1. The cable TV sports connection. If you're talking sports and cable television in Chicago, you've got to be talking about Comcast SportsNet. Chicago is many things, but it is most assuredly a sports-fixated city, and CSN is everything a sports junkie could hope for -- starting with a generous supply of live game telecasts. But as fun as the games themselves are, CSN also has a stable of smart anchors and color commentators who do a fine job of analyzing games and putting the performance of our professional sports teams in the proper context.
2. A great public television station. It may not be the nation's flashiest public TV outlet, but WTTW-Channel 11 very well may be the classiest. WTTW's cadre of producers and directors don't always get the credit they deserve, but they have excelled, in particular, at developing programming that spotlights local culture. WTTW has to work hard each year to raise a lot of money from viewers and corporate sponsors, but all who contribute should feel proud when they see what the station does with that money. "Chicago Tonight," the intelligent nightly news magazine that is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is but one example of what we're talking about.
3. Aggressive local TV newscasts. Morning, noon or night, Chicago television viewers invariably can find a local TV newscast to tell them about whatever is breaking news that day in the city. There's also no shortage of veterans covering the news and anchoring newscasts, and they typically help make our local TV news packages a cut above those in comparable markets such as New York City and Los Angeles. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Chicago first became so admired for its local news coverage, but if we had to, we'd say the legendary anchor pairing of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and the newscasts they fronted nightly back in the 1970s and early 1980s created a stunning gold standard that all our local TV stations still strive to match every day.