WMAQ-TV, channel 5, is an owned-and-operated television station of the NBC Television Network, located in Chicago, Illinois. WMAQ-TV's main studios and offices are located within the NBC Tower in the Streeterville neighborhood, with an auxiliary street-level studio on the Magnificent Mile at 401 N. Michigan Avenue, and its transmitter is atop the Willis Tower. WMAQ-TV is a sister station to WSNS-TV (channel 44), affiliated with the Spanish-language network Telemundo; and Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

WMAQ-TV NBC 5 Chicago Logo New 2016
Chicago, Illinois
Branding NBC 5 Chicago (general)

NBC 5 News (newscasts)

Slogan We Are Chicago
Channels Digital: 29 (UHF)Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Affiliations NBC
Owner NBCUniversal

(NBC Telemundo License, LLC)

First air date October 8, 1948
Call letters' meaning 'WilliaM'A. Quinn - Publisher of Chicago Daily News or WeMust Ask Questions(derived from former sister station WMAQ radio)
Sister station(s) WSNS-TV

CSN Chicago

Former callsigns WNBQ (1948–1964)
Former channel number(s) Analog:

5 (VHF, 1948–2009)

Transmitter power 350 kW
Height 508 m
Facility ID 47905

Transmitter coordinates


41°52′44″N 87°38′10″W


See also WMAQ (AM) for pre-1948 history of the station.

The station signed on October 8, 1948, as WNBQ, the last of Chicago's four commercial VHF stations to launch, and the third of the five original NBC owned-and-operated stations, three weeks ahead of WNBK (now WKYC-TV) in Cleveland. Eight years later, it became the first station in the world to broadcast all of its programs in color. Though NBC had long ownedWMAQ radio (670 AM, frequency now occupied by WSCR), it did not change the TV station's call letters to WMAQ-TV until August 31, 1964.[1] The calls of its sister radio station were initially assigned by the government, but went on to form the phrase "We Must Ask Questions," which the radio station took on as its motto in the 1920s.

WMAQ-TV originated several programs for the NBC television network from its studios in theMerchandise Mart during the 1950s, including Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, featuring Burr Tillstromand Fran Allison; Garroway at Large, starring Dave Garroway; and "Studs' Place," hosted by Studs Terkel. Television critics referred to the broadcasts - often low-budget with few celebrity guests but a good deal of inventiveness - as examples of the "Chicago School of Television."[2][3]

WMAQ-TV gained fame for its newscasts during the 1960s, anchored by Floyd Kalber, John Palmer, Jim Ruddle, and Jorie Lueloff, with weatherman Harry Volkman (later of WBBM-TV, WGN-TV and WFLD), sports reporter Johnny Morris, and commentator Len O'Connor. Though its role as a program provider to NBC diminished in the 1960s, WMAQ-TV gathered and distributed more than 200 feeds per month of news footage from overseas and the central United States to NBC News.[4]

In 1975, Jane Pauley, later of NBC's Today Show, briefly co-anchored WMAQ-TV's 10 p.m. news with Kalber. Carol Marin joined WMAQ-TV in 1978. Ron Magers followed in 1981. Magers and Deborah Norville (later host of Inside Edition) co-anchored the station's hour-long 4:30 p.m. newscast during the 1980s, and Magers and Marin co-anchored WMAQ-TV's 10 p.m. newscast. On October 1, 1989, the station began broadcasting from new studios in the NBC Tower, after vacating the Merchandise Mart during the summer. WMAQ-TV's newscast ratings overtook those of WBBM-TV in the 1980s, but the station could not dethrone ratings leader WLS-TV during the period.

On February 26, 2004, WMAQ-TV garnered national attention when Katie Couric, Al Roker, and Lester Holt hosted the Today Show on Cityfront Plaza to debut the station's streetside studio. Named "Studio 5", it is the first of its kind in Chicago. The morning and evening newscasts are taped here, while the 10 o'clock news is taped at the studios in the tower.

