Rich Bradley (Photo: LinkedIn)
RICH BRADLEY, who helped start public radio in the SPRINGFIELD, IL, area, at what eventually became WUIS, as its first news director and longtime Morning Edition host, died earlier this week at 83.BRADLEY worked at ILLINOIS PUBLIC RADIO for 35 years. He had been in SPRINGFIELD since 1965 when he began working for WCVS-AM for $125 a week. In the early ’70s, he covered the statehouse as part of the ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK.He then brought his experience of covering state government to the campus of the former SANGAMON STATE UNIVERSITY, moving away from “pack journalism” to focus on public affairs. He worked through call letter changes – from WSSR to WSSU and later, WUIS – while building the station into a respected news outlet.BRADLEY founded the group now known as the PUBLIC MEDIA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION. In 2005, he received its highest honor, the LEO C. LEE AWARD, given to those who make a significant contribution to the industry. He was also a past board member for the ILLINOIS NEWS BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION. Illinois News Broadcasters Association.He was also instrumental in bringing state government coverage, putting together the daily audio reports, first through satellite distribution and later an internet-based system. The pioneering approach to having other ILLINOIS public radio stations chip in to share in the cost of a statehouse bureau was copied across the country.Said BILL WHEELHOUSE, who was hired as Statehouse Bureau Chief in 1995 and later became station manager, “RICH was not only the voice of public radio in central ILINOIS, but he was a leader at the state and national level. He also was an early adopter of computers in creating a computerized newsroom. Nationally, he helped form an organization to help professionalize public radio journalism. For many, he was that reassuring voice for more than three decades that went along with the growing popularity of public radio.”BRADLEY hosted the journalist roundtable “State Week,” the longest running program on NPR ILLINOIS. He oversaw numerous younger reporters and interns, including those who were part of the PUBLIC AFFAIRS REPORTING PROGRAM at the UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD.RICH first became interested in radio at SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY in 1960.“I found they had just put a radio station on the air in 1958 and students were involved in running it. On a lark, I thought ‘that sounds like a real trip. I think I’ll give it a try.’ Once I got exposed, it was like an infection. I found I loved the work. I loved the people associated with the work,” he said. “Man, I thought people can hear me on the radio. That was the beginning.”RICH finally hung up his headphones at WUIS in SEPTEMBER 2009, when he was replaced by JAMES DOOLEY as host/anchor for Morning Edition.A celebration of life may be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for memorials to the ANIMAL PROTECTIVE LEAGUE, ILLINOIS HUMANE and LAND OF LINCOLN HONOR FLIGHT.
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