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John Conrad (1919-2006)

John Conrad, a native of Blue Island, came to the NBC-Chicago studios in the late 1930's as one of the spiffily-clad NBC pages. He subsequently became a staff announcer at KTSM, the NBC affiliate in El Paso, Texas.

John Conrad

NBC staff announcer John Conrad in 1956.

Following service in the Navy during World War II, Conrad returned to Chicago and became a staff announcer at WMAQ radio (and later WNBQ television), where his colleagues from the mid-1940's to the early 1950's included Hugh Downs and Dave Garroway.

Chicagoans of a certain age best remember Conrad as the straight man paired with a papier-mache elephant (manipulated by stagehand Kenny Hermann) on WNBQ's "Elmer the Elephant" show which aired on Channel Five in Chicago from 1951 to 1956, generally from 4:30 to 5pm.

The curator recalls Conrad in the mid-1960's as the host of a WMAQ radio disk-jockey show titled "John Conrad and Max", where "Max" was an imaginary turntable operator who gave Conrad the same kind of grief on radio as Elmer had, a decade earlier, on television.

Conrad made a graceful exit from broadcasting in 1968 when he moved to southern California and began a career as an entrepreneur (one of his ventures was a Dollar Rent-A-Car franchise in Hollywood).

Conrad died on February 7th, 2006 of heart and kidney failure in Westlake Village, California.