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5 Questions with...NBC 5's Natalie Martinez

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5 Questions with...NBC 5's Natalie Martinez

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 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 city's most popular personalities on the spot with everyone's favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled "5 Questions with..."

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, it's 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 week's guest, one of the top field reporters in Chicago broadcast journalism today whose passion and dedication to her craft has earned her accolades from both her peers and fans alike, she's been a mainstay at NBC 5 Chicago News for the past decade and, as busy as she is, she still finds time to enjoy Chicago's terrific social scene on a regular basis, a native New Yorker who now calls Chicago home, here are "5 Questions with...NATALIE MARTINEZ!"

BIO: Natalie Martinez joined NBC 5 as a general assignment reporter in January 2001.

You've seen Natalie covering major stories such as the recent Illinois state elections to the UAL trial that nearly grounded the nations largest carrier. You've also seen her cover stories that matter to the "little guy.

With over a decade of reporting and anchoring, she came to NBC 5 from WXXA-TV, the Fox station in Albany, NY. During her final two years at WXXA, Martinez was the primary anchor there. She had previously worked as a reporter and weekend anchor at WXXA. Prior to her work at WXXA, Martinez had worked as an anchor, reporter, and producer for several upstate New York television and radio stations. Here in Chicago, Natalie is very active and recognized in the Latino community and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; UNAVOZ, a Hispanic leadership association; and the National Association for Female Executives. She also does charitable work for LOOKINGLASS and STAR LIGHTSTAR BRITE foundations among others, and frequently serves as Mistress of Ceremonies for a variety of charitable events throughout the year.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Martinez is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and University of North London on scholarship.

1) CSNChicago.com: Natalie, that was quite an Election Day experience for the entire state of Illinois last week and the upcoming Chicago mayoral election in February definitely looks to be interesting with potential candidateformer White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel likely to appear on the ballot. Journalism ethics aside, are you personally surprised with the recent outcome of the U.S. Senator victory for Mark Kirk (R) over Alexi Giannoulias (D) and, a follow-up question; do you think Kirks win is a sign that the people of Illinois are disappointed with the current White House leadership of President Obama?

Martinez: As far as the Senate race, I wasn't terribly surprised. The feeling that I got from voters was that they were on the fence the whole time. Many expressed to me that the ONLY reason they were voting for Giannoulias was because, if they were democratic, they didn't want to lose the seat in DC. Then, obviously, many didn't vote that way in the end. Not a very good reason to vote FOR or AGAINST anyone, if that's the only reason you can come up with, right? That is certainly just one sign that I've seen anyway, that people are disappointed with politics in general.

Everything about the mayoral race - including the abrupt announcement by the mayor himself - is interesting. I can't wait to see what happens in February.

2) CSNChicago.com: Youre approaching your 10-year anniversary being in Chicago and at NBC 5. Congrats on that by the way! With the countless number of stories youve covered over the past decade, there has to be that one tough story you covered that you still think about to this day. Tell us about that story.

Martinez: It's not the only one that I think about daily, but it's one of the main stories I just can't forget about.

I always think about Frankie Valencia. The story bothers me to no end. He was the stand-out DePaul student who was gunned down outside a Halloween party last year. The suspects were known gang bangers who felt "dissed" by being turned away from the party. Frankie and his friend just happened to have walked into the party and were shot randomly by the suspects, who returned, armed, to exact their revenge.

I met his mom in a heartfelt interview. I spoke with people at his school who couldn't have painted a more perfect picture of a human being.

So that kind of senseless violence, that ends in the death of one of the most promising young men I've ever heard about, hurts me to the core. I keep his photo on my desk and another on a picture frame at home to remind me of what we're doing on the streets of Chicago. It wasn't long after the stories aired, that the alleged killers were caught.

3) CSNChicago.com: Two-part question coming up. Youre from New York state, so who would you say is your all-time favorite New York athleteand since youve been in Chicago, who is your favorite all-time Chicago athlete?

Martinez: For New York, I always loved Pat LaFontaine. When he was playing with the Sabres, he was always exciting to watch. And he'd come into the restaurant I worked at, sometimes missing a tooth. I didn't realize for about a year it was the same guy I enjoyed watching on the ice. I thought he may have been in need of a dental plan!

For Chicago, Patrick Kane! He's also from Ruff Buff (Buffalo) and I'm just so proud of that Blackhawks team last year! CHICAGO NEEDED THAT! Don't you agree?! In addition, he combines the hard-core drinking methods admired by both Buffalonians and Chicagoans (laughing).

4) CSNChicago.com: Theres no question the NBC 5 newsroom is filled with many talented on-air anchorsreporters. This may be a tough one to answer, but who do you admire most in that newsroom and why?
Martinez: I admire my news director Chris Pena and our VP of News Frank Whittaker. I mean it. Theyre always in first and out last. And the rest of us just fill in the blanks. They make the decisions and get the ball rolling when the rest of us focus on just one story or portion of the newscast. These guys have command of everything, and make it look easy.

5) CSNChicago.com: With Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of weeks, family traditions (be it a big feast, watchingplaying football, etc.) are commonplace for this festive holiday. What Martinez family tradition(s) did you most enjoy growing up and still enjoy to this day?

Martinez: I had an unconventional upbringing, but I will say this.... our most recent traditions are as follows:

Step one: Get everyone to dad and step-moms house from wherever they are on the map (they live in Buffalo)

Step two: Eat, drink, repeat

Step three: Repeat that again

Step four: Watch a LOT of football and bad TV

Step five: Attempt to work off a few pounds running around with the kids in the family

Step six: Make phone calls to immediate family and pass the phone around the tablehouse

Step seven: Slip into food coma

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you would like to promote Natalie? Tell usCSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it!

Martinez: Let's see. I'm emceeing the Puerto Rican Bar Association's annual dinner this week. Then, I'm doing the Willis Tower stair climb for work (my nickname here is "Extreme Martinez" because I've done a lot of crazy stories lately, including flying in a by-plane for the Air & Water Show, BMX riding, race car driving, etc.).

I'm supposed to be in a wing eating contest this week as well, but I'm working 2-10p, so I'll have to have someone step in for me (ha!).

Oh! Next week, I'm also working with Urban Prep for a charity, a Harry Potter screening.

Martinez LINKS:

NBC 5 Chicago News official website

Natalie Martinez on Facebook

E-mail Natalie Martinez

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”