Greg Freerksen Tribute
Greg Freerksen was the host of "Blues Edition" on Saturday nights from 1996 to 2014.
An article written by Bob Goldsborough featured in the Chicago Tribune on January 22, 2017 celebrating Greg's life appears below:
"An attorney by day, Greg Freerksen channeled his interest in blues music into hosting a two-hour program, "Blues Edition," on WDCB-FM for 20 years before stepping down in 2014.
"He didn't take himself seriously, but he was very serious about the music," said WDCB station manager Dan Bindert, a longtime friend. "And he was into the history of the music, and what the lyrics meant."
Freerksen, 65, died of a heart attack Dec. 25 at his Loop home, said his wife of 35 years, Patricia Menges. He had been a Glen Ellyn resident for 24 years until moving to the Loop in September.
Born in Washington, La., Freerksen grew up in Freeport and then moved with his family to River Forest. After graduating from Oak Park and River Forest High School, he earned a bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University in 1973 and a law degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1976.
Freerksen then began his legal career, in which he focused on representing labor unions and practicing civil rights law. Freerksen worked for several firms in his career, and his wife said his devotion to the law was rooted in a love of "the challenges of finding creative ways to resolve clients' issues."
For the past decade and a half, Freerksen worked for the firm now known as McGann, Ketterman & Rioux. Terry McGann, a partner in the firm, called Freerksen "a larger-than-life guy who was full of life and full of personality."
"Greg came to us with a vast amount of experience, and the thing that set Greg apart from just about everybody else in our industry was that Greg believed what he did and felt it and believed it almost spiritually," McGann said. "So it was an easy practice. He believed in the representation and defending the rights of working people.
"And from a professional standpoint, Greg was probably the most creative lawyer I've ever worked with," McGann said. "You'd give him a problem and he'd give you 10 different solutions. He was not a paint-by-numbers lawyer, which made him unique and a lot better than a lot of other people he worked with."
Freerksen's love of music drove his radio work. A self-taught blues guitar player who owned 12 guitars at one time, Freerksen also could play the harmonica well and sing, said his daughter, Andrea.
In the 1990s, Freerksen took advantage of his Glen Ellyn home's proximity to the studios of WDCB-FM, which is the College of DuPage's radio station. At the time, WDCB was staffed by a mix of radio professionals and volunteers, and a colleague suggested that he volunteer. Almost immediately, he became the host of the station's two-hour "Blues Edition" program, which aired from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday nights.
"He would choose music from his huge and ever-growing collection of CDs, research stories about the artists and tunes, and write his 'patter' and scripts pretty much all evening after work from Wednesday through Saturday mornings," Menges said.
Leslie Keros, a current WDCB program host who co-hosted "Blues Edition" with Freerksen from 2010 until 2013, recalled Freerksen's friendly, personal manner on the air.
"He made the listener feel like he was speaking to you," she said. "And he had a wonderful way of telling a story about something he would play. If a song had a humorous aspect, he would prepare the listener. He made it so much more interesting than just playing one song after another."
Bindert said Freerksen began every show with a Buddy Guy instrumental song and closed every show with a song by Elmore James.
"Blues music in a sense is the music of the working man, and one that connected with the whole way Greg looked at life," Bindert said. "It all came from a genuine place."
Bindert recalled that Freerksen also concluded every program by telling his listeners to "keep your mojo working."
Freerksen also hosted annual Valentine's Day-inspired shows, called "Blues for Lovers," in which he would showcase romantic blues tunes.
In 2014, Freerksen stepped back from his radio work, owing both to health issues and to a feeling that he had taken the program as far as he could, his wife said. And he was pleased that former WXRT-FM host Tom Marker succeeded him as the "Blues Edition" host, Keros said. However, Freerksen never retired from his legal practice.
Freerksen dabbled in the political realm earlier in his career, running unsuccessfully in the late 1980s for judge — against future state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Thomas — and also for state Senate. Former Illinois Attorney General Neil Hartigan also appointed Freerksen a special assistant attorney general for selected matters in DuPage County.
Outside of work and radio, Freerksen enjoyed hiking, camping and gardening, his daughter said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Freerksen is survived by another daughter, Suzanna; two sons, Paul and Tim; his mother, Betty Jo; and his brothers, Doug and Dan.