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Roy Leonard, legendary WGN radio broadcaster in Chicago, dies at 83

Roy Leonard with wife Sheila
Roy Leonard with wife Sheila

Roy Leonard of WGN radio in Chicago has passed away at 83 years of age, according to a Chicago Tribune report on Thursday night. Leonard passed away at approximately 10:15 p.m. on Thursday at Evanston Hospital’s intensive care unit after a brief illness. Family and close friends were at his side. Leonard was a broadcaster during the mid-days for more than three decades on the Chicago radio station. He was described as warm and friendly – on the air and off.

Besides his radio show which appealed to retirees, stay-at-home moms and others who could listen during the mid portion of the day, he also was heard on Saturday mornings where he enlighted a more varied audience. His radio program was described as entertaining, creative, and delightful. His listening fans were given a combination of easy-listening music, curious contests which were engaging, and Mr. Leonard’s lively art of conversation. He was always a favorite of top-name celebrities who would stop by WGN to chat with him on the air when they happened upon Chicago. Mr. Leonard’s on-air ratings were consistently high.

On television, Mr. Leonard was the host of “Family Classics” on WGN-TV. He also was a familiar face on television as one who reviewed shows and movies. Later on, he headed popular American Automobile Association theater tours to New York and London. Right up until his passing, he reviewed entertainment on WGN's "Nick Digilio Show" on Saturday evenings.

Leonard was born in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, in 1931, according to the Chicago Daily Herald. He came to WGN radio station in Chicago from Boston in 1967. For a time, he was flown back to Boston to be with his family on the weekends. Eventually, however, Leonard and his wife Sheila Leonard - who passed away recently - moved to a north suburban Chicago residence and raised six sons in Kenilworth. The six sons – Kelly, Kyle, Kerry, Kolin, Kip, and Kent – were close to their father. All six of the sons have remained in the Chicago area as adults.