Don McNeill was born in Galena, Illinois on December 23, 1907. He graduated from Milwaukee’s Marquette University in 1928 and joined local station WISN. In 1933, he drove to Chicago to audition for a struggling morning program called The Pepper Pot. McNeill took over the show on June 23rd and renamed it The Breakfast Club.
Within a decade, The Breakfast Club had become radio’s first, and most, successful morning program. By 1941, McNeill and his cast were receiving over 100,000 letters a year.
The show was divided into four 15-minute segments for the "four calls to breakfast," and featured music, comedy, inspirational verse and McNeill’s sunny, easygoing personality. Supporting players included actress Fran Allison as the gossipy Aunt Fanny and Sam Cowling, who offered "Fact and Fiction from Sam’s Almanac."
For 15 years, the show was broadcast live from Chicago’s Merchandise Mart over WLS/Chicago and the Blue Network (later ABC). For its last 20 years, the show was broadcast on ABC from various Chicago hotels, including the Allerton. The Breakfast Club ended its remarkable 35-year network run on December 27, 1968.
Don McNeill died on May 7, 1996.
The Breakfast Club was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.