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.


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