Ray Nordstrand, Former President of Chicago's WFMT, Dies

Classic Arts News   Ray Nordstrand, Former President of Chicago's WFMT, Dies
Ray Nordstrand, a former executive at Chicgao's WFMT radio station, died August 27, the Chicago Tribune reports. He was 72 years old, and died from the complications that ensued after a series of strokes.

He was associated with the station for 52 years.

Although Nordstrand by his own admission did not know very much about classical music and left the station's programming decisions to longtime program manager Norman Pellegrini, his stewardship of WFMT made it, according to the Tribune, one of the most respected fine-arts stations in the world.

He started at WFMT in 1953 as an announcer, auditioned by Mike Nichols, who would later go one to a distinguished career in theater and film directing. After ten years as on-air talent, Bernard Jacobs, the station's founder, hired Nordstrand to run the station. He was named general manager and then president in the mid-1960s.

Among Nordstrand's innovations was turning the station's program guide into the monthly Chicago magazine, which became quite profitable and was eventually sold by the company that owned the station.

In 1993, Nordstrand was asked to step down from his post as publisher of Chicago, and was eventually, due to complaints from listeners that WFMT was turning into a "classical Muzak" station, removed from his management post at the station as well. He did not, however, end his relationship with WFMT, but worked for it part-time as a consultant until his death.

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