Jonathon Brandmeier was one of the morning superstar DJs here on Chicago radio back in the 1980s. This is one of the many features to come spotlighting some of the great talents from back in the day on Chicago radio.
The future Radio Hall of Fame DJ was part of the morning radio show DJ wars here in Chicago on 97.9 FM WLUP “The Loop” was sold in 2018, ending the call letters and putting another nail in the coffin of rock radio in Chitown. With it went over forty plus years of Chicago radio history and heritage.
“Johnny B’s” radio career began at age fifteen at WFON-FM in his hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. In January 1980, he was at WOKY-AM Milwaukee, Wisconsin when he was selected as one of the top five deejays in the country in a Los Angeles-based talent search, alongside Howard Stern.
A month later, he was on the air at KZZP-FM in Phoenix, where he tripled the ratings in only six months. In 1983, Jonathon Brandmeier was in Chicago on the radio at The Loop where he’d begin an amazing run. Brandmeier became “The King of Chicago Mornings” and his band, The Leisure Suits, was one of the biggest draws in Chicago. In fact, the entire group would sell out Poplar Creek and other venues in minutes. Check out one of those sold-out shows from 1988 below courtesy of Michael Kammes. The concert features Jonathon Brandmeier, Michael Brandmeier, The Leisure Suits, The Bonehead Horns, Buzz Kilman, Piranha Man from Pakistan, The Love Dart Singers, Jimmy “Bud” Wiser and quite possibly some of you in the audience.
During his years at The Loop, Brandmeier made appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Arsenio Hall, which led to a television development deal at NBC. In 1995, he won the Marconi Radio Award for “Personality of the Year.”
In 1997, after The Loop was sold (still remaining a rock station with talk hybrid), Brandmeier moved his morning show to Los Angeles. He returned to Chicago in 2005 for a final run at The Loop. In 2013, while at WGN Radio, Governor Pat Quinn declared a “Johnny B Day” in Illinois. In 2015, The Jonathon Brandmeier Show was nationally syndicated.
In 2018, Jonathon Brandmeier was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.