Former WBGZ owner Louie Dreith has died.  The former radio station owner, who also served as a police officer, and later the police chief in Bethalto, passed away Thursday June 9 at the age of 81.  He lead a group of investors that purchased WOKZ Radio in Alton in 1984. 

Dreith served 15 years as chief of the Bethalto Police Department and retired in 1984. He joined the department in 1964, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant prior to becoming chief. While head of the department, Dreith served as president to both the southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. During his early days as a policeman, Dreith founded the Boys and Girls Club of Bethalto, served on its board of directors, and was honored with the Man and Boy Award by the youth organization. Following his retirement as chief, Dreith became co-owner and general manager of Radio Station WOKZ (later WBGZ) in Alton, where he instituted the “Country Church” program on early Sunday mornings. He continued the program until 1990, when the new Alton Belle Casino needed his 20 years of experience as a police officer. He started there as director of security, and later moved into quality control and night management. When the parent company of the Belle opened a casino in Lawrenceburg, IN, in 1995, Dreith went there as assistant director of operations.  While there, he began his “Country Church” program for WSCH and WXCH in the Cincinnati, OH, and continued to tape his 5-hour program each week for the station. He did the program from a small studio in his home in Bunker Hill, IL, where he moved after leaving the Lawrenceburg casino. The show was also heard on WSMI in Litchfield

He was born on October 26, 1934 in Berthoud, Colorado, the son of the late George H. Dreith and Ruth Alice (Wood) Dreith.

He is survived by two children and their spouses, Barbara Anne and Bill Watson of Bethalto, Michael and Carol Dreith of Carterville, IL; six grandchildren Andrew, Douglas, and Alex Dreith, Michael, Sam, and Scott Watson; two brothers and their spouses Chuck and Joan Dreith of Moro, Clyde and Joann Jones of Bethalto; two sisters and their spouses, Ruth Ann and Lowell Reeves of Missouri, Mary Lou and Gary Lockard of Godfrey; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers George and Don Dreith.

Private family burial will take place at Rose Lawn Memory Gardens in Bethalto.

Memorials may be made to the Bethalto Boys and Girls Club.

Elias, Kallal and Schaaf Funeral Home in Bethalto was in charge of arrangements.

Online condolence and guestbook may be found at


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