The Fresh Prince of WGN-TV

Frank Holland is coming to Channel 9 next month for the early morning 4 a.m. news. He’s no Will Smith. But just like Smith’s TV character,  Holland is “West Philadelphia born and raised.” [On the playground is where he spent most of his days…]

Brother Holland comes from the mean streets of Detroit, so he should fit right in because we have some of the same living conditions here. I just don’t know if somebody who isn’t from Chicago can really relate to the viewers. Maybe he is using Chicago as a stepping stone for a much better job at Lakeshore News in Northwest Indiana. 🙂

Let’s be honest. WGN is aware that they haven’t had young black male talent since Antwan Lewis and Fred Shropshire. So, this is clearly a strategic move. Dr. Bob Jordan has probably missed having somebody to do the brother man handshake with at the water cooler. (You know, the one where we snap our fingers after turning our hands?) But on a serious note, there has been a problem getting young black talent to stay here or come back.

This week, Channel 2’s Derrick Young goes up for evaluation. For the past 3 months, he’s done a decent job as a traffic reporter. Now, the station’s management–as well as the folks in New York who really call the shots–will decide if he gets another 3 month contract. Unfortunately, the sudden move of Steve Bartelstein and the scandal involving a 4 year old being taken out of context could hurt Mr. Young’s chances at becoming the Art Norman of Channel 2.


Speaking of Art Norman, he got quite the dig yesterday when media columnist Robert Feder wrote about his verbal gaffes. By the way, Mr. Norman is returning to Channel 5 after a brief retirement. And I’m sure Christian Farr is sweating bullets. He won’t be the oldest black guy at the station anymore. (Rim shot)

I’m just wondering why we aren’t producing young black male reporters nowadays. Oh yeah, that’s right…We’re not doing enough to mentor our young men so that they will graduate in the first place. But it’s not just a shortage of black males; I see a shortage of Latino, Native American, and Arab American men on our local shows. It seems to be female dominated at some stations, but Channel 2 does have the most black men. (Yes, I blogged about that already for all you scorekeepers out there)

Channel 11’s reporter/producer Nick Shields or Channel 5 producer Glenn Marshall would be great choices for Chicago-born black male talent. Work experience is not relevant anymore thanks to Brother Stefan Holt. You too can work in the nation’s 3rd largest TV market with only a couple minutes of work experience. (Okay, that’s my last joke)

Seriously, I feel the whole 5 years of work experience requirement can drive away promising local talent to other cities. When was the last time you heard of any multicultural reporter between 25 and 35 who went to a small market and came back to Chicago? (Crickets chirping as I write this at 10 o’clock in the morning) I’m afraid that when I eventually become a TV reporter that I might not want to return. Other than Chicago having bad winters, the city’s news station give some reporters the “cold shoulder” when they try to come back home.

I’m not playing the race card. I’m just tired of qualified (minority) reporters –who actually grew up in Chicago– getting played.


Leave a comment
  • Some interesting points, most of which I can't address.

    However, do the Ponces count as Latino reporters, even though Anthony and Dan Ponce are probably 3rd Generation citizens? Karen Jordan's story isn't much different , but she can't change her skin color.

    Also, in coming back, most television personalities start out in small markets like Syracuse or Knoxville, then move up to the second tier, and then to a top 5 market. The question may be how many minorities get jobs in the small market (compared to small market guys staying there because they don't fit in elsewhere*)? Again, I don't know the background of most Chicago anchors, but except for Rosatti coming here from Buffalo, it seems like most of the younger ones in Chicago started in Chicago, as the 3 I mentioned. Of course, CTV isn't Chicago.

    *I'm referring to a meteorologist that was in Chicago, went to Rochester N.Y., went to New Orleans, but then went back to Rochester a year later because "there is no weather in N.O." (about 15 years before Katrina). The sportscaster from that Rochester station did about the same thing, since he basically thought that the only sports was the local golfer on the pro tour. The second golfer eventually moved to Lemont.

Leave a comment