Ed Collins joined WMAQ-TV in 1952 as a stagehand and for the next five decades he helped make broadcast history come alive, first at the 19th floor studios of the Merchandise Mart and for the last dozen years of his career at NBC Tower. Later joined by his younger brother Bobby Collins, who was a carpenter, Ed helped create the sets for countless iconic Chicago television shows.
Lighting the studios, staging the sets, hauling scenery and crewing the shows kept the IATSE Local 2 team busy. It was the early years of what became known as the “Chicago School” with many of the stars of local TV going on to network stardom, including Hugh Downs and Dave Garroway, who became the first host of Today and newsman John Chancellor, who later anchored NBC Nightly News. Decades later that pattern was repeated when Channel 5’s Floyd Kalber, Jane Pauley and Deborah Norville all joined Today and anchors Robin Meade and Don Lemon joined CNN. Many of those early local shows also became NBC Network fare, including Kukla, Fran & Ollie, as well as Watch Mr. Wizard and Ding Dong School.
Although Ed crewed and lit countless newscasts, his primary focus was station programming, from early morning shows like Today in Chicago & the Dave Baum Show, to public affairs shows like City Desk, Memorandum and Warner. Ed was part of the staging crew for iconic Chicago talk shows from Kup’s Show to Tilmon’s Tempo and for award-winning children’s programs Bubble Gum Digest and Kidding Around. Channel 5’s specialty programs like Sorting It Out, Your Vital Signs, candidate debates, and town hall forums filled the studios with lively productions.
Ed had the most fun working on entertainment shows and specials like the live Music on the Plaza series and the Bulls championship rallies. The staging crews always accepted the creative challenges in putting on Channel 5’s teleplays including On Stage On 5 and Playwrights’ Festival productions featuring Chicago actors from Gary Sinese and Laurie Metcalfe to Jim Belushi, Jeremy Piven, Joan and John Cusack. At NBC Tower, The Jenny Jones Show and Jerry Springer syndicated shows kept stagehands racing between the studios and capped off Ed’s 50 years at NBC Chicago.
Jim started his career as a television stagehand for Channel 5 at the Merchandise Mart in early 1952, following in the footsteps of his father, Adrian Kehoe, and great-grandfather Robert Kehoe, who helped found the first IATSE Union in Chicago in 1887. Later that year, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served two years at the 38th Parallel in South Korea. In 1955, Jim came home to his wife and daughter and returned to NBC.
Television was just coming of age and Jim, his fellow stagehands, including his best friend, Ed Collins, were staging masters. They built the sets, set up scenery, lit the stars and mastered special effects. They helped create the first big TV hits, including Garroway at Large (with Dave Garroway who went on to become the first Today host), The Wayne King Show, Walt’s Workshop, Kukla, Fran & Ollie, Ding Dong School, and Stud’s Place (with Studs Terkel).
Jim was there in 1956 when NBC 5 became the first TV station in the world to broadcast all its programming in color. During the 1968 Democratic Convention when 10,000 anti-war protestors took to the streets battling with police in downtown Chicago, one of Jim’s assignments was to escort NBC News’ Nancy Dickerson from the convention center to her hotel amid the riots while “The Whole World Was Watching.”
For years he worked Kup’s Show with Irv Kupcinet and worked with countless celebrities and politicians for one of Chicago TV’s first talk shows. Much of Jim’s career was concentrated on the evening and late news, where he worked with iconic Chicagoans from Floyd Kalber & Len O’Connor, from Jane Pauley & Deborah Norville to Ron Magers & Carol Marin, and Warner Saunders & Allison Rosati.
When WMAQ moved to NBC Tower, Jim was assigned to help empty the studios — culling sets and scenery and purging the prop warehouse filled with decades of broadcast history. It was one of the hardest assignments of his career. On his last day at NBC, the 10:00 p.m. news team expressed their gratitude to Jim for his 50 years of contributions and dedicated service. He took great pride in his work, knowing the important role he played in the history of broadcast television and how its history had indeed become his own.
Dick Marx was a jazz pianist, arranger and composer best known for creating some of the most enduring advertising jingles on radio and television from the 1960s through the 1980s. He was born and raised in Chicago and no matter where his professional travels took him, he always kept the Windy City connection.
Marx began playing the piano when he was a child. A graduate of Sullivan High School, one of his classmates was Marty Rubenstein who would also become famous for composing radio and television jingles. Marx’s career began taking off as he performed in Chicago nightclubs including the nightspot favorite at that time, Mr. Kelly’s.
He produced several albums during the 1950s before expanding his opportunities into advertising. He assembled a talented group of composers and jingle writers — with his wife, Ruth, and his son, Richard, often providing vocals. Marx was involved in producing some of the nation’s most hum-worthy jingles, including "My dog is bigger than your dog" (Ken-L-Ration), "Double your pleasure, double your fun" (Wrigley's Doublemint gum), "There's two scoops of raisins in every package of Kellogg's Raisin Bran" and "Aren't you glad you use Dial" (Dial Soap).
