Chicago broadcasting pioneer Quaal dies

Exec ran WGN, Crosley Broadcasting

Newsman and longtime prexy of WGN Continental Broadcasting Ward Quaal died Sept. 24 in Chicago of age-releated causes. He was 91.

Quaal began his career as an announcer at radio station WGN-AM in 1941. His radio days were distinguished by his broadcast of the Pearl Harbor attacks, after which he joined the Navy during World War II.

Quaal rejoined WGN in 1945, moving between the station and Crosley Broadcasting before returning in 1956 as VP/ general manager.

He became president of WGN Continental in 1961 and later served as chairman of the board for Broadcast Pioneers (now the Broadcasters Foundation) and as prexy of Crosley. The foundation’s Pioneer Award is named after him. He was also a member of the FCC’s original advisory panel on advanced TV systems.

WGN topper Tom Langmyer said in a statement, “Radio and WGN went through major changes during the 1950s and 1960s, as live orchestras went away and dramas and soaps moved to TV. He led through that transition and worked to build a new era for WGN.”

National Assn. of Broadcasters prexy and CEO Gordon Smith said of Quaal, “Free and local broadcasting was built by a handful of visionary giants, but few stood taller than Ward Quaal.”

Survivors include his wife, Dorothy; two children; one grandchild; and three great-grandchildren.