Importance of Internship Virtual Workshop – April 3

Join us for our 2nd Virtual “Meet the Board” Workshop

Importance of Internships
Saturday, April 3, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Our 2nd Virtual “Meet the Board” Workshop

John Owens, Board President

Pablo Alfaro, Creative Services Manager, WSNS Telemundo
Nick Blumberg, Reporter/Producer, WTTW
Jennifer Halperin, Career and Internship Advisor, Columbia College Chicago


December 14, 2020

This Monday, the Chicago/Midwest Board of Governors has its last meeting of the calendar year. It’s a been a different year, to say the least. Our chapter’s board has met virtually since March and has managed business in this way for the remainder of the year, going through a change of presidents within the chapter and the planning of a unique virtual ceremony during that time.

Not surprisingly, due to pandemic’s effect on the economy, entries for this year’s NATAS Chicago/Midwest Emmy® Awards were down compared to last year.

But despite this real challenge, the 62nd Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards was a real success, with unprecedented involvement from all of our chapters. I want to especially thank our presenters at the Emmy Awards, who featured their respective home markets throughout the show.

Those presenters should definitely be mentioned here: Tanja Babich (WLS), Ray Cortopassi (WGN); Kristin Crowley (WREX); Leon Hendricks (WEEK); Ryan Jenkins (WTMJ); Jesse Kirsch (WLS); Wayne Larrivee (Green Bay Packers Radio Network); Erika Maldonado (WGBO); Sandy Maxx (Milwaukee PBS); Emily Ogden (WEEK); Jessica Porter (WKOW); Vahid Sadrzadeh (WBND) and Lexi Sutter (WMAQ).

Also, many thanks to the national personalities who contributed to the virtual broadcast with their “shout-outs” to our chapter, including CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell; NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander; “Good Morning America” meteorologist Ginger Zee (ABC); Jerry Springer and “Chicago Fire” actor LaRoyce Hawkins.

Our Emmy Production committee did yeoman’s work throughout the planning of this event. I’d like to commend our committee chairman, John Schippman, for his great coordination of the event, which began in the summer as we began our initial plan of contacting presenters. Also doing invaluable work on the Emmy Production committee were board members Diana Borri, Chris Cangilla, Jessie Garcia, Pam Grimes, Justin Kulovsek, Alefiyah Master and, of course, the Executive Director of the NATAS Chicago/Midwest chapter, Rebekah Cowing.

Pat McGann

And of course, Pat McGann was brilliant as host. Pat has hosted our event before, but this was a unique challenge for him due to its virtual nature. But Pat had some outstanding ideas to exploit the virtual nature of the show —including a Zoom call with Chicago TV personalities — and he executed those ideas with John Schippman and his crew beautifully.

Finally, I wanted to thank the more than 600 peer judges from the following chapters who judge our chapter’s 900 entries for the 2019-2020 awards’ year: Boston/New England (nine MA, CT, RI, ME, NH, VT markets); Heartland (12 CO, KS, NE, OK markets); Lower Great Lakes (eight OH, IN, PA); Lone Star (19 TX markets); Mid-Atlantic (nine PA, NJ markets); Mid-South (twelve TN, NC, AL markets); New York (eight NY, NJ, CT markets); San Francisco/Northern California (ten CA, HI, NV markets) and Suncoat (15 FL, LA, AL, PR markets).

As you can see, it takes hundreds of people to stage this annual event. Let’s hope that sometime in late 2021 we will be able to gather again in person to celebrate your achievements.


While we haven’t made a determination on -how we will present the 2021 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards, this decision has already been made with regards to the national Emmy events.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced earlier this month that all national award ceremonies will be held virtually in 2021. That includes the National Sports, Daytime, News & Documentary and Technology & Engineering Awards events.

Adam Sharp

NATAS President & CEO Adam Sharp said that there was potential to return to live events later in 2021, but that it was not feasible to stage all national events during the latter third of the year.

