By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor
January 13, 2010
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 weeka huge Chicago sports fan who is one of the citys rising stars in the local broadcast news worldhes a morning fixture with co-anchor Zoraida Sambolin on NBC 5 Chicagos morning news telecasts (M-F, 4:30-7:00 AM)here are 5 Questions withROB ELGAS!
BIO: Rob Elgas joined NBC 5 News in August 2002 as a general assignment reporter. He now co-anchors NBC 5's morning newscasts along with Zoraida Sambolin. A two-time Emmy winner, Elgas came to NBC 5 from the ABC affiliate in El Paso, Texas, where he anchored their two-hour morning program. Prior to the El Paso station, Elgas worked for the NBC affiliate in Champaign. His duties included photographer ('one-man band'), reporter, fill-in anchor, and even weather forecaster. In 2005, Elgas won a regional Emmy for a feature story called "Stuck in the Middle". Elgas also covered the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy along with fellow anchor Paula Faris. Rob and Paula, along with a top notch production staff, won a regional Emmy in 2006 for "Hometown Hopefuls", a half hour program about Chicagos winter Olympic athletes.
Born in Arlington Heights and raised in Crystal Lake, Rob calls Chicago home. He loves sports, and you might find him on the hardwood playing hoops, or watching any Chicago team during the year. Rob attended the University of Illinois in ChampaignUrbana, studying broadcast journalism and agricultural communications. His family now lives in southern Texas, near the border of Mexico -- a place Rob calls his home away from home.
1) CSNChicago.com: Rob, back in July in our very first edition of 5 Questions with we interviewed WTMX morning host Eric Ferguson who mentioned he once played in a media basketball league with you, WGN 9s Mark Suppelsa, CBS 2s Rob Johnson and Comcast SportsNets very own Mark Schanowski. Including yourself, how would you rank the skill level of each of these media personalities and briefly list their on-court strengthsweaknesses?
Elgas: Now thats a sweet weekend warrior team! Suppelsa and Ferguson in the backcourt, Schanowski and Johnson playing the 3 and 4, and yours truly in the middle. Wait, Im the big guy at just 62? Were toast. I match-up well with those dudes from the Matadors.
Suppelsa is like a gray-haired energizer bunny out there. He buzzes around and finds a way to the ball. A guy you always like having on your team. He hasnt played with us in a while due to a shoulder injury. But Im not quite sure how that happened. Isnt he almost 50??
Ferguson is solid. Hes got range, can play guard or move around in the paint. You better have a hand up if hes behind the arc. But I have to tell you, he hasnt been around much since he brought his trainer once and that guy left for the hospital to get staples in his head.
Crazy story: This big dude, like 66 and really athletic, takes a freak elbow (not mine, but those boney things are lethal too) to the top of the head. He and Eric never came back. Cant blame them, with the blood and all.
Johnson and I only played once or twice together. He seems pretty good at just about anything he does, so Im thinking he can hold his own. A little quicker than youd expect, great shooter, would be a tough match-up for Suppelsa.
Schanowski and I worked together at the start of my career at Channel 5, in 2002. Hes a class act. It was great to shoot the breeze in the Sports department with Mark and Darrian Chapman. Chapman had game too. Those two were some of the first media guys I played with in Chicago. So you know Schanowskis knowledge and insight for the gamethats how he plays. Smart and patient.
2) CSNChicago.com: Youre a Chicago guy and huge Chicago sports fan, but its decision time with this next question. With the Winter Olympic Games coming up next month (with NBC providing non-stop event coverage from Feb. 12-28), from a fan standpoint, would you rather attend a Winter Olympics event for the sheer spectacle of being there or attend a playoff game involving one of Chicagos pro teams with a natural heightened personal interest?
Elgas: This is an easy answer.
Let me start by saying I covered the Olympics in Turin 4 years ago and it was probably the greatest experience of my broadcasting career. The spectacle of the event, the gathering of so many people from the globe, the whole feel of the Games is unreal.
