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

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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

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.