Dorsey Connors Forbes

Bio from Chicago Tribune:

Dorsey Connors Forbes aspired to act on Broadway after she graduated from the University of Illinois. But her father, powerful state Sen. William J. Connors, wanted her back home in Chicago. She went on to become a local television and radio personality and for decades wrote a popular syndicated household advice column for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mrs. Forbes died Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago of complications from a fall, according to her granddaughter, Jennifer Lyng. She was believed by her family to be in her mid-90s, although she never gave her age and was scrupulous in keeping it out of public records, Lyng said. Her standard line was, "Age is just a number, and mine is unlisted."

Writing as Dorsey Connors, her column offered household tips, sometimes through the letters of her readers, such as how baking soda and vinegar could be used as cleaning products. She also dished out common-sense advice, imploring parents to teach their children about making their beds and the dangers of holiday fireworks.

"She just always enjoyed the reader mail and never had a lack for people who wanted to have letters in her column," her granddaughter said. "She would research [for answers]. And between her housekeeper and friends, she was always coming up with good suggestions."

But before she began her newspapering career, Mrs. Forbes worked for several Chicago TV and radio stations.

"She started her career as a radio personality. ... She loved that it was all live, and that television and radio was much more action-packed and suspenseful. She got to meet and become friends with all the people she interviewed," Lyng said. Mrs. Forbes covered fashion, produced celebrity profiles and became friends with Ethel Merman and Dorothy Lamour. She also covered the Democratic and Republican conventions in 1960. In 1995, she was inducted into the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Silver Circle. "She always wrote from home on a manual typewriter. She never moved to a word processor," Lyng said. "She would always be 'on deadline,' then a messenger would come and pick up the copy and take it to the Sun-Times."

Bill McCarter


Former President and CEO of Chicago’s Window To the World Communications, Inc. (WTTW11 and WFMT-FM) from 1971 to 1998. Throughout the course of his lifelong career in broadcasting, he earned the love and respect of his colleagues and a reputation as a visionary and innovator. During his tenure, WTTW11 became the most watched public television station in the United States, and 98.7WFMT won the prestigious Marconi Award for the best classical music station in the nation. McCarter was best known for his tireless commitment to localism, creating programming that continues to reflect Chicago’s diverse communities.

Under his watch, WTTW and WFMT received 12 George Foster Peabody Awards, 5 DuPont Columbia Journalism Awards, 150 regional Emmy® Awards and 5 CINE Golden Eagle Awards. McCarter also received the Board of Governors Award from The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, an honorary doctorate from DePaul University and the Meritorious Services award from Northeastern Illinois University. In addition, he was a Trustee of Elmhurst College and a member of the Board of Visitors of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

McCarter's creativity and innovation was exemplified by the diverse range of programs he developed, which included Chicago Tonight, Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review, Sneak Previews, The McLaughlin Group, Image Union, The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Wild Chicago, Soundstage, Illinois Lawmakers and many more.

One of the programming initiatives of which he was most proud was the Candidate Free Time series, which provides free unedited airtime to candidates running for local offices. In three minutes, candidates present their platforms to viewers in a straightforward format. In June 1996, in a nationally televised hearing, McCarter presented the Candidate Free Time model to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He encouraged other public television stations to follow WTTW’s lead enabling viewers to make an informed decision.

Former FCC Chairman and WTTW Chairman and Trustee Newton Minow, who recruited McCarter from Washington, DC to run WTTW in 1971, once said, “I have a very high opinion and respect for Bill. He is everything you could want in a person, a broadcaster and leader. One of the keys to his success is his exquisite balance and judgment.”

His successor Dan Schmidt, current President & CEO of WTTW11 and 98.7WFMT, was brought to Chicago by McCarter in 1991. “Bill was a mentor and a friend. He played a critical role in making WTTW and WFMT the trusted cultural institutions they are today. Millions of viewers, their children, their parents and grandchildren continue to benefit from the foundation that he built,” said Schmidt.

