5 Questions with... WIND AM 560's Amy Jacobson

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5 Questions with... WIND AM 560's Amy Jacobson

Wednesday, June 16, 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...

Every Wednesday, 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 guest one of the most popular Chicago media personalities over the past several years her aggressive journalistic style has earned her multiple ChicagoMidwest Emmys in her career, plus -- shes never been afraid to let her political opinions be known she can be heard weekdays with co-host Big John Howell Monday-Friday from 5-9 a.m. on AM 560 WIND here are 5 Questions withAMY JACOBSON!

BIO: Amy Jacobson is a veteran Chicago broadcasternews journalist who, since this past March, is the popular morning co-host on AM 560 WIND. Previously, she was a general assignment reporter for 11 years at NBC 5 in Chicago (1996-2007). Her career was marred in controversy in the summer of 2007 as she was part of a scandal involving a rival Chicago TV station's news cameras capturing footage of Jacobson with her children at the home of the husband of a missing woman. The story received national attention with Jacobson making numerous TVradio appearances, including four appearances on NBCs Today Show. Following her tenure at NBC 5, Jacobson worked as a traffic and news reporter at WLS AM 890 from 2008-10. Her long career saw Jacobson working her way up in the TV industry with reporting positions in Detroit; El Paso; Tucson; Alexandria, Minn.; and Cedar Rapids. A native of Mt. Prospect, Jacobson graduated from John Hersey High School in 1987 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa with a bachelors degree in broadcasting and film in 1991.

1) CSNChicago.com: Amy, youre a proud Republican in a city predominantly filled with citizens who would categorize themselves as Democrats. What challenges does that present to you and your AM 560 WIND morning show co-host Big John Howell on a daily basis as you continue your goal of gaining listenership for your show?

Jacobson: Our audience consists of conservatives and liberals, and while I consider myself a Republican, more than ever, most issues aren't as cut and dried as right versus left, Democrat versus Republican. John and I often find ourselves on different sides of issues, which means that we butt heads every day, but it's never predictable. But we know the audience is growing because we welcome all opinions and viewpoints. I hear it in the phone calls we get each every day from listeners who refuse to be put in a partisan box.

2) CSNChicago.com: The recent news of the Highland Park High School girls basketball teams trip to Arizona being canceled for political reasons has spurred much controversy to say the least. Its been such a big story that former Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin reached out to you to help her raise moneyawareness and simply find a way to get these girls to Arizona. Whats the latest on this situation and how did you feel when Palin contacted you personally for help?

Jacobson: AM 560 WIND sponsored "An Evening with Sarah Palin" at the Rosemont Theatre. Big John and I introduced Gov. Palin and moderated a question-and-answer session with her. While in the green room, she asked me about the situation in Highland Park, which was just coming to public light. I told her that, as a former basketball player and someone who once lived in Arizona, I was outraged and that I thought it was a disgrace how female athletes were being used as political pawns. We began talking about our mutual love of basketball, the friendships that we both forged, and how we learned the important lessons of life on the basketball court.

We bonded instantly. Then, as she was leaving, she looked at me and said, "Amy, let's make this happen. I want to work together with you and raise awareness and raise funds for those girls to travel to Arizona." The next day we exchanged e-mails and set up a Facebook page. We also had a savvy businessman from Tucson all set to pay for the ENTIRE trip. Then, as the school board members met to render a decision, I was warned by a parent that it wasn't "safe" for me to go to the meeting and that many parents didn't like me or Gov. Palin. I immediately e-mailed Gov. Palin and she told me not to back down and go to the meeting. I did.

However, much to our dismay, the Board would not budge. They already planned a trip to Florida. But if the school board changes their mind, we still have that business man in Tucson waiting to help. You betcha!

3) CSNChicago.com: Being a Chicago-area native and a longtime sports fan, what single moment during this Stanley Cup championship Blackhawks season will you remember for the rest of your life?

Jacobson: The most memorable moment for me was when Duncan Keith got seven teeth knocked out by a puck and returned later in the game! It symbolized the "never say die" spirit of the Hawks that helped bring the Cup back to Chicago for the first time in nearly half a century.

4) CSNChicago.com: Youve overcome plenty of professional and personal challenges in recent years, most of which were unfortunately made public. How are you doing today and, in regards to what occurred during that dark period, did it strengthen you or do you still go through some tough moments dealing with all of it to this day?

