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WMAQ-TV, channel 5, is an owned-and-operated television station of the NBC Television Network, located in Chicago, Illinois. WMAQ-TV's main studios and offices are located within the NBC Tower in the Streeterville neighborhood, with an auxiliary street-level studio on the Magnificent Mile at 401 N. Michigan Avenue, and its transmitter is atop the Willis Tower. WMAQ-TV is a sister station to WSNS-TV (channel 44), affiliated with the Spanish-language network Telemundo, which is also owned by NBC Universal.


The station signed on October 8, 1948, as WNBQ, the last of Chicago's four commercial VHF stations to launch, and the third of the five original NBC owned-and-operated stations, three weeks ahead of WNBK (now WKYC-TV) in Cleveland. Eight years later, it became the first station in the world to broadcast all of its programs in color. Though NBC had long owned WMAQ radio (670 AM, now WSCR), it did not change the TV station's call letters to WMAQ-TV until August 31, 1964.[1] The calls of its sister radio station were initially assigned by the government, but went on to form the phrase "We Must Ask Questions," which the radio station took on as its motto in the 1920s.

WMAQ-TV originated several programs for the NBC television network from its studios in the Merchandise Mart during the 1950's, including Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, featuring Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison; Garroway at Large, starring Dave Garroway; and "Studs' Place," hosted by Studs Terkel. Television critics referred to the broadcasts - often low-budget with few celebrity guests but a good deal of inventiveness - as examples of the "Chicago School of Television."[2]

WMAQ-TV gained fame for its newscasts during the 1960s, anchored by Floyd Kalber, John Palmer, Jim Ruddle, and Jorie Lueloff, with weatherman Harry Volkman (later of WBBM-TV, WGN-TV and WFLD), sports reporter Johnny Morris, and commentator Len O'Connor. Though its role as a program provider to NBC diminished in the 1960s, WMAQ-TV gathered and distributed more than 200 feeds per month of news footage from overseas and the central United States to NBC News.[3]

In 1975, Jane Pauley, later of NBC's Today Show, briefly co-anchored WMAQ-TV's 10 p.m. news with Kalber. Carol Marin joined WMAQ-TV in 1978. Ron Magers followed in 1981. Magers and Deborah Norville (later host of Inside Edition) co-anchored the station's hour-long 4:30 p.m. newscast during the 1980s, and Magers and Marin co-anchored WMAQ-TV's 10 p.m. newscast. The station moved from the Merchandise Mart to new studios in the NBC Tower in 1989. WMAQ-TV's newscast ratings overtook those of WBBM-TV in the 1980s, but the station could not dethrone ratings leader WLS-TV during the period.

On January 14, 2008, WMAQ-TV became the second television station in Chicago to broadcast news in high definition.

Digital television




RF Channel





Name Programming
5.1 29.1 1080i 16:9 WMAQ-DT Main WMAQ-TV Programming/NBC HD
5.2 29.2 480i 4:3 WMAQ-DT2 NBC Plus
5.3 29.3 480i 4:3 WMAQ-DT3 Universal Sports

WMAQ-TV ended analog broadcasts on VHF channel 5 on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station continued to broadcast its digital signal on UHF channel 29. Digital television receivers display WMAQ-TV's virtual channel as 5 through the use of PSIP.

NBC Weather Plus ceased being broadcast nationally on December 1, 2008, but weather maps and traffic reports are still broadcasts as NBC plus on channel 5.2 as of January 1, 2009. "Raw" coverage of various live events, including Barack Obama's victory rally in Grant Park[4] and Governor Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial has also been carried on channel 5.2[5]

From June 13 to July 12, 2009, WMAQ-TV simulcasted many of its newscasts as a contributor to WWME-CA's analog lifeline service for the Chicago area, an "unprecedented" four-station partnership. The "lifeline" programming on analog Channel 23 included WMAQ's weekday morning news from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and weeknights at 6 p.m., Saturdays at 6 a.m., 9 a.m. and weekend nights at 5 p.m along with WGN-TV (Channel 9)'s 9 p.m. newscasts. The lifeline continues but they only simulcast entertainment programming from WWME's sister station WCIU-TV.[6][7]

News operation

WMAQ's helicopter - Sky5Currently, WMAQ broadcasts a total of 26 hours of local news per week (with 4½ hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). Unlike most NBC stations in the Central Time Zone, WMAQ does not carry a newscast in the weekday midday time period.

The station has launched national careers for Pauley, Norville, CBS sportscaster Greg Gumbel, CNN Headline News morning anchor Robin Meade, Maury Povich, PBS reporter Ray Suarez, and The Insider host Pat O'Brien.

