Aunt Terri Hemmert at the White House

When Paul McCartney accepts the Gershwin Award in the East Wing of the White House, Aunt Terri Hemmert won’t be on the stage. But for thousands upon thousands of Chicagoans of a certain age she’ll be right up there in importance with all the glittering dignitaries and the world class talent honoring Sir Paul.

Because when our Aunt Terri is sitting in that audience, we will be too.

It’s been that way through the decades. She’s radio in Chicago. And like that small select group that made their mark as radio in Chicago, she’s simply not like anyone else.

Walk along any given Chicago street, the summer winds cooling the heat baked into the sidewalks and you might see her. Wave and a smile, “Hey Terri Hemmert!” And ever since those early days when the likes of John Belushi or even Muddy Waters prowled the festivals, the summer night concerts, the smoky winter jams, she’d smile and wave back.

Mention the Beatles in Chicago and somehow her name is in the next sentence. Aunt Terri isn’t really just a fan. She’s more of a living link to the music. When she hears the music, somehow we all hear it better. It comes through in all the exuberance, the struggles, the sorrows, and underlying it all, it comes through in the strength.

It’s a pretty nebulous talent she has. Hard to pin it down. Shape it and color it or put it to song.

But maybe that’s the point. Her talent goes beyond the words. Like the music does.

Maybe that’s why honoring Paul McCartney for anything really wouldn’t be right unless Aunt Terri was in the audience.

And because she will be there, there are a whole lot of people who will be there too.

And for those few hours there will be something very, very right in our very troubled world.

As we listen with Aunt Terri.

To the joy she’s helped us hear for so many, many years.

7 Responses to “Aunt Terri Hemmert at the White House”

  1. Ted Schneider Says:

    Terri is radio and she is music. She has one of the most distinctive voices on radio and is a Chicago icon. It is an easy formula to remember, Radio + Music = Terri.

  2. Dale Says:

    A nice tribute. Not being of Chicago, I don’t know her, but I can feel the love.

  3. Tom Simeone Says:

    Terri Hemmert is wonderful, without a doubt, but the lady that started it all is Allison Steele, who was “The Nightbird” at WNEW-FM in New York. I loved WXRT ever since I came to Chicago in 1977, but I guarantee that WNEW was the model for XRT (Wish I still had the blue and silver sticker that looked like a diamond and said WXRT – Chicago’s Finest Rock. Alas, it was too firmly affixed to the rear window of my 1978 Chevy Monza.

    Allison got me through many a sixties and seventies lonely night.

    Check out her legacy at

  4. Anne Says:

    A fine tribute to my radio friend, Terri. She’s been enriching my life for 30 years now.

    I remember that diamond sticker well.

  5. kate Says:

    you may already know/have voted for Terri for Radio Hall of Fame – deadline is extended to 8/1. It does require voters to register with their email which gives you a password. WXRT has a link, too.

    Thanks for this posting!

    Kate Randall

  6. Helen Gagel Says:

    A fine tribute to a fine woman.

  7. 2010 in review « Says:

    […] Aunt Terri Hemmert at the White House June 20106 comments 3 […]

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