Longtime CBS Chicago Fixture John Madigan Dies

CHICAGO (CBS) — John Madigan, a longtime fixture at CBS 2 and WBBM Newsradio, has died at the age of 94.

Madigan passed away in Florida due to complications from a stroke, his wife, Elizabeth Madigan told CBS 2 Tuesday morning.

Madigan began his career in the 1930s, finding work as a newspaper copy boy at the age of 16. He served in the U.S. Navy and worked as ship’s press officer during World War II.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Upon returning, he became a reporter for the Chicago American, where he covered the infamous case of the “Lipstick Killer” who scrawled a message “For heavens sake catch me before I kill more” in lipstick in one of his victims’ apartments. William Heirens, the man convicted in 1946 of the murders of two women and a 6-year-old girl, himself died Monday at the age of 83.

In 1952, Madigan covered the first presidential campaign that used airplanes to move around the country.

After leaving the American that year, Madigan was hired by Newsweek and worked in Washington, D.C. Back in Chicago, he became the news director for CBS 2.

“CBS was his home,” Elizabeth Madigan said. “He hired Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson.”

He was the first moderator of “Face the Nation” and the first panelist on “What’s My Line.”

Madigan later headed upstairs at the old McClurg Court CBS headquarters to WBBM Newsradio, where he was part of the team that led the transition to the station’s all-news format in 1968. Madigan served as political editor and commentator at WBBM Newsradio for many years.

John Hultman was one of Madigan’s colleagues at WBBM Newsradio, and remembers how he could tap a vast network of sources from his days in Washington.

“He had, as a former White House correspondent with Newsweek magazine, he had a little black book with lots of names in it, and telephone numbers, for people who could talk to us about politics,” Hultman said, “and he would find them in a poker game or some club.”

Madigan was recognized by his signature outcue, “Newsradio Sssssseventy-eight!”

Madigan is the father of Amy Madigan, of “Field of Dreams” and “Twice in a Lifetime” fame. He is not related to John W. Madigan, the former chief executive officer of the Tribune Company.

  • Dan Rakow

    As a CBS2 Chicago Fan I want thank the good lord for 94 Years of John Madigan and I know he will be in a much better place in Heaven and I am very blessed and proud with Mr. Madigan crediting his fixture with CBS2 Chicago.

  • doug

    When my wife and I returned to Chicago after a 25 year absence, I remembered WBBM radio’s frequency by recalling the sound of “News radio sssseventy eight”.

  • Ken Foote

    Sad news

  • Lindon Curtis

    What a man. What a set of pipes. He had the news and delivered it. Quintessential professional. WBBM-AM hasn’t seemed the same without his famous sign-off. Here’s to you…..John Mmmmmmmadigan.

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