And, Now, Your Local News

Posted: November 6, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

I like my morning news ridiculous, a preference fulfilled in Chicago by WGN Morning News.

I grew up watching Cleveland, Ohio’s local news celebrities, realizing only later that people on the local news aren’t exactly celebrities elsewhere. When I went “away” to Ohio State University, just two hours south of Cleveland, my Dick Goddard jokes fell flat. No one in Columbus had ever heard of Cleveland’s seasoned weatherman, an early lesson in the vagaries of fame.

Everyone in Chicago knows weather expert Tom Skilling. Oftentimes we learn too much from Skilling.

WGN offers an abundance of delights specific to local news—meaningful camaraderie, reckless goofery, and constant complaints about the hours.local_news

While I typically only watch for a short window, from 5:45-6:15 each morning, the unfortunate anchors are on air from 4:00am-10:00am, the early shift 4:00-6:00am is staffed by those with less experience. Much like a high school lunchroom cafeteria, the WGN Seniors rule.

The second shift belongs to the true stars, the A Team, the Dream Team: reporters Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash, accompanied by Paul Konrad with weather and Pat Tomasulo on the sports desk. When any one of these four players is missing, a bit of the mojo is absent, too.

For everyone up at 6:00am (or before), morning news is the start of a long day. The fast-and-loose nature of local news makes for a good beginning. Low-level hijinks include Robin’s unparalleled and unpracticed curiosity about human interest stories. Regular favorites include Paul Konrad’s surreal Courtesy Desk and the unruly ire underscoring Tomasulo’s Pat-Down. Most often, WGN bubbles over with merriment.

Nothing beats a good audio guy to set the tone. Once, an “Alligator in the sewer” news item was transitioned by the musical bumper “Crocodile Rock,” the talent responsible for that inspired segue is known as “Audio Bob.” I’m amazed by the flair of the audio department, which clearly subscribes to the Fred Norris school of audio journalism. I consider this exceedingly good news.

Naturally, significant news items are covered. In fact, the political and cultural interviews with local professors and scientists from DePaul, Loyola, and University of Chicago are downright hard-hitting, but the gravity is concluded as soon as may be, the mood steadily rising like a hot air balloon.

Local news doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither do I.

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