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

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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

The consummate pro: How Taj Gibson has become the Bulls' version of Udonis Haslem

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USA TODAY

The consummate pro: How Taj Gibson has become the Bulls' version of Udonis Haslem

The 2011 Eastern Conference Finals between the Bulls and Miami Heat featured three future Hall of Famers in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Derrick Rose had been named the youngest league MVP in league history weeks earlier. Luol Deng was blossoming and would earn All-Star nods in each of the following two seasons. $82 million man Carlos Boozer had averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds in his first season with the Bulls. The series was loaded with star power.

But buried deep in that series was a matchup of unsung reserves that influenced the series far greater than their numbers in the box score indicated. Udonis Haslem averaged just 4.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 22 minutes in the series – the Heat won in five games – but his impact was felt nonetheless, in part because of the physicality he brought against an energetic second-year forward named Taj Gibson.

“When we played them in the Eastern Conference Finals, Gibson had an incredible impact on that series, and (Haslem) was just coming back from an injury,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said before Saturday’s tilt between the Bulls and Heat. “And we thought that was probably the missing component in that series early on, was having a player like UD to match up against (Gibson). And that really helped us close that series.”

Five years later Haslem is on the final leg of his NBA career. He’s only appeared sparingly in seven games for the Heat in this his 14th NBA season. But the two-time NBA champion has had a lasting impact on the Heat organization – so much so that they allowed him to miss Friday’s game to attend his son’s state-title football game in Florida – and has etched himself in Heat lore, despite never averaging more than 12 points or nine rebounds in a season.

It’s not unlike the career path Gibson has taken in his eight seasons in Chicago. The now-31-year-old Gibson has spent the majority of his career playing behind the likes of Carlos Boozer, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. And while he’s been an integral part of the Bulls’ rotation since joining the team in 2009, his role has never matched his ability or production. It’s why Haslem said he sees so much of himself in Gibson, an unselfish, care-free teammate, yet also someone who is willing to work every day despite the lack of accolades.

“Taj plays hard, man. He’s a guy that gets all the dirty work done. The banging down in the paint, he knocks down that 15-footer, (he) rebounds,” Haslem told CSNChicago.com. “A lot of similarities to myself when I was a little younger. Like you said, unsung. Doesn’t look for any attention, doesn’t look for any glory. Just goes out there, is professional, and does his job every night.”

And in his eighth NBA season, Gibson has done his job every night incredibly well. Through 23 games he’s posted career-best numbers in field goal percentage, rebounds, assists and steals, and isn’t far off in points and blocks per game. His 16.9 PER would be a career-high.

He’s done all this with little real estate in the spotlight. Jimmy Butler has cemented himself as a legitimate MVP candidate, and free-agent acquisitions Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have earned headlines.

But Gibson has been as reliable and consistent a frontcourt player as the Bulls have – he’s one of three players to have appeared in all 23 games this season – and he’s playing some of his best basketball while the Bulls are mired in a mini-slump.

“He’s a rock for us on this team,” Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s going to go out and do his job. He’s never going to complain about his role. He’s going to put on his hard hat and make the little plays that may not show up in the box score, but help you win.”

Including Gibson’s 13-point, seven-rebound effort in Saturday’s win over the Heat, he’s averaging 12.6 points on 58 percent shooting and 7.3 rebounds in the Bulls’ last 11 games. He’s corralled 16 offensive rebounds in that span – including two on Saturday that he put back for layups – and is the main reason the Bulls entered as the league’s top offensive rebounding team in the league (and second in total rebound percentage). The Bulls are also nearly six points per 100 possessions better defensively with Gibson on the floor.

Gibson’s and Haslem’s career numbers are eerily similar – Gibson has averaged 9.3 points on 49 percent shooting and 6.4 rebounds, compared to Haslem’s 7.9 points on 49 percent shooting and 7.0 rebounds, with this year excluded. And both players accomplished their numbers while acting as the third scoring option, at best, on their respective teams. Wade, who spent 13 seasons with Haslem, also sees similarities in the two forward’s games and personalities.

“Taj does his job. He doesn’t try to do too much. Some nights he’s featured a lot. Some nights he’s not. He’s out there to do his job, wants to win,” he said. “(Haslem and Gibson) are very similar. He has that mentality where he’s a workhorse and he’s going to do whatever it takes.”

Added Spoelstra: “Incredible amount of similar qualities. In my mind both those guys are winning players and have all the intangibles and toughness. Doing the little things, the dirty work, both those guys embody all those qualities. We’ve always respected Gibson because of that.”

Gibson is third on the Bulls in field goal attempts per game, the first time in his career he’s been higher than fifth in that category. The Bulls are using him more than ever before, and it’s paying off. He's in the final year of his four-year contract with the Bulls, and is looking at a significant pay raise in free agency this coming summer. Whether his future is in Chicago or elsewhere, don’t expect him to change his persona or mentality anytime soon. Much like Haslem did for years in Miami, Gibson has defined being a consummate professional, teammate and player.

“When you’re on championship teams, competing for a championship, trying to go deep in the playoffs, trying to do special things, guys are doing to have to sacrifice their game. Everybody can’t play big minutes; everybody can’t take the shots,” he said after the Bulls’ win over the Cavs on Thursday. “I’m one of the guys that sacrificed my game for the good of the team. Whatever the coach wants me to do, I’m going to go out and do (it).

“If a coach wants me to set 100 screens and not take a shot, I’m gonna do that because I’m about helping the team. And that’s what I’ve been doing all these years. As long as I’m out there enjoying myself, having fun and playing with great teammates, I’m blessed.”

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USA TODAY

Morning Update: Bulls take down Heat for second time this season

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