“The current timetables articulated by manufacturers project mass availability of vaccinations for the entire U.S. population by mid-summer 2021, potentially permitting a return to more traditional in-person ceremonies later in the fall,” Sharp said in an email to board presidents earlier this month. “However, we have determined that delaying our 2021 events to possibly allow for a compressed calendar of in-person Emmy® ceremonies late in the year would result in unacceptable delays to our awards cycle for 2022.”

Sharp also said that NATAS is preparing to go back to in-person events in 2022.Three honorees from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame were honored in a recent half-hour program produced by the WBA. The show, seen here, showcases the contributions of three past Hall of Fame inductees: Don Seehafer (inducted in 2002), Rosa Bartell Evans (inducted in 1997), and Bob Uecker (inducted in 1994).

2013 scholarship recipients.Members: Here’s your “before-the-end-of the-year” reminder to support the NATAS Foundation and the Trustees Scholarship with your tax-deductible contribution. The money goes to the foundation, which provides five national scholarships for students aspiring to careers in television.


CHANNEL ZERO November 19, 2020

Nov. 19, 2020

By John Owens

NATAS Chicago/Midwest President

At this time of the year, we’re usually preparing for a live Emmys celebration on a pre-holiday weekend in downtown Chicago. This weekend, we’re set for another Emmy Awards Ceremony — our 62nd annual event, which is on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

This time, however, we’re online only, due to the pandemic.

But that doesn’t mean that this year’s event won’t be special. As mentioned in our last blog item, comedian Pat McGann is hosting. Pat’s got some special things planned for the show, in addition to his always first-rate standup act. Additionally, we’ve lined up some notable national broadcasters to join our party, including CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell, “Good Morning America” meteorologist Ginger Zee, NBC White House correspondent (and former NATAS Chicago/Midwest scholarship winner) Peter Alexander; syndicated television personality (and Chicagoan) Jerry Springer and Green Bay Packers and Big 10 broadcaster Wayne Larrivee.

And then, there are the Emmy Awards of course, with 70 categories represented.

You can watch the program streamed live on our website here. And the show is also being streamed in our Emmys app, our You Tube page and on our Facebook page.

We’re asking all our award winners to post their winning speech on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #EmmyChicago. Also, share your Emmy night photos with us on Twitter or Instagram, using that same hashtag.

It should be a great night!


Here at NATAS Chicago/Midwest, we’re also excited about the launch of our new Junior Board, the first such board among the 19 NATAS chapters.

We’re looking for students or young professionals, aged 18-26, who are intent on a career in television news, visual media or the entertainment field. While an interest in TV is preferred, those interested in film, interactive media or marketing are also welcome to apply. To be eligible, a candidate must either attend college or work within the area of the Chicago/Midwest chapter.

We’re looking to fill 10-seats on the board, which will work with our full NATAS board to develop initiatives and create new agendas. It’s a great way to make connections with peers and broadcast professionals. And it’s a great addition to a young person’s resume.

Apply here. Applications are due by Jan. 1, 2021


And speaking of students, I’d like to congratulate our 2020 College and High School Scholarship winners for this year. They are: Joey Safchik (Northwestern University), the winner of the 2020 Ephraim Family Foundation Scholarship; Anthony Landahl (Bradley University), the winner of the 2020 Tom Skilling Scholarship; Patrick Thomas Keen (Columbia College Chicago), the winner of the 2020 Sharon A. Palermo Memorial Scholarship; Molly Ptacek (Columbia College Chicago), another Tom Skilling scholarship winner; Seungjoo Oh (Northwestern University), the winner of the Bernstein Global Wealth Management Scholarship; Derryl Barnes (South Elgin High School), the winner of the Paul Lisnek Scholarship; Ethan Levy (Glenbrook North High School); a Board of Governor’s Scholarship winner; and Noah Semeria (Naperville North High School), a Silver Circle Scholarship winner.

Check out their acceptance speeches here.


