Local news anchor enjoys historic run in Chicago

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FOX Chicago’s Robin Robinson is the city’s longest serving Black female news anchor.

FOX Chicago’s Robin Robinson is the city’s longest serving Black female news anchor. All combined, she has over 30 years in the industry and can reflect on a stellar career. “Like it or not, I am a role model. It is a responsibility that comes with the territory especially when you have been doing it for 20 plus years,” explained the local Emmy Award winning broadcaster. “I love what I do and I could not imagine myself doing anything else outside of journalism.” The Defender sat down with Robinson in celebration of Women’s History Month to journey with her through her career. The slender, 5-foot-9 news hound has come a long way since her first television break in 1979 when she began her career working for KGTV-TV in San Diego as a reporter. She would later move to Denver in 1982 to work a stint as a consumer reporter at KMGH-TV. Today, she anchors FOX Chicago’s 9 p.m. newscast. Consumer reporting still remains her favorite assignment because “it gives viewers information they can use to make life better for them,” she said. One of the most impacting stories she’s done in her career was one about her late brother who was a drug user and died of complications from AIDS. “I did that story oh, about seven years ago. And to this day it holds dear to my heart. I loved my brother. And stories about drug users and the AIDS epidemic that is killing the young, Black community needs to be told more often,” she emotionally said. “News you can use is a model I believe in because if it can help one person then we as journalists have done our job.” She has been with FOX since 1987 and leaving for another station or even for network news has never crossed her mind. “I have never actively pursued a position elsewhere,” she said. “Chicago is my home and FOX Chicago is an asset I’ve helped create for the community here. Why would I want to leave either?” “The economy has gone South and North several times during my career. These are very tough times in broadcasting and I’ve seen many of my talented and dedicated colleagues  – on camera folk and people behind the scenes – pushed out of the arena in recent years,” Robinson said. But she is a mainstay in Chicago journalism. “I am still shaping the news product that I feel a sense of ownership in, and that’s a blessing,” she said. The San Diego State University alumnae was born in Chicago but moved to southern California when her journalist father’s job took their family there.  Over the years, Robinson has had the opportunity to work with other notables in the Chicago news business, including Walter Jacobson. She co-anchored the 9 p.m. newscast with him from 1993 to 2006. “Walter was smart and competitive. He likes to win and works with his team to make sure that happens,” she said. “I have been fortunate to have worked with a lot of good co-anchors and that’s important in this business.” Prior to joining FOX she worked as a consumer reporter for CBS Channel 2. But the personnel turmoil that erupted there would see Robinson move to where she is today. Longtime Black CBS anchor Harry Porterfield was demoted to weekends from weekdays. It sparked an outrage by the Black community and a local boycott of the station lead by Operation PUSH now the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. “The Black community was upset that Harry was reduced to anchoring one weekend day a week. It was not an ideal situation to be in because I did not want to be seen as the person who replaced him,” Robinson recalled. “Ultimately Harry left to go to ABC7 Chicago and a new Black male anchor (Lester Holt) was hired, which subsequently ended the boycott.” At the time the news manager at CBS was vocal about his objection to the Porterfield demotion and eventually left the station, according to Robinson. But as fate would have it FOX was in the midst of starting a news operation and the former CBS news manager was now working at the newly created news station. “He made some calls and before I knew it, I was over at FOX,” Robinson said. She admits that both ethnic and gender discrimination still exists in the broadcasting industry but she has never experienced it herself at her current station. “FOX is a cool place to work. That’s why I see myself here for years to come,” she said. Robinson has won many awards and honors, including an industry coveted Emmy Award. Her first Emmy was awarded to her for a public service announcement she wrote while she was a secretary. Cooking, playing cards and listening to music are among the things Robinson enjoys doing in her spare time. “When I am not at the studio I like to be somewhere in a serious Bid Whist card game or listening to some stepper’s music although I am not a good stepper,” said the three-times divorced mother of three, who lives here with her sister. Two of her other siblings are deceased. Regardless of the milestones she has achieved thus far Robinson still has work to do before she considers her role as a historic journalist complete. “As a reporter, I demand that we expose the urgent stories of the day with a thorough and accurate lens. As a Chicagoan, a mother and a neighbor I am always looking for the news that gives you an edge in your everyday life. From raising kids to self-defense to fixing up schools and communities, the power of broadcasting should deliver much more than a litany of what happened today,” Robinson says on the FOX Chicago News website. Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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