Bears

5 Questions with...WGN 9's Robin Baumgarten

340810.jpg

5 Questions with...WGN 9's Robin Baumgarten

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guestthe popular morning co-anchor on WGN Morning News whose on-air work has earned her praise throughout her radio and television careershes a lifelong Chicagoan who truly gets the overall vibe of our great city, plus she has a great sense of humor to bootget ready, here are 5 Questions withROBIN BAUMGARTEN!

BIO: Two-time Emmy winner Robin Baumgarten currently co-anchors the WGN Morning News. Robin joined the show in 1996 as airborne traffic reporter, and transportation reporter.

When WGN Morning News expanded to four hours, she became the solo anchor weekdays from 5-5:30am. In 2004, she became the main co-anchor of WGN Morning News weekdays from 5:30-9am.

In 1997, Robin won an Emmy for her part in the station's coverage of the Bulls Championship Rally, and in 2002 she was awarded another for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence On Camera.

Prior to joining WGN-TV, Robin worked at Shadow Broadcast Services in Chicago. During that time, she worked as a traffic, news and sports reporter for WLUP Radio Chicago's "Jonathan Brandmeier Show."

She also worked as a traffic reporter for CLTV News, and spent one year doing freelance work with ABC Sports.

A lifelong Chicagoan, Robin received a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

1) CSNChicago.com: Robin, it goes without saying that your fans love to watch how much fun you and your WGN Morning News crew have every morning. Is it difficult to deliver the news to viewers following a funny moment or sketch on the show and has there ever been an instance when you had to have your on-air partner Larry Potash take over in a pinch?

Baumgarten: Difficult? No way. Ive got the best job in the world. Of course, I have to work with two of the biggest morons on the planet, but other than that..

Actually, Paul Konrad, Larry Potash, and I have worked together for about 15 years, and we get along well. Theyre like the two brothers I never had, or wanted. Also, Val, Pat, Dean, and Ana, all make it fun to go to work every day.

We do have a lot of fun moments on the show, and sometimes transitions to news can be tricky, but I think people watch us because we dont do it smoothly. We make mistakes and have fun with it.

Maybe youve seen our latest mishap? When we missed the live bridge implosion? For some reason its gone viral.I guess we are idiots.

http:www.wgntv.comvideobeta?watchId=ce875f1b-9963-420f-bf7b-ec3838bea62f

2) CSNChicago.com: Your morning show has also done a pretty solid job of maintaining its audience throughout the duration of the show. What would you say is the primary factor in being able to hold on to your audienceis it the news reporting, the entertainmentcomedy element, the personalities?

Baumgarten: We are thankful every day that the show is still going strong 16 years later! It is a bit frightening, though, running into college kids who tell me theyve been watching since grade school.

I can only guess why people watch, but I hope its because they like us, and they know were just going to be ourselves warts and all. I know we do our best covering the news, but all stations do that. I think people know theyll get that, and a little more with us.

3) CSNChicago.com: In your broadcasting career, youve also spent a number of years in radio. What are your thoughts on the state of radio today and do you see that medium one day returning to the dominance it once enjoyed years ago?

Baumgarten: Boy, I miss radio! I also miss not having to shower before work.

Actually, some of my fondest memories in this business were the years I was working for Shadow Traffic, where I made some great friends, and had a great time as well. Thats when I got the opportunity to work with some of the greats at the old Loop radio station Kevin Matthews, Steve & Garry, and especially, Jonathon Brandmeier. Working with Johnny and Buzz Kilman really taught me how to think on my feet, and not take myself too seriously.

As for the state of radio? I think its incredibly sad that all of those talented Loop folks I mentioned are no longer on the air in Chicago (except for Garry Meier). Radio has become so compartmentalized and syndicated, that it seems there is no longer any patience for letting a show develop without being handcuffed by strict formats. I hope it changes. Were missing out on a lot of good radio.

4) CSNChicago.com: As a native Chicagoan who grew up loving Chicago sports, what particular teams wins and losses do you take to heart more than any other and why?
Baumgarten: I was raised a Cubs fan in Sox territory on the South Side, so my family is long suffering. But, I root for the Sox, too, having spent a lot of time at the old Comiskey Park growing up. Harry Caray actually threw me a ball during the seventh inning stretch at Comiskey Park when I was a kid, but my father made me give the ball to a little boy sitting nearby because he was crying. Dont get me started..

But, I would say its the Bears losses that still affect me the most. Growing up, we were not allowed to go into the TV room during Bears games, or call the house the phone would go unanswered. And if they lost? Forget it. My father would be miserable for the rest of the day. I still dread Sundays in the fall!

5) CSNChicago.com: Its the holiday season Robin and we all have one of thesetell us that one holiday song that you just loathe to no end. You wont be considered a Scrooge for being honest

Baumgarten: Jingle Bells done by the barking dogs. Sigh.

