Radio personality Jim Brandt leaving WVLI
BOURBONNAIS — One of the best-known, most-popular and longest-serving local radio personalities will be walking away from his microphone for the final time Friday morning.
WVLI morning show host Jim Brandt will end his local radio tenure when he signs off after his 5 to 9 a.m. shift. Brandt, a 1977 graduate of Manteno High School, will be starting his new career on Monday at CSL Behring in Bourbonnais Township, where he will work in production.
Brandt began his local radio career in 1981 after graduating from Illinois State University with a degree in mass communication. He worked from 1981-95 at WKAN, where he served 12 years as its sports director.
He shifted to WVLI, 92.7 on the FM dial, in 1995 and has been there while also assisting in operations and programming.
“I don’t want to go, but it’s time. I love what I do. But when you are in small-town media, you can only go so far,” he said.
Brandt, who will turn 60 near the end of May, said this is a move he had been contemplating for about two years.
“I’ve spent 38 years in local radio. To be honest, this is kind of frightening,” he said.
His boss for many of those years, Tim Milner, now a minority owner of Milner Media Partners, which owns WVLI, said watching Brandt leave radio is difficult.
“He was the first person who came on board to form WVLI. I wish Jim all the success in his retirement from radio,” he said.
He knows finding a replacement will not be easy.
“Jim was our Wally Phillips,” Milner said. “Life goes on, but it will never be the same.”
Wally Phillips was the well-known morning radio host on Chicago’s WGN Radio.
Milner credited Brandt and newsman Ken Zyer with making local radio something listeners could touch and rely on.
“They made radio easy for us as a company. They produced quality news and entertainment for so many people,” he said. “It’s hard to replace leaders like that.”
Milner credited Brandt with building the WVLI brand.
“He was the perfect person to build a radio station around. He just had a way of coming through the radio. No one wanted to turn him off.’’
Brandt now will be the one who turns off his mic.
He said one thing he is looking forward to is working his shift and then not having to think about work for the rest of the day.
“I’m a grandfather now, and I want to spend more time with them,” he said.
A longtime resident of Herscher, Brandt has lived the past 10 years in Bradley. He reports to CSL on Monday.
“Monday begins orientation. No time off for me.”