University of Illinois:
Bachelor’s and Master’s in Speech Communication, Class of 1980

Well before students studied to lo-fi hip-hop and ambient beats, Chicago was proud to offer smooth jazz radio, and the preeminent authority on light jazz and new age instrumental radio programming is none other than WPGU alumnus Rick O’Dell. After gracing Champaign airwaves as well as serving as a program director and production engineer, O’Dell graduated from University of Illinois in 1980. A few years later, he launched the “Sunday Lite Brunch,” the first smooth jazz show on Chicago radio, on WCLR. Then, from 1989 through 2009, he hosted the “Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch,” as well as the highly rated midday show on WNUA. After programming several Internet radio channels as operations manager at AccuRadio.com and serving as an adjunct professor in the School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago, O’Dell returned to the 87.7 frequency in 2015, where he is program director at Me-TV FM.

This bio was written at the time of Ralph Nozaki’s inauguration into the 2022 Illini Media Hall of Fame.