|Terri Hemmert (photo by Mary Lafferty)|
A city like Chicago is always changing. Out with the old: goodbye Marshall Field's, Sear's Tower and a competitive Bulls team. In with the new: hello Macy's, Willis Tower and Fred Hoiberg.
A few good things don't change, however. Terri Hemmert, the friendly midday voice on WXRT 93.1 FM, both DJ and station bedrock in a shifting city. Hemmert is heard daily from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as her "Breakfast with the Beatles" Sunday mornings. She has been spinning records—then CDs, then Wave files, which don't actually spin—since I was in the 7th grade.
Hemmert turns 70 Saturday. I caught up with her a few hours before she flew to New Orleans for, she estimates, the 30th time, to revel in this weekend's Jazz and Heritage Festival.
"I've been way too busy, overwhelmingly busy. I'm worn out," she said, not sounding worn out at all. "Everybody keeps saying: you can relax when you get to New Orleans. And I tell them: 'you've never been there, have you?'"
|As a child in Piqua, Ohio, practicing her future career.|
Did she mind my spotlighting her turning 70?
"Oh no, that's okay," she said. "People know, if they do the math. I'm coming up on my 45th anniversary. It beats being dead. As [fellow 'XRT dj] Lin Brehmer says, 'It's great to be alive.' I was so unhealthy as a child; I had rheumatic fever. They didn't think I would make it to my 40s."
Ever think about retiring?
"Why walk away as long as they want me here?" she asked. "I'm happy here. I have a million things to do that are still compelling to me, still fun. I still get to do something for someone, and if you're not doing something for other people, you're not living right. This gives me a lot of opportunities to do that. Teaching."
She has taught college for more than 30 years....
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