Jacobson: I have stated my thoughts in the past about what was done to me and the impact that it had on my career and my family. I grew up in a blue collar town, Mt. Prospect, and I felt I could always relate to anyone whether they lived in a mansion or in a cardboard box like some did while I was a reporter near Ciudad Juarez. I had passion, which is something you can NOT teach an intern. What was done cost me everything that I had spent my entire my life building. At the end of the day, I was fortunate to have the love and support of my family and friends. Without that and my faith in God, I wouldn't have survived.

These days, I prefer to focus my energy on moving forward with my life, my career, and on raising my two young sons. And the outpouring of public support that I continue to receive to this day helps make that task somewhat easier. At least once a week, someone will come up and say to me, "Amy, you got screwed."

The lowest moments came when I was without a home, husband and my unemployment support ended. Then even worse news came. My 5-year-old son had to have his kidney removed at Children's Memorial Hospital. I got on my knees and had a long talk with God. I was never cocky or took a day for granted while being a reporter. But that day was poignant because I gave my heart, which was full of anger, over to God. When the operation was a success and tears of joy ran down my face, an inner voice said, "Amy, it's going to be okay. You will survive." Your family's health is everything!

5) CSNChicago.com: On to a more fun topic... your annual presence at Chicagos News-a-Palooza, featuring many of our citys top media personalities singing and performing live on stage to help raise money for a great cause (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation), always seems to be a big hit. In fact, youre stellar performance of Stevie Nicks mega-hit Stand Back was beyond impressive... and even has over 10,000 hits on YouTube (click here to see Amys performance). Where did you learn how to sing so well and what songs are you working on for this years event?

Jacobson: I learned to sing in music class at Indian Grove Elementary School. Mrs. Vanderwheel was my music teacher and she had a passion and an ability to teach like no other. Fortunately, she moved with us to River Trails Junior High where I joined the choir.

At John Hersey High School, I was blessed with another wonderful instructor, Richard Turasky. He was in charge of choir and show choir. He taught us all to stand up straight, project and sing through your eyes. It helped as I became a reporter to always be confident. You can't be shy and be an assertive reporter. You can't be quiet and do talk radio! I also was in two rock bands during my college years. I'm glad no one has video of that.

As for News-a-Palooza, I enjoyed my two years participating in the event. Working with Roe Conn and Richard Marx to raise money and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation meant the world to me. Marion Brooks, Ginger Zee, Natalie Martinez and I teamed up last year and we got our groove on. If anything else, it was at least entertaining or maybe just campy. Almost ONE MILLION people viewed the "Single Ladies Video," which you can still see if you go to roeconn.com.

I do not know if an event is scheduled for this year but if asked to do so, I would help out in anyway possible.

BONUS QUESTION... CSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Amy? Please share it with us...

Jacobson: This Saturday, I will be on "247" on NBC 5. I helped out for a "Sex and the City" segment with reporter Kati Kehoe (yes, another campy segment). But we had a fun time at the photo shoot and watching the movie. Kati Kehoe is hysterically brilliant. It will air at midnight Saturday night.

As for charities, I would love for people to donate to "Bear Necessities." It is a pediatric cancer foundation run out of Children's Memorial Hospital. They are dedicated to eliminating pediatric cancer and to providing hope and support to those who are touched by it. They can be reached through their website.

I am also a board member on Allie and Friends. Chicago native and Indianapolis Colts player Ryan Diem is in charge of the event which benefits children and their families effected by Neuroblastoma. For more information on that, please visit their website.

Jacobson LINKS:

Official Amy Jacobson website

WIND AM 560 Big John & Amy home page
Amy Jacobson on Facebook

Amy Jacobson on Twitter

Preview: Cubs-Giants Thursday on CSN+

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Preview: Cubs-Giants Thursday on CSN+

The Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Mike Montgomery vs. Jeff Samardzija

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ headline Cubs prospects ticketed for Arizona Fall League

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ headline Cubs prospects ticketed for Arizona Fall League

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ will headline the group of seven Cubs prospects ticketed for the Arizona Fall League.

As the Cubs project their next wave of talent, Jimenez is thought to be close to untouchable after a breakout performance at the All-Star Futures Game and a Midwest League MVP season at Class-A South Bend.

Jimenez – who originally signed out of the Dominican Republic and got a $2.8 million bonus in the summer of 2013 – is hitting .331 with 14 homers and 81 RBI through 111 games with the South Bend Cubs. At the age of 19, the dynamic outfielder reminds the Cubs a little bit of Kris Bryant during his freshman year at the University of San Diego with that 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and powerful right-handed swing.

