Chicago music legend and founder of JBTV, Jerry Bryant, has produced and aired over 3,600 episodes of the television music showcase since its inception in 1985. His love for music, respect for talent, and determination to introduce overlooked artists to his loyal viewers have twice garnered him the coveted Billboard Music Video Award for Best Local/Regional Alternative Modern Rock Show and multiple Chicago/Midwest Emmy® Awards for production.
Jerry’s music history began in the mid-1960s with the formation of Studio Enterprises, a student radio training ground with Junior Achievement. He produced radio specials with The Supremes, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and other new acts at the time. In 1967, Jerry produced Studio 68, a local Milwaukee TV program featuring high school students doing comedy skits and reporting music news. From 1971 to 1973, Jerry was General Manager, Program Director and on-air personality at WQFM in Milwaukee.
In 1973, Jerry co-founded SuperSpots, a company developed to produce creative television advertising for the entertainment and leisure industry. SuperSpots moved to Chicago in 1979 to take advantage of the growing television market to include cable advertising. The company continues today and Jerry has developed Emmy® Award-winning spots for national and local advertising campaigns like WLIT-FM.
Jerry developed JBTV to show artistic music videos on TV. An all-volunteer student staff gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to do all aspects of television production. Every year, more than 20 interns graduate from JBTV into professional industry jobs. Throughout his career, Jerry generously welcomed new artists and promoted their work when major channels presented barriers to new music talent. He has launched the careers of hundreds of artists -- many have gone on to worldwide acclaim. The big names in modern rock history who owe their success, in part, to JBTV include Joey Ramone, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Moby, No Doubt and Henry Rollins. As a result, Chicago’s JBTV has become the longest running resource of modern-music television programming in the world and Jerry Bryant has become an icon in the rock ‘n roll community.
Carole B. Cartwright embraced the influential broadcast world from the moment she was first hired at WMAQ-TV (NBC) Chicago in 1962. Armed with a recent B.S. Degree in Commerce from DePaul University, Carole (then Carole B. Davis), began her career as clerical and production support to the managers of Public Affairs for WMAQ Radio & Television, a position that would define the rest of her professional career.
Degrees in broadcasting, other than journalism, were not the norm at that time nor were African-American producers in local television. So it took a few years of on-the-job learning and dues paying before there was an opportunity for Carole. In the early 1970s, the advent of videotape as a format for Sunday morning public affairs programming led to that opportunity.
Carole (now Cartwright), along with a talented technical crew and creative TV directors became pioneers in videotape production using film techniques. They traveled the Chicago area producing community stories. This led to the production of the first videotaped on-location special which went on to air in prime time on the five NBC Owned Stations, as part of the nation’s Bicentennial Celebration of 1976. Listen To The Land won three Chicago Emmy® Awards.
After years as a producer, Carole pursued management; first, at WTTW Chanel 11 as Executive Producer of the government-funded series As We See It 2, which received a Peabody Award. She then returned to WMAQ-TV in a new position of managing the station’s community outreach efforts along with serving as Executive Producer and “on air” talent for ON Q, a weekly television program promoting positive community stories. Her next move was a promotion to Director of Programming and Production at KNBC-TV Los Angeles, where her efforts won Emmy® Awards and the NAACP Image Award. And finally, Carole achieved the top job of General Manager of Chicago’s WYCC-Channel 20 Educational Television. Her leadership developed a new structure for the station and creative new local programming.
Cartwright has served on the boards of many community organizations and is currently dedicated to promoting the Chicago/Midwest Chapter’s high school and college scholarships as President of the NATAS Chicago Foundation.
Rich King embodies the full meaning of the WGN-TV slogan, “Chicago’s Very Own.” Born on the south side at Holy Cross Hospital, he grew up in the Pilsen neighborhood, and graduated from De La Salle High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
He began his broadcast career at WGN-TV and Radio as an intern in 1968 and was hired as a news and sports writer while still attending UIC. He wrote for Hall of Fame Sportscaster Jack Brickhouse. In 1970, Rich moved to all-news radio, WBBM-AM as a news writer and part time sports assistant to Brent Musberger and Brad Palmer. He advanced to News Producer, then Assistant News Director/Managing Editor, and also served as a weekend sports anchor. “I’m deeply pleased those early tapes no longer exist,” Rich says.
In 1977, Rich left his management post for a full time job at WBBM as sports reporter/anchor and executive producer of the Bears games. Three years later, Rich realized a childhood dream by becoming part of the WBBM White Sox radio team that included Harry Caray, Jimmy Piersall and Joe McConnell. Rich became Sports Director and also host of a weekend morning talk show, Sportsline. While still working in radio, Rich began his TV career as a freelance anchor at Sportsvision and later worked part time at WBBM-TV. In 1988, he left radio when Johnny Morris offered him a full time job at Channel 2.
In 1991, Rich joined WGN-TV, where he has worked with Sports Director Dan Roan for the past 23 years. Rich has won a Chicago/Midwest Emmy® Award for Chicago Bulls coverage. His approach to his job has remained steadfast: “Some of the best journalists in the business drilled into me early that the best approach is to present the news honestly, without frills and sensationalism.”
In 2007, Rich authored the book, My Maggie, detailing the courageous life of his first wife, a registered nurse and social worker, who battled progressive blindness, deafness and three different cancers. She died in 2002. Rich re-married in 2009 to April. Says Rich: “She brought me back to life and ended my endless babbling about retiring.” The couple lives in downtown Chicago with their rascal bishon-poodle, Parker.
