Jimmy Staggs

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Jim Stagg
Jim stagg 1966 wcfl.JPG
Jimmy Staggs, AKA Jim Stagg-WCFL, 1966.
Birth nameJimmy Pearson Staggs
Born(1935-10-07)October 7, 1935
Bessemer, Alabama
DiedNovember 6, 2007(2007-11-06) (aged 72)
Lake Forest, Illinois
Station(s)WYDE AM (Birmingham)
WIBG (Philadelphia)
KYA (San Francisco)
WOKY (Milwaukee)
KYW (Cleveland)
WCFL (Chicago)
WMAQ (Chicago)
ParentsCurtis (father), Clara (mother)
Spouse(s)Valene Staggs
ChildrenLisa, Dina, Kara, Patrick

Jimmy Pearson Staggs (October 7, 1935 – November 6, 2007) was an American disc jockey and record store owner in Chicago, Illinois.

Early life[edit]

Staggs was born October 7, 1935 in Bessemer, Alabama. Staggs was a stellar student and athlete in high school who passed on a football scholarship to Georgia Tech. Staggs later graduated from the University of Alabama.[1][2] Jim was the featured vocal soloist with the Crimson Tide orchestra during his college years.[3]

Radio career[edit]

Staggs' radio career began in Birmingham (on WYDE AM).[3] From there, it was on to Philadelphia (on WIBG),[3] San Francisco (on KYA),[4][5][6] and Milwaukee (on WOKY)[7] before his stint at KYW, Cleveland.[8]

During the 1960 presidential campaign, Jim, who had the "morning drive" airshift, and fellow KYA staffer Bob Mitchell had some fun with a parody of the Huntley/Brinkley News report.[4] Jim played Ned Nutly to Mitchell's Willie Winkly at the debate between candidates "John Finnerty" and "Nick Dixon".[6]

In 1965, KYW program director Ken Draper moved to WCFL to assume the same duties.[9] Staggs[10][11] and many other station employees, both on and off air, including Dick Orkin, Jim Runyon and Jerry G. (Bishop)[12] eagerly moved from KYW in Cleveland to WCFL in Chicago.[13]

As his radio career wound down, Staggs hosted innovative talk and music shows on WMAQ-AM.[14][15][16][17][18]

WCFL career[edit]

Stagg interviewing Dave Clark of The Dave Clark Five in 1966.

At WCFL, the "Voice of Labor",[19] Staggs did the "afternoon drive" (the station's high-profile 3 to 6 pm slot) shift.[10] He referred to the studio call-in line as the "Stagg Line" and produced a feature titled "Stagg's Starbeat" – in-depth, provocative, and insightful interviews with local, national and international music celebrities. Staggs interviewed nearly every major rock star of the 1960s, including Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, the Supremes, The Monkees, and Simon & Garfunkel.

There was also a weekly column on music and the entertainment industry, the "Stagg Line", which appeared in Sunday editions of the Chicago Sun-Times.[20][21][22]

Jim became the Chicago chairman of Let Us Vote (LUV), a youth campaign which began in late 1968 to establish the minimum voting age as 18 in all states.[23] Joey Bishop was honorary national chairman and songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart contributed a campaign song.[24][25][26] Everyone's efforts resulted in the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution being ratified in 1971.

While serving as WCFL's music director, Staggs authorized the station to play the controversial Ballad of John and Yoko; he later became the station's program director.[27][28][29]

Staggs eschewed the flashy theatrics of other Top-40 radio hosts in favor a straightforward rock and roll show that kept the focus on the music. His close-of-program line echos that: "Music is my business. I hope my business was your pleasure."[30][31]

Beatles coverage[edit]

The Beatles with Jimmy Staggs/Jim Stagg. WCFL Sound 10 Survey, October, 1966.

Jim was among a handful of reporters who traveled on The Beatles' private plane during the band's 1964 U.S. tour.[32][33] The reporters had press credentials for the tour and at times were pursued by the same frenzied teenage girls who were trying to get closer to their idols.[10] Staggs was once again tapped to cover the Beatles in 1965, but this time for WCFL.[34] For this tour, there were so many reporters covering the Beatles coast to coast, a separate plane was needed for members of the press. Staggs updated Beatle fans every hour on the WCFL airwaves during this tour.[10][35] He also covered The Beatles' third tour in 1966, traveling with the band from London to Chicago.[10] On all three tours, Staggs captured, on tape, The Beatles' reactions and comments in every city and after each concert.[36][37][38][39]

Post-radio career[edit]

Staggs left the radio business in 1975,[3][40] as the medium's so-called Golden Age finally gave out, and started a chain of record stores in the northern suburbs of Chicago.[41] Staggs opened a record store called Record City, which eventually became a chain with locations in Lake Zurich, Skokie, Glenview, and Northbrook, with two more outlets in Orlando, Florida. The last Record City, in Lake Zurich, closed in 2005.

Staggs also became a licensed Realtor, working with Keller Williams Realty in Libertyville, and started a business, along with his wife Valene and daughter Dina, called Looking Back Productions,[42] that captured the times of someone's life and special events using video montages and interview techniques.

