Leonard J. "Uncle Len" Ellis, observed, "I've been surrounded all my life by a chorus saying, "You can't do that." And, I've never listened to them." That belief made him a pioneer in country radio.
A native of Chicago, Ellis began his broadcast career in Michigan and Mississippi before landing a job as a disc jockey and station manager at WJOB in Hammond. "Uncle Len," his early adopted DJ name, believed in country music long before it became popular. His kitchen-table style of communicating with his listeners made him a legend, but his "ahead-of-his-time ideas made him a communications pioneer when he and his wife, Bee, started Porter County Broadcasting in the 1960's when they brought local radio to Valparaiso through stations WAKE and WLJE, where he was the first to broadcast in stereo in the Chicago area. Ellis also introduced cable television to Valparaiso years ahead of many other communities. The company's name was changed in 1993 to Radio One Communications. WLJE, now called Indiana 105, is ranked by the Arbitron Rating system as the #1 local station. It's also rated 35th in the Chicago market. Ellis still serves as chairman while his son Leigh Ellis runs things on a daily basis.
A founder of the Country Music Association, Ellis holds member card #1; sat on the first Board of Directors in 1958, plus served on the Board from 1981 to 1984. He was named Mr. Dee Jay, USA in 1963; the Country Music Association's "Small Market Disc Jockey of the Year" in 1978 and elected to the Indiana chapter of the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 1996. Bitten by the woodcarving bug since retiring, Ellis is also a member of the Duneland Woodcarver's Association.
Len Ellis was inducted into the Country Music D J Hall of Fame in 1983.