Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Recently in Bob Sirott Category

Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 will air a Chicago mayoral debate on Feb. 10, at Kennedy King College. WFLD lead anchors Bob Sirott and Robin Robinson will moderate the debate

The one-hour forum will feature the city's leading mayoral candidates -- chosen based on their standing in polls of the electorate. WFLD is hosting the debate in conjunction with the Chicago Urban League and Harriet's Daughters, an organization founded last year to foster greater economic empowerment among African-Americans.

The debate is expected to be simulcast live on WVON-AM (1690) and WVAZ-FM (102.7). WFLD viewers will be able to engage in the debate before and during the event via Fox Chicago's Facebook and Twitter pages. Chicagoans will vote for a new mayor on Feb. 22.

It's official. Bob Sirott is joining Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 as a co-anchor of the station's hour-long 9 p.m. newscast. He will make his first appearance on "Fox News at 9 p.m." on Monday, July 19. Sirott's new role at WFLD marks his second stint at the station. He previously worked at WFLD from 1994 to 2000, when he was a co-anchor of "Fox Thing in the Morning." Most recently, he spent nearly four years as an anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, but left the station a year ago when he did not agree to accept a new contract WMAQ wanted him to sign.

The signing of Sirott is part of WFLD's effort to revamp its late news and improve its ratings. The newscast is currently the lowest-rated late news in the Chicago market. Since joining the station 10 months ago, WFLD general manager Michael Renda has added new talent to the news department personnel, including Anna Davlantes, who is a contributing anchor of the station's late news, and Mike Flannery, who started last week as political reporter.

In announcing Sirott's hiring, Renda said: "His (Sirott's) deep understanding of our market, combined with his extensive anchoring and reporting experience, make him the ideal addition to our news team." Sirott praised the Fox news team and said in a statement that he is "thrilled to continue covering news in the city I have called home my entire life."

LSP_8811.jpgRob Stafford, a weekend anchor who had worked alongside the now-departed Anna Davlantes at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, has been named a co-anchor of WMAQ's 10 p.m. weekday news with Allison Rosati effective Aug. 10. Stafford also will front WMAQ's 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. early newscasts with Rosati. Stafford had been one of a rotating series of anchors working with co-anchor Rosati at 10 p.m., since Bob Sirott left the station in June. Initially, Sirott was the designated heir apparent at 10 p.m. after Warner Saunders' retirement. But Sirott chose not to accept a rewritten contract offered to him by the station, and he exited in June.

Though Stafford was obviously passed over in the initial decision-making that pegged Sirott as the anchor talent the station wanted at 10 o'clock, WMAQ management was forced to give Stafford more serious consideration when Sirott balked at the new contract demands. Sources say the announcement Friday of Stafford as WMAQ's new 10 p.m. co-anchor was carefully timed to mesh with the exit of Davlantes, considered one of the station's brightest stars, and draw focus away from losing such a promising talent.

Stafford joined WMAQ in 2007, as a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter. Prior to joining WMAQ, Stafford was a Chicago-based correspondent for NBC's news magazine "Dateline." Previous to "Dateline," Stafford was a consumer reporter and anchor at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.

Bob Sirott exits WMAQ-Channel 5

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Respected veteran Chicago broadcaster Bob Sirott is out at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. WMAQ Station Manager Frank Whittaker informed the station's staff this morning of Sirott's exit. Sirott was expected to be a 10 pm news anchor alongside Allison Rosati, but negotiations apparently hit a snag over a clause in Sirott's contract that promised him a boost in salary along with his increased responsibilities. Sirott was scheduled to go on vacation today. He will not return to the station.

X00090_9.JPGSo now we are in a holding pattern as suspense builds about who will anchor NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5's 10 p.m. newscast. No announcement is expected until next month. But what once seemed a given -- that veteran newscaster Bob Sirott would assume a role as a 10 p.m. anchor -- suddenly seems somewhat less so. And whether it wanted to or not, WMAQ has raised the ugly specter of Rosati and Sirott possibly duking it out for a solo anchor assignment at 10 p.m.