It was the most notable East Coast/West Coast rivalry outside of the Biggie/Tupac rift during the ‘90s. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, based in New York, and the Television Academy, based in Los Angeles, split in 1977. They then spent the next 40 years in court, battling over a variety of issues, including the jurisdiction of the Emmy Awards.

But now, the two organizations have started working together again. Earlier this month, the Television Academy gave its children’s programming category at the Primetime Emmys to NATAS, which will feature it now in the Daytime Emmys (one of the national awards events presented by NATAS, along with the Sports and News and Documentary Emmys.

Kudos to our president at NATAS, Adam Sharp, for his role in creating a dialogue between the two organizations

You can read more about this in this great Variety interview with Adam and Television Academy President Maury McIntyre.


Congratulations to Chicago Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas on his move to CNN this week as a reporter with the news organization’s recently launched Race and Policing reporting group. Pete will be one of five reporters working nationwide in this novel mission.

Peter, a Nieman fellow, was a former colleague of mine at the Tribune, a truly great crime and police reporter. My most notable memory of him was in this 2013 documentary that we worked on, which addressed crime in Chicago.


My condolences to the family of Joe Reilly, a great Chicago journalist who died last week at the age of 81.

Joe was my boss at the legendary City News Bureau back in the early ‘90s. But he was best known as the man who helped break the story about the illegal 1969 police raid which killed Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.

I knew him as a kind and generous man who rarely raised his voice, but was intensely interested in developing the journalists of the future, both in print and broadcasting. During my time at City News, a variety of great journalists were developed under Reilly’s management, from the Chicago Tribune’s Annie Sweeney to Wall Street Journal editor Matt Murray.


Do you have a story about news in your market that you would like included in the NATAS Chicago/Midwest newsletter. If so, email your story idea to or





Channel Zero Oct. 19, 2020

October 19, 2020
By John Owens, NATAS Chicago/Midwest President

And the Emmy Goes to…

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, there won’t be a live Emmys Awards Ceremony, for obvious, pandemic-related reasons.

But we now have an official date and time for our virtual Emmys event. It will be on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. The stream will be available on our website and will be available via livestream on YouTube and Vimeo.

The host for the show is comedian Pat McGann,who returns after hosting our Emmys show back in 2016. Pat, the former house MC at Zanies Chicago, has been a guest on shows like “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and Late Show with David Letterman.” He also was the creator and co-host of “The Chicago Standup Project”, which ran on WTTW a few years ago.

This will be a unique event for us. The show will feature presenters representing seven markets in our chapter: Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, South Bend, Rockford and Peoria. Those presenters will also feature and pay tribute to notable first responders/essential workers in their market.

It promises to be an unforgettable night, even though we won’t get to share it in person. That said, we are excited about the opportunity to showcase all of our markets in ways that we have never done before.So please reserve the date and time in front of your computer or television on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.! And look at the bright side — free parking!

Vaughn McClure 1972-2020

It was a shock to hear about the death of ESPN sports reporter Vaughn McClure, as reported in Robert Feder’s column on Friday.

He died at his home in Atlanta, where he covered the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL for ESPN. McClure, who was only 48, was born in Chicago.

I knew Vaughn from his time at the Chicago Tribune, when we both worked there during the early part of the last decade. He was an extremely nice man and an excellent reporter. I believe he did his first extensive broadcast work while at the Tribune, both in programming produced by the newspaper and at Comcast SportsNet Chicago. It was great to see him become just as proficient as a broadcaster as he always was as a writer.

This piece from Rashad Milligan at a Sports Illustrated microsite is a wonderful appreciation of McClure. He will definitely be missed.

Going National

Congratulations to Whitney Reynolds, whose self-named weekly talk show is being offered to PBS stations nationwide beginning on January 6, according to Feder.

Her weekly “inspirational talk show”, produced for Lakeshore PBS WYIN-Channel 56, is already on five PBS stations and Amazon Prime Video.

It’s always great to see regional programming take the next step to national recognition.

Campaign Ads

Milwaukee and Green Bay are being heavily targeted with ads by the Biden and Trump campaigns for the upcoming election, which is only two weeks away.