Happ – the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati – is a switch-hitter (.717 OPS at Double-A Tennessee) who has tried to increase his versatility by moving between second base and the outfield and become a Joe Maddon-type player.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Mesa Solar Sox roster unveiled Wednesday also includes Victor Caratini, an advanced defensive catcher who drew interest around the trade deadline and could be packaged in a bigger deal for pitching if Willson Contreras continues to develop behind the plate and Kyle Schwarber comes back healthy next season.

Cubs officials trying to build a pitching pipeline for Wrigley Field will also get a look at right-handers James Farris, Ryan McNeil, Stephen Perakslis and Duane Underwood Jr. in the showcase league.

Jason Hammel helps Cubs sweep Pirates and surge into September

Jason Hammel helps Cubs sweep Pirates and surge into September

Another quick hook left Jason Hammel seething over the weekend at Dodger Stadium, bringing back uncomfortable questions about how much manager Joe Maddon trusts him, and whether or not the Cubs would find a spot for him on a playoff roster.

Four days later, Pearl Jam’s “Alive” blasted from the Wrigley Field sound system as Hammel warmed up before facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, with no guarantees about October or next season.

Hammel responded with another strong start during Wednesday’s 6-5 victory, completing a three-game sweep that left the Pirates staggering in the wild-card race and helped the Cubs cut their magic number to win the division down to 16.

Outside of a few extreme lows that distorted the perception of his superb overall season – 10-run outings against the New York Mets and at Coors Field and the 39 pitches he dismissively called a side day in Los Angeles – Hammel has been an integral part of the elite rotation that pushed the Cubs to such a huge lead in the National League Central.

Now up 15 games on the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs surged into September with an 85-47 record, an expectation their pitching staff will get healthy and become whole again and a sense of harmony within their clubhouse.

“That’s rearview mirror now,” Hammel said, wearing a Pearl Jam shirt during his postgame press conference. “Joe and I talked it out. There’s no room for off-the-field BS or disagreements or to hold a grudge. 

“I told him how I felt. He told me how he felt and the reasoning for everything. We’re grown men. We solved it and have to respect each other’s views and opinions. To carry something like that would really mess up something special we got going on right now.”

Hammel (14-7, 3.14 ERA) shut down the Pirates for six innings, allowing only one run, scattering three hits and showing the confidence that made him an All-Star-level performer in the first half. 

Hammel regained control of his fastball, spun some curveballs and incorporated a changeup to create doubt in hitters’ minds and add a different wrinkle to opposing scouting reports. He limited the damage to one run in the fifth inning, working around three walks and screaming and flexing his muscles after striking out Andrew McCutchen swinging at a 93-mph fastball to end the threat.

“Yeah, I wanted to get back out there,” Hammel said. “The last one just didn’t sit well with me. So far, so good.”

On a night when the crowd chanted “MVP,” Kris Bryant backed Hammel by launching his 36th homer and playing Gold Glove-level defense at third base. Bryant saved a run by diving to his left to catch a Sean Rodriguez line drive and end the second inning. Bryant began the fourth inning with his answer to Anthony Rizzo’s tarp catch, leaning over the wall and into the stands to catch a Josh Bell pop-up.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

But the defensive play of the night belonged to Addison Russell, who with the bases loaded and the Cubs trying to protect a 5-2 lead, raced over from shortstop and made a sliding catch near the left-field line to end the seventh inning.

“This team’s going to be really good for a long time,” said Hammel, who had been packaged with Jeff Samardzija – Thursday’s starter for the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field – in the Russell trade with the Oakland A’s in 2014. “These kids – I say kids now, because I can, because I’m old – they’re impressive and they continue to dazzle.

“You can’t really say surprised, because we’ve come to expect all these great plays and the big knocks that they’re driving in. We’re witnessing greatness.”

After getting 22 wins in a month for the first time since September 1945, this could become the next awkward conversation: If John Lackey (shoulder) returns to full strength – and the rest of the rotation doesn’t experience any setbacks down the stretch – what are the chances of Hammel making a playoff start?

“Stay healthy and we’ll see what happens,” Maddon said. “I don’t bet on the come. Let’s get to the playoffs first, make sure everybody’s well, and at that point then you look at the group you have. And then maybe at that point you look at the group you may be playing. And then you try to formulate the best plan of attack from your personnel versus their personnel. 

“I’ve not even thought about a playoff moment once.”

The Cubs will now have all of September to think about October.