Legendary Chicago anchor Warner Saunders


Longtime journalist
spent almost 30 years
at NBC 5 before retiring
in 2009

The Chicago broadcasting community has lost an icon.

Award-winning journalist, WMAQ (NBC 5) anchor and teacher, Warner Saunders, passed away yesterday. He was 83. According to his wife, Saunders collapsed Tuesday night and was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Considered to be outstanding by his journalistic peers and rival news outlets, Saunders was the winner of 20 Emmys for news, sports, documentaries, children’s programs, conversation talk shows and community town meetings. In addition, he received the Illinois Broadcasters Association Public Service Award, the prestigious Gabriel Award, The Ohio State Award, and the 1999 Hull House Jane Addams Award for his commitment and service to the Chicago community.

Saunders received honorary doctorates of Humane Letters from Rush University Medical School in 2004 and from St. Xavier University in 2007. He also received an honorary doctorate from Governors State University in Chicago.

In 1968, Saunders co-hosted the weekly series For Blacks Only, with Holmes “Daddy-O” Daylie. The news information show aired for about two years.

In 1970, Saunders moved to the anchor chair of a late-night, 30-minute newscast, where he was also the part-time urban affairs editor. In 1974, Saunders moved to WBBM-TV Channel 2 and drew raves — and local Emmy awards — for his work hosting the station’s Common Ground program, where guests included Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory and Eartha Kitt.

While at WBBM-TV, Saunders also filmed the documentary, The End of the Line, which acted as the catalyst to investigate Chicago’s gang situation. Another doc, Can’t Get No Job Without No Diploma garnered Saunders more accolades.

Saunders eventually left WBBM-TV to go to NBC 5 as a member of the sports team. He would spend the next 29 year there, eventually retiring in May, 2009.

A huge White Sox fan, Saunders said his greatest day was co-anchoring with Allison Rosati on the day his beloved White Sox celebrated their World Series Championship in 2005.

Saunders also held a career as a teacher, including stints for the Chicago Public Schools, National College of Education, Malcolm X College, Northeastern Illinois University, Indiana University Northwest campus, where he was voted teacher of the year for two consecutive school terms.

The African American journalist was also a proud member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and the Chicago Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Silver Circle. He was the past President of the National Association of Black Journalists, Chicago Chapter.

A native Chicagoan, Saunders held a bachelors from Xavier University, New Orleans, and Masters from Northeastern Illinois University.

The REEL360 Team sends love and prayers to Saunders’ family.

Source: NBC 5