Trailblazing anchor Linda Yu to retire from ABC 7

Linda Yu

Linda Yu

Linda Yu, who’s been a trailblazer and role model in Chicago television news for 37 years, will retire in late November as news anchor of WLS-Channel 7’s top-rated 4 p.m. Monday-through-Friday newscast, the ABC-owned station announced Tuesday.

Yu, 69, will anchor her final broadcast on November 23, with Judy Hsu succeeding her alongside Rob Elgas, and Tanja Babich succeeding Hsu as morning news anchor alongside Terrell Brown.

“Since Linda Yu began anchoring the 4 p.m. news in 1984 it has been the No. 1 newscast for 32 years -- an astonishing winning streak,” John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said in a statement. “Linda is a class act who leaves a remarkable legacy at ABC 7. She will be truly missed by everyone at ABC 7 and her many loyal viewers throughout Chicago.”

Yu telegraphed her plans last March when she reduced her workload by stepping down from the 7 p.m. weekday newscast produced by ABC 7 and airing on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. Cheryl Burton succeeded Yu alongside Hosea Sanders at that time.

A native of Xian, China, and a graduate of the University of Southern California, Yu came to Chicago in 1979 as a 32-year-old weekend anchor at WMAQ-Channel 5, eventually moving up to the 10 p.m. weekday newscast. After five years at the NBC-owned station, she jumped to ABC 7. Yu celebrated 30 years at ABC 7 in 2014.

“How blessed am I to have had such a wonderful career in Chicago!” Yu said in a statement. “I’m so lucky to be part of the ABC 7 team that built the No. 1 station for three decades. Now I’m really looking forward to new adventures, including writing my next book, and seeing my children more often in California. Although it will be difficult saying goodbye to my colleagues and home away from home at ABC 7, it’s reassuring that someone as talented as Judy Hsu will continue to lead the way with Rob Elgas on our 4 p.m. news.”

Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director of ABC 7, said in a statement: “Linda Yu is a trailblazer who opened doors for others as the first Asian American to anchor and report news in Chicago. She set the bar high with her skillful anchoring and unflappable breaking news coverage. Linda has a special ability to connect with viewers on screen and off, one of the many reasons she has so many fans in this city.”

Yu recently published her first book, a memoir titled Living and Working in America, 15 Lessons and written in Chinese as a guide to help young Chinese woman in the global workplace. Her second book, also in Chinese, is expected to feature stories of prominent Asian woman entrepreneurs and political and cultural figures in the United States.

Winner of five Chicago Emmy Awards, Yu was a 2005 inductee in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Here is the text of Yu’s message to her colleagues:

To my ABC 7 Family;
The end of November, Thanksgiving time, is when I will move on.  (Notice, I didn’t say “retire” . . . since I can’t imagine retirement!)
But Thanksgiving seems the perfect time, because I have always felt there is so much to be thankful for.

Thirty-seven years on the air, in a city that I love and that has embraced me in so many ways.  From the icy winter days when I was a reporter and concerned viewers called in to suggest I needed more protection from the elements; to the special reports that may have made life a bit safer for children; to anchoring during breaking news and a viewer telling me that “when things go wrong, you make me feel safe.” Who wouldn’t be grateful for a career like that?
Those good things happened to me because of all of you. You wrote, produced and edited the stories and shows that allowed me to have this long career . . . at a station and news operation that has been number one for more than three decades.
To a management that has supported me every day, through two pregnancies, my post-accident wheel chair months, and assorted life crisis: thank you. 
To a news room staff that put together shows so well that the audience thinks anchoring is easy: thank you.
To news photographers . . . it’s been awhile since I was a street reporter . . . but your talented and energetic work always made our stories sing: thank you.
To the studio crews who have bent over backwards to be sure things went smoothly during shows and I didn’t fall on my face: thank you.
To our make-up staff . . . I always tell people I never felt pretty until I met you: thank you.
You will all try to make this new step in my life all about me.  But please know that, for me, it will always be about ALL OF YOU . . . Thank you.
Love, Linda

Here is the text of Graves’ memo to employees:

Back to school season is a time of transitions and today I have several to announce.

After 37 years on television in Chicago, Linda Yu has decided to retire from broadcasting.  The adjectives to describe Linda’s career are endless.  Trailblazing, remarkable and  winning are just a few.  She’s been a calm and steady hand on our anchor desk for decades, leading the 4pm news to its number 1 slot for the 32 years she’s been one of its anchors.    And to top it off, Linda’s done it all while staying focused on family and community and serving as a role model and mentor for many.  Her contributions in this market are vast and to say she will be missed is a true understatement.  Linda’s last day on our air will be November 23.  Linda’s summed up her feelings in a note she’d like me to share with all of you.  It’s attached to this memo.  We’ll celebrate Linda both on air and off in the weeks to come.

judy Hsu will join Rob Elgas, Cheryl Scott and Jim Rose on the 4pm news starting November 24.  Judy has been a big part of the Eyewitness News team for the past 15 years, anchoring the morning newscast.  She’s a natural fit for our 4pm news team, having grown up in Chicago and having a keen sense of content to which our viewers respond.  I’m sure Judy will tell you she’s looking forward to smashing that alarm clock and joining our afternoon lineup.  Judy will continue to anchor the 11am with Terrell Brown and Tracy Butler.  In addition, starting Monday, September 12, Judy will work dayside and contribute stories to the 4pm news.

And one final transition:  starting Monday, September 12, Tanja Babich will anchor the early morning news with Terrell Brown, Tracy Butler and Roz Varon.  Tanja is one of our newest team members, having joined ABC 7 in January 2014.  She’s done a terrific job contributing to the early morning newscast and I’m confident her energy paired with Terrell’s will be a winning combination in the morning.  She’s made Chicago her home and is looking forward to this new challenge.

You’ll find our news release outlining these changes attached to this memo.

Please join me in congratulating Linda, Judy and Tanja!

Tanja Babich, Linda Yu and Judy Hsu

Tanja Babich, Linda Yu and Judy Hsu