Herb Graham, Chicago radio announcer who did Obama spots, dies at 87

CHICAGO, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Herb Graham, a Chicago radio announcer who voiced ads for Barack Obama's 2004 Senate campaign, has died. He was 87.

Graham died Aug. 19 at Skokie Hospital, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. His family said his body was donated for medical research.


David Axelrod, one of Obama's top political advisors during his Senate and presidential campaigns, said alumni of his political consulting firm are mourning Graham's death.

"Herb's genuineness and warmth animated every script he read," Axelrod said. "He was my go-to guy and voiced-over hundreds of my ads, including Rich Daley's."

Graham, born Herbert Grossman, grew up in Chicago, the son of immigrants from Russia. He got into radio through the Armed Forces Network in World War II.

After the war and a brief stint in radio in St. Joseph, Mo., Graham earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Northwestern University, studying speech, audiology and psychology. In 1948, he married his high-school sweetheart, Estelle.

His long career included everything from being the voice of Booby Beaver in a Jewish-themed Chicago area children's TV show, "The Magic Door," to hosting "Hour in the Middle of the Evening" on FM 100 for more than a quarter century. For more than 20 years, he was a cast member of "Unshackled!," a radio drama produced by a Chicago homeless shelter, the Pacific Garden Mission.


In his late career, he was a freelance, doing commercials. But his family said he always refused to do anything to promote tobacco use.

Graham's voice could formerly be heard in exhibits at many Chicago-area museums.

Graham continued to work until about a year before his death. He also performed with the Senior Radio Players, an actors' union group that re-creates classic radio at the Chicago Cultural Center.

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