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

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns was like the rest of the Dallas Stars entering this season: he was optimistic, for his own game but also for the Stars, the team coming off a solid postseason and bringing a strong lineup back.

The season has been nothing but a disappointment, however, for the Stars, for a lot of their players and definitely for Johns, who has been in and out of the lineup.

“We have a pretty young team and most of these guys have played on teams that have always had the chance to win the championship of whatever league,” Johns said. “It’s tough for a lot of us right now. I’ve never been on a team that’s missed the playoffs. You have to stick together and get through it together and win as many games as you can. But it’s tough. It sucks.”

Johns will be a healthy scratch on Thursday when the Stars face the Blackhawks. The Stars are coming off a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks and, like most coaches, Lindy Ruff is hesitant to change a lineup after a victory. Johns has played in 55 games this season. For the 24-year-old defenseman who was considered a great present-and-future piece of the deal that sent he and Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks to the Stars in the summer of 2015, it’s been frustrating.

[BLACKHAWKS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

“It’s all about confidence at this point and trying to find it,” Johns said. “It’s easy to lose your confidence and hard to get it back. It’s just finding it and sticking with it, blocking negative plays out and not letting it affect you, but it’s tough.”

It would be easy to think forward to next season. The Stars are all but eliminated from this postseason and, with some good health, perhaps they could get back to where they were in the 2015-16 season. Johns, too. Instead, he’ll focus on trying to make the final games of this season as positive as possible.

“You can’t look too far ahead into the future. Right now we have 10 games left and we just have to focus on those 10 games because nobody knows what’s going to happen in the summer,” Johns said. “It’s more about focusing this year on a positive note and then whatever happens, happens.”

With first big contract in hand, Tim Anderson planning a run to the Pepsi machine

With first big contract in hand, Tim Anderson planning a run to the Pepsi machine

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tim Anderson plans to buy one very expensive Pepsi.

When it comes time to make his first big purchase, the White Sox shortstop already has a good idea what he's going to do.

As he quickly rose through the minors, Anderson — who signed a six-year deal Tuesday that could pay him $50.5 million through 2024 — talked to his mother about her retiring if he ever reached the big leagues. But all Lucille Brown joked that she has wanted from Anderson is a Pepsi, just one Pepsi. Anderson said on Thursday morning that he intends to make good on his promise and then some.

"She always told me, 'I don't want anything from you, I just wish you the best. The only thing I want from you is for you to buy me a Pepsi,'" Anderson said. "Pepsi is her favorite soda. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to buy her a Mercedes and I'm going to buy a Pepsi and put it in the cup holder for her."

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

An outpatient healthcare worker, Brown and her husband Roger — who are Anderson's aunt and uncle — raised Anderson along with their three children. Anderson said he and Brown have discussed her retirement over the past few years and will broach the topic again in the future.

If Lucille decides to retire, Anderson thinks she might take up decorating houses, which she did for the second-year player after he recently purchased a home in North Carolina. But for now, Anderson wants to take care of his family for helping him attain his goal of playing in the big leagues, which led to the "life-changing" contract.

"I think she's going to retire," Anderson said. "We haven't picked up on that conversation yet, but we'll talk about it.

"I feel like nothing but good people have been in my circle from the time that I got drafted."