Len Ellis speaking to new graduates and families among 2500 students receiving degrees on May 18-19 at Columbia College Chicago. Photo/Robert Kusel.
The founder of Radio One Communications was the recipient of a very distinguished honor from his alma mater. Country Music DJ Hall-of-Famer, charter member of the Country Music Association, and radio and country music industry entrepreneur Leonard “Uncle Len” Ellis was named an Alumnus of the Year for 2013 by Columbia College Chicago.
Len Ellis accepting his award from Columbia College Chicago national alumni president Joan Hammel. Photo/Robert Kusel.
On May 18 and 19, Columbia College Chicago honored Leonard Ellis (BA ’52) among its alumni of the year during the college’s commencement ceremonies. The university says 'Uncle Len' was among "three outstanding alumni, whose work and dedication to their craft is a tribute to the Columbia College spirit and ideal, were lauded during the graduation ceremonies as part of its annual tradition."
Columbia College Chicago President Warrick L. Carter, Len Ellis and Joan Hammel. Photo/Robert Kusel.
“Uncle Len” Ellis is the founder of Radio One Communications, which holds four stations in Northwest Indiana, playing oldies (1500 WAKE-AM, classic rock (103.9 WXRD-FM), modern adult contemporary (107.1 WZVNFM) and country (105.5 WLJE-FM ). Ellis is the longest-running country broadcaster in the Chicago media market and WLJE-FM is the longest-running country station in the Chicago area. The university also noted the other three stations also boast a string of awards from the Indiana Broadcasters Association. November 2012 marked Ellis’s 48th year on-air with WAKE-AM, and he has spent more than 65 years in the radio industry overall.
Ellis was one of the 15 people in 1957 that co-founded the Country Music Association (CMA) to promote the genre’s growth and served on its first board of directors. Ellis also holds card number one as a charter member of the CMA. He was named “Mr. Dee Jay USA” in 1963 by the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Association’s Small Market Disc Jockey of the Year in 1978, and he was elected to the Country Broadcasters Association DJ Hall of Fame in 1983.
Columbia College Chicago Alumnus of the Year Len Ellis and VP of Institutional Advancement Eric Winston. Photo/Robert Kusel.
Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to nearly 11,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu .
Dr. Eric Winston, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, delivered news of the award to Uncle Len in person a few months ago. You can hear our conversation with Dr. Winston online at News Audio on Demand here at our website.