It’s raining in Chicago today, which fits the way most of us feel.
Everybody’s best friend in the whole world is stepping away from the microphone today. I’m not exactly sure how Audacy was able to pry Lin Brehmer away from the WXRT studio ahead of his chemotherapy treatments that begin Monday, but they have, and for his own good. Because if Lin had it his way, I’m sure he’d broadcast well throughout treatment.
I started working at Audacy Chicago a little over 15 months ago. The studio in which I host my morning show is two doors down from the XRT studio. On the short walk between studios, you’ll see framed photos, many of which are black and white, of old XRT DJ’s hanging out, posing with celebs, etc. And in many of those you’ll see Lin Brehmer’s smiling face.
In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find Lin when he’s not smiling. (Except for maybe the one above.) If you scroll through the photos of his Facebook, you’ll see that just about every photo is of Lin with his arm around someone smiling. Everyone loves Lin, and Lin loves everyone. He’s everybody’s best friend in the whole world. If you’ve had the pleasure of listening to Lin and his soothing voice and poetic dialogue, I can assure you that he’s an even kinder soul in person. Every day working at Audacy includes a warm hello, a perfectly-timed one-liner, a hilarious joke, or if you’re lucky enough, a sweet serenade from Lin playing one of the autographed guitars hanging as wall decor. Lin Brehmer is a beacon of light and joy for many of us. You want an impossible TikTok challenge? Film yourself hanging with Lin and try not to leave feeling radiant.
My first experience with Lin came on a Monday night last summer. Lin, as you may already know, loves baseball. Especially the Cubs. He’s a diehard. And for many years that didn’t finish in a ‘16 he died hard with them. But that has never wavered his love. Because he’s loyal and true. Although, on that midsummer evening, he wasn’t at Wrigley for another night at the confines, but rather at a ballpark a little west and a lot smaller. He was at Mozart Park for our company’s softball game. For as synonymous as Lin Brehmer is with radio in Chicago, he may be even more so with softball, and even though he looks like he could start in centerfield for the Cubs right now, he wasn’t there to play, but rather to manage. He would set the lineup, offer encouragement, and most of all give the pregame speech.
Now, these iconic pregame speeches were no Peace With Inches Speech that Al Pacino gives ahead of the Pantheon Cup semifinals in Any Given Sunday. These speeches were no Win One For The Gipper delivered to the Fighting Irish by Knute Rockne. Hell, these speeches weren’t even Bill Pullman uniting the global forces by citing that “Today is our Independence Day.” No, these speeches are way more iconic and far less scripted. Seriously, no notes, ever. They ranged anywhere from memorized Shakespearean monologues to movie speeches to just plain Lin Brehmer’s own iconic speech – similar to the Pulitzer level of writing you get every Monday in Lin’s Bin. These speeches enthralled, motivated, and flat-out jacked us up to the point where last year’s team made it to the championship game of the Chicago media 16” softball league (not to brag) where we lost on a walk-off in extra innings (see, I told you not to brag).
Softball was the thing that initially connected me to Lin. We would talk about it the following morning. Those conversations ultimately led to talk about his trips to Nashville (my hometown) and his pure and unadulterated love for Emmylou Harris. Talking with Lin – whether an entire conversation or even a simple hello – always meant the world to me. I believe it’s because Lin exuded cool and joy all at once. He makes everyone in the building – and even those listening through their radios – feel better. Hell, his catchphrase is “It’s great to be alive.”
I’ll add to that. It’s even greater to be alive and in the presence of a Chicago icon, an heir of the airwaves, and an ambassador of all good things. I know Lin is stepping away, not leaving. He’ll be back. And in many ways, he’ll never leave. But I still wanted to share my thoughts on a man who is truly great in every sense of the word.
So it may be raining in Chicago today, but the sun will come out again. It’s going to be back soon.