CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- One of Chicago's best-known broadcast journalists, Bob Roberts, announced earlier this year that he will be retiring as a reporter from WBBM Newsradio. His last day at the station is today.
Ron Gleason, director of news and programming at WBBM Newsradio, called Roberts “one of Chicago’s best reporters” and “an invaluable member of our team thanks to his tremendous knowledge of the Chicago area and its transit system. He’s second to none during breaking news situations.”
Roberts, whose given name is Robert Rodenkirk, started out at his high school newspaper and then worked at the radio station at college.
1. 1982 Marathon
"I was born at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston and raised in Wilmette, attending Laurel School kindergarten, St. Francis Xavier elementary school and Loyola Academy.
"By the age of six, I knew I wanted to be a reporter. Radio became the medium when I was a freshman at Indiana University, but it took four years of college radio here and three at Northwestern, while working for the legendary City News Bureau, to get my break at Top 40 station WMET and suburban rocker WYEN before being hired for the first of two times at WMAQ Radio, a time during which I was a marathon-distance runner. An assignment covering the marathon took a radical turn when, instead of providing a few sound bites, I filed a 7:45 feature that aired once, but won national awards and prompted a college student named Jeff Joniak to pursue a career covering sports. Excuse the thin voice; I'd just run 26.2 miles."
2. Cyclone Roller Coaster's 60th Birthday Run - 1010 WINS - 1986
"I worked for WMAQ the first time from 1978 until 1984, covering everything from the marathon and the Indy 500 to the John Wayne Gacy case, which I followed from the time it was a missing persons case involving the disappearance of teenager Robert Piest, Gacy's last victim. I moved to New York in 1984 for a four-year run at 1010 WINS radio, where I did everything on air -- news and sports, reporter and anchor. That versatility won me a front-seat view of the famed Cyclone roller coaster's 60th birthday run."
3. 1988 St. Patrick's Day Parade
"I couldn't wait to return to Chicago, and WMAQ granted my wish just in time for the 1988 St. Patrick's Day parade."
4. Parent's 60th Anniversary - The Key To A Successful Marriage - 2011
"I was brought up in a strong family tradition. The eldest of five children, I've been married for 18 years to teacher (and former Chicago broadcaster) Jackie Bresse-Rodenkirk. My parents were married for 61 years before they died seven months apart. Even I had to ask them what makes love last so long, a story which won an AP broadcast award."
"Jackie and I have that same strong bond as my parents, but she brought something into our marriage I'd never experienced: a dog. His name was Gilbert, and his on-air obituary won another AP broadcast award."
"While I've covered every form of hard news, from murders and fires to politics Chicago-style, and even had my life threatened, I've always rejoiced in the positive features. WBBM Newsradio has been the home to many great storytellers in its 51 years as an all-news station. I can only hope that the great John Cody approves."
7. Our Lady Of Angels Fire - 2013
"The mind is willing, but the body says it's time for a break. I've had shout-outs since announcing my decision to retire from all over, ranging from Gov. J.B. Pritzker to Muscatine, Iowa broadcaster Tim Scott, who has never met me, but has followed my career over the years and called the other day. We spoke for 20 minutes and now I have a new friend in this crazy business that's called radio news. No matter where you're listening to or reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. There's magic in the radio and it's there for you to hear, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"It's been a long and often wild ride since my first phone call at the age of six on a news story, the Our Lady of the Angels fire of 1958, one which I have revisited many times over my career that still leaves me that raw and disbelieving boy."
A FAREWELL, OF SORTS