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Media: May 2022 • WGN’s Dave Plier

| May 1, 2022

Dave Plier


WGN Radio’s Dave Plier’s interest in the media began at a very young age.

“Getting to see the Bozo show when I was a kid really did it. I saw the set there, and I remember thinking it was so small. I had no idea it was like that. It intrigued me and fascinated me.”

It inspired a life-long obsession with visual arts, which is something he still does today.

“I love display work and store design. I am the Co-CEO of Retail First. We are a retail environment company, building store fixtures, POP, and graphics for clients like Massage Envy, Ace Hardware, Dick’s Sporting Goods, True Value, Walgreens, Party City, Yeti, Weber, and more. I’ve been on this side of the business for 21 years. Nobody really knows I have a job too. They hear me on WGN, but this is my day job, and I really love it.”

The irony of having such a visual job is not lost on the radio host.

“Maybe that’s why I find radio such an escape,” he says.

Dave’s journey to the radio booth is an incredibly unique one. His might be the only radio career in history launched through a broadcasting museum.

“Back in the early 2000s they were looking for some young blood,” he says, “and at the time they had much older board members like Angel Harvey, and Betty White. I was asked to be a spokesperson because I was a younger face, and I started doing regular appearances on Dean Richards show back in 2004. I also guested on shows like Spike O’Dell’s, Steve Cochran’s, and Garry Meier’s show, and on other radio stations too, like Mancow’s. At first, it was all about the Museum.”That all changed ten years ago this month. Plier is happy he answered the phone that May morning.

“Dean was in LA for an awards show and his phone line crapped out,” he explains. “So they called me and said to come in and do the show. It was like 7:30 in the morning. They wanted me to host with Dean on the phone. I had to come in right away. ‘We need you in 20 minutes,’ they said. I didn’t even have time to take a shower. I did the last three hours with Dean, and it was a blast. Tom Langmyer and Bill White were the management guys then, and they encouraged me to take a shot doing this. I co-hosted an overnight show with Bill Leff, and he taught me a lot of the fundamentals. He said, ‘bring some guests to the table.’ The first guest I brought was Betty White. When I called her and asked her to be my first guest, she said, sure, ‘But it’s been a long time since I was somebody’s first.”

It moved pretty quickly after that.

“Right away they started having me fill in on all the shifts. I was excited and honored, especially, to fill on the morning show. I couldn’t believe I was doing the same shift that Wally Phillips did. I listened to Wally with my dad on the way to school. What a thrill.”

Plier has a regular slot now. He hosts Friday nights.

“The other shows are so much more news-focused, but because I’m on Friday nights I can allow the topics to breathe a little bit. By Friday night everyone has been inundated with hard news and they want a break. Let’s not talk about any of that and have some good feel-good content.”

He also hosts a Frank Sinatra show every Sunday morning.

“Sean Compton (GM of WGN) introduced me to Perry Sook, the CEO of Nexstar, and they said he wanted to do something a little different on Sunday mornings. They wanted to do a Sinatra show and asked me what I would do if I got that show. I’m a big geek when it comes to music, but I also loved, revered, and got to meet Don Rickles, his road manager who was also Sinatra’s road manager, and Tom Dreesen, who opened for him all those years, and I thought to myself I’d like to include some conversation about the man in addition to the music. So we sprinkle in stories about him as we play his music. Stories about his very colorful personal life, his movie career, and his love of Jack Daniels. You name it.”

Despite the full-time gig as a Co-CEO and his full weekends at WGN, Dave is also still heavily involved in the Museum of Broadcast Communications. In fact, he’s the boss there now.

“I took over for Larry Wert as Chair back in the summer of 2019 and 6 months later we were in the midst of a pandemic. No easy task leading a non-profit for the last couple of years.”But the museum is on the way back. Several events are already planned.

“We have an inaugural award The Bob Newhart Award For Excellence in Television we will launch this fall with Bob. We have a Radio Hall of Fame event this July where we will celebrate Top 40 Radio Personalities from the ’60s and ’70s. The Radio Hall of Fame takes place in Chicago in October.”

The man who is running those events can be heard every Friday night 6-10 pm, on Saturday afternoons from 1-3 pm, and Sunday mornings from 7-9 am on WGN Radio.


-Rick Kaempfer




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