WXRT host Lin Brehmer dies at 68

Lin Brehmer used to end his “Lin’s Bin” radio segment by saying, “Save anything. It’s fun to be alive.”

That was the mantra of the longtime WXRT (93.1) host — who became a household name in Chicago, known for his wit and humor.

Brehmer died Sunday at the age of 68.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform you that we have all lost our best friend. Lin Brehmer fought cancer as long as he could,” guest Terri Hemmert wrote in a post Sunday morning. “He passed away this morning, peacefully, with his wife and son by his side.”

Brehmer announced last July that he was taking a leave of absence from the station to undergo chemotherapy for prostate cancer. He said he has been undergoing various treatments, including radiation and medication, for “several years.” He briefly returned to the air in November, telling CBS2-Chicago “radio has been my life.”

Brehmer was with WXRT for more than 30 years, most of it as a morning DJ until he moved to mid-afternoon in 2020. He is perhaps best known for his radio show called “Lin’s Bin.”

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The segment consisted of his response to a listener’s question, weaving prose with his encyclopedic knowledge of music and popular culture. “Lin’s Bin” was often funny and sometimes serious.

Those articles satisfied the creative urge of Brehmer, who developed a love of books in high school. “It’s a creative process. Nobody was looking over my shoulder,” Brehmer told the Sun-Times in 2018.

Tributes to Brehmer flooded social media hours after his death.

“Chicago has lost its best friend,” U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley he said on Twitter.

Brehmer, a die-hard Cubs fan, has his name displayed on the marquee at Wrigley Field Sunday afternoon.

Born in Queens, New York, Brehmer began his radio career as a Sunday morning DJ in Albany. The first song he ever played as a professional DJ was “In You Without You” by The Beatles because “I’ve always felt that life flows inside you, but mostly without you,” Brehmer said in 2017.

At that gig, he was nicknamed “The Reverend” because he recited poetry over the intros of the songs. “I was into Dylan Thomas or William Wordsworth,” he once told the Sun-Times.

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Brehmer moved to Chicago in 1984 to become music director at ‘XRT. He worked behind the scenes until 1990, then took a part-time radio job in Minneapolis. “I was there for 12 months, I was very happy … then I found out that the owner of my radio station had gone bankrupt. So it made things worse,” Brehmer said.

He returned to ‘XRT the following year and took Hemmert’s place as morning DJ.

Brehmer once described himself as an “anti-shock jock.”

“I’m not who I am,” he told the Sun-Times. “What I am most surprised by is the representation of human rights or freedom of religion. This is shocking these days.”

Brehmer was a serious Cubs fan and loved playing with his son in his front yard, he said in an interview on ‘XRT’ in 2017.

He also had a lifelong relationship with boating on Lake Michigan. “There’s something about that moment when you raise the sails and turn off the engine and there’s nothing but the roar of the wind. It’s one of the best moments you can have,” he said in an interview.

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He also loved Chicago’s theater, music and dining scene. “I love to eat in Chicago,” Brehmer said. “Whether it’s Italian beef with hot peppers or a 12-course menu at Acadia, I love the cooking space here.

“And of course the biggest thing is the music: from Chicago Blues, from going to Buddy Guy’s Legends, to seeing all the musicians who choose Chicago as one of their main stops on their tour,” he said.

WXRT will celebrate Brehmer’s life Monday at 10 a.m., Hemmert wrote.

“We will lift each other up during this heartbreaking time. Lin would love that. Don’t take anything for granted,” Hemmert wrote.


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