Milwaukee is seventh among markets running the most presidential ads on television over the past two weeks, while the Green Bay market is 11th, according to Milwaukee/Fox 6.

Jessob Reisbeck

Speaking of Milwaukee, former WITI-TV (Fox 6) reporter Jessob Reisbeck is returning to the city, after spending two years as a reporter and co-anchor at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.

Reisbeck will be an evening news anchor at WDJT-TV (CBS 58) starting next month, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He will co-anchor the station’s 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows with Natalie Shepherd. And he will also co-anchor the 9 p.m. news on WMLW-TV, an independent station in Milwaukee CBS 58 and WMLW-TV are both owned by Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting.

The Batman
The Batman franchise is back filming in Chicago. The new film, called “The Batman”, filmed here last weekend and will also film here on the weekend of Oct. 24, according to Screen Magazine. The trade magazine reports that the stars —Robert Pattinson, Colin Farrell and Zoe Kravitz — will not be here for the filming this weekend.

Chicago has often been transformed into Gotham City. “Batman Begins” (2005), “The Dark Knight” (2008) and “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) were also shot here.


Do you have a story about news in your market that you would like included in the NATAS Chicago/Midwest newsletter. If so, email your story idea to or

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Channel Zero Oct. 5, 2020

October 5, 2020
By John Owens, NATAS Chicago/Midwest President

Nominations Announced

As expected, coverage of this year’s global pandemic and historic nationwide civil unrest after George Floyd’s police-related death in Minneapolis dominated in the 2019-2020 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Nominations list, which was released by the NATAS Chicago/Midwest chapter this week. Stations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford were all recognized by the Academy for their stellar work on these two extraordinary stories in the Outstanding Achievement for News Gathering categories. But other major stories of the 2019-2020 also were also represented in the nominations list, including the mass shooting where five died at the Molson Coors Brewery in Milwaukee in February; and the chaotic incident where a motorist drove his SUV through Woodfield Mall.

Other highlights include multiple nominations for media producers not affiliated with broadcast networks, ranging from the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Blackhawks and Fighting Irish Media to Spirit Juice Media, Grotto Network, Lucid Creative Agency and Bitter Jester Studios.

This will be our 62nd Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards event. But this year, our Emmy Awards Ceremony will be virtual, in keeping with social distancing guidelines due to the global pandemic. The event will be streamed on our website ( in mid-November. The date and host for the event will be officially announced in the coming days on our website.

The ceremony will feature presenters from all eight markets in our chapter, and we will pay special tribute to frontline workers during the pandemic in all of those markets.

News and Documentary Emmy Awards
Chicago was represented in the 41st Annual National News and Documentary Emmy Awards, which were also staged virtually earlier this month.  “16 Shots”,the Showtime documentary about the 2014 Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald, was named the Outstanding Investigative Documentary in the event. The documentary was produced by noted Chicago investigative journalist Jamie Kalven, who heads the Chicago non-profit journalism organization Invisible Institute. Kalven broke the McDonald story in this 2015 Slate Magazine article.  You can watch the complete National News and Documentary Emmy Awards here

Google Tools workshop
NATAS Chicago/Midwest kicks off its season of virtual special events and workshops with a Google Tools workshop that we’ll co-sponsor with the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ digital trainer Mike Reilley will give you, hands on training so you can easily build interactive charts, maps, visualizations and more. Tools we’ll cover: Google Trends, MyMaps, Earth Pro, Earth Studio, Earth Engine Timelapse, Google Scholar, Google Dataset Search, Google Flourish, data scraping with Google Sheets and Tabula.  The best thing about all these incredible tools — they’re all free!

Mike, a former reporter with the L.A. Times and web editor with the Chicago Tribune, has taught this workshop to almost 4,000 journalists. So this is one that you won’t want to miss. The two-hour workshop is on Monday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. RSVP for this free virtual workshop here.

