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Remembering longtime Chicago radio host Lin Brehmer

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Radio host Lin Brehmer was a Chicago institution. He died earlier this week.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For decades, Brehmer was the voice many Chicagoans woke up to.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIN BREHMER: Well, I, for one, am glad you could join us this morning on 93-XRT. I'm Lin Brehmer, your best friend in the whole world.

CATHLEEN FALSANI: It was Lin who got me out of bed and sent me on my way.

KELLY: Writer Cathleen Falsani first heard Brehmer's show on rock station WXRT as a student at Wheaton College.

FALSANI: He wasn't just the guy putting on the records or reading an advertising spot, he was a lot more than that.

SHAPIRO: Falsani and Brehmer became friends. She says his thoughtfulness was on full display during his frequent segment, "Lin's Bin."

FALSANI: "Lin's Bins" were these essays that started with a question.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: Sharon Rizzo (ph) asks, Lin, is riding a horse on the expressway a good way to make a statement?

Michael Scheckter (ph) asks, what do you want for Christmas?

Somebody once asked me, what's your beef with Wisconsin and the Packers?

FALSANI: He took it really seriously, but also with just the incredible humor that he had.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: I have no beef with Wisconsin. It's the Packers I can't stand.

The simplest things are often the things we need most - a handshake, a high-five, a hug.

Riding a horse on the expressway is a bad way to treat a horse. And what statement are you actually...

KELLY: Brehmer spent much of last year on medical leave because of prostate cancer. Just before Thanksgiving, he returned to the air and delivered one of his last "Lin's Bin" essays.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: Today's "Lin's Bin" comes from a question I heard a lot over the past few months. The question is, how are you doing?

FALSANI: He talks about having an experience with a nurse in the hospital when he had a pathological fracture - I think it's what it's called - where his leg just broke.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: It was the night before the femur surgery when the night nurse who witnessed the pain of my broken bone said, I've been praying on you.

FALSANI: And he says, praying on me?

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: You've been praying on me?

FALSANI: You know, what are you talking about?

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: And when I moved and winced in the hospital bed, she squeezed my left hand and began to pray for me aloud with such faith and fervor that it was hard not to be emotional.

FALSANI: Just a kindness that comforted him and changed something.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: This woman, unknown to me a day before, was now offering me divine solace.

FALSANI: For me and for countless others, Lin was that (crying) virtual stranger who offered us divine solace every time he came on the radio and talked to us.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SEGMENT, "LIN'S BIN")

BREHMER: How am I doing? I'm doing OK. And to tell you the truth, that's fantastic.

SHAPIRO: Lin Brehmer was 68 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUFJAN STEVENS' SONG, "CHICAGO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Courtney Dorning has been a Senior Editor for NPR's All Things Considered since November 2018. In that role, she's the lead editor for the daily show. Dorning is responsible for newsmaker interviews, lead news segments and the small, quirky features that are a hallmark of the network's flagship afternoon magazine program.