 2006. “I think in another life I would have been an English teacher,” said colleague Mary Dixon.

He is perhaps best known for his “Lin’s Bin” segments, which consist of his response to a listener’s question, intertwining prose with his encyclopedic knowledge of music and popular culture.

“Lin’s Bin” was often funny and sometimes serious.

“’Lin’s Bin’ was so well crafted it was a work of art,” said Norm Winer, who was WXRT’s program director when it hired Brehmer in 1984. “It was a throwback to the Golden Age of radio. It would make you laugh out loud. It would make you cry.

Those radio essays fulfilled a creative urge in Brehmer, who developed a love of literature in high school. “It’s a creative outlet. There’s no one looking over my shoulder.” Brehmer saying the Sun Times in 2018.

Mary Dixon, who worked alongside Brehmer as a presenter for 28 years, said: “I think in another life I would have been an English teacher. He was a nerd, studying philosophy and English at Colgate. But he came out of a time when rock and roll was the new poetry.”

Brehmer connected with countless Chicagoans, though they never met him in person.

“There’s a reason I’ve heard from some people who have been crying today, saying they feel silly because they didn’t even know him, but they did know him,” said WXRT host Emma Mac. Brehmer’s “connection with you was genuine , positive, authentic and friendly”.

Posts honoring Brehmer flooded social media after his death.

“Lin Brehmer was the voice of Chicago. Her voice was unique and a perfect way to start the day”, former mayor and current US ambassador to Japan. Rahm Emanuel wrote on Twitter.

“Chicago has lost its best friend,” US Rep. Mike Quigley aware.

Brehmer, a Cubs season ticket holder, displayed his name on the Wrigley Field marquee Sunday.

Born in Queens, New York, Brehmer began his radio career as a Sunday morning DJ in Albany. The first song he played as a professional DJ was “Within You Without You” by The Beatles because “I always felt that life flows inside you, but especially without you”, Brehmer saying in 2017.

At that station, he was nicknamed “the reverend” because he would recite poetry over song performances. “I would slide towards Dylan Thomas or William Wordsworth,” he once said. saying the Sun Times.

When asked who he would like to meet in heaven, Brehmer said, “Here’s the thing, most of my musical heroes may not be in heaven, they may be in the third ring of Hell.”

Brehmer moved to Chicago in 1984 to be the musical director of WXRT. He worked behind the scenes until 1990, then took a short-lived radio job in Minneapolis. “I was there for 12 months, I had a great time… then I found out that the owner of my radio station was bankrupt. So he did very risky things,” Brehmer said.

He returned to WXRT the following year and took Hemmert’s place as morning DJ.

Brehmer once described himself as an “anti-crash jock.”

“It’s just not who I am,” he told the Sun-Times. “The closest I get to surprising an athlete is standing up for civil rights or religious freedom. That’s very shocking these days.”

Brehmer loved Chicago’s theater, music and food scene, he said in a interview on WXRT in 2017. “I love dining out in Chicago,” he said. “Whether it’s an Italian steak with hot peppers or a 12-course meal at Acadia, I love the food scene here.

“And, of course, the most important thing is the music: from the Chicago blues, from going to Buddy Guy’s Legends, to seeing all the artists who choose Chicago as one of their main stops on their tours,” he said.

Brehmer also had an affinity for boating on Lake Michigan. “There’s something about that moment when you raise the sails and turn off the engine and it’s just the sound of the wind. It’s one of the best moments you can have,” he said in the interview.

Brehmer also supported the ALS community and served as a spokesperson for events and fundraisers for nearly three decades. “Lin’s dedication to the ALS community as a spokesperson for the Les Turner ALS Foundation was legendary.” Andrea Pauls Backman, executive director of the foundation, in a statement.

WXRT will celebrate Brehmer’s life on the air Monday at 10 a.m.

“We will support each other in this heartbreaking time,” Hemmert wrote. “Lin would want that. Don’t take anything for granted.”

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