Jonathon Brandmeier has won radio’s coveted Marconi Award, multiple Billboard Magazine Radio Personality Awards and was named one of the “100 Most Important Radio Hosts in America” by Talkers Magazine.
His radio career began at age fifteen at WFON in his hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. By eighteen, his demo tapes landed him a job at WOSH-AM in Oshkosh, where he was taking classes at the University of Wisconsin. From there, he was on his way.
His on-air antics in Milwaukee created buzz when a national radio talent search named Brandmeier one of the top 5 talents in the country alongside Howard Stern. His big break came when KZZP in Phoenix, Arizona called and offered him the morning show. In Phoenix, Brandmeier tripled the ratings in just six months and his band “Johnny and The Leisure Suits” began drawing crowds of 10,000 to local concerts. These ratings caught the attention of every radio station in the country. In 1983, he took over morning drive at WLUP (97.9 The Loop) in Chicago and by 1984 he was the “King of Chicago mornings” as The New York Daily News called him. Since then, he has been a multi-year winner of the Billboard Magazine Radio Personality Award and Gavin Report’s “Air Personality of the Year.” The Los Angeles Times quoted a rival radio programmer as saying, “Chicago is Brandmeier’s town. He’s the king.” Chicago Tribune Reader’s Poll voted him the “Best Radio Personality” six consecutive years.
Jonathon Brandmeier and his band Johnny and the Leisure Suits released an album of original songs in the Midwest and it was number one in Chicago its first week out. His previous release “Almost Live/Almost New” was another number one selling album. “Jonathon Brandmeier – The Concert” video went gold when released. Variety said that Leisure Suits “seem to have as much fun as the audience while turning in a disciplined, polished performance.” The Leisure Suits were named one of the top five concert grossing acts ahead of Aerosmith at the beginning of 1990. His band still owns the attendance record at the former Poplar Creek Outdoor Music Theatre in Chicago, beating every major act that performed there before. Performance Magazine called him “America’s top DJ and Chicago’s hottest rock act.”
JB ON TV
In 1989, the late Brandon Tartikoff, then president of NBC Entertainment, signed him to an exclusive talent-development contract with NBC-TV. The deal consisted of various primetime/latenight special appearances including co-hosting “Friday Night Videos” with Phil Collins and filling in as guest host for Bob Costas’ show “Later.” He also landed a co-starring role in an NBC Movie of the Week called “Thanksgiving Day” opposite Mary Tyler Moore. Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Brandmeier exhibits a wonderful, though unpolished, flair for acting in his debut role as Randy. He also has the impishly mischievous persona of a Bill Murray.” At an NBC press conference for the movie, Mary Tyler Moore said of Brandmeier: “I have never worked with anybody who shows as much creativity and spontaneity as this one. And mark my words, this guy will be a star.”
While at NBC, he produced and performed in two late night specials. “Jonathon Brandmeier from Chicago” aired the summer of 1990. Variety described it as “surprisingly fresh and funny” and the Chicago Tribune said it was “free wheeling, nutty, naughty and exuberantly entertaining…one of the season’s best late-night romps.” These specials led to the development of “Johnny B…on the Loose.” Viacom launched this half-hour hour syndicated show, which aired in a mixture of access and latenight time periods, in June 1991. He also produced and performed in two CBS specials that Variety called “the best locally originated entertainment television show seen in a long time.” Brandmeier was also the voice of the ABC and NBC network television prime time comedy lineups.
In 1992, Brandmeier decided to stop waking up early and left mornings to tackle afternoon drive. His success there (consistently number one 25-54) led him into radio history, becoming the first afternoon personality to win a Marconi Award for Major Market Air Personality of the Year from the National Association of Broadcasters. After being wooed back to mornings to rebuild the Loop, Brandmeier began his second stint at WLUP in September 1995. In January of 1998, he was given the chance to syndicate his morning show and finalized an agreement with then CBS President Mel Karmazin, putting him on the air in both Chicago and Los Angeles. He joined WLUP again from October 2005-2009 for another successful run before joining WGN Radio in December 2011.
In Spring 2015, Brandmeier joined WJNT’s line-up and brought his version of “Talk radio unhinged” to Jackson.