On January 14, 2008, WMAQ-TV became the second television station in Chicago after WLS to broadcast news in high definition, although most remote field footage remains in 16:9 widescreen standard definition.

Digital programming

Channel  Name  Programming
5.1 WMAQ-DT1 Main WMAQ-TV Programming / NBC (HD)
5.2 WMAQ-DT2 Cozi TV

WMAQ-TV also has a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 4.2, labelled "NBCMobile", broadcasting at 1.83 Mbps.[5][6]

As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WMAQ-TV shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009, and continued to broadcast its pre-transition digital channel 29. Digital television receivers display WMAQ-TV's virtual channel as 5 through the use of PSIP.

NBC Weather Plus ceased being broadcast nationally on December 1, 2008, but weather maps and traffic reports continued broadcasts as NBC Plus on channel 5.2. "Raw" coverage of various live events, including Barack Obama's victory rally in Grant Park[7] and Governor Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial has also been carried on channel 5.2[8] On November 1, 2010, WMAQ started airing NBC Chicago Nonstop Channel, replacing NBC Plus.[9]

From June 13 to July 12, 2009, WMAQ-TV simulcasted many of its newscasts as a contributor to WWME-CA's analog lifeline service for the Chicago area, an "unprecedented" four-station partnership. The "lifeline" programming on analog Channel 23 included WMAQ's weekday morning news from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and weeknights at 6 p.m., Saturdays at 6 a.m., 9 a.m. and weekend nights at 5 p.m along with WGN-TV (Channel 9)'s 9 p.m. newscasts. The lifeline continued only as a simulcast of entertainment programming from WWME's sister stationWCIU-TV until January 2011, when it was switched to a simulcast of WCIU's The U Too subchannel.[10][11]

News operation

WMAQ-NBC5 Sky5 Chopper

WMAQ's helicopter - Sky5

Currently, WMAQ broadcasts a total of 26 hours of local news per week (with 4½ hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). Unlike most NBC stations in the Central Time Zone, WMAQ does not carry a newscast in the weekday midday time period.

The station has launched national careers for Pauley, Norville, CBS sportscaster Greg Gumbel, CNN Headline News morning anchor Robin Meade, Maury Povich, PBS reporter Ray Suarez, and The Insider host Pat O'Brien.

Since January 12, 2009, WMAQ and Fox affiliate WFLD have shared a news chopper and the footage taken from it; this agreement has reportedly paved the way for a larger pooling effort between the two stations.[12]

After years in second place behind WBBM-TV and, later, WLS-TV in the 10 p.m. news race, at the conclusion of the November 2009 Nielsen Ratings sweeps period, WBBM-TV's 10 p.m. newscast overtook WMAQ-TV for second place for the first time in many years, largely due to the low ratings of the latter station's lead-in The Jay Leno Show. WLS-TV continues to dominate the local newscast ratings in the Chicago media market.[13] It has since regained second place at 10 p.m. although closer to third-place WBBM-TV than to WLS-TV. However in the November 2010 sweeps period, WMAQ's 10 p.m. newscast slipped back to third behind WBBM-TV in that time slot (and fourth among Chicago's late night newscasts) although WMAQ continues to run second in other time slots.


Jerry Springer

WMAQ achieved notoriety in 1997 when the station, in an effort to boost its newscast ratings, hired Jerry Springer as a commentator.[14] At the same time, the station adopted a more tabloid news format by bringing in Joel Cheatwood. Previously, Cheatwood was known for establishing fast-paced tabloid newscasts at WSVN in Miami and WHDH-TV in Boston.