Marx continued to produce jingles while branching out into movie and television soundtracks. His soundtrack credits include A League of Their Own on the big screen and Fudge on TV. He also composed for popular recording artists including his son, Richard Marx, Joe Cocker and Japanese superstar Yoshiki.
As for those Chicago credentials, in 1968 Marx composed the Chicago Blackhawks fight song — Here Come the Hawks — a theme that inspired generations of players and is still heard today at the United Center. Marx also wrote the news theme for Chicago’s WBBM-TV, music so compelling that it was quickly picked up by CBS stations across the nation. Dick Marx and his orchestra also performed at several televised Chicago Emmy® Award shows in the 1970s and ’80s and even composed a Chicago Emmy® theme song.
Dick Marx was truly the musician’s musician having left his mark on so many dimensions of his craft. From performing to composing, he is a music legend who now becomes a treasured member of the TV Academy’s Silver Circle.
Jeff McGrath was one of Chicago’s most influential television executives for more than three decades. During his distinguished career, he earned a reputation as a mentor to producers, programmers and on-air talent who would find success in TV markets across the country.
McGrath was born on Chicago’s south side, grew up on the northwest side and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Drake University. He worked briefly for Fred Niles Studios in Chicago before joining WLS Channel 7 as a promotion writer in 1967. McGrath moved up through several positions before he was named program director in 1976. Programs he created included The Prize Movie with Ione, a daily show that included call-ins with host Ione Rolnick during breaks in the movie. He won a local Emmy® Award as executive producer of an ABC 7 documentary on crime.
As program director, McGrath was involved in bringing Oprah Winfrey to Chicago, having seen her on a demo-tape of a producer he had hired out of Baltimore. In announcing that Oprah would host A.M. Chicago, McGrath said: “Oprah Winfrey is the most dynamic and captivating talk show performer I have come across in many, many years.”
McGrath left WLS in 1984 to become president of a local production facility, Center City Studios. Next, McGrath became chairman of Silver King Communications, owner of a dozen Home Shopping Network stations including WEHS Channel 60 in Chicago. After leaving Silver King, McGrath spent several years consulting, including a one-year stint as general manager for the City Colleges of Chicago’s public television station, WYCC Channel 20.
McGrath once told media critic Robert Feder that he fell in love with broadcasting as a youth when he and some friends engineered a 30-watt pirate radio station. They played pre-recorded programs and then drove around the area listening to their station. McGrath said this ended when a friend noticed federal signal-scanning trucks in the area. “Our worst fears realized the FCC was about to nail us, so we went dormant … and then lost interest in the clandestine concept.” Nevertheless, McGrath added, “the very idea of communicating to thousands — even millions — was always a magnet to me.”
Deloris was born in Canton, MS, and grew up in the CHA’s Ida B. Wells Homes, graduating from Wendell Phillips High School. Years later, she was named to the school’s Alumni Hall of Fame, a distinguished list which includes Illinois poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, singer Nat King Cole and jazz great Herbie Hancock. She attended the City Colleges of Chicago and Columbia College, finishing her schooling at DePaul University.
Deloris began her career at NBC 5 in the network sales department before moving to the editorial department. She served the second half of her 30-year career as Community Affairs Director.
She spearheaded station projects on health, education, race relations, adult literacy, drug abuse prevention, voter registration, organ donation, winter coat drives, older workers job fairs and honoring the contribution of immigrants to Chicago. Along the way, Deloris garnered hundreds of awards for the station and built countless partnerships with community groups and civic leaders. Her efforts included public service announcements, programming and event planning. Most of these efforts were hands-on, like working with the School House Volunteers of the Chicago Public Schools to turn Channel 5 into the long-term home of the Homework Hotline. Others included Channel 5 staffers painting and redecorating the children’s clinic at Cook County Hospital and a decade of the Chicago area Jefferson Awards – a program developed by the American Institute of Public Service and Jacqueline Kennedy to honor public service in local communities.
In 2000, after 30 years, Deloris left NBC to start the MeBain Media Group, a media consulting and event planning service. She is a life-long member of the South Park Baptist Church and has been involved with their senior buildings: Pioneer Village and Pioneer Gardens. She has served as South Park’s director of youth ministries, church clerk, supervisor of youth and young adult ushers.
She received National Association of Black Journalists Chicago's Life-Time Award of Excellence, two Chicago Emmy® Awards and a national Public Service Emmy® Award, Archdiocese of Chicago Communicator of the Year Award, IBA Silver Dome Award and a CHA Alumni award.
