Dick Buckley, Chicago Jazz Stalwart

Chicago music fans are mourning the death of Dick Buckley, host of a long-running jazz program on WBEZ public radio.

Buckley had aspirations to be a jazz trombonist, but his father wouldn’t hear of it, believing jazz was the devil’s music. Buckley joined the military and was serving as a bombardier in the USAAF, when somebody noticed he had a good voice for radio. He did his first broadcasts for Armed Forces radio in San Angelo, Texas.

After World War II ended, Buckley enrolled at Indiana University to study broadcasting. He’s been on the air ever since.

He hosted jazz programs on WBEZ in Chicago for 30 years, and for over two decades occupied a three-hour slot on Sunday afternoons where he would share the “good old good ones,” his favorites from jazz’s golden era of the 1920s through the 1940s. Known for his deep, sonorous voice, his easy manner and encyclopedic knowledge of the art form he loved, Buckley was not just a DJ, but a jazz fan, historian and even scenester.

Barry Winograd, a fellow Chicago jazz DJ, told the Chicago Tribune, "His knowledge was unending. Not only did he read and learn what others wrote in big books, but he was part of the scene. He hung out with [Count] Basie and Duke [Ellington] and [Gene] Ammons. He knew the cats."

Buckley’s last broadcast aired July 29, 2008. He died July 22, 2010, at the age of 85.