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 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: a true veteran in the Chicago sports media world…she’s a native Chicagoan whose drive and determination have made her a favorite among not only her viewers, but of the teams she covers as well…her enthusiasm with everything she reports for NBC5 is delivered with expert knowledge, along with a smile to boot…what are we waiting for -- here are “5 Questions with…PEGGY KUSINSKI!”
BIO: Peggy Kusinski joined the NBC5 sports team in 2000 as a sports reporter. She is also a contributor to NBC5's "Sports Sunday."
Kusinski worked as the afternoon SportsCenter anchor on ESPN Radio 1000 and host of "The Point After" on Saturday mornings. Prior to joining the station, Kusinski was the first woman to host a sports talk show in Chicago, as co-host of WMAQ-AM's "Sports Huddle."
Kusinski's talk show career started at CLTV in 1996, when she returned to Chicago after stints as a producer for CBS and NBC during the Albertville Winter Olympics and the Barcelona Summer Games. She also anchored the 2000 Summer Olympics from Sydney, Australia, for ABC Radio Sports.
Kusinski began her network sports career in Bristol, Conn., as a production assistant at ESPN. She worked her way up to Associate Producer on "NFL GameDay," "Sunday Morning Sportsday," "SportsCenter," and the investigative series "Outside the Lines." Her work in Chicago includes Radio Stints with ESPN Radio 1000 and "The Kevin Matthews Show" along with the former WMAQ Radio.
Kusinski has won two National Emmy Awards while a producer at ESPN, and garnered eight Local/Midwest Emmy awards, including four at NBC5 which includes 2011 & 2007's "Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence on camera-sportscaster."
Kusinski is involved with many charities, including a member of the Board of Directors for “Girls in the Game” and active in her alma mater Resurrection High School.
A native Chicagoan from the northwest side, Kusinski was an all-city/all-state basketball player. She received her B.S. in Radio and Television from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and actually began her career in broadcasting as an intern for Warner Saunders right here at WMAQ-TV.
Kusinski and her husband, Jason, are the parents of twin boys Jason Jr. and Shea, and a daughter Stella Blue.
1) CSNChicago.com: Peggy, as a lifelong Chicagoan, you have watched and covered so many great teams in our city, there’s no doubt this year’s Blackhawks team currently has to rank among the all-timers. As a sports journalist who studies this team, were you surprised they jumped out of the gate so strong to a point that catapulted them into the “national” sports spotlight of late…and is it fair to say they “saved” the NHL coming out of that lockout?
Kusinski: They SOOOOOO saved hockey! The consecutive points streak to start the season captured the minds of non-hockey fans and catapulted the Blackhawks into national conversations. When else have you seen LeBron James tweet about hockey? Sports radio and national cable stations jumped on the bandwagon and argued which streak was more impressive, the Blackhawks or the Heat. Lockout, what lockout?! Gary Bettman owes Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough, Joel Quenneville and the entire Blackhawks team a HUGE thank you.
2) CSNChicago.com: One of the most popular athletes in Chicago sports history, Brian Urlacher, is no longer a member of the Chicago Bears as the team recently decided to part ways with the 13-year veteran. Good move? Bad move? Your thoughts.
Kusinski: I said all offseason that Brian Urlacher's best option was going to be to return to the Bears. Not only familiarity with the organization, but the trainers, medical staff -- everyone knows what they'd get from No. 54. But it came down to two things - money and the new coaching staff wants to build their own team. They're cleaning house.
While Phil Emery and Marc Trestman pick their own guys, their own players, Urlacher is left to find another team that will pay him more than $2 million a year. It's not going to happen. Every year we see NFL teams discard older players for younger guys they can coach up -- at half the price. It's too bad because Urlacher is a Hall of Famer and fans were lucky to watch a guy for 13 years. Unfortunately, the end is never as storybook as Ray Lewis and that will eat at Brian Urlacher and his pride.
3) CSNChicago.com: Your devotion to the local sports scene, not to mention your award-winning work, have made you a mainstay in Chicago broadcasting circles and a fan favorite for many years now…a very impressive combo to say the least. What would you say is the key ingredient to your success that has led to your longevity in a very tough business?
Kusinski: Know your audience. It's easy to say "work hard," but everyone does that. In order to separate yourself from all the others, you have to know the audience, what they like, what drives them nuts and then distinguish yourself apart from the others doing the same job.
I love "getting the story" and in television there was a tendency to chase the story the newspapers already printed, so I tried to start turning it around and challenged myself to get the story the beat writers in the newspapers were getting…that way the audience was getting "news" -- not day old news.
Plus, I think coming from Chicago seeps through in me - I'm a neighborhood girl from Norwood Park, we tell it like it is - sometimes with a sense of humor. I really loved working with Robin Roberts early in my career at ESPN when I was an associate producer on “SportsCenter” because Robin wasn't afraid to show personality. For too long, women in sports were just "readers"…sit & look pretty! But Robin actually showed a personality and it was genuine. That to me was a huge turning point for women in sports broadcasting.
4) CSNChicago.com: Outside of being a sports journalist who works crazy and, many times, unpredictable hours on the job, you’re also a devoted wife and mom. Do you personally find it challenging to balance your home and professional life all at the same time?
Kusinski: Every woman thinks she can do it all, but it is very, very difficult. Everything suffers -- when your kids start complaining about Mom working, then you miss the news about the guy who missed morning skate...or, when your cell phone rings during dinner time or our family time and it's an athlete or agent who you've been calling for information - then the family misses out. It is difficult, but I also tell my kids - this is what it takes to be successful. In the end they see two parents who work hard, are successful and good role models, and that is also part of being a good parent.
5) CSNChicago.com: If you weren’t a broadcast journalist, what occupation do you think you would have excelled at and why?
Kusinski: I actually had a double minor at SIU-Carbondale, athletic coaching & sports psychology (to go with my major in Radio-TV), so I think I would have gone into coaching. BUT…I also did stand-up comedy in college after entering an HBO college comedy competition. I placed 3rd across the country and loved the reaction of the audience thinking you were funny. My mother though was dead set against me doing it -- hanging out in comedy clubs, using foul language, was not was the mother of ten children had in mind for her middle daughter! Secretly though, I know I would've gone into comedy. Second City look out…I just may do it!
** BONUS QUESTION…CSNChicago.com: Anything you’d like to promote Peggy Kusinski? Tell us…CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.
Kusinski: I recently attended a screening of the documentary film "Girl Rising.” An amazing series of profiles on girls from underdeveloped countries and what education or the lack of it has meant to them in their lives. I LOVED this film and believe so strongly in educating girls to give them options in life…not just in other countries, but right here in the United States too. That is why I work with “Girls in the Game” and am very active in my alma mater, Resurrection College Prep. Soon I will be hosting another screening of the film to benefit both of these organizations to help empower young women. Come join us!