Prior to being recruited to Chicago by Minow in 1971, McCarter served as President and CEO of WETA-TV/FM and was chairman of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) in Washington, DC. He also served as President of the Washington Academy of Television, Arts & Sciences.

McCarter began his career at WFIL in Philadelphia, where he worked with Dick Clark on American Bandstand. He went on to work for WHYY in Philadelphia before moving on to WNET13 New York. After 10 years at WETA in Washington, DC, he arrived in Chicago to serve as President & CEO of WTTW11. In 1954, he was proud to be part of the team that televised the Army-McCarthy hearings.

He graduated from Lafayette College and did his graduate work at Temple University. He also served as a decorated officer with the 45th Infantry Division during the Korean War.

McCarter died on April 21, 2011.

Don Meier

From Chicago Tribune:

Donald Meier was a Chicago-based television writer, producer and director who with host and zoologist Marlin Perkins created the long-running and popular national nature documentary series “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” which was a prime-time staple from the 1960s through the 1980s.

“He liked everything about (TV production),” said his nephew, Bob Bennett. “He liked the excitement, the people — it was a whirlwind. He just thought it was the greatest experience.”

Meier, 104, died of congestive heart failure on July 13, 2019 at his Winnetka home, Bennett said.

Born in tiny Pulaski, Iowa, Meier graduated from Garden County High School in Nebraska. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, speech and theater from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1941.

While in college, Meier became interested in broadcasting and took all the radio courses the university offered at the time. After college, Meier served in the Army during World War II, including serving for a year at the Pentagon. While in the Army, he rose to the level of lieutenant colonel.

Meier then moved to Chicago and took a job with Chicago television station WBKB, which was the first incarnation of what later would become WBBM-Ch. 2. Meier worked his way up at WBKB and by the 1950s was working for NBC-owned WNBQ-TV — now WMAQ-Ch. 5 — directing programs.

Among the programs Meier directed from the studios of Chicago’s NBC affiliate were the short-lived Friday night variety show “The Dave Garroway Show,” which aired from the fall of 1953 until mid-1954, “Quiz Kids” and “Watch Mr. Wizard.”

In 1949, Meier helped create the show “Zoo Parade,” which was hosted by Perkins, then the director of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Meier was the producer and director of “Zoo Parade,” which aired Sunday afternoons on WNBQ, and then, starting in 1950, began being shown on NBC stations in other cities as well. For the most part, “Zoo Parade” simply featured zoo animals in a TV studio.

“Zoo Parade” was canceled in 1957. Perkins and Meier began planning their next venture, leading to “Wild Kingdom.” Meier, who from the start had resolved to see “Wild Kingdom” filmed in color, also left WNBQ and started his own company, Don Meier Productions, to produce their new show.

“Wild Kingdom,” which debuted in January 1963, aired Sunday afternoons — and later on, Sunday nights — on NBC stations. It was mostly filmed in Chicago, although Perkins by that point had become the St. Louis Zoo’s director. Although “Wild Kingdom” started out also having animals in the studio, the program also featured from the outset films of safaris that Perkins and Meier took throughout the world.

The result, Tribune TV critic Larry Wolters wrote in 1965, was a popular, family-friendly animal program that “deftly blends education, entertainment and illumination in a half hour package.” Wolters also noted that as producer, Meier demanded all material be zoologically accurate.

“For an average show we’ll use 20,000 feet of film and end up showing only 780 feet in the final program,” Meier told the Tribune’s Neil Shister in 1978. “The excitement comes from the editing and writing. We don’t fake anything.”

In 1974, “Wild Kingdom” went into independent syndication, eventually appearing on more than 200 U.S. TV stations. During “Wild Kingdom’s” entire run, more than 300 episodes were made, all produced by Meier, with filming taking place in some 47 countries.

Weekly production of “Wild Kingdom” ended in 1987, although Meier stuck around to complete three final shows in the 1987-88 TV season.