Since January 12, 2009, WMAQ and Fox affiliate WFLD have shared a news chopper and the footage taken from it; this agreement has reportedly paved the way for a larger pooling effort between the two stations.[8]

After years in second place behind WBBM-TV and, later, WLS-TV in the 10 p.m. news race, at the conclusion of the November 2009 Nielsen Ratings sweeps period, WBBM-TV's 10 p.m. newscast overtook WMAQ-TV for second place for the first time in many years, largely due to the low ratings of the latter station's lead-in The Jay Leno Show. WLS-TV continues to dominate the local newscast ratings in the Chicago media market.[9]


Jerry Springer

WMAQ achieved notoriety in 1997 when the station, in an effort to boost its newscast ratings, hired Jerry Springer as a commentator.[10] At the same time, the station adopted a more tabloid news format by bringing in Joel Cheatwood. Previously, Cheatwood was known for establishing fast-paced tabloid newscasts at WSVN in Miami and WHDH-TV in Boston.

Though Springer was once a two-term mayor of Cincinnati before becoming a news anchor for that city's NBC affiliate WLWT, his association with his infamous talk show (which, until 2009, was broadcast from WMAQ's NBC Tower studios, and is now distributed by NBC Universal) led to the belief that the newscast was being dumbed down. There were a handful of Springer supporters; nevertheless, the incident triggered a lot of negative publicity, both locally and nationally. Carol Marin and Ron Magers, resigned in protest. News broadcasts at that time originated from a studio that opened onto the station's newsroom. As Marin signed off her last newscast, station personnel stood en masse in the newsroom behind her in a symbolic show of support for her decision to resign. The station saw a drop in its ratings. Springer only made two commentaries before he resigned, feeling unhappy with the criticism he received.[11][12]

Magers wound up at rival WLS-TV, where he still is today. Marin joined rival WBBM-TV while contributing reports at CBS before returning to WMAQ in 2004 as a special correspondent.

Amy Jacobson

On July 10, 2007, Amy Jacobson negotiated her exit with WMAQ, after being videotaped in a bikini with her two sons at the home of Craig Stebic; the video was obtained by rival station WBBM. Craig's wife Lisa was missing and had not been found as of that date. The incident raised the issue whether Jacobson crossed a journalistic ethical line in being friendly with a subject of the story. Jacobson reported at WMAQ for the previous 10 years.[13] The video of her at Craig Stebic's home was either taken by or given to WBBM-TV, which has the entire six minute video on its website.

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • NBC Newsroom Chicago with Chet Utley (1949-1950s)
  • NBC News Night Report (1960s)
  • NewsCenter 5 (1970s-early 1980s)
  • Channel 5 News (mid 1980s-1997)
  • NewsChannel 5 (1997-1999)
  • NBC 5 Chicago News (1999-2001)
  • NBC 5 News (2001-present)

Station slogans

  • Your 24-Hour News Source (1989-1993)
  • Committed to Chicago (1997-1998)

News music packages

  • NBC TV-Radio Newspulse (1974-1978)
  • NewsCenter Theme (1978-1981)
  • WMAQ News (1981-1983)
  • WMAQ 1983 News (1983-1986)
  • WMAQ 1985 News (1985-1989)
  • WMAQ 1989 News (1989-1992)
  • Newswire (1992-1997)
  • WMAQ 1997 News (1997-1999)
  • Battery (1999-2000)
  • The Tower (2000-present)
This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.===On-air staff===

Current on-air staff


  • Marion Brooks - weekdays at 4:30 p.m. and host of "The Talk"
  • Rob Elgas - weekday mornings (4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.)
  • Dick Johnson - Sundays at 5 and 10 p.m.; also weekday field reporter
  • Nesita Kwan - weekend mornings; also health and science reporter
  • Lisa Parker - Saturdays at 5 and 10 p.m.; also consumer and investigative reporter
  • Allison Rosati - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Zoraida Sambolin - weekday mornings (4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.); also host of "Weekend Connection"
  • Rob Stafford - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

Weather team

  • Brant Miller (NWA Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weekdays at 4:30 and weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Andy Avalos (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-7 a.m.)
  • Ginger Zee - Meteorologist; weekend mornings and weekend evenings at 5 and 10 p.m.
  • Pete Sack (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; fill-in

Sports team

  • Mike Adamle - sports anchor/field reporter
  • Paula Faris - sports anchor/field reporter
  • Darryl Hawks - sports anchor/field reporter
  • Peggy Kusinski - sports anchor/field reporter; "Chicago Beat"
  • Bruce Wolf - sports anchor/field reporter

NOTE: Sports anchors cycle. There is not a set sports "anchoring" schedule.