Baumgarten LINKS:

WGN Morning News home page

WGN Morning News blog

Robin Baumgarten on Facebook

E-mail Robin Baumgarten

Brian Urlacher named semifinalist for Hall of Fame

urlacher_hof_ballet.jpg
USA TODAY

Brian Urlacher named semifinalist for Hall of Fame

In his first year as an eligible candidate, Brian Urlacher was named as one of the 27 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  

The announcement doesn't come as much of a surprise considering the brilliant career the legendary Bears linebacker had. In 13 seasons with Da Bears, Urlacher proved how valuable he was against both the run and pass, tallying 22 interceptions, 41.5 sacks and 1,040 tackles.

In other words, yeah, he's a worthy first-ballot inductee. 

As the captain of those tremendous Bears defenses in the 2000s, Urlacher made the Pro Bowl eight times, All-Pro teams five times and was honored as Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. And despite falling just short of capturing the team's first Super Bowl since 1985, the Bears were usually competitive even with consistent offensive woes and a revolving door for quarterbacks. 

There are a few more hurdles to clear before No. 54 dons a Hall of Fame jacket, though. The list of 27 gets cut to 15 before voters make their final decisions as to who ultimately gets the call to Canton, Ohio, and there are several other deserving players. Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Ronde Barber and Terrell Owens are just some of the other headliners in the Class of 2018: 

The Bears will soon have their first Hall of Famer since Richard Dent, who received the nod in 2011. The only question now is whether the voters make Urlacher wait a year. 

USL expansion team with proposed 20,000-seat stadium on North Side could be significant for soccer in Chicago

stadium.jpg

USL expansion team with proposed 20,000-seat stadium on North Side could be significant for soccer in Chicago

Stadium talk is always circling around Major League Soccer and that goes double for the Chicago Fire, which has been criticized for playing in suburban Bridgeview since Toyota Park opened in 2006.

That's why the Chicago Tribune's story about a United Soccer League expansion team playing at a proposed 20,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof in Chicago is such a big deal. According to the report and confirmed by a USL spokesperson, real estate developer Sterling Bay has purchased the rights to a USL expansion team. The stated goal is to begin play in 2020.

The details of the stadium are not finalized so the features and capacity could still change.

The proposed location of the stadium is along the North Branch of the Chicago River between the Lincoln Park neighborhood and the Kennedy Expressway. The stadium was previously mentioned as part of Sterling Bay's bid to bring Amazon's second headquarters to Chicago. A spokesperson for Sterling Bay confirmed that the stadium being built is not contingent on Amazon coming to Chicago, it will happen regardless.

Further information from Sterling Bay said that "announcements on ownership and team structure will come at a later date." The team does not yet have a name, but fans will be included in the naming process.

A 20,000-seat stadium and a retractable roof will make for a fancy and impressive, but also expensive venue and a USL team as a primary tenant may prove difficult to justify the cost. The location itself would be an easier sell to draw in fans than Toyota Park out in Bridgeview. However, minor league soccer may not excite local residents in large number.

The USL had 30 teams in 2017 with eight more teams planned to join by 2019. This past season, only two USL teams averaged above 10,000 in attendance: FC Cincinnati and Sacramento Republic FC. Both of those are prime MLS expansion candidates and Cincinnati beat the Fire in the U.S. Open Cup in front of 32,287 fans in June.

Many USL clubs are either owned/operated by MLS teams or are affiliated with an MLS team. The Fire switched from Saint Louis FC to the Tulsa Roughnecks as its affiliated club in 2017, sending players to Tulsa to gain playing time as opposed to sitting on the bench with the Fire.

According to the Tribune's story, the stadium would also try to attract other events such as international soccer matches, college football, college basketball and concerts. Rugby and lacrosse were also named in documentation sent by Sterling Bay. Sterling Bay has also yet to present formal plans and still needs to gain zoning approval.

At the Fire's end of the season media availability on Nov. 7, general manager Nelson Rodriguez was asked about the proposed stadium and if he or MLS had been contacted about it.

“I can’t speak about MLS," Rodriguez said. "I don’t know if they have or have not. I have not. I haven’t spoken, been approached by anyone. I’m not sure I would be the person they approach or speak to, but I’m not aware of any conversations.”

The Fire moving to this stadium could be an ideal solution for both parties. An MLS team with an existing fan base would have an easier time drawing big crowds. Boosted by the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and a team that made the playoffs for the first time since 2012, the Fire drew crowds of 20,000 or more six times in 2017. The regular season average of 17,383 was the highest since moving to Toyota Park and highest since the club's inaugural, championship-winning season in 1998.

However, things aren't that simple. The Fire are locked into a 30-year lease with Bridgeview and Toyota Park, which the Fire have played in since 2006. Getting out of that would require a significant buyout or a breach of contract.