Chicago Broadcasting Legends Pervis Spann and Merri Dee Die Within Same Week

Merri Dee

Merri Dee was described by the late performer Nancy Wilson, in her 2013 memoir. with the words “trailblazing TV and radio icon,” and “girl-next-door” in Dee’s “Merri Dee: Life Lessons on Faith, Forgiveness & Grace.”

Having spent 43 years in Chicago broadcasting, primarily at WGN-Ch. 9, Dee was an on-air reporter and anchor for WGN from 1972-1983 and was director of community relations until 2008, when she retired. But these are just a few of the titles for Dee, born Mary Frances.

Also from her memoir: “I’ve been a bag girl in a grocery store, computer demonstrator, runway model, auto show commentator, disc jockey, newscaster, radio and TV talk show host, editorial spokesperson, mistress/master of ceremonies, broadcast administrator, AARP Illinois state president, commissioner on the Illinois Human Rights Commission, U.S. Army ambassador, successful fundraiser, adoption advocate, children’s champion and one of Chicago’s first African American females in the broadcast business.”

Dee died this week at the age of 85. Her death was reported Wednesday by WGN and family members, who said she died overnight in her sleep at her home.

Dee was many things to many people, including advocate and philanthropists. She hosted parades and telethons, and when she retired as WGN’s manager of its Children’s Charities in 2008, she had raised more than $30 million. She started in radio in 1966 at WBEE in Harvey and moved to television two years later on WCIU-Ch. 26. By 1971, she was hosting “The Merri Dee Show,” a talk show on WSNS-Ch. 44. Dee was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2011.

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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Darcel Rockett