Longtime WXRT-FM mainstay Lin Brehmer announced Tuesday that he will be taking a leave of absence from his midday show on the rock station beginning next week as he battles prostate cancer.
Brehmer, 67, an affable on-air personality whose connection to listeners is exemplified by his catchphrase, “your best friend in the whole wide world,” delivered the news of his impending medical sabbatical via his Facebook page and the station website.
“I have been battling prostate cancer for several years,” Brehmer said in his online statement. “I have worked on various radiation treatments, biopsies, CT scans, MRIs, and drug therapies. The cancer was caught early, treated early, but it has spread to places you would prefer it not spread to.”
Starting Monday, he will begin “a long period of chemotherapy” that requires stepping away from the microphone he has manned for nearly four decades at WXRT, Brehmer said.
Brehmer, who lives on the Northwest Side with his wife, is receiving treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
“I think this part of the treatment will make it unlikely to do a lighthearted radio show,” Brehmer told the Tribune Tuesday night.
A native of Queens and a graduate of Colgate University, Brehmer began his career at a radio station in Albany, New York, before joining WXRT as music director in 1984. He left the station in 1990 for a one-year stint as director. musical on KTCZ-FM. in Minneapolis before returning to hosting mornings on WXRT, a position he held for nearly 30 years.
In 2020, Brehmer switched to the noon slot, where he can be heard Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Over the years, Brehmer has dispensed wit and wisdom through a series of regular shows, including “Lin’s Bin,” which airs every Monday. The highly personal vignettes have covered everything from his undying love of baseball and a tribute to Ernie Banks, to the challenges of growing up with siblings.
Brehmer said the station plans to continue airing “Lin’s Bin” during his absence, tapping into a 20-year library where many episodes have only been heard once.
WXRT is tied for sixth in Chicago with a 3.9 share in June, according to the most recent Nielsen ratings.
The station, owned by the Philadelphia-based Audacy radio network, did not provide any information Tuesday about Brehmer’s on-air replacement starting next week.
Brehmer has been an integral part of the station for much of its history. WXRT-FM 93.1 began as a pioneering Chicago rock station in the early 1970s, launched under local ownership with an underground mix of free-form album cuts, but only at night, after its base programming such as Korean gospel and Spanish talk radio wrapped up for the day. The rock format went full time in 1976.
The station became part of CBS Radio in the late 1990s. In 2017, Entercom acquired WXRT and half a dozen other Chicago radio stations through a mega merger with CBS. The company, which changed its name to Audacy in March 2021, is the second largest radio network in the US after iHeartMedia, operating more than 235 stations across the country.
Other Chicago Audacy stations include WSCR-AM 670 for all sports and news station WBBM-AM 780.
In his social media post, Brehmer said he had the full support of his family, friends and WXRT to help him through his medical leave.
As for the listeners, he only asked for one thing.
“Allow me the kindness that you have always shown me,” Brehmer said.
Brehmer, who will remain on the air through Friday, has a special feature planned for his final broadcast. An avid music lover and encyclopedic rock fan whose favorite childhood memories include seeing The Who play at Forest Hills Stadium near his home in Queens in 1971, Brehmer is prone to declaring a long list of songs as his best. never written, to the chagrin of some. attentive listeners.
On Friday, Brehmer is going to play all his favorites on the air.
“I’m going to play about a dozen of the best songs ever written,” Brehmer said. “And my last pick on Friday will be a song no one will see coming. That is a guarantee.