by JUDY NAJOLIA
Thousands of teenagers , young housewives and single persons in their mid 20's who listen to rock radio call him a Big 89 DJ.
For the internal revenue service, he lists his occupation as "broadcaster." though he likes to call himself an "air personality".
But to his Palatine neighbors, the star of the WLS afternoon, Chuck Buell Show is just "Chuck".
Five months ago, Chuck Buell, moved to Palatine. "I understand the rumors ran wild before we moved in, but now that I've had a chance to get to know my neighbors, they realize I'm just a working husband and father like they are.
Each morning Buell drives into the Loop with hundreds of other suburban men, works eight to 10 hours and then drives back to his suburban home for dinner.
"I DON'T FLAUNT the fact that I'm a D-J, but then sometimes people don't believe me when I tell them I'm Chuck Buell from WLS.", the lanky, rather long-haired disc jockey said.
To avoid confusion and problems with identification, Buell uses his real name. Only a couple of the seven WLS disk jockeys change their name for radio purposes, Buell said.
Chuck Buell began working for WLS three years ago. He was one of the youngest big station D-J's in the country. "I was working in Denver when I got a call asking me if I'd like to come to Chicago to work for WLS. Naturally, I was surprised. When one of the biggest radio stations in the country asks you to work for them, you don't hesitate too long about coming.
Now at 27, he is on the air 10 hours a week. The rest of his time is spent as the station's music director, where he listens to more than 400 new records and albums a week before deciding which ones will be on-the-air music for WLS.
THE WLS HIT PARADE list which comes out every Monday is also his responsibility: "I watch the ratings and success of tunes in other areas of the country. Many times we are a pioneer in making tunes hit the top."
As testimony to the station's part in making tunes into hits, more than 20 gold and platinum records from recording companies hang in the wood-paneled waiting room at WLS.
One side of the waiting room is glass paneled so visitors can watch the D-J's at work. Station policy dictates Buell and his fellow D-J's sit alone in the studio when they are on the air. His engineer who watches through another glass window for hand cues from the D-J, is is responsible for music, ads and jingles. Everything except the D-J's comments are on tape cartridges.
At 3 p.m., Buell gives up his earphones and microphone to Fred Winston: "Each D.J. runs things differently. We are given a log with the ads that must be aired that hour. The rest is pretty well up to us. Sometimes I talk a lot, sometimes I play a lot of music.." Buell said as he strolled to his office.
"I've always listened to radio. When I
was young, I hung around the radio station in Rapid City, S.D. I fell asleep
to Johnny Dollar and woke up in "Let's Pretend." When Dad gave me a tape
recorder, I started imitating radio men."
AS A WLS D-J. he was invited to Palestine High School's homecoming activities for two years: "I liked the area and my wife and I started to look for a place to buy a home, we drifted to Palatine."
He turned to fan mail oh his desk: "I try to answer all the serious ones, particularly those who want answers to specific questions. I guess I get about 100 letters a week, mostly from teenagers who have time to write."
At home he takes time to talk with kids who stop by his house: "It keeps me in touch with teens. I can also relate to the young housewife who listens while she works because I can remember the same hits they knew in school."
FROM HIS OFFICE window, he could see his car: "The one thing I miss in this job is getting involved and doing things like I did in Colorado. I was 15 minutes from my job and 15 minutes from being out of the city. Here you have to drive for a couple of hours before you get any where."
Sometimes Buell and the other WLS D-Js go out together: "We go to each other's homes or perhaps try out a new place. There really isn't a D-J hangout. When you work six days a week (he's on the air Sunday through Friday), you sometimes like to stay home on your day off."
When he does, he usually plays with his 1 1/2-year-old son, or maybe chases after his dog to get it out of his neighbor's yards.
But regardless of where he is, the radio is always on, tuned to 890 on the AM dial.