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John Farneda, The Secret Sauce at WXRT, Passes

Many got credit for success at WXRT/Chicago. John did much of the work…

John Farneda

By Paul Marszalek

John Farneda, Music Director and mainstay of the WXRT programming department for some four decades, passed away Tuesday from cancer. He was 59 years old.

All who knew him found him to be insanely kind, loyal, even-keeled, a music lover, and a workhorse — among many other positive attributes.

In my time working alongside John, I remember countless examples of chronically late work being dumped on our desks at the last minute — feature programming for the next day often arriving after 7pm the night prior. We’d crash the systems to slot the programming and then race to Cabaret Metro, The Aragon Ballroom, or wherever to try to catch the headliner.

Rare were the complaints. He’d just do it and never take, or expect, credit.

Said longtime XRT collegue Lin Brehmer,

Few people are blessed with the clarity John Farneda had for his future. He loved music and he wanted to work in radio. More than that, he wanted to work at WXRT. At Columbia College, he told his favorite teacher, Terri Hemmert, that one way or another he had to work at WXRT. That was over 40 years ago. His single-minded vision and tenacity led him to produce Terri Hemmert’s morning show.

He became a crucial part of the station’s programming department in the 1980’s. He worked as the assistant Music Director and then the Music Director where he established himself as one of the most trusted and beloved radio professionals in the entire music business. He committed his life to radio because he loved the music. He might find himself entertaining Patti Smith or Tina Turner in his office before they would go in the studio for an interview. He was never interested in the spotlight. He never wanted a radio show.

He just wanted to share the gifts of the music he valued. And he remains the greatest fan of the world’s greatest rock and roll band that we will ever know.”

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the National MS Society or Pancreatic Cancer Action Network .

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One comment

  1. WXRT has been a special station in my area for as long as I can remember and this is a tragic loss for Chicago. RIP.

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