Mike Leonard joined NBC News in October 1980 and, using suburban Winnetka (IL) as his base, has traveled across the country and around the world in search of stories that define our lives. In addition to his regular Today assignments, Mike’s stories have been on NBC Nightly News, Dateline, NBC Sports, MSNBC, Showtime and PBS. He has covered political conventions, presidential inaugurations, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, championship boxing and countless other events.
International assignments have taken him to Australia, China, Korea, Europe, The British Isles and several other countries. Most often, though, he was found roaming the overlooked territory of everyday American life, exploring all 50 states for the true characters and humorous situations that color our day. In January of 2004, Mike took his aging and eccentric parents on a one-month, cross-country RV adventure that became the basis of a four-part Today series, a 12-part Public Television series, and then a New York Times best-selling book: The Ride of Our Lives – Roadside Lessons of an American Family. Mike was nominated for a prestigious Quill Award in the category of Debut Author of the Year.
In 1989, Mike became a broadcasting pioneer as the first and only network correspondent to consolidate all of the news gathering duties -- researching, producing, shooting, writing, editing -- into one job. He retired from NBC in 2012, after more than 30 years on Today and three years after achieving the broadcasting milestone of filing more than 1,000 network stories.
Mike continues to make home movies -- that’s how he says he got into the business in Phoenix at age 31. “I had no journalistic experience. I had a young family and no money. A friend had seen some of my home movies made with a Super 8 camera and suggested I try TV. I thought he was nuts, but took his advice and made the rounds showing my crude home movies to news directors. They thought I was nuts too, but a guy at a local public television station let me try out and two years later I was on the Today show.”
Fox 32’s investigative reporter, legal analyst and weekend anchor --- has led investigations ranging from sweatshops in Guatemala to the high numbers of children burned by fast-food hot chocolate drinks. He has also covered the trials of three former Illinois Governors -- Dan Walker, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich -- and O.J. Simpson’s criminal and civil trials.
A native of Waukegan, Larry’s path toward broadcasting was nurtured by his parents, Morris and Dorothy Yellen, where he grew up surrounded by newspapers at the breakfast table, accompanied by Wally Phillips on WGN radio. His parents emphasized hard work and good grades, which paid off when Larry was awarded scholarships to the University of Michigan (Chick Evans Scholarship) and Northwestern Law School (Henry Wigmore Scholarship).
At Northwestern, Larry met his wife Sue who, along with their daughter Maggie, has been a constant source of loving support (and ideas for stories!). It was Sue who suggested he investigate safety at Chicago concert venues, which resulted in Larry getting roughed up in a “mosh pit” at the Aragon Ballroom. Similarly, Maggie helped Larry get exclusive video of fans rioting when Christina Aguilera showed up late for an autograph session.
Larry’s journalism career began in 1977 with the Muskegon (MI) Chronicle. Two years later, he moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Better Government Association. His expose’ of political clout in USDA loan programs, done jointly with the Sun-Times reporter Bruce Ingersoll, won the National Press Club’s highest award for Washington correspondence.
In 1983, Larry joined the investigative team at WLS-TV. Ten years later, teaming with WLS’s Chuck Goudie, he uncovered the evidence that cleared Chicago’s Joseph Cardinal Bernadin of sex abuse allegations. The story led to his hiring at WFLD-TV in 1994. Larry has won seven Chicago/Midwest Emmy® Awards, nine Peter Lisagor Awards, and a regional RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award. He gives much of the credit for these accomplishments to his cameramen, producers and managers, who are among the best in the business. He loves his work, but has always managed to find time for fly-fishing, tennis and, most importantly, his family.
Carol Cooling-Kopp credited her parents and family with teaching her to always do her best and to believe in the virtue of unselfish giving. She perfected these life lessons in a 30-year broadcast career. She rose from a community affairs producer to Executive Producer of Local Programs, from Program Manager to Director of Programming. Her creativity, hard work and commitment to excellence earned Carol twenty Chicago/Midwest Emmy® Awards and countless other industry accolades.
She joined NBC 5 in 1985 from the Pace Institute/SAFER Foundation --- a job training and education program for people with criminal records --- where she served as Director of Public Relations and Volunteers from their offices located at Cook County Jail.
In the Community Relations Department, Carol worked on station projects and public service campaigns. She also spent her own time working on station outreach programs, volunteering as a literacy tutor, on the Homework Hotline and for Junior Achievement at Sojourner Truth School in Cabrini-Green.
In 1989, Carol moved to the Program Department where she produced the medical series, Your Vital Signs, and specials including: When Mom & Dad Get Older, Portraits of Parenting, and The Jefferson Awards. She led the station’s production team when NBC 5 became the official partner for the Chicago Bears pre-season games and Chicago Bears Weekly. Carol spearheaded the station’s Summer Music Fest, holiday specials, and community events like NBC 5 Health & Fitness Expo at Navy Pier where thousands of Chicagoans received free health screenings. She worked on many specials, including Chicago Millennium 2000 and Target Chicago, focusing on Chicago’s drug issues. In 2002, Carol was named Director of Special Events serving as the driving force behind the station’s Marathon coverage and the station’s ongoing 15-year partnership with the Chicago Auto Show which won ten Emmy® Awards for NBC 5 and three for sister-station Telemundo44. Carol battled health issues with courage and strength and passed away last October. Her work ethic and devotion to the community, the station and her colleagues earned her respect and great appreciation throughout her career as she became the heart and soul of Channel 5.
On the evening of September 26, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon arrived at the WBBM-TV studios in downtown Chicago to square off in the first televised presidential debate in American history. The debate had a major impact on the outcome of the election and on the importance television would play in future elections and campaigns, increasingly driven by media exposure and the public image of candidates. The WBBM-TV studio crew helped redefine history that night — American political history as well as television history.