At least a couple of factors make a potential battle for WMAQ's 10 p.m. anchor job(s) a messier matter than it might otherwise be. For one thing, well-informed sources say Sirott has a clause in his contract with WMAQ that specifically promises him a 10 p.m. anchor role in the post-Saunders era at the station. If, for whatever their reasons, WMAQ management doesn't offer him the 10 p.m. job, things could get ugly. Or at the very least, costly, if they have to pay off Sirott.

Furthermore, sources who know and respect long-time WMAQ on-air talent Rosati say she definitely should not be counted out in any fight that might ensue over the 10 p.m. anchor job Though her on-air demeanor couldn't be pleasanter, Rosati is apparently one tough cookie who developed a close bond of mutual admiration with Saunders over many years, but who also, sources say, fiercely guarded her right right to be seen as Saunders' equal on the 10 p.m. newscast. "She would count the 'reads' she and Warner would get each night on the newscast and make very sure he wasn't getting more than she did," said one source who knows Rosati well.

Should things take a somewhat surprising twist, and Rosati winds up fronting the 10 p.m. solo, it would mark only the second time in recent history that a woman has had such a role in the Chicago TV market. Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin fronted a groundbreaking 10 p.m. newscast on WBBM for a while. But perhaps in large part because of its unusual format, that newscast never caught on, and Marin left WBBM.

Will Warner Saunders be back?

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Will he or won't he? That's a big unanswered question involving news anchor Warner Saunders and NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. Saunders is slated to retire from a 28-year run at WMAQ at the end of May, but complications from a recent illness have made it unclear whether Saunders will in fact be back in person to sign off for the last time as the station's 10 p.m. news co-anchor. "We just don't know yet," said a WMAQ spokeswoman, though at least one source indicated that Saunders' belongings in his office at WMAQ already have been packed up. In the meantime, Bob Sirott has been filling in for the ailing Saunders on many nights at 10 p.m. Sirott is believed to be the co-anchor heir apparent at 10 p.m., but station management has not made that official yet either.

X00096_7.JPGThe ax has fallen on four employees in NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5's research and promotions department and its sales department, sources confirm. These are the first of what are believed to be more cuts to come in the station's news operation, where everyone is in the process of being "rehired" and trained to do more than one job. WMAQ honcho Larry Wert maintains he has yet to determine how much the news department operation will shrink, but some worried staffers believe the reductions will be significant.

Meanwhile, a WMAQ spokeswoman said the station has gotten no word from its about-to-retire news anchor Warner Saunders about when he plans to return to the 10 p.m. newscast. Saunders has been on medical leave since early March, and was supposed to return in mid-April and work through the end of May, when he is slated to officially retire from the station. Bob Sirott, who is supposed to formally replace Saunders as a 10 p.m. news anchor in June, has been filling in much of the time since the ailing anchor has been on leave.

Judd Sirott, nephew of veteran local broadcaster Bob Sirott, has been named host of Cubs Central Pregame, heard before every Chicago Cubs broadcast on WGN-AM (720). Sirott will assist Pat Hughes and Ron Santo in the Cubs radio booth, handling one inning of play-by-play each game and updating the Major League Baseball scoreboard. He also will contribute to Cubs Postgame, including Cubs Plus, the expanded postgame show heard after most games.

Sirott has been the host of Chicago Blackhawks Pregame, Postgame and intermission reports on WGN, a role in which he will continue in addition to his new Cubs duties. Prior to joining WGN, Judd Sirott called National Hockey League games nationally for HDNet for the two years. Previously, Sirott, 39, was the voice of the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves from the team's inception in 1994 to 2006.


This month longtime Chicago broadcasting talent Bob Sirott ups his news anchor profile at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 by starting to co-front the weekday 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts. He's believed to be the co-anchor heir apparent to Warner Saunders on Channel 5's 10 p.m. news. As Sirott moves ever closer to grabbing the holy grail in local news, we sound him out on his career and his role at WMAQ.

Q. You're raising your news anchor profile at WMAQ. What, in your opinion, separates a good news anchor from a bad one?

A. The anchors I've admired have been good writers. They don't just announce the news; they also understand it and deliver it in a way that's clear, concise and credible. However, if you're on TV every day, you can't hide your true personality. You have to be yourself and hope people like you.



About the blogger

Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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