Chicago news reporter and commentator Peter Nolan’s career at WMAQ-TV and WBBM-TV spanned the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He grew up in Buffalo, NY, where he went to Catholic grade and high schools. He graduated from Villanova University near Philadelphia where he caught the journalism bug, writing for the school paper and working at the campus radio station. Peter began his professional career at WHLD radio in Niagara Falls, NY. He also worked at WKBN-TV in Youngstown, Ohio before arriving in Chicago near the end of the turbulent 1960s.
Over the next two decades, Nolan reported on everyone from our local political icons to the everyday people with compelling stories to be told. He would eventually author a book about one of those political leaders, Mayor Harold Washington. In that book, CAMPAIGN! The 1983 Election that Rocked Chicago (Amika Press 2012), Peter writes about the year “the African-American voter came alive in Chicago.”
Peter won three regional Emmy® Awards and several other journalism awards including Chicago Magazine’s Best TV Reporter in 1979. He retired from full-time reporting in 1986, but did some political consulting, wrote a theatrical musical called The 51st Ward, and hosted a TV special about offbeat local characters called Nolan’s Cracker Barrel. Peter and his wife Karen Kullman had six children and fifteen grandchildren and were married 48 years until her death in 2011.
Nolan recently wrote his second book, New Stories - A Memoir (Gatekeeper Press 2018). That book includes a story entitled “How Geraldo Scooped Me.” Peter had reported stories about the old Lexington Hotel on South Michigan Avenue, former headquarters for gangster Al Capone. A city worker told him there was an open safe in the basement but there was nothing in it but broken bottles.
In 1986, Geraldo Rivera did a television show on Al Capone’s lost vault. In that program, Geraldo found the safe, drilled it open and found only some broken bottles. For Geraldo, a disappointing conclusion, but the show had an audience of 30-million people. For Peter, a lot of newsroom ribbing that he had been “scooped” by Geraldo.
Monica Schneider is a Chicago news anchor and reporter for WGN-TV and its 24-hour cable news affiliate, CLTV. Her reporting has spanned a vast array of topics from live coverage of a U.S. Papal visit (for multiple television markets) to indictments of prominent Illinois politicians and high-profile murder trials (including daily anchor coverage of the historic 2018 trial of a Chicago police officer).
In her work, she has crossed paths with celebrities and politicians including Oprah, David Letterman, and Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley. But some of her most memorable encounters have been with everyday people and passions. Her reporting on the struggles of Illinois families of disabled children was recognized with a Media Excellence Award and resulted in restored funding of some social services. On the lighter side, her story on raising miniature chickens as pets (for egg-laying benefits) inspired her to try it at her suburban townhome, only to end up with a somewhat noisy pet rooster … and overjoyed neighbors!
Schneider was one of the sign-on anchors for Chicagoland Television (branded CLTV) when the regional cable news channel first went on the air from its Oak Brood studios on January 1, 1993. As an all-news operation, CLTV could focus on live coverage of breaking news events and Schneider was the perfect fit – unflappable in providing continuous coverage with measured and informative commentary. She also co-hosted Front and Center, a one-hour nightly topical conversation program that featured newsmakers and viewer call-in participation.
In addition to WGN/CLTV, Schneider served as the lead anchor for the top-rated NBC affiliate in Rockford, IL and also anchored and reported for an independent station in Milwaukee, WI. She has a BA in Business Administration/Marketing from the University of Wisconsin.
"My profound thanks to those who, over the years, have supported my efforts to not just read, but bring to life the news, in service of those who trust us to deliver it to them. I am truly humbled by this Silver Circle recognition." — Monica Schneider
Clifton Utley was born in Chicago and graduated with a PhD from the University of Chicago before heading to the University of Munich and the University of Algiers for post-doctoral studies. Frayn Garrick was born and raised in a small South Dakota town, received a bachelor’s degree and teacher’s certificate from UCLA, and taught English in Honolulu, Hawaii, for two years before moving to Chicago. While working on her master’s degree at the University of Chicago, she met Clifton. They married in 1931 and the rest is broadcast history.
Frayn and Clifton Utley were broadcast news pioneers in the early days of both radio and television. Clifton’s radio career began in 1939 on the University of Chicago Roundtable broadcasts on NBC. In 1940, Frayn hosted a regular issue-oriented talk show on CBS radio. Both Clifton and Frayn were well versed in world affairs having traveled extensively in Europe in the 1930s while Clifton served as Director of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.
When television came to Chicago in 1948, NBC turned to Clifton Utley to be their newsman. WNBQ (now WMAQ) launched its first live television broadcast on election night, 1948, with Clifton as the “tele-commentator.” In 1949, he convinced NBC executives that a regular nightly TV newscast was viable. Soon, WNBQ had its 5-Star Final 10:00 p.m. newscast anchored by Clifton Utley. Immensely popular, it enjoyed a 70 share at its peak. NBC corporate took note and in 1953 invited Utley to host what would eventually become NBC Nightly News.
