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The National Radio Hall of Fame, which is right here in Chicago, announced yesterday that Studs Terkel is one of “three radio giants of historic proportion” who will be posthumously inducted into the hall later this year. Culture commentator Andrew Patner was appropriately snippy about this salute to Terkel, pointing out in his blog that while Terkel lived the NRHOF steering committee had never seen fit to even nominate him for induction. Despite his long career on WFMT, the committee didn’t seem to recognize that Terkel was a radio man.
I wrote about Terkel and the hall last year, after it had once again ignored him, and the steering committee seems to have gotten the message. Though it can only nominate living broadcast veterans to the hall (members of the hall of fame and its parent Museum of Broadcast Communications, and the public, do the voting), the steering committee can put them in the hall on its own authority if they’re dead, and Terkel died last October at the age of 96.
Bruce DuMont is founder and chairman of the museum and hall of fame. Patner writes, “Last summer DuMont said that Studs and his many fans should just accept that Studs was the Ron Santo of Radio Hall of Fame exclusion. Maybe someone should call up the great former Cub in the Wrigley Field broadcast booth and let him know that if he would just die Cooperstown would surely suspend its rules and hurry him right in.”
Here’s what DuMont said about Santo, and where and why he said it. Last July, the Reader‘s “The Business” columnist Deanna Isaacs wrote a column on the outrage among gay activists at the election of Focus on the Family‘s James Dobson to the hall of fame. Dobson was in and once again Terkel wasn’t, Isaacs noted, and neither were Steve Dahl and Howard Stern.
DuMont responded online. He said in part, “FACT: Steve Dahl and Howard Stern have each been nominated for the National Radio Hall of Fame three previous times—and both have failed to win enough votes for induction each time. In Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, Ron Santo has suffered a similar disappointment.”
So to be precise, DuMont was comparing Santo to Dahl and Stern, not to Terkel. Like Santo, Dahl and Stern had at least made it onto a hall of fame ballot. Terkel never got that far.
Anyway, now that we’re talking about Ron Santo, here’s a suggestion for DuMont and for Santo’s army of fans. Instead of holding up Santo as a symbol of eternal disappointment, put him in the hall of fame you have some say over. Another of this year’s posthumous inductees to the National Radio Hall of Fame is Harry Kalas, the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1971 until his death this April. Since he joined WGN in 1990, Santo has been the voice — not to mention soul — of the Cubs. Studs Terkel didn’t need DuMont’s hall. Santo would grace it, enhance it, and I’m sure feel very pleased to be part of it.