He made a temporary return to radio via the WJMK airwaves as part of the WJMK Rock 'n' Roll Reunion on April 11, 1985 as a guest, along with fellow former WCFL DJs Ron Britain and Barney Pip to share memories of the station and their careers in radio.[43][44]


Staggs died on November 6, 2007 at his Lake Forest, Illinois home of complications from esophageal cancer.[45][46][47] Staggs and his wife of 45 years, Valene, had four children—son Patrick, and daughters Kara, Lisa, and Dina. At the time of his death, Staggs had five grandchildren, Dylan, Matthew, Colin, Nadine, and Aimee [48]


  1. ^ "Photo-At Work 1960's-Jim Stagg". University of Alabama Department of Telecommunications & Film Alumni. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  2. ^ "Photo of Jim as a student broadcaster-University of Alabama circa 1950's". University of Alabama Department of Telecommunications & Film Alumni. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d "Sam Hale recalls Jim". Reel Radio-John Celarek Collection. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Obit and Background on time at KYA". Bay Area Radio Digest. Archived from the original on December 5, 2010. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  5. ^ Bay Area Radio Museum-RAM audio file-Jim Stagg Show, April 14, 1961 (RealPlayer)
  6. ^ a b "KYA Air Staff, 1961-Jim pictured at far right". Bay Area Radio Museum. 1961. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  7. ^ "Jim's Move from WOKY to KYW-1962" (PDF). Pop Culture. July 23, 1962. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2010. (PDF)
  8. ^ "Photo-Jim at work at KYW-1960's". University of Alabama Department of Telecommunications & Film Alumni. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  9. ^ WCFL Is Looking to be No. 1 (pages 34 and 36). Billboard. September 30, 1967. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d e Kane, Larry, ed. (2003). Ticket To Ride. Running Press. p. 272. ISBN 0-7624-1592-4. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  11. ^ WCFL Takes First Step Toward Format Change. Billboard. April 15, 1965. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  12. ^ "Talkin' With Jerry G". Chicago Television Alumni Club. 2002. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  13. ^ Smith, Ron, ed. (2007). WCFL Chicago Top 40 Charts 1965–1976. iUniverse. pp. Front Matter xi. ISBN 0-595-43180-1. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  14. ^ "Programmer's Digest-July 30, 1973-Feature on Jim's career from 1962–1973". Programmer's Digest. July 30, 1973. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  15. ^ "Cover of Programmer's Digest July 30, 1973–"Yesterday and Today"-Featured article on Jim". Programmer's Digest. July 30, 1973. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  16. ^ MP 3 Download of Programmer's Digest Feature containing audio of Jim at WOKY, KYW, WCFL and WMAQ (Windows Media Player)
  17. ^ WMAQ Keeping Up With MOR; Uses Distinguishable Sound (pages 17 and 19). October 9, 1971. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  18. ^ WMAQ Lineup Out-Country Format In-Vox Jox (page 26). Billboard. December 7, 1974. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  19. ^ "History of WCFL Radio". Radio Timeline. Archived from the original on June 17, 2010. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  20. ^ "Articles about Tiny Tim". TinyTim.org. 1969. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  21. ^ "Tiny Tim story from "Stagg Line" column, originally in the Chicago Sun-Times". TinyTim.org. 1969. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  22. ^ Chicago Sun-Times ad mentions Jim's column (page 20). Life Magazine. April 28, 1967. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  23. ^ Stagg, Jimmy P. (1968). "Let Us Vote (LUV)". Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  24. ^ Boyce, Tommy, Hart, Bobby (1968). "Chapter 11-LUV-Let Us Vote". Forgotten Hits. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  25. ^ "Bobby Hart Interview". Forgotten Hits. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  26. ^ "LUV-Let Us Vote Copyright information". FAQ's. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  27. ^ "Christ They Know It Ain't Easy". Rolling Stone. July 26, 1969. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  28. ^ Jim becomes music director at WCFL (page 20). Billboard. July 20, 1968. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  29. ^ Vox Jox-Jim's time as WCFL program director mentioned in his move to WMAQ (page 34). Billboard. February 13, 1971. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  30. ^ "Longtime Chicago disk jockey Jimmy Pearson Staggs dies at 72". My Web Times. November 7, 2007. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  31. ^ Martin, Harry. "Cleveland is no joke". Martin, Harry. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  32. ^ "John Rook quotes Variety re: Jim being on the plane for the entire tour". Variety. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  33. ^ Adams, Deanna R., ed. (2002). Rock 'N' Roll and the Cleveland Connection. Kent State University Press. p. 624. ISBN 0-87338-691-4. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  34. ^ Winn, John C., ed. (2009). That Magic Feeling: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, Volume Two, 1966–1970. Three Rivers Press. p. 416. ISBN 0-307-45239-5. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  35. ^ "DJ's on 1965 Beatles Tour". Mr. Pop Culture/Mr. Pop History. September 15, 1965. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  36. ^ Podcast of August 12, 1966 Beatles' Interviews
  37. ^ Podcast of August 16–18, 1966 Beatles' Interviews
  38. ^ Podcast of August 18–19, 1966 Beatles' Interviews
  39. ^ Podcast of August 19–22, 1966 Beatles' Interviews
  40. ^ Vox Jox-WMAQ staff changes for new format (page 26). Billboard. December 7, 1974. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  41. ^ Yesterday's Deejay Heroes: Where Are They Now? (pages 28 & 31). Billboard. June 5, 1982. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  42. ^ "Looking Back Productions". Looking Back Productions. Archived from the original on January 5, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  43. ^ audio file:A Look Back at WCFL Part 1-Britain, Stagg and Pip on WJMK-FM 1985 (RealPlayer)
  44. ^ audio file:A Look Back at WCFL Part 2-Britain, Stagg and Pip on WJMK-FM 1985 (RealPlayer)
  45. ^ "Jim Stagg obituary-original appeared in The Lake Forester, November 8, 2007". Pioneer Press. November 8, 2007.
  46. ^ "Jim Stagg". Life in Legacy. November 10, 2007. Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  47. ^ "Jimmy Pearson Staggs". Chicago Tribune. November 7, 2007. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  48. ^ Jensen, Trevor (November 8, 2007). "Jimmy Pearson Staggs: 1935 - 2007". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 18, 2016.

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