Ty Wansley, a St. Louis native who rose through the ranks of Chicago urban radio, died Wednesday at the age of 63 due to congestive heart failure. Wansley was a fixture in Chicago radio for decades, most recently serving as Information Director for iHeart Media’s three African-American targeted radio stations: WGCI, WVAZ (V103) and WGRB.
Wansley started out as a newscaster in St. Louis radio, working for KWK and KATZ, and became news directior for Sheridan Networks’ small chain of radio stations. In 1979, Wansley arrived in Chicago where he became employed as a newscaster at WBMX and then at WJPC. After a successful stint as a talk-show host at WVON-AM, Wansley jumped to WLS-AM in the 1990’s, being partnered with attorney and former 10th Ward alderman Ed Vrdolyak for a weekday afternoon show with some saying the pairing was one of the most unusual in Chicago radio history. Both men wound up at WJJD-AM after being dropped by WLS.
In the 2000’s, Wansley was hired by Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia) to handle information and public affairs programming for the three urban stations. Wansley often gave news updates during breaks on V103’s The Tom Joyner Show and The Steve Harvey Show and hosted public affairs programming.
Wansley also worked in TV, hosting WCIU’s Urban Street.
In a statement released today by Chicago City Hall, Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised Wansley’s tireless work and journalistic skills: “Ty Wansley was one of Chicago’s great radio voices. Whether he was questioning leadership or informing his listeners, Ty brought a great passion and perspective to the news. He was adorned in our communities and his body of work was a credit to our city. The thoughts and prayers of the City of Chicago are with Ty’s family, friends, and many fans at this difficult time.”
Funeral services are pending.