Though Springer was once a two-term mayor of Cincinnati before becoming a news anchor for that city's NBC affiliate WLWT, his association with his infamous talk show (which, until 2009, was broadcast from WMAQ's NBC Tower studios, and is now distributed by NBC Universal) led to the belief that the newscast was being dumbed down. There were a handful of Springer supporters; nevertheless, the incident triggered a lot of negative publicity, both locally and nationally. Carol Marin and Ron Magers, resigned in protest. News broadcasts at that time originated from a studio that opened onto the station's newsroom. As Marin signed off her last newscast, station personnel stood en masse in the newsroom behind her in a symbolic show of support for her decision to resign. The station saw a drop in its ratings. Springer only made two commentaries before he resigned, feeling unhappy with the criticism he received.[15][16]

Magers wound up at rival WLS-TV, where he still is today. Marin joined rival WBBM-TV while contributing reports at CBS before returning to WMAQ in 2004 as a special correspondent.

Amy Jacobson

On July 10, 2007, Amy Jacobson negotiated her exit with WMAQ, after being videotaped in a bikini with her two sons at the home of Craig Stebic; the video was obtained by rival station WBBM. Craig's wife Lisa was missing and had not been found as of that date. The incident raised the issue whether Jacobson crossed a journalistic ethical line in being friendly with a subject of the story. Jacobson reported at WMAQ for the previous 10 years.[17] The video of her at Craig Stebic's home was either taken by or given to WBBM-TV, which has the entire six minute video on its website.


In the February 2011 Nielsen local news ratings, WMAQ ranked in third place overall in late news with a 5.5 rating share, dropping substantially from the 6.8 share it scored in February 2010 that was propelled by a lead-in from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. WMAQ had the second-lowest lead-in number among all news stations in the market with a 4.7 lead-in share (WGN-TV's primetime lead-in for its late newscast was the lowest, scoring a 2.2 rating lead-in, though its 9 p.m. newscast remained strong).[18]

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • NBC Newsroom Chicago with Chet Utley (1949–1959)
  • NBC News Night Report (1959–1970)
  • NewsFive (1970–1975)
  • NewsCenter 5 (1975–1983)
  • Channel 5 News (1983–1997)
  • NewsChannel 5 (1997–1999)
  • NBC 5 Chicago News (1999–2001)
  • NBC 5 News (2001–present)

Station slogans

  • Channel 5, Proud as a Peacock! (1979–1981; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Channel 5, Our Pride is Showing (1981–1982; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • We're Channel 5, Just Watch Us Now (1982-1983; localized version of NBC ad campaign
  • Channel 5 There, Be There (1983-1984; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Channel 5, Let's All Be There! (1984-1986; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come Home to Channel 5 (1986-1987; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come on Home to Channel 5 (1987-1988; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come Home to the Best, Only on Channel 5 (1988-1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Your 24-Hour News Source (1989–1993)
  • WMAQ, The Place to Be! (1990-1992; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • It's A Whole New Channel 5 (1992-1993; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • The Stars Are Back on Channel 5 (1993-1994; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • It's NBC on Channel 5 (1994-1995; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • The Year To Be on Channel 5 (1995-1996; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • The Network is You on Channel 5 (1996-1997; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Committed to Chicago (1996–1998)
  • I Love NBC on Channel 5 (1997-1998; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • I Love NBC 5 Chicago (1998-1999; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • It's Only NBC 5 Chicago (1999-2001; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • NBC 5, In the Heart of Chicago (2001-2002; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • We Are Chicago (2010–present)
  • NBC 5, More Colorful (2010–present; localized version of NBC ad campaign)

News music packages

  • NBC TV-Radio Newspulse (1974–1978)
  • NewsCenter Theme (1978–1981)
  • WMAQ 1981 News Theme (1981–1983)
  • WMAQ 1983 News Theme (1983–1986)
  • WMAQ 1985 News Theme (1985–1989)
  • WMAQ 1989 News Theme (1989–1992)
  • Newswire (1992–1997)
  • WMAQ 1997 News Theme (1997–1999)
  • Battery (1999–2001)
  • The Tower (2001–2012)

