Published on Wednesday, 02 June 2010 11:12
For those of you wondering why Terri Hemmert is not on the air on WXRT today, there is a very good reason for that. She took a plane to Washington, DC last night. No, she isn't taking a new job out there. She plans on spending her Wednesday night with the leader of the free world and the leading rock royalty of the world.
Terri Hemmert, the 40 year veteran of Chicago radio -- almost all of which has been on WXRT -- and resident Beatles expert, has been invited to be at the White House tonight as President Barack Obama bestows upon Sir Paul McCartney the prestigious Gershwin prize for Popular Song.
The former Beatle is being honored with this country's highest award for Pop Music by the Library of Congress. The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named for the U.S. songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin, whose collections are housed at the library.
Hemmert was both shocked and elated at receiving this very special invitation last week. "It's the best of both worlds, Barack and The Beatles!" she exclaimed.
Given the magnitude of this honor, WXRT had no problem granting her short-notice request for a couple of days off.
A life-long Beatles fanatic, Hemmert hosts WXRT's "Breakfast with The Beatles" program every Sunday morning from 8:00am-10:00am. This coming Sunday's show should be a very good time, hopefully filled with plenty of stories about tonight's event.
In 1973, a young Terri Hemmert joined a young evening-only rock station that was just starting out, called WXRT. She was an overnight DJ and the station's Public Affairs Director. As the station grew, so did her popularity. In 1981, she made Chicago radio history by becoming the host of WXRT's morning show -- the first female solo host of a morning drive rock radio program. Since the late 70's, she has also been a favorite instructor at Chicago's Columbia College, teaching music history and radio classes. For over 30 years, Hemmert has been a host at the annual Fest for Beatles Fans (although the festival has had a few names in those 30 years) held in the Chicago area each summer.
Terri Hemmert is currently nominated for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame
, voting for which begins in under two weeks. She has already won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago chapter of the Recording Academy and was featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Rock and Radio" exhibit in Cleveland, OH.
Tonight's event in Washington, DC will be recorded and televised on PBS stations, including Chicago's WTTW-TV, on the evening of July 28th. The all-star show is expected to have guest appearences by Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Herbie Hancock, Jack White, Dave Grohl, Faith Hill, the Jonas Brothers, and Jerry Seinfeld. Look for Chicago's smiling "Aunt Terri" in the audience!
Here is Terri Hemmert talking about her joy in getting this invitation on her WXRT show yesterday morning.
(Running time: 0:42. Audio courtesy of CBS Radio's WXRT-FM & WXRT.com)