WBBM Newsradio: From The Beginning - John Hultman

Pat Cassidy
May 04, 2018 - 2:43 pm

WBBM Newsradio

WBBM Newsradio
CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- In honor of WBBM Newsradio's 50th anniversary, someone well known to WBBM Newradio listeners shared his Newsradio memories.

John Hultman was with the station before it switched over to being all news and sports in 1968, about three months before, to be precise.

"We were doing news in the morning, morning drive was all news, and then we had talk most of the day, and then overnight we had classical music," Hultman said. "That's the way it started. And then news word came from New York to my News Director at the time, John Callaway, who was then a good friend for many, many years at Channel 11 in Chicago. He was the one who had to make the change over to all news, which began May, 6 [1968>.

"He had to hire a whole staff of writers, and reporters, and editors, because we weren't doing much news to make it a 24-hour news operation. In fact, it wasn't 24-hours for several months after we became all news. The music overnight stayed for awhile."

Cassidy: So really in the early, early going it was news, but more news-talkie?

"It was, because we had long periods of time in each hour to fill," Hultman said. 

Cassidy: Was there really a prototype for all news at the time, or were you kind of making it up as you went along?

"Well we weren't first. The stations in New York and in Los Angeles and San Francisco became an all-news format before we did, but it was a learning experience getting into it and getting it all set up. The format has changed a little over the years, but we are telling people what they need to know - about traffic and weather, about sports, about the stock market, about the breaking stories. There are so many different aspects that you have to cover and when the big story comes, you drop everything and you go right to the story nonstop. 

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Cassidy: Speaking of the big story, 1968, what a news year to start an all news operation.

"Well, of course, before we went all news, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That was one story. The Democratic National Convention was in Chicago and the aftermath of the trial of the Chicago Seven, and so on. There were lots of thing, big stories...Bobby Kennedy, and on and on. There is always something new going on that we need to cover and I think we cover in the best way possible, because you can tune in at anytime and hear what is going on in your city and around the world." 

WBBM Newsradio

Cassidy: Was there always a feeling that this thing is going to work? Or were there some doubts or shaking periods there in the early going?

"I don't remember that," Hultman said. "It really provided the information that people needed. I think it's always worked really well."

WBBM Newsradio 50th Anniversary: 50 Newsmakers Making A Difference | WBBM Newsradio: From The Beginning | 5 Decades of Sports | 50 Years Of WBBM Sports Reporters | 50 Years of Photos