Chicago’s Very Own

Everyone who knows me has heard me start a sentence with, “So on today’s WGN Morning News…”

I do this almost every day. I know. It can be a lot. But as far as morning news programs go, Chicago Channel 9’s News Team is must-watch TV for me. I’m not the only one who thinks so— they’ve been number one in local ratings for most of the 21st century.

It takes a lot of effort to find success, but when that success needs to be maintained, many either become complacent, or overly-stressed. The reason why WGN has remained Chicago’s most popular morning show for so long is that they did neither.

Most of the anchors have been working together for over 20 years, and they genuinely seem to enjoy combining news with fun features like the “9 at 9” where they share nine fun facts (while trying to make each other crack up).

They’re the biggest local news game in town. But despite their success, they don’t put pressure on themselves. They laugh at their mistakes, highlight their own foibles, and lean on their personality and relationships instead of mimicking popular culture.

woman holding sign saying

While they deliver serious news seriously, they make a point to banter and have fun segments or lighter stories, making jokes that they can “get away with anything” due to their ratings.

They’ve always been like this. When the team first started working together, each found ways to express their personality while highlighting their humorous sensibilities. It’s what launched them to success, and they realized the importance of preserving that personality.

That’s how you end up with the sports anchor giving out free coffee outside a Starbucks, a news anchor showing off her (fake?) nightly routine (complete with face-mask and a hefty glass of iced-wine), and a weatherman (checks notes) taking… a bath filled with onions, cabbage and carrots????

Even after 20 years, everyone on the team is clearly having a blast, making fun of themselves, each other, and even the station. And their experience means literally nothing can surprise or derail them. Even when everything goes wrong, they can count on their personalities to sustain the broadcast.

Like in 2016 where their audio cut out for 15 minutes. As a bar trivia host who has seen his share of technical issues, I can assure you that the feeling of dread is real when audio suddenly cuts out.

But WGN’s crew turned this disaster into a hilarious viral moment, resorting to miming and writing comical notes to display to the camera. Instead of stressing out over a stressful situation, they laughed it off, and improvised some hilarious content. Their response to that meltdown is an example of exactly what has kept them at #1 through the years.

wgn morning news 2

They just keep being themselves. By delivering the news and still having fun, they’ve been making four hours of quality news and entertainment every day for multiple decades with no end in sight.

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