Bob Collins (broadcaster)

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Bob Collins
Born February 28, 1942
Died February 8, 2000 (aged 57)
Zion, Illinois
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Florida
Florida Southern College
Known for Being a radio personality

Bob Collins (February 28, 1942 – February 8, 2000) was the morning man for WGN-720AM radio in Chicago. His show was the top rated morning show for WGN and kept the station at the top of the ratings.[1] His show featured various conversation as well as some music. He also made occasional appearances on WGN-TV, hosting specials such as the Auto Show.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Harold Wallace Lee and a native of Lakeland, Florida, Collins got his first job in radio at age 14.[1] Known in his youth as "Buddy" Lee, he legally changed his name when his radio career began in the 1960s.[2][3][4]

Collins attended the University of Florida and worked for a radio station in Gainesville, Florida in the early 1960s. Ultimately, Collins earned a degree in journalism from Florida Southern College.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Collins worked early in his career for a radio station in Tampa, Florida, at WKGN Knoxville, Tennessee and then took a job as a disk jockey in Milwaukee at WOKY and WRIT. In 1974, he joined WGN-AM. In July 1986, he succeeded the station's legendary and top-rated morning-drive host Wally Phillips. Collins would become Chicago's top-rated morning radio host until his death in 2000.[1]

His folksy style appealed to a great many people, as his ratings numbers indicated. He was affectionately known as "Uncle Bobby". .[1]

He enjoyed flying his Zlin 242 L airplane,[1] riding his Harley and the Chicago Cubs. His interest in flying would prove fatal.

Death and legacy[edit]

Collins died in the afternoon of February 8, 2000, after his and a student pilot's plane collided upon approach to the runway at the Waukegan Regional Airport in Waukegan, Illinois. The student pilot, Sharon Hock, was directly below him, and they were unaware of each other's presence until the collision. Collins attempted to steer his plane to a safe landing, but it crashed and burned atop a nearby hospital, killing him and a passenger.[1] The student pilot also crashed three blocks away and died. There were no other injuries or fatalities in the air or on the ground. The official report indicated that the control tower personnel were unable to observe or communicate the perilous situation until it was too late. Many of Bob Collins' friends and co-workers worked in Bob's memory to have radar and other safety tools installed at the Waukegan Regional Airport to prevent further tragedies.

WGN held a memorial radio show, much of which was captured for a CD that was sold to benefit his favorite charities, the WGN Radio Neediest Kids Fund and the Salvation Army. Sprinkled through the CD was a list of funny and thoughtful observations from people of all ages, which he had read on what proved to be his final program that morning: "Things I've learned as I've aged". One of the last entries was: "Age 64 - I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you."

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