News team

Current on-air staff


  • Marion Brooks - weekdays at noon & 4:30 p.m.; weeknight field reporter and host of The Talk
  • Rob Elgas - weekdays at 4:30 p.m. also weeknight 10pm reporter
  • Stefan Holt - weekday mornings (4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.); also general assignment reporter
  • Dick Johnson - weekends at 5 and 10 p.m.; also weekday field reporter
  • Allison Rosati - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Anthony Ponce- weekend mornings; also weekday reporter
  • Rob Stafford - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Kim Vatis - weekend mornings; also general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor

Weather team

  • Brant Miller (NWA Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weekdays at 4:30 and weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Andy Avalos (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings 4:30-7 a.m.
  • Alicia Roman (AMS Seal of Approval)- meteorologist; weekdays at noon
  • Pete Sack (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; fill-in

Sports team

  • Mike Adamle - sports anchor/reporter; also host of Sports Sunday
  • Peggy Kusinski - Bears reporter

NOTE: Sports anchors cycle. There is not a set sports "anchoring" schedule.


  • Matt Rodewald - weekday mornings
  • Amanda Czernecki - weekend mornings
  • JoAnne Pazderski - weekend mornings
  • Sarah Jindra - weekend mornings


  • Mary Ann Ahern - political reporter
  • Christian Farr - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Jeff Goldblatt - general assignment reporter (per diem); also fill-in anchor
  • Lauren Jiggetts - general assignment reporter
  • Nesita Kwan - health and science reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Carol Marin - political editor
  • Natalie Martinez - general assignment reporter
  • Alex Perez - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Anthony Ponce - general assignment reporter
  • Phil Rogers - general assignment reporter
  • LeeAnn Trotter - entertainment reporter
  • Kim Vatis - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Charlie Wojciechowski - general assignment/technology reporter
  • Sharon Wright - general assignment reporter

Sky 5

  • Mike Lorber - "Sky 5" reporter
  • Jim Ryan - fill-in "Sky 5" reporter

24/7 Chicago

  • Catie Keogh - host
  • Pete McMurray - co-host
  • Marcus Riley - correspondent
  • Jeff Conway - movie correspondent