  • Matt Rodewald - weekday mornings
  • Amanda Czernecki - weekend mornings
  • JoAnne Pazderski - weekend mornings
  • Sarah Jindra - weekend mornings


  • Mary Ann Ahern - political reporter
  • Christian Farr - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Steve Handelsman - national correspondent
  • Lauren Jiggetts - general assignment reporter
  • Carol Marin - political editor
  • Natalie Martinez - general assignment reporter
  • Alex Perez - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Anthony Ponce - general assignment reporter
  • Phil Rogers - general assignment reporter
  • LeeAnn Trotter - entertainment reporter
  • Kim Vatis - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Charlie Wojciechowski - general assignment/technology reporter
  • Sharon Wright - general assignment reporter

Sky 5

  • Mike Lorber - "Sky 5" reporter
  • Jim Ryan - fill-in "Sky 5" reporter

Local program hosts

  • Catie Keogh - "24/7 Chicago" host
  • Pete McMurray - "24/7 Chicago" co-host
  • Marcus Riley - "24/7 Chicago" correspondent

Former on-air staff

  • Linda Alvarez - reporter (1973-1977, later worked at KNBC-TV and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles)
  • Ryan Baker - sports anchor (2003-2008, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Jackie Bange - weekend anchor/reporter (1990-1993, now at WGN-TV)
  • Derrick Blakely - weekend anchor/reporter (1987-2003, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Jamie Blyth - "24/7 Chicago" correspondent (2008)
  • Darrian Chapman - sports anchor/reporter (2001-2002, deceased)
  • John Coleman - meteorologist (1984-1990, now at KUSI-TV in San Diego)
  • Chet Coppock - sports anchor (1981-1984, currently at WMVP-AM)
  • Don Craig - anchor (1976-1978)
  • Jim Cummins - reporter (1976-1978, later Southwest Bureau Chief at NBC News, deceased)
  • Ed Curran - weather anchor (1999-2002, later at WBBM-TV)
  • Darryl David - business reporter/weekend anchor (1987-1989)
  • Anna Davlantes - weekend anchor/reporter (2001-2009, now at WFLD)
  • Billy Dec - "24/7 Chicago" host (2008)
  • Jill Dougherty - reporter (1980-1983, now at CNN in Washington, D.C.)
  • Tom Duggan - sports reporter (1949-1953, deceased)
  • Ysabel Duron - reporter (1986-1990, now at KRON-TV in San Francisco)
  • Roger Ebert
  • Joan Esposito - anchor/reporter (1989-1999)
  • Russ Ewing - investigative reporter (1967-1981 and 1998-2001)
  • Tsi-Tsi-Ki Felix - "24/7 Chicago" correspondent (2009)
  • Renee Ferguson - investigative reporter (1987-2008)
  • Ona Fletcher - reporter (1997-1999)
  • Robin George - reporter/fill-in anchor (1990-2001)
  • Mark Giangreco - sports anchor (1982-1993, now at WLS-TV)
  • Sylvia Gomez - reporter (1992-1994, later at WBBM-TV and WFLD)
  • Roberta Gonzales - weather anchor (1990-1996, now at KPIX-TV in San Francisco)
  • Greg Gumbel - sports anchor (1973-1981, now at CBS Sports)
  • Cindy Hernandez - reporter (1994-1997)
  • Chuck Henry - anchor (1979-1982, now at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles)
  • Ellee Pai Hong - weekend morning anchor/reporter (2003-2009, now host of Comcast Newsmakers on CNN Headline News)
  • Ron Hunter - anchor (1975-1978)
  • Amy Jacobson - reporter (1996-2007)
  • Walter Jacobson - anchor/reporter (1971-1973, later at WFLD, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Floyd Kalber - legendary anchor (1960-1976, deceased)
  • Dr. Barry Kaufman - health reporter
  • Dick Kay - political reporter/commentator/host of City Desk (1968-2006, the longest serving reporter at WMAQ)
  • Jon Kelley - sports reporter (1991-1998, later at Extra)
  • Darren Kramer - weekend anchor/reporter (2003-2005, now at WTNH-TV in New Haven-Hartford)
  • Don Lemon - anchorman/reporter (2003-2005, now with CNN world headquarters in Atlanta)
  • Dr. Deanna Lites - health reporter (2001-2003, now with NBC News)
  • Ron Magers - longtime anchor (1981-1997, now at WLS-TV)
  • John Mason - reporter (1995-1997, now at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Lauren Massarella
  • Megan Mawicke - sports anchor/reporter (2002-2004, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Marlene McClinton - weekend anchor/reporter (1985-1987) (Later worked at KHOU-TV Houston)
  • Robin Meade - anchor/reporter (1994-2001, now at CNN Headline News)
  • Al Meltzer - sports anchor/reporter (1977-1978)
