David Polk, who rose from intern and production assistant to program director of WFMT 98.7-FM, is leaving the Window to the World Communications classical music station after 13 years.
Polk, 36, announced Tuesday he plans to pursue new opportunities in New York. No word yet on a successor.
“David has been an outstanding leader of WFMT – from his early assignment to assist Studs Terkel with his last radio interviews, to producing stories for the Salzburg Festival series, to covering the Chopin piano competition in Warsaw, to putting WFMT programming on a bright path towards the future,” George Preston, vice president and general manager of WFMT, told staffers in an email Tuesday. “WFMT is all the better for David’s presence, and he will always be part of the WFMT family.”
Polk, a graduate of Highland Park High School and Tufts University, joined WFMT in 2006 as intern to Andrew Patner, the station’s late critic-at-large, and production assistant to then-general manager Steve Robinson. He quickly moved up to producer and host, combining both roles on “Introductions,” a weekly series spotlighting young classical musicians from the area. He was promoted to program director at age 30 in 2014.
In 2018 Polk was named to the first-ever Crain’s Chicago Business Notable LGBTQ Executives List.
“I feel so fortunate to have worked at a place where the water cooler talk is about the arts and artists,” Polk wrote on Facebook. “I’m proud of the many great stories we've told about the arts and that we were able to lift up talented musicians and make them into quasi-celebrities for Chicago audiences.
“With musicians of all ages filing in and out of our performance studio day in and day out, working at WFMT sometimes feels like being inside a Fellini film. But it’s time to move on and I’m excited for this change, something I’ve been thinking about for a while.”
WFMT’s ratings have remained stagnant in recent years. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, the station tied for 29th place with a 0.8 percent audience share.
Here is the text of Preston’s email to staff:
It is with a sense of profound gratitude for David Polk’s superlative contributions to WFMT that I share the news of his upcoming departure as our Program Director. David has let us know that he will be moving to New York to take on the Big Apple and all it has to offer.
David has been an outstanding leader of WFMT – from his early assignment to assist Studs Terkel with his last radio interviews, to producing stories for the Salzburg Festival series, to covering the Chopin piano competition in Warsaw, to putting WFMT programming on a bright path towards the future. WFMT is all the better for David’s presence, and he will always be part of the WFMT family.
David will be here for the next month or so, so we’ll have some time to wish him well. In the meantime, please join me in thanking David for a job well done!
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Museum of Broadcast Communications: When this exhibit opens, our Chicago TV Gallery (Bozo, Garfield Goose, Svengoolie to name a few) will also be back on display!