John Farneda bows out as ‘heart and soul’ of ’XRT

John Farneda

John Farneda

John Farneda, who joined WXRT FM 93.1 as an intern in 1983 and rose to operations manager and music director, is retiring from the CBS Radio album adult alternative station.

“After 31 years at Chicago's Finest Rock, I realized that I have achieved all my goals at the radio station and it is now time to set new ones,” Farneda, 53, told colleagues Tuesday. His last day on the job will be November 26.

Calling WXRT “one of the most respected, unique and influential radio stations in the country,” Farneda added: “I look forward to exploring new adventures in the music industry. I hope to share my decades of programming experience with friends wanting to innovate and entertain. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy some well deserved time off by traveling and spending more time with friends and loved ones.”

Norm Winer, vice president of adult rock programming for CBS Radio and program director of WXRT, called Farneda the “heart and soul” of the station, citing “the warmth, sensitivity and thoughtfulness that John conveyed to everyone with whom he interacted.”

A Chicago native and graduate of Columbia College (where Terri Hemmert was among his teachers), Farneda turned his internship into a job as Hemmert's morning show producer. Over the years, he served as assistant program director, music director, and since 2004, operations manager, which included overseeing day-to-day programming.

Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and market manager of CBS Radio Chicago, said Farneda’s position would be filled.

Here is the text of Winer’s memo to the staff:

After almost 35 years of being the only person I have ever called the “heart and soul” of WXRT, our comrade, friend and colleague John Farneda has informed us of his intention to retire from his position of Music Director and Operations Manager.

John’s career at WXRT began as morning show producer for Terri Hemmert, which led to his role as Assistant Music Director, then Music Director and subsequently Operations Manager. But among his most significant ongoing contributions is the warmth, sensitivity and thoughtfulness that John conveyed to everyone with whom he interacted. His professionalism and sense of responsibility to the station and his colleagues were among his most admirable qualities. He was recognized for his expertise on a number of occasions, having been named Music Director of the Year and being among the most beloved and respected figures in our format.

John’s final day at the station will be November 26.

I consider myself very lucky to have worked by his side for so many years. I know that he’ll now be able to enjoy himself considerably more as he distances himself from his desk. It’s time for John to get back to his passion of seeing the world.

Safe travels, Giovanni – and Godspeed from all of us!