  • Byron Miranda - weather anchor (1998-2002, currently chief meteorologist for KGTV-TV in San Diego, CA)
  • Shelly Monahan - weather anchor (1999-2002, currently morning anchor for KHQ-TV in Spokane, WA)
  • Erin Moriarty - consumer reporter (1983-1986, now at CBS News)
  • Jeannie Morris - sports reporter (1970-1973 and 1974-75)
  • Johnny Morris - sports anchor (1968-1975)
  • Mary Murnane - weekend anchor/reporter (1985-1990)
  • Rich Newberg - investigative reporter (1975-1978, now at WIVB-TV in Buffalo)
  • Art Norman - feature/technology reporter & fill-in anchor (1982-2009)
  • Deborah Norville - reporter/anchor (1982-1986, now host of Inside Edition)
  • Pat O'Brien - anchor/reporter
  • Roger O'Neil - reporter (now an NBC News correspondent)
  • Anita Padilla- weekend morning anchor/reporter (1997-2007, now at WFLD-TV)
  • Jane Pauley - anchor/reporter (1975-1976)
  • Maury Povich - anchor (1976-1977)
  • Cindy Preszler - meteorologist (1997-1998, currently at KSDK-TV in St. Louis)
  • Norma Quarles - reporter (1977-1978)
  • Gene Randall - anchor/reporter (1976-1980)
  • Carol Anne Riddell - reporter (1990-1992, now at WNBC-TV in New York)
  • Max Robinson - anchor (1984-1985, deceased)
  • Jim Ruddle - anchor (1967-1986)
  • Rich Sallinger - reporter (1986-1990, now at KCNC-TV in Denver)
  • Rich Samuels - reporter (1974-1991, now runs a website on Chicago broadcasting [1]
  • Warner Saunders - anchor/reporter (1980-2009)
  • Dave Savini - investigative reporter (1993-2004, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Mark Schanowski - sports anchor/reporter (1998-2005, now at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago)
  • Alan Sealls - meteorologist (1997-1999, now at WKRG-TV in Mobile, Alabama)
  • Tom Shaer - sports reporter/anchor (1989-2001)
  • Don Shane - sports anchor/reporter (1980-1983, now at WXYZ-TV in Detroit)
  • Carole Simpson - weekend anchor/reporter (1970-1974)
  • Bob Sirott - anchor/reporter (1989-1993, later at WFLD-TV, WTTW-TV and 2006-2009)
  • Sondra Solarte - traffic reporter (2001-2005, now at WFLD-TV)
  • Tammie Souza - meteorologist (2001-2006, later at WFLD-TV, now at WTSP-TV in Tampa)
  • Jeanne Sparrow - traffic/entertainment reporter (2000-2005, now Program Host at Karl Productions & You and Me This Morning WCIU-TV)
  • Amy Stone
  • Ray Suarez - reporter, 1986-1993 now a Senior Correspondent at the PBS NewsHour
  • Mark Suppelsa - anchor/investigative reporter (1993-2003, later at WFLD-TV, now at WGN-TV)
  • Jerry Taft - weather anchor (1977-1984, now at WLS-TV)
  • Martha Teichner - reporter (1976-1977, now at CBS News)
  • Jim Tilmon - weather anchor and aviation reporter (1972-1994, later at WBBM-TV)
  • Lisa Tutman - reporter (1996-2007)
  • Harry Volkman - weather anchor (1959-1967, later at WBBM-TV and WFLD-TV)
  • Phil Walters - anchor/reporter (1967-1976 and 1997-2000, deceased)
  • Libby Weaver
  • Tim Weigel - sports anchor (1975-1977 later at WLS-TV and WBBM-TV, deceased)
  • Roy Weissinger - weekend anchor/reporter (1984-1987)
  • Linda Yu - anchor/reporter (1979-1984, now at WLS-TV)
  • Bill Zwecker - movie critic (1993-2001, later at WBBM-TV, now at WFLD-TV)


  1. ^ "WNBQ to Become WMAQ-TV Today." Chicago Tribune, August 31, 1964.
  2. ^ "Early Chicago Originations to the NBC Network from WNBQ (later WMAQ-TV)". http:// Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  3. ^ "News at WMAQ-TV in 1968". http://http:// Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  4. ^ "We're Your On-air, On-line Election Headquarters". November 6, 2008.
  5. ^ "Watch Blago Impeachment Trial Online and on NBC Chicago's Digital Channel". January 23, 2009.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Fox, NBC Share Chicago Chopper". Retrieved 2009-01-12.
  9. ^,CST-FIN-lew01.article
  10. ^ Johnson, Steve (July/August 1997). How Low Can TV News Go?. Columbia Journalism Review.
  11. ^ The New York Times: Springer Quits News Show, Citing Attacks, Friday, 9 May 1997. Retrieved on 25 May 2009.
  12. ^ E! Online: Jerry Springer Quits News Job. Retrieved on 25 May 2009.
  13. ^ Rosenthal, Phil (2007-07-10). "Jacobson out at WMAQ". Chicago Tribune.,1,6178857.story?coll=chi-news-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true. Retrieved 2007-07-10.

External links

  1. REDIRECT Chronology of call letters WMAQ
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