670 The Score overnight host, Les Grobstein, dies at 69… Les Grobstein, the longtime overnight host on 670 The Score and a Chicago sports broadcasting icon, died Sunday at his home in Elk Grove Village, the station announced Monday. He was 69.
“Our staff is devasted. Our audience lost a great friend overnight,” said Mitch Rosen, The Score’s operations director. “Les was a legend that will never be forgotten. He was a best friend to so many that knew him that he never knew. That’s the power of radio.”
Grobstein is survived by his longtime partner, Kathy, and son, Scott.
“The Grobber,” who had been off the air lately because of an illness, began working overnights at The Score in 2009, but his history in Chicago sports media goes back much farther. He was a walking encyclopedia of local sports knowledge with a steel trap of a memory for the smallest detail.
“People talk about eating, living, breathing sports. He was married to this life, and nothing could come between them,” said longtime Chicago radio voice George Ofman. “He was like a savant. I sat next to him in press boxes for well over 30 years. Les was funny without being funny. He was everybody’s friend for those people who listened.”
The Chicago native graduated from Von Steuben High School and Columbia College and began his broadcasting career as a commentator for Northwestern basketball in 1970. He was a reporter for Sportsphone Chicago, the sports director at WLS (890-AM) and a reporter for WMVP (1000-AM). Grobstein also was a broadcaster and public-address announcer for many defunct local teams.
Ofman worked with Grobstein at Sportsphone, a pay service from 1977 to ’90 that provided callers with updated news and scores. Ofman remembers walking into the old office on the 31st floor of the John Hancock Center and seeing Grobstein having Gino’s pizza and watching “The Three Stooges” seemingly every day.
“He knew all the lines, because that’s who he was,” Ofman said. “He was definitely one of a kind, one of the most unique personalities I’ve ever met.”
One of Grobstein’s claims to fame was being the only person with a microphone in the room when then-Cubs manager Lee Elia went on his infamous profanity-laced tirade on April 29, 1983, after a close loss at Wrigley Field. Elia blasted Cubs fans who heckled the players that day, and Grobstein, then at WLS, recorded every word.
The Bears released a statement about Grobstein: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and 670 The Score radio host Les Grobstein. Les was a true media icon of the last 50-plus years, whose knowledge of Chicago sports history was unparalleled. Les was proud of having attended more than 100 Bears-Packers games in his time, his first coming in 1963 and he could recall it like it was yesterday.
“He was always a pleasure to chat with on game days, and anyone who had a conversation with Les walked away knowing more. On behalf of the entire Bears organization, we extend our thoughts and prayers to his family, especially his beloved Kathy and son Scott, friends and countless faithful listeners.”
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