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WLS-AM's Jake Hartford Passes Away

WLS-AM's late morning personality and veteran weekend host, Jake Hartford passed away last night after suffering a major heart attack. He was only 63 years old.

Jake Hartford was the radio name of Jim Edwards. A multiple Emmy Award-winning and 16-year producer for WBBM-TV/CBS 2, Edwards began doing small, comedic travel segments on WLS-AM's afternoon show with Roe Conn in September 1989. Since WBBM-TV did not want to hear the name of one of their top employees on the air of their competitor's radio stations, and WLS-TV certainly did not want the name of a respected CBS 2 employee on the air of their radio radio station, Jim Edwards changed his name for his radio work. With Edwards being a producer for WBBM-TV's Walter Jacobson's investigative pieces, he took one of Walter Jacobson's many nicknames, "Jake," to be his first name. Hartford was a name close to him and his family that he chose for his on-air last name. When he started, he didn't think it would turn in to a second career. He figured "Jake Hartford" would be over and done with in just a few weeks. Instead his popularity grew.

He created an entire fabricated life story for his Jake Hartford pseudonym, which included living on a pig farm called Green Jakres and calling his wife Miss Dill Pickle, a former beauty pageant winner from 1982. Up until recently, his photo was never shown -- not out of privacy concerns, but because it was funny to do so.

In March 1991, Jake Hartford was offered his own weekend radio show on WLS-AM, where he has been almost ever since. In addition to his own show, for many years he also co-hosted the "Drive Chicago" weekend radio show with Paul Brian.

In February 2008, WLS-AM's new ownership and management decided to release his weekend services. Soon after, he joined WCPT-AM as a weekend morning host. In April 2010, he returned back to WLS-AM to weekends and also was a popular fill-in host during the week.

Since September 2012, he had been the fill-in host on WLS-AM, along with John Kass, working the 9:00am-11:00am shift. That shift's regular hosts, Bruce Wolf & Dan Proft, were themselves filling in for the 5:00am-9:00am shift for the ailing Don Wade. In December, it was announced that Don Wade and his wife Roma Wade would not be returning to their show primarily due to Don Wade's health concerns. Wolf & Proft were given that shift full-time. That also opened the door to give the late morning shift to Hartford and Kass. Up until the start of this month, Jake Hartford continued to do his solo weekend show for WLS-AM, as well -- a six day work week. (Earlier this month, WLS-AM replaced Hartford's weekend show with infomercials.)

The loss of Jake Hartford is a major blow to WLS-AM, which just revamped its line-up. It is still too soon to know what will become of Hartford's 9:00am-11:00am shift.

This morning, WLS-AM's website posted up the following note from Jim Edwards'/Jake Hartford' family:
"We're currently mourning the loss of Jake Hartford, a husband, father, and friend. This is devastating news for everyone in our family, and we greatly appreciate all of the kind words that have been offered to us during our struggle. It's truly incredible how many people he has affected positively through pursuing the work that he loved so dearly. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts as we do our best to 'spring forward.'"

Those wishing to send their notes of condolences may do so via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Funeral & memorial services will be small and private in a suburb near his south suburban home, with the wake being held Thursday and the funeral on Friday. It has been asked that details not be made public.

Updated at 6:55pm with additional information.

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