But I was so busy reporting for our 10pm and morning newscasts, I slept in four-hour shifts to get stories on the air, and only saw ONE event live. It was this chilly little stadium and we watched USAs Joey Cheek speed skate to a gold and silver. Funny, I also enjoyed a few cold beers (BUDWEISER!) tapped from the concession stand. Youd think theyd have Peroni or something. God bless America.
Having said that (thanks Larry David), theres nothing Id rather see in sports than a Chicago playoff game.
Flashback: Watching the Bears throttle New Orleans, the gentle snow coming down like we were encased in some magic snow globe, was probably the greatest live sports experience for me. My brother called it the greatest day of his life (besides his marriage and the birth of his children of course).
A post-season game at Wrigley brings about a vibe unlike any other. (Not the vibe Eric Ferguson and I witnessed with Grant DePorter two years ago during Little League practice against the Dodgers). But I digress
Sox Park for the playoffs, that place kills! Its a formidable stadium for any opponent. The Sox play like theyve been there before, well, because they have been there before.
And the Hawks! Last years Western Conference Finals are just a taste of whats to come. Theyre bringing back passion of years past.
I remember going to my first Hawks game at the Stadium, stacked high and tight in the rafters. My Dad leaning over and saying, Son, when they start singing it will be so loud you cant hear yourself think. Confused and flushed with excitement I thought, So wait, I dont have to stand up and sing?
Bulls, Fire, Wolves. Doesnt matter. The post season is gold in the Chi. Any game is a joy to watch. Any playoff game is a life long memory.
3) CSNChicago.com: Anchoring the local morning news in Chicago is certainly a nice gig for anyone in your business. What time do you start your day and whats your routine once you arrive at the NBC 5 offices and, a follow-up question, who generally gets into the office first: you or Zoraida?
Elgas: It's an incredible job. Im lucky to be doing it. And I've never once woken up dreading going to work.
My alarm goes off at 2:04 AM. My second alarm will go off at 2:14 AM if I don't smack the clock the first time. After staring at my Blackberry for a few minutes, I get the day going and I'm in at about 3:10 AM. Zoraida is in about the same time, but gets up even earlier! I think she's up by 1:30 AM. And the early riser of all of us: Andy Avalos. His SUV is there every single time I pull in. After makeup (lots of it) and coffee (lots more) we hit the air at 4:30 AM. And go live until 7.
It's one of the oddest schedules in TV news. Well, besides our producers who are usually here by midnight. Its the total opposite of when I was reporting for the evening news. The toughest part of my day is the first four hours, not the last four. I've learned to adjust my life accordingly. I simply go to bed. EARLY. By 7:00 PM if possible. It throws a wrench into watching sports, especially come playoff time.
People ask me all the time, How do you go to bed at dinner? Isnt that hard, especially in the summer? Its simple: get up at 2:00 AM for a week and youll understand. Youre tired.
4) CSNChicago.com: What are three keys to success that you would give to any aspiring broadcast journalist trying to get into your field?
Elgas: Dedication, confidence and sacrifice.
In 15 years of working in television news, I've probably had weekends off 4 TOTAL YEARS. What I mean is, I worked Saturdays and Sundays most of my career, getting days like Monday or Tuesday off.
5) CSNChicago.com: The pairing of you and Zoraida in the morning seems to have paid off nicely for NBC 5. Explain why the chemistry between the two of you works so well for a morning TV audience?
Elgas: Zoraida and I worked weekends together and gelled almost immediately. We're both very comfortable together and her strengths compliment my weaknesses. It's easy to look good when the person next to you can handle their job.
We truly enjoy working on this show together with Andy, Mike Lorber, Kim Vatis and Matt Rodewald. Our behind the scenes staff, the writers, editors, directors, studio people, they all make it fun. Its the most talented group Ive ever been around. And when youre up that early with other people, theres this natural connection and feeling of family. We wade through Mondays together. And look forward to the weekend and some extra sleep.
BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Rob? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it
Elgas: Check out our new morning show webpage at nbcchicago.com. Just search morning show. You see some of the fun behind the scenes stuff we just cant show you on the show.
NBC 5 Chicago website
E-mail Rob Elgas