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Chicago Tribune Website: Ray Rayner Is Still Dead

In 1975, the "Weekend Update" segments on the very first season of "Saturday Night Live" had a running gag in which news anchor Chevy Chase would report "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead," poking fun at the media's then-obsession with the ill health and eventual death of the Spanish dictator. Today, the Chicago Tribune's website seems to be playing a similar (but unintentional) gag on its website visitors, letting them know that beloved Chicago broadcasting legend Ray Rayner is still dead.

On the home page on its website ChicagoTribune.com, the page features a link with the words "WGN personality Ray Rayner dead at 84." While the headline is correct and Ray Rayner did sadly pass away at the age of 84, it did not happen recently. Rayner's death from pneumonia occurred on January 21, 2004. Not exactly breaking news for the home page of a news website.

The link takes the website visitor to the online version of the story from over eight years ago, where it clearly has the story time stamped at 9:54pm CST, January 21, 2004.

A glitch in the website's automated system to show the websites four most clicked upon stories for the day is to blame.

Ray Rayner started on Chicago television in 1953 as an announcer for WBKB-TV (which became WBBM-TV). He hosted a morning show called "Rayner Shine," a Noon show called "The Ray Rayner Show," a children's program called "The Little Show," and hosted (as the character Chief Abernathy) the cartoon show "Popeye's Firehouse." In 1961, he moved to WGN-TV. There, he hosted (as the character Sergeant Pettibone) the "Dick Tracy Show," became a cast member of "Bozo's Circus" as the clown Oliver O. Oliver, hosted (as an astronaut) the cartoon show "Rocket to Adventure," and even hosted nightly lottery drawings. However, it was his hosting of the long-running morning show "Ray Rayner and His Friends" (first named "Breakfast with Bugs Bunny," but soon after, renamed for its popular host) that made him a household name throughout Chicagoland. That show ran from 1962-1981.

Rayner worked as a weatherman for a number of years in New Mexico, before retiring from television work in 1989 and moving to Florida.

And... according to the Chicago Tribune's website today... Ray Rayner is still dead.


CRM Website Information

The Chicagoland Radio & Media website (abbreviated as CRM) is a celebration of all things relating to Chicago-area media matters. CRM is a news source, a location for fans to voice their opinions, and an online museum of Chicago media's past and present, with a hopeful eye to its future. For the visitors, readers, and fans of the website, CRM is a both a resource and a release, both educational and an escape, and both factual and fun.

If it has a connection to Chicago area radio, television, print, and/or other forms of media -- information on it can be found here at ChicagolandRadioAndMedia.com!