John Cody signing off after 50 years in Chicago news

John Cody

John Cody

The incomparable John Cody, regarded by many of his peers as the best radio reporter in Chicago, is retiring after 50 years in the business.

Cody, 71, told colleagues Friday his last day as a general assignment reporter at CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9 will be March 13. He joined WBBM Newsradio in 1967 after two years at City News Bureau of Chicago.

“Those of us who joined the station after John — and that would be every single person here — owe him a debt of gratitude for helping build WBBM Newsradio into an incredible powerhouse of news and information,” Ron Gleason, director of news and programming, told staffers in a memo. “We’ve got an amazing group of talented journalists who will keep the tradition alive, but there’s only one John Cody.”

Equally adept at handling breaking news, investigative reports and features, Cody was honored in 2013 with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chicago Headline Club, which noted: “His ability to condense a story — either breaking news or a press conference — into its simplest form creates outstanding radio journalism.”

Cody, who grew up in Hyde Park and graduated from the University of Chicago, began his career in 1965 as a reporter, rewrite man and radio editor for City News Bureau. After joining WBBM as a writer/producer in 1967 (one year before the station went all-news), he reported for Pacific Stars and Stripes in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970 and earned a Bronze Star. He returned to WBBM, moving up to full-time reporter in 1973.

Cody said his immediate plans are to go scuba diving with his son. Of his remarkable run in Chicago radio news, he said: "I just feel lucky."