After “Wild Kingdom” ended, Meier kept busy managing the business side of his company, his nephew said. In 2002, he sold the rights for the “Wild Kingdom” concept to Mutual of Omaha, which had been the sponsor of the show for its entire quarter-century run.

In 1995, Meier was inducted into the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Chicago/Midwest chapter.

Meier in 1993 established a scholarship to benefit a freshman broadcasting major at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and he also endowed scholarships in the university’s colleges of law and business. Meier himself received an honorary doctor of law degree from the university in 1968.

In recognition of Meier and his wife’s contributions, the university in 2008 dedicated a new student commons area that is named after the couple.

Meier’s wife of 68 years, Lorie, died in June 2018 at age 100.

Warner Saunders


Chicago’s journalism community is mourning the loss of longtime news anchor Warner Saunders. He passed away on October 9, 2018.

Saunders was a towering figure, not only because of his height, but also because of his longevity in the television news industry in the Windy City.

“When he worked at WBBM, as their community affairs director and anchor of ‘Common Ground,’ newsrooms, they were white and male, largely,” explained fellow longtime journalist, Carol Marin. “You didn’t see a ton of women, you certainly didn’t see people of color in any great number, at all. Certainly not on air.”

Saunders was a former public school teacher and Boys Club executive director, before turning to television.

After many years at WBBM-TV, he joined WMAQ/NBC-5 as a sports anchor before moving over to news. He stayed at NBC-5 for 29 years. Over time, he earned 20 Emmy® Awards for news, sports, documentaries, children’s programs, talk shows and town meetings.

“He didn’t just report on things that hinged on race, he was versatile, he really was a social worker and a teacher at heart,” Marin said.

He retired from the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscast at Channel 5 in 2009.

“He couldn’t go any place where people did not know him in this city,” said Marin. “Because he was an original in the sense of, a person of color a time when there weren’t any. As he traveled down his career, he was one of those instantly known, instantly recognizable people that viewers felt an immediate attachment to. “Some people have that and some people don’t have that. He had that kind of star power.” ---Brandis Friedman

Dennis Swanson


Dennis Swanson, a television industry giant credited with discovering Oprah Winfrey and catapulting ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 to the top of the ratings, has called it a career.

“After 60 years in this business today will be my last,” he wrote to friends in an email Friday. He and his wife were in Africa with three of their grandchildren this week and could not be reached for comment.

Swanson, 78, who held key executive positions at all four major broadcast networks, most recently was president of station operations for Fox Television Stations Group.

A graduate of the University of Illinois and Marine Corps officer, Swanson began as a news producer at Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9 and later worked as a field producer, assignment editor and occasional sportscaster at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.

After a stint at KABC in Los Angeles, Swanson burnished his reputation as a fixer at ABC 7 in Chicago, where he became vice president and general manager in 1983. In short order he lifted the station from last place to first through such inspired moves as hiring Winfrey, an unknown talk show host from Baltimore, to revive “A.M. Chicago.” He also lured top news talent, including John Drury and Floyd Kalber, and added the popular syndicated programs “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” which still are staples of the station’s daily lineup.

In 1985 he was rewarded with promotion to head ABC Television Stations, then ABC Daytime and ABC Sports (where he succeeded the legendary Roone Arledge). He was credited with pairing Kathie Lee Gifford with Regis Philbin as a talk show team. On the sports side, he persuaded the International Olympic Committee to stagger the summer and winter games every two years, and he dropped O.J. Simpson as an analyst on “Monday Night Football.”

He went on to serve as president and general manager of NBC flagship WNBC in New York, which he led to first place, and later was named executive vice president and chief operating officer of CBS Television Stations under Viacom. Since 2005 he has headed Fox Television Stations Group.

In 1995 Swanson was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He returned to the academy event last year to present the Silver Circle Award to Larry Wert, president of broadcast media for Tribune Media and a longtime colleague.