When an embolism left Clifton partially paralyzed and unable to return to television, Frayn immediately stepped in to carry on the Sunday evening news and commentary. It was familiar territory for Frayn since she had been Clifton’s co-host on a news and commentary program on Channel 5, and she also was presenting a weekly commentary on NBC’s Monitor Radio.
Clifton’s career included working for the Chicago City News Bureau, the Chicago Daily News and the Associated Press before joining Channel 5. Frayn’s career included serving on the Chicago School Board, directing the Midwest office of the Institute of International Education and being education program coordinator for the Cook County School of Nursing. She received numerous awards for her decades of work in both community and international affairs.
In 1973, the Utley’s moved to Hawaii, where Clifton died five years later at the age of 73. Frayn eventually moved to Pomona, CA, where she died at the age of 97. Not surprisingly, she had been chairing a health care committee at her retirement community until the time of her passing.
Frayn and Clifton Utley were pioneers of thoughtful, intelligent, contextual reporting. They didn’t just report the news — they wanted their listeners and viewers to understand the news. The Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is proud to honor Frayn and Clifton Utley with the Silver Circle Pioneer Award.
Bob came to Chicago in May of 1970 to work as a reporter and weekend anchor at WBBM-TV, the CBS owned and operated station in town. He was 29 years old, married with two kids and employed at the same network as Walter Cronkite. He thought he had it made.
Some years earlier, after graduation from Boston University and after being on the air at several radio stations in Massachusetts, he landed a job at WPRO radio in Providence, Rhode Island, as a morning drive-time news co-anchor. The radio and television news operations were combined at ‘PRO and soon he was reporting the news on television as well. Riding with the cops, chasing politicians and interviewing people from all walks of life — he loved it. He moved on to bigger stations and better jobs in Boston, Indianapolis and Philadelphia eventually winding up at Channel 2 in Chicago.
In nearly 22 years at 630 North McClurg Court, he transitioned from hard news and anchor work to feature stories. He co-hosted 2 on 2, an Emmy®-winning magazine broadcast which occasionally went overseas. He roamed the Midwest for Backroads, discovering interesting people and places to share with our viewers.
Probably the most fun he had with his intrepid camera was on the Where’s Wallace live shots on the early evening newscasts. They managed to “go live” from atop the Hancock building antenna, scudded over the waves while clinging to the deck of a racing sailboat on Lake Michigan, and dangled from a water tower high above the ground while learning rescue techniques with first responders. They did this all with relatively primitive equipment and technology compared with the highly portable gadgets available today. Along the way, he was fortunate enough to win a handful of Emmy® Awards for doing what he loved.
Following his tenure at CBS, he did some freelancing, established a small production company making business videos and hosted the City of Chicago’s official public information show, Chicago Works, on the Chicago cable system.
“Fred Weintraub has the longest commute of any Chicago broadcaster — 21 hours each way,” Bill Griffeth, anchor of CNBC’s Nightly Business Report once said. “If that’s not dedication to his job, I don’t know what is.”
While at times living on three continents, Fred Weintraub has been closely tied to Chicago television for 33 years. At Weigel Broadcasting Company, where he rose from director of news operations to station manager, he currently serves as executive producer. In that role, he created and oversees the Chicago area high school sports Game of the Week and numerous educational and public affairs initiatives by the company.
A Chicago native and graduate of Bradley University, Fred began his career as a television news reporter. He shifted to broadcast management at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, where he transformed the high-tech trading floor into a live television studio for Financial News Network, the forerunner of CNBC. He later became one of the youngest general managers of any television outlet in Chicago, when he assumed the responsibilities for the operations of WEHS-TV, the Home Shopping Network affiliate owned by Silver King Broadcasting. From there he joined Weigel Broadcasting in 1996.
Also known as “Chicago’s Royal Watcher,” Fred has developed a following as “The Worldly Fellow,” to which he contributes stories and photographs chronicling his travels around the globe and documenting worldwide issues. He can often be seen or heard from London, Singapore and Chicago on various morning television and radio stations. Fred recently teamed with Hannah Stanley as fill-in co-hosts at WGN 720 Radio. They also created and produce the Gabby Road Podcast, which will debut later this year.
Fred served as an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago, is an emeritus member of the Board of Governors/Midwest Chapter of NATAS and currently serves on the advisory board of the Illinois Media School. He is the recipient of two regional Emmy® Awards and was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017.
Fred’s wife, Sharon Weintraub, is the CEO of BP’s Supply and Trading in Eastern Hemisphere. His son Ben is a security researcher/engineer based in Boston.