Former on-air staff

  • Linda Alvarez - reporter (1973–1977, later at KNBC-TV and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles)
  • Ryan Baker - sports anchor (2003–2008, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Jackie Bange - weekend anchor/reporter (1990–1993, now at WGN-TV)
  • Derrick Blakely - weekend anchor/reporter (1987–2003, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Jamie Blyth - 24/7 Chicago correspondent (2008)
  • Darrian Chapman - sports anchor/reporter (2000–2002, deceased)
  • John Coleman - meteorologist (1984–1990, now at KUSI-TV in San Diego)
  • Chet Coppock - sports anchor (1981–1984, currently at WMVP-AM)
  • Don Craig - anchor (1976–1978)
  • Jim Cummins - reporter (1976–1978, later Southwest Bureau Chief at NBC News, deceased)
  • Ed Curran - weather anchor (1999–2002, later at WBBM-TV)
  • Darryl David - business reporter/weekend anchor (1987–1989)
  • Anna Davlantes - weekend anchor/reporter (2000–2009, now at WFLD-TV)
  • Billy Dec - 24/7 Chicago host (2008)
  • Jill Dougherty - reporter (1980–1983, now at CNN in Washington, D.C.)
  • Tom Duggan - sports reporter (1949–1953, deceased)
  • Ysabel Duron - reporter (1986–1990, now at KRON-TV in San Francisco)
  • Roger Ebert - (deceased)
  • Joan Esposito - anchor/reporter (1989–1999)
  • Russ Ewing - investigative reporter (1967–1981 and 1998–2001)
  • Tsi-Tsi-Ki Felix - 24/7 Chicago correspondent (2009)
  • Renee Ferguson - investigative reporter (1987–2008)
  • Ona Fletcher - reporter (1997–1999)
  • Robin George - reporter/fill-in anchor (1990–2000)
  • Mark Giangreco - sports anchor (1982–1993, now at WLS-TV)
  • Sylvia Gomez - reporter (1992–1994, later at WBBM-TV and WFLD-TV)
  • Roberta Gonzales - weather anchor (1990–1996, now at KPIX-TV in San Francisco)
  • Greg Gumbel - sports anchor (1973–1981, now at CBS Sports)
  • Daniella Guzman - weekday mornings (4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.), now at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, CA
  • Cindy Hernandez - reporter (1994–1997)
  • Chuck Henry - anchor (1979–1982, now at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles)
  • Ellee Pai Hong - weekend morning anchor/reporter (2003–2009, now host of Comcast Newsmakers on CNN Headline News)
  • Ron Hunter - anchor (1975–1978)
  • Amy Jacobson - reporter (1996–2007)
  • Walter Jacobson - anchor/reporter (1971–1973, later at WFLD-TV, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Floyd Kalber - legendary anchor (1960–1976, deceased)
  • Dr. Barry Kaufman - health reporter (?–?)
  • Dick Kay - political reporter/commentator/host of City Desk (1968–2006, the longest serving reporter at WMAQ)
  • Jon Kelley - sports reporter (1991–1998, later at Extra)
  • Darren Kramer - weekend anchor/reporter (2003–2005, now at WTNH-TV in New Haven-Hartford)
  • Don Lemon - anchorman/reporter (2003–2005, now with CNN world headquarters in Atlanta)
  • Dr. Deanna Lites - health reporter (2001–2003, now with NBC News)
  • Ron Magers - longtime anchor (1981–1997, now at WLS-TV)
  • John Mason - reporter (1995–1997, now at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis)
  • Lauren Massarella - (?–?)
  • Megan Mawicke - sports anchor/reporter (2002–2004, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Marlene McClinton - weekend anchor/reporter (1985–1987, later at KHOU-TV Houston)
  • Robin Meade - anchor/reporter (1994–2001, now at HLN)
  • Al Meltzer - sports anchor/reporter (1977–1978)
  • Byron Miranda - weather anchor (1998–2002, now at KGTV-TV in San Diego)
  • Shelly Monahan - weather anchor (1999–2002, now at KHQ-TV in Spokane)
  • Erin Moriarty - consumer reporter (1983–1986, now at CBS News)
  • Jeannie Morris - sports reporter (1970–1973 and 1974–1975)
  • Johnny Morris - sports anchor (1968–1975)
  • Mary Murnane - weekend anchor/reporter (1985–1990)
  • Rich Newberg - investigative reporter (1975–1978, now at WIVB-TV in Buffalo)
  • Art Norman - feature/technology reporter & fill-in anchor (1982–2009)
  • Deborah Norville - reporter/anchor (1982–1986, now host of Inside Edition)
  • Pat O'Brien - anchor/reporter (?–?)
  • Roger O'Neil - reporter (now an NBC News correspondent)
  • Anita Padilla - weekend morning anchor/reporter (1997–2007, now at WFLD-TV)
  • Jane Pauley - anchor/reporter (1975–1976)
  • Maury Povich - anchor (1976–1977)
  • Cindy Preszler - meteorologist (1997–1998, currently at KSDK-TV in St. Louis)
  • Norma Quarles - reporter (1977–1978)
  • Gene Randall - anchor/reporter (19761–980)
  • Carol Anne Riddell - reporter (1990–1992, now at WNBC-TV in New York)
  • Max Robinson - anchor (1984–1985, deceased)
  • Jim Ruddle - anchor (1967–1975) and (1979–1986)
  • Rich Sallinger - reporter (1986–1990, now at KCNC-TV in Denver)
  • Rich Samuels - reporter (1974–1991, now runs a website on Chicago broadcasting)
  • Warner Saunders - anchor/reporter (1980–2009)
  • Dave Savini - investigative reporter (1993–2004, now at WBBM-TV)
  • Mark Schanowski - sports anchor/reporter (1998–2005, now at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago)
  • Cheryl Scott - meteorologist (now at WXIA-TV in Atlanta, GA)
  • Alan Sealls - meteorologist (1997–1999, now at WKRG-TV in Mobile)
  • Tom Shaer - sports reporter/anchor (1989–2001)
  • Don Shane - sports anchor/reporter (1980–1983, now at WXYZ-TV in Detroit)
  • Carole Simpson - weekend anchor/reporter (1970–1974)
  • Bob Sirott - anchor/reporter (1989–1993, later at WFLD-TV, WTTW-TV and 2006–2009, now back at WFLD-TV)
  • Sondra Solarte - traffic reporter (2001–2005, now at WFLD-TV)
  • Tammie Souza - meteorologist (2000–2006, later at WFLD-TV and WTSP-TV in Tampa, now back at WFLD-TV)
  • Jeanne Sparrow - traffic/entertainment reporter (2000–2005, now Program Host at Karl Productions & You and Me This Morning at WCIU-TV)
  • Amy Stone - (?–?)
  • Ray Suarez - reporter (1986–1993 now a Senior Correspondent at the PBS NewsHour)
  • Mark Suppelsa - anchor/investigative reporter (1993–2003, later at WFLD-TV, now at WGN-TV)
  • Jerry Taft - weather anchor (1977–1984, now at WLS-TV)
  • Martha Teichner - reporter (1976–1977, now at CBS News)
  • Jim Tilmon - weather anchor and aviation reporter (1972–1994, later at WBBM-TV)
  • Lisa Tutman - reporter (1997–2006)
  • Harry Volkman - weather anchor (1959–1967, later at WBBM-TV and WFLD-TV now deceased)
  • Phil Walters - anchor/reporter (1967–1976 and 1997–2000, deceased)
  • Libby Weaver - (?–?)
  • Tim Weigel - sports anchor (1975–1977 later at WLS-TV and WBBM-TV, deceased)
  • Roy Weissinger - weekend anchor/reporter (1984–1987)
  • Linda Yu - anchor/reporter (1979–1984, now at WLS-TV)
  • Bill Zwecker - movie critic (1993–2000, later at WBBM-TV, now at WFLD-TV)



