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Triple A Radio Icon Lin Brehmer Passes

Longtime WXRT storyteller, wordsmith, observer, and radio legend succumbs to prostate cancer…

Lin Brehmer

By Paul Marszalek

“A burlesque.”

That is how WXRT host Lin Brehmer once described a certain recent government administration.

When most of us think of the word burlesque, we think of some sort of stage show, often featuring various levels of undress. However, the primary definition of burlesque is “an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something.”

And that was Lin: superb use of the perfect word, all the time.

Brehmer started his career in college radio at Colgate, and then caught on at Albany’s WQBK. He spent seven years there before heading to WXRT in 1984 to become music director. With the exception of a cameo appearance as program director at Cities 97 in Minneapolis, it was all XRT — with nearly 30 years in morning drive.

A champion of music, musicians, and the promise of radio as a center of gravity for the community, those who were lucky enough to work alongside Lin, as I did in the early 90s, knew him as an impossibly friendly person with a wit that wasn’t so much dry as it was arid.

As I grew up in Chicago and headed toward a journalism track, I was a deep fan of Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times columnist and humorist Mike Royko, and could not help but feel that Lin was filling Royko’s shoes in some way – particularly late in his career with the development of a series of radio essays called “Lin’s Bin.”

An exceptional storyteller who could be edgy but never sardonic, Lin brought proof to Oscar Wilde’s famous quote, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence.”

Chicago has lost its self-described “best friend in the whole world.”

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