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

340810.jpg

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

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Call it the White Sox latest Cuban connection.

When news came out of the team pursuing 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, it was pretty easy to guess that Jose Abreu, the franchise’s previous big-time, free-agent signing from Cuba, would be involved.

But not only was Abreu involved in the White Sox courting of Robert, sending a personalized message as part of the team’s video pitch, he’s been a willing participant. And now that Robert is officially signed after Saturday’s much-hyped introduction, Abreu is ready to take on a mentorship role, much like he has with another one of the organization’s Cuban prospects, Yoan Moncada.

In the lead up to Saturday’s press conference, it was Abreu touring Robert around Guaranteed Rate Field, chatting with him in the dugout and taking pictures on the infield.

“I was very excited to have him here, and I’m very happy right now because he’s signing with the team,” Abreu said through a translator ahead of Sunday’s series finale with the visiting Detroit Tigers. “He’s a very good player. I just told him that he has to keep working hard and keep doing the things to get here as soon as he can. He’s a nice guy.

“I’m excited to have that opportunity (to be a mentor). That’s something that I like to do. I like to advise the guys and tell them what to do for their best like I am doing right now with Moncada. I’m just waiting for that opportunity to happen with (Robert).”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

While Abreu arrived on the South Side an older, more experienced player who was ready for the big leagues, Robert’s journey to the majors will be a much different, much longer one. Abreu recognizes that and talked about how tough the transition will be. He also has confidence Robert, who has received glowing scouting reports comparing him to perennial All Stars, can succeed.

“It’s not an easy thing to do to come here straight to play in the majors because this is a very high level and a tough one to play,” Abreu said. “I think the best for him is the decision that he’s making for him, to have some games in the minors and let him develop there. He’s had a long time without playing baseball. Baseball in Cuba is good, but it’s not as good as baseball here in the U.S. and you have to adjust. I think that process for him is going to be perfect in the minors.”

Saturday, Robert talked about the White Sox tradition of Cuban players, mentioning how it helped motivate him to sign with the team. Abreu has been one of the franchise’s most successful Cuban players, a list that includes the legendary Minnie Minoso as well as more recent players like Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo and Moncada in the minor leagues.

While that tradition might not be the entire or even main reason Robert is now a part of the organization, general manager Rick Hahn talked about how it’s created an environment that will help Robert develop. Banners featuring Minoso, Abreu, Ramirez and Moncada flanked the table where Robert signed his contract.

Abreu said it’s a tradition he’s very proud to be a part of.

“That made me feel happy and proud. Not just for this organization that I’m a part of, but also for my heritage because I know that this is a very good organization and they are trying to take care of the Cuban players,” Abreu said. “I also feel a huge respect for Minnie Minoso because he was the first one who opened this door here with the White Sox.”

Through his mentoring, Abreu could keep that tradition going into the future. Robert and Moncada are huge pieces of the White Sox rebuilding puzzle, and Abreu is helping put those pieces together for the White Sox.

Two days out, White Sox already excited about facing former teammate Chris Sale

Two days out, White Sox already excited about facing former teammate Chris Sale

There are still two days remaining until the White Sox take the field against their old teammate, but the questions are already coming about what it will be like to face Chris Sale on Tuesday night.

The Boston Red Sox come to the South Side for a three-game series starting Monday afternoon, but the highlight of the set will be Tuesday night's matchup: Sale against his old team, which will counter with another All-Star arm in Jose Quintana.

The White Sox jumpstarted their rebuilding effort this offseason when they traded Sale to Boston, getting a hefty haul back in return led by top prospect Yoan Moncada.

Sale was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball during his tenure in a White Sox uniform and has continued that trend in Boston, where he's posted a 2.34 ERA in 10 starts this season, punching out a league-leading 101 batters in a league-leading 73 innings of work.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Tuesday night he'll go up against his ex-mates for the first time, something those players are pretty excited about.

"I have so much respect. He was one of the best teammates that I had here in my first three years," first baseman Jose Abreu said Sunday. "That will be fun. He’s a very good pitcher, and we’ll see what happens that day."

"Facing Saler is going to be awesome, big time," Quintana said. "A big moment of the season. He was my teammate. It's a different feeling, but it's good to face the best left-hander in the league. I'm excited and I think he's excited, too. But my focus right now is to do my job. Do my work and do my thing and put us in a good position to win. That's all I can do."

There'll be much more reaction to come from both the White Sox and the Red Sox ahead of the matchup on Monday and Tuesday. But already this big-time showdown against Sale — who made five consecutive All-Star appearances in his seven years on the South Side — is demanding everyone's attention.