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WSDM-FM With Yvonne Daniels Chicago Jazz Radio That Combined Sex And Class

There was a time when Chicago jazz radio was both classy and sexy. Currently in ChiTown there is jazz regularly available only on WDCB-FM (90.9 mhz), the smooth jazz station WLFM-FM (87.7 mhz), and the college station WNUR-FM (89.3 mhz). As a young lad when I would hang out with my Father while he worked in his den on business projects for the American Oil Company, he would always have his radio on and set to the only FM jazz format Chicago radio station at the time WSDM, located, quite literally, "Smack Dab in the Middle of Your FM Dial" (this was one of their tag lines; also named "Radio 98" the actual dial setting was 97.9 mhz...its now known as WLUP-FM). FM radio was a fairly new medium in Chicago then. WSDM-FM began in the mid 1960s when WVON began simulcasting 24 hours a day...the WVON-owned station started airing separate programming as WSDM. The format featured all female announcers (Yvonne Daniels, Cody Sweet, Penny Lane, Connie Szerszen and "Suzanne" among others) playing light jazz and instrumental music. It was known as "The Station With The Girls". One voice I remember well was that of Yvonne Daniels...such a beautiful, sultry and sexy voice that added a touch of class to Chicago jazz radio. She eventually became known as “The First Lady of Chicago Radio” having been considered a broadcasting pioneer as the first female radio DJ in the Chicago market.

(Images in order of appearance: photo of Yvonne Daniels from The David Innes Collection - WLS circa 1973, Yvonne at the microphone from Billboard Magazine issue November 12, 1977 Vol.89 No.45 )

As I remember, she had a thorough knowledge of jazz which made her a listener favorite for those of us dialing in to hear America's only true art form. Her vast knowledge of this music genre was probably due to the fact that Yvonne was the daughter of jazz singer
Billy Daniels. She began her radio career at age 17 at a Jacksonville, Illinois, rhythm and blues station (WLDS or WJIL ?). Later, in the early 1960s she joined WYNR-AM/Chicago, where her jazz show competed with popular disc jockey Sid McCoy on WCFL-AM. At McCoy’s urging, WCFL-AM eventually hired Daniels and soon the team was heard in 38 states, thanks to the 50,000-watt power of WCFL-AM. From 1964 to 1973, Daniels worked at WSDM-FM/Chicago, the nation’s first all-female radio station. Her program called "Daniels’ Den" which aired nightly from 7 to 11PM, consistently ranked number one in its time slot for the Chicago market. She was the only radio personality allowed to program her own music at that station.

In 1973, she moved to WLS-AM/Chicago, another 50,000-watt powerhouse, where she became the station’s first female as well as African-American disc jockey and worked there until 1982. During the 1980s, Daniels worked Chicago morning shows on WVON-AM, WGCI-AM and eventually in 1989 joined “Smooth Jazz" WNUA-FM as a morning show hostess, also doing an evening show there with Ramsey Lewis. During her 30-year career, Daniels is credited with paving the way for future generations of female radio personalities. Yvonne Daniels died of breast cancer at the age of 53 on June 21, 1991. Yvonne Daniels was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. You can hear clips of her at WLS here:
and here .

Here is a video presentation of a WSDM-FM radio air-check (circa 1970) which features another DJ known as "Den Pal Dawn" (a.k.a. Connie Szerszen):

(source:,,,, Jeff Roteman's WLS website-Radioville)


Fabius Maximus said...
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Fabius Maximus said...

My father would listen to Ms. Daniels ALL weekend. She was a beautiful and jazzy pioneer for women in radio...

Unknown said...

the record being played is an unstrumental version of "It's a Sign of the Times" originally performed by Petula Clark