Published on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 09:07
Longtime WFMT-FM personality Andy Karzas, passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 77, due to stomach cancer. He passed on quietly at his Lakeview home, where he had been receiving home hospice care for the last two weeks, surrounded by friends.
He may be best known as the radio host of WFMT-FM's "From the Recording Horn," a weekly program produced and hosted by Karzas that focused on historic and rare recordings of opera and vocal artists from around 1900 to 1950. Most of the music played came from Karzas' own vast collection of rare recordings, including many on old 78 rpm vinyl records.
An early version of "From the Recording Horn" ran periodically between 1957 and 1962. However, it was on February 2, 1976 that "From the Recording Horn" became a regular weekly program on WFMT. The program just recently celebrated its 35th anniversary on the station. A special 10 hour salute to Andy Karzas and his show was originally schedule to air yesterday, but moved up one week to April 4th, so the ailing host to could hear the show and the tributes contained within, from the comfort of his home.
A few weeks ago, WFMT staffers made up a plaque to honor Andy Karzas' 35 years as producer & host of the radio program. It is hung in the studio where he happily did his show each week. The plaque reads:
On the 35th anniversary of his extraordinary program
FROM THE RECORDING HORN
his WFMT family and friends
salute him, his knowledge, generosity, and kindness
and dedicate this studio to a consummate professional
with admiration, gratitude, and love
The plaque words are engraved on glass with gold lettering, with the glass set onto a rosewood base. Before hanging it into the studio, the plaque was brought to Karzas' home so he could see it.
In addition to his weekly program on WFMT-FM, Andy Karzas was also a known lecturer on the subjects of Opera and historic singers. He did so for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and other organizations.
Karzas, a Harvard College graduate, previously managed the Aragon Ballroom, the dance hall co-owned by his father. He sold the Aragon in the late 60's. Karzas also worked briefly for the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Magazine in the classified and advertising departments in the late 60's and early 70's, before rejoining WFMT-FM in 1972.
Though it was stomach cancer that eventually caused the death of Andy Karzas, he had suffered through other serious health issues in the past, including thyroid cancer, heart disease and nerve damage in his feet.
The last couple of years have seen a pair of huge losses in his life, as well. A devastating fire in his home destroyed his collection of autographed photos and irreplaceable memorabilia of opera stars in 2009. In August 2010, Andy Karzas lost his life partner of 42 years, Chicago actor Jim Deuter, to heart failure.
Through it all, no matter what ailment he had, what problems he had, what the weather outside was, or any other reason, Andy Karzas made it to the WFMT studio each Thursday to record his Saturday show.
All day today, WFMT-FM will be saluting the life of Andy Karzas. This Saturday, the station will have a special two-hour salute to him, with both staffers and listeners providing their thoughts on what Mr. Karzas meant to them.
Each Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm, the station will continue to air rebroadcasts of "From the Recording Horn," keeping Andy Karzas' passion for this classic music art form alive.
Funeral service arrangements are pending.