Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1933, Dick Orkin was 16 when he began his radio career as a fill-in announcer at WKOK/Sunbury. After earning his BA in speech and theater from Franklin & Marshall College he attended the Yale School of Drama, then returned to Pennsylvania to become the news director at WLAN/Lancaster in 1959. Later he joined thestaff of KYW/Cleveland.
In 1967 Orkin moved to WCFL/Chicago and created Chickenman, which chronicled the exploits of a crime-fighting “white-winged warrior” and his secret identity as mildmannered shoe salesman Benton Harbor. Chickenman’s 250-plus episodes have been syndicated around the world and can still be heard on Internet radio, making it the longest-running radio serial of all time. At WCFL Orkin also produced more than 300 episodes of another popular serial, The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.
Inspired by the commercial parodies on Stan Freberg and Bob & Ray’s radio shows, Orkin created the Famous Radio Ranch in 1973 to produce his own comedic radio spots. Stationed in California since ’78, the Radio Ranch, currently helmed by Orkin and his daughter Lisa, has produced hundreds of memorable ads for a variety of clients, ranging from Time magazine to First American Bank to the Gap, and garnered more than 200 awards in the process.
Dick Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.
He died on December 24, 2017.