  1. ^ "WNBQ to Become WMAQ-TV Today." Chicago Tribune, August 31, 1964.
  2. ^ "Early Chicago Originations to the NBC Network from WNBQ (later WMAQ-TV)". Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  3. ^ Railton, Arthur (October 1951). They Fool You Every Night. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  4. ^ "News at WMAQ-TV in 1968". Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "We're Your On-air, On-line Election Headquarters". November 6, 2008.
  8. ^ "Watch Blago Impeachment Trial Online and on NBC Chicago's Digital Channel". January 23, 2009.
  9. ^ WMAQ-TV to Launch Local 24-Hour Diginet, Television Broadcast, July 26, 2010
  10. ^ "WMAQ-TV, WGN-TV partner with Weigel Broadcasting for analog 'lifeline'". Chicago Tribune. June 11, 2009.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Fox, NBC Share Chicago Chopper". Retrieved 2009-01-12.
  13. ^ .,CST-FIN-lew01.article.[dead link]
  14. ^ Johnson, Steve (July/August 1997). How Low Can TV News Go?. Columbia Journalism Review.
  15. ^ The New York Times: Springer Quits News Show, Citing Attacks, Friday, 9 May 1997. Retrieved on 25 May 2009.
  16. ^ E! Online: Jerry Springer Quits News Job. Retrieved on 25 May 2009.
  17. ^ Rosenthal, Phil (2007-07-10). "Jacobson out at WMAQ".Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2007-07-10.
  18. ^ Johnson-Sullivan anchor duo paying off for WBBM-Channel 2,Chicago Sun-Times, March 4, 2011.
  19. ^

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