John R. Conrad
: 1919-2006

NBC staff announcer John Conrad in 1956. 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.

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.

Curator's note: Click here to access streaming video of John Conrad's visit to the Merchandise Mart studios in 1989, a day before the move to the NBC Tower.

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