A tribute to actors Sean and Trish Grennan's father, a man we all knew and loved as the voice of WMAQ-TV, NBC, Chicago..
|Ed Grennan, who passed away on 8/22/00, proved that the best sometimes comes last. Ed's greatest professional achievement came at the tail end of his life when he landed a supporting role in David Lynch's Buena Vista film The Straight Story(that's Ed with Richard Farnsworth in the photo to the right). Ed's appearance in a film loved by critics and audiences alike came the better part of a decade afterhis retirement from NBC.|
Ed was probably best known to the Chicago television audience as the host of It's Academic, a weekly quiz show of the late 1960's where teams of students from Chicago area high schools were the competitors. (Roughly, the show was a secondary school version of the NBC network's College Bowl---or possibly a more grown-up version of Quiz Kids, one of the best-known NBC-Chicago network originations.
|Those who did hard time in the NBC studios in the Merchandise Mart (and later the NBC Tower) remember Ed as a member of the last generation of staff announcers---the long-suffering breed now replaced by freelancers, daily hires and digital technology.|
Ed came to NBC from WLS---where, in 1959-1960, he participated in the Prairie Farmer-to-rock-era transition. (The new format of WLS was not particularly to his liking).
Three decades of NBC-Chicago staffers knew Ed as one of the best people in a curious business.
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Ed Grennan (1922 – August 22, 2000) was a staff announcer with WNBQ and WMAQ-TV in Chicago, Illinois.
Grennan started his radio career in 1944 with the Armed Forces Radio Network while in Guam. After some stints downstate and in Michigan, he returned to Chicago to work at several stations including WGN, WAIT and WBBM-FM. Grennan worked for WLS radio from 1959-1960, and then WNBQ/WMAQ the NBC owned and operated station in Chicago.
Grennan was probably best known to the Chicago television audience as the host of It's Academic, a weekly quiz show of the late 1960s where three teams of students from Chicago area high schools competed to answer questions on academic subjects and general knowledge. He hosted the show for eleven years. Grennan won an Emmy Award for football announcing and for It's Academic.
After Grennan's retirement in 1991, he had a supporting role in David Lynch's Buena Vista film The Straight Story.
My note. Sean, Ed, Trish and the family were good friends back in Oak Park. Their dad treated all of his kids friends as his own children. I remember an interview he did for one of my public affairs programs in which he said that his favorits words were "available at", because as an AFTRA announcer who worked directly for NBC network in Chicago he was paid handsomely for those precious tags. I also remember he advised his kids not to go into broadcasting because it had no future....so two of them became actors instead! All Chicago remembers his time hosting the high school quiz competition "It's Academic!". A treasure of Chicago television and radio history, his community and his family. Ed Grennan RIP. - Art Lynch
First published 8-22-2011