2015 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award - Community Service
Ray Stejskal, known to Chicagoland country radio fans as Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, is co-host of The Morning Show on Chicago’s popular US99.5FM. Over the past 25 years, Ray has won dozens of awards including the Marine Corps’ highest civilian honor, and he has worked tirelessly to turn his success into benefits for others. When he is not on the air at the Chicago CBS affiliate, he is hosting a charity event, fulfilling a wish for a child stricken with cancer, or blogging about the travails and triumphs of some of his listeners.
At eight years old Ray was talking into a toy microphone introducing songs and interviewing family members and friends. The dream to become a broadcaster was born, but would have to wait. By the summer of eighth grade Ray was working construction at his dad’s sheet metal company. It was hard work—sweltering in summer and freezing in winter. But he got to know and respect the crew and appreciate how hard they labored for their families.
Everyone knew Ray at Community High School. He joined Swim Team, Ski Club, and was all set for Wildcat Football try-outs when a serious injury on the construction job took him out of sports all together. He began to think more and more about radio and broadcasting. That dream was front and center on a trip to Daytona Beach after graduation. When the disc jockey host of a major concert didn’t show, eighteen year-old Ray jumped on stage and convinced the director to hand him the mic. The show was a hit and the crowd was with Ray all the way. He hosted that show seven days a week for the next four weeks.
After working his way through College of DuPage and Columbia College, graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Ray was knocking on the doors of Aurora Radio, WAUR-AM 107.9. He drove up to the gate planning to talk his way into an interview. The program director, in need of a flashy car for the local parade, noticed Ray’s ’87 Mustang convertible. Without missing a beat, Ray said, “You can use my car if I can have a weekend air shift.” The deal was struck and Ray worked through the ranks from agriculture reports, to the overnight call-in show, to the coveted morning show. In 1990 he landed at CBS Radio’s Country outlet in Chicago, US99.5FM, and that’s been his home ever since.
Ray has built an audience one listener at a time, hearing their stories, reaching out to those who were sick, or writing a heartfelt note to someone whose wife or friend had passed away. He recently arranged a phone call from Taylor Swift to a little girl battling brain cancer. Ray’s insatiable drive to make things better for others has endeared him to fans and earned him awards.
In 2010, Ray won the Country Music Association’s Major Personality of the Year. For the last three years, The Morning Show with Lisa & Ray has claimed the Country Radio Broadcasters’ Major Market Talent Award. In April 2015 the Academy of Country Music awarded Ray top honors as WUSN On Air Personality of the Year.
Ray also hosts a national radio program every Sunday morning called Serving Your Country--the first ever radio show completely dedicated to delivering news, stories, requests, tributes and music to America’s men and women in uniform. As a result, the Marines awarded Ray their highest civilian honor, the Semper Fi Award.
“I’m very proud of Serving Your Country. It’s our way of saying thanks to those who give. Without (their) dedication and service…we’d be lost. They deserve a salute and we’re here to give it to them.” R. Stevens
Ray hosts benefits and fundraisers around the calendar and around the State of Illinois. He serves on the boards of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and the Illinois Crime Commission.
West Chicago Community High School and The CHS Educational Foundation are proud to honor Ray Stejskal, Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, class of 1982, with the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for Community Service.