On Sunday (Jan. 21), longtime and beloved Chicago radio host Lin Brehmer died at 68 after battling prostate cancer.
Brehmer’s WXRT colleague and friend Terri Hemmert shared the news in a statement that read: “We must inform you that we all lost our best friend. Lin Brehmer fought cancer as long as he could. He passed early this morning, peacefully, with his wife (Sara) and son (Wilson) by his side.”
Brehmer announced he would take a leave of absence last July for treatment. He returned to the air in late November.
Adopting the tagline, “Your best friend in the whole world” during his time at WXRT, the sentiment was true for many, including Chicago legends like Wilco, Steve Albini, Billy Corgan, John Cusack and more. It wasn’t Brehmer’s only catchphrase. He often reminded listeners: “Take nothing for granted. It’s great to be alive.”
Brehmer started as a host at the Chicago rock station in 1991 after moving to the city in 1984 to be the music director, a position he held for six years. After a brief gig in Minneapolis, he returned to Chicago and WXRT — this time as the morning host. There he launched his legendary segment Lin’s Bin, through which he would excitedly and thoroughly answer listener questions while musing on life, music and pop culture. In 2020, he moved to middays.
A New York native, Brehmer started his career in Albany before relocating to and falling for the city of Chicago — from the Cubs baseball team to the food, whether it be an Italian beef sandwich or pizza. To honor the late Brehmer, the marquee at Wrigley Field (home of the Cubs) displayed his name.
WXRT celebrated Brehmer’s life with a special block of programming on Monday. Alongside stories from Hemmert and other hosts, plus special memories and send-offs from artists and bands like Corgan, The Record Company and more, the programming played a range of music that was meaningful to his life and career. It also aired Brehmer’s final sign-off for the station.
In it, he recounted being asked if he would change anything about his path. In short, the answer was an affirmative — and colorful — “no way.”
See the social media tributes to Brehmer below.