Our Pledge To You

News

Legendary Chicago DJ Doug Banks dead at 57

Doug Banks. Photo provided by V103 (102.7).

Legendary Chicago DJ and TV personality Doug Banks, who became a household name during his three decades in Chicago radio, died Monday, from complications of diabetes.

“A true radio legend has passed away today. Doug was an inspiration to many, the ‘Dan Ryan Head’ and a radio icon in Chicago radio for many years. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him,” his longtime IHeartMedia radio station V103 (102.7) said.

Mr. Banks had also been affiliated with V103 predecessor WBMX, and sister station WGCI (107.5), endearing himself as the quintessential nice guy; a teddy bear, who never changed, even with quantum success. His voice made you feel he was talking just to you, to family.

Mr. Banks, who picked up the nickname “Dan Ryan Head,” was a co-host of ABC7’s “190 North” show for over a decade, last appearing on the show in summer 2014.

Mr. Banks died of complications from diabetes, friends said.

A father of four, he often spoke humorously and adoringly of his children, and of longtime wife Wendy, by whom he is survived.

He had been very open with listeners about his struggle with diabetes. The illness and dialysis took him off the radio for two months at the tail end of last year. He’d returned in February.

“It’s over! I’m back on Monday,” Mr. Banks had told fans in a Jan. 29 video he posted to v103’s Facebook page. “Oooh, do I have a lot of stuff to tell you all about. Can’t wait to talk to you on Monday. Been waiting so long. Thanks for all the prayers, all the good thoughts, all the well wishes. I think it did some good, ’cause I am back!”

His V103 and WGCI family were left reeling. They shared memories throughout the day, and “The Doug Banks Show” time slot was replaced by a tribute hosted by Joe Soto, Bionce Foxx and the newly returned Ramonski Luv.

Mr. Banks’ longtime boss, Derrick Brown, said he was “absolutely devastated by the news.”

“He gave all he had within him to entertain Chicago,” said Brown, director of urban programming Chicago at iHeartMedia Markets Group. “Doug’s laughter and quick wit will be sorely missed. It was a privilege to be called his friend.”

Matt Scarano, region president of iHeartRadio Chicago, noted Mr. Banks “has been a fixture on our brands in Chicago for over 30 years.”

“I am deeply saddened,” said Scarano. “Doug was one of the true legends of our medium. [His] impact on our industry and Chicago was monumental. He will be missed by our city, his fans and his family members here at V103. Doug Banks was, and always will be, one of the best radio broadcasters in history.”

Mr. Banks had only this past weekend attended the Black Women’s Expo at McCormick Place, hobnobbing with friends and fans, some of whom posted photos with him on Facebook. Friends said he did not look well. “It was clear he was ill,” a source said.

Bonnie DeShong, his former co-host on v103’s “Banks & Company,” now director of external affairs at the DuSable Museum, was among dozens of current and former co-workers and fans on air Monday. With him at the expo Friday, she’d posted a photo of the two.

“Love you Doug. I am so grateful I got to spend a few, now precious moments with you on Friday. I haven’t lost you,” she wrote on Facebook. “Your spirit will forever surround me and you will be in my heart forever. Everyone please keep Wendy and the girls in your prayers.”

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Banks grew up in Detroit, beginning his broadcasting career on his high school’s radio station before hitting Detroit radio. After Detroit came radio shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. He came to WBMX in 1982, taking the morning show from a 1.8 share to a 5.6, and WGCI hired him away.

He was Chicago-based until 1994. When ABC Radio Network offered him the opportunity to do a nationally syndicated show, he became a radio icon. Comedian George Willborn joined him in 2013. McGuire, co-host for 17 years, left in 2014; replaced by co-host Dee Dee Renee, who was distraught during Monday’s tribute.

Fellow syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, who worked with him in Chicago, posted on Instagram: “Chicago, radio and afternoons will never be the same. Doug Banks wasn’t just my Turntable Brother, he was my other brother. We did this back when urban radio made itself the best thing on the air – and we made each other better. I miss him.”