Chicago Film Festival
October is one of my favorite months, not only because it is this writer’s birthday month, but also because of the Chicago International Film Festival. I always try to make room on my schedule for multiple screenings at River East, the usual spot for the festival. Of course, this year’s social distancing guidelines preclude these kinds of screenings. But while much of the CIFF will be virtual, there will be some in-person screenings … at various drive-ins! That includes the World Premiere of “Belushi”, the long-awaited doc about legendary Second City/SNL comedian John Belushi. The festival is from Oct. 14 to Oct. 25 — the complete screening list and ticket information can be found here,

Congratulations to former WLS-TV President and General Manager Emily Barr, who was named Broadcaster of the Year by the periodical “Broadcasting and Cable”. Barr, now the president and CEO of Graham Media Group, received her award on Oct. 1 at TVB’s Alt Forward Conference. Barr served as President and GM for ABC 7 Chicago from 1997 to 2012.

Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism is offering up a series of unique free virtual workshops designed to introduce high school students to careers in journalism and the media. Each workshop will feature notable Medill faculty, including former Chicago Tribune reporter Melissa Isaacson and Arionne Nettles. All high school students, advisers and parents are invited to attend. Register

Chicago On Film
The Chicago Tribune’s Tracy Swartz has a good report here on how Chicago has continued to be a Midwest center of film production, despite the pandemic. FX’s “Fargo” and Amazon Prime’s “Utopia” both primarily shot in Chicago. “Utopia” wrapped a year ago, but “Fargo” shot here up until last month.
WGN-AM’s Hall of Fame broadcaster Orion Samuelson announced his retirement late last month after 60 years at the station. Robert Feder reports that Dec. 31 will be his last day on the air. The legendary 86-year-old broadcaster will still do “five or six daily business reports for WGN” per weeks= until the end of the year, Feder reports. This writer fondly remembers his early morning WGN-TV show, “Top O’ The Morning”, which aired before “Ray Rayner & Friends” in the late ‘60s and early 70s — a show which consisted of Mr. Samuelson reading detailed farm reports and organ music (!) from what was surely the last organist staffed by a television station. If you have some time, check out this raw video from Media Burn, showing Samuelson hosting the U.S. Farm Report for WGN-AM at a downstate Illinois Farm Progress Show back in 1991. The raw video was from the award-winning PBS series “The 90s”.
Do you have a story about news in your market that you would like included in the NATAS Chicago/Midwest newsletter. If so, email your story idea to or

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Dav El | BostonCoach Named the Official Limousine Company of the 60th Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards

Dav El | BostonCoach has been named as the official limousine company for the 60th annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards, being held on Saturday, November 10th at the Marriott Hotel on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Attended by 700 media influencers and professionals from around the greater Midwest area (including Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay), this year’s awards ceremony is centered around the Emmys scholarship program.

The annual event, which has celebrated excellence in broadcast journalism and television since 1958, has had a successful scholarship program for over 25 years, which has distributed nearly $500,000 to college students. This year, all of the presenters will be former scholarship recipients, many of whom have achieved great success in television, film, and journalism fields.

Today, Dav El | BostonCoach is the largest privately owned chauffeured transportation company in the world, providing the highest quality chauffeured services for both private events and to public officials. “Having the opportunity to partner with the 60th Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards to provide chauffeured transportation to this year’s presenters and recipients is an honor.”

Dav El | BostonCoach is the preferred ground transportation company for both corporate and private clients, providing high quality, safe, and courteous service throughout the United States and international locations. Clients are able to book service online or on the new mobile app. All chauffeurs are properly licensed, background checked and vetted so that passengers can enjoy their rides in true comfort and safety.

For more information about Dav El | BostonCoach, click here.




Watch our Media Archiving Workshop

Media Archiving Workshop

In this seminar, we will meet archivists, who will talk about their respective missions. This seminar is intended for anyone interested in tackling his or her media collection, either in-house or with a vendor.

Posted by Chicago/Midwest Chapter: National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on Wednesday, February 21, 2018