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Cook County Board honors Cliff Kelley for decades of service

By Chinta Strausberg

The Cook County Board of Commissioners last week honored the iconic WVON radio talk show host Cliff Kelley for decades of contributing to Chicago radio and news analysis.

Kelley was once a talk show host on WGCI-FM before he transitioned to WVON in 1994. In 2007, Kelley became WVON’s 3 p.m. drive-time daily talk show host. He is retiring from that show on March 29, 2019.

However, Kelley will continue his independently produced “America’s Heroes Group” talk show, which is geared toward Veterans, Armed Forces and their family members, and that airs on Saturdays. During these broadcasts, Kelley continues to garner massive local and national support from the African-American community.

Kelley, a graduate of Englewood High School, Roosevelt University and the John Marshall Law School, served for 16 years as a former 20th Ward alderman, has been an advocate for racial equality, has been an elected school board member and a pioneer for LGBTQ rights. Several commissioners praised him for his LGBTQ support during a time when they said it was not a popular stand to take.

Commissioners Stanley Moore (4th District), Deborah Sims (5th District), Brandon Johnson (1st District), Kevin B. Morrison (15th District), Bridget Gainer (10th District), Donna Miller (6th District) and Bill Lowry (3rd District) commended Kelley for his tenure. “It will become strange not hearing you on talk radio on the drive home,” said Commissioner Sims. “You ask- ed some hard questions.

“You were the voice to reckon with, and we thank you for that. I always looked forward to hearing your show. Just don’t lose your personality because you’re going over to work with the Veterans,” she said.

Commissioner Moore thanked Kelley “for teaching, preaching and keeping us always on top of our toes.” He said Kelley is often referred to as “the governor of talk radio” and added, “There hasn’t been a voice as strong as yours on the radio. Thank you for all that you have done, for many years of educating us on issues we need to be aware of in our community.”

A former Chicago teacher and Chicago Teachers Union official, Commissioner Johnson also thank- ed Kelley for his credibility and said “There were very few folks who gave us room and space as educators to speak to the community. You’ve been for us and we thank you.”

Commissioner Morrison praised Kelley thanking him for being “a fierce advocate for the LGBTQ community especially when it was not so popular.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she has been on Kelley’s show a number times and that “There is nobody who is better prepared than Cliff Kelley.” She thanked him for his knowledge.

In addressing the Board, Kelley said, “Radio is important,” and he thanked them for the resolution.

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