As CLTV fades to black, former staffers share fond memories


The announcement this week that Nexstar Media Group was closing down the 24-hour local cable news channel CLTV at the end of the month elicited an outpouring of fond and funny memories from many who worked there over its 27-year run.

Here are highlights of comments from CLTV alumni:

Mary Kay Kleist: Sad to see CLTV end... but it was such an amazing time for all of us to be working in the Chicago market barely into our 20s. We had nothing to lose and everything to learn... from some of the greatest leaders in the business. Such a fantastic opportunity that we never took for granted and definitely made the most of. CLTV holds a special place in my heart... it's where I met my husband!

Bob Arya: As a reporter/news anchor for CLTV for nearly 12 years, I was deeply saddened to learn today that the 24-hour news channel will cease operations in the new year. So many wonderful people and memories. CLTV was new, unique and fresh. We were able to report on stories, expand on stories and create news shows that no other station in the market could because of network restrictions and time restraints. It was rough at first but we earned respect by working hard every day on every story. Viewers and our competition began to respect our work and value our people. Because of that so many of our talented people - on and off camera - were able to find work in every station in Chicago. We worked to the level of national, regional and local award winning recognition. CLTV may be gone but its place in Chicago news history is secure. God bless all of my friends, brothers and sisters that proudly worked for CLTV News.

Dwight Casimere: I was one of the CLTV "originals." It almost makes me want to cry to see its demise. I used to wear flamboyant hats a la Al Roker. That was my trademark. My claim to fame was covering the Mel Reynolds trial. Working at CLTV was the happiest and most important time of my career. I will sorely miss it, but cherish its many fond memories.

Steven M. Haas: I was a part of CLTV from 1994 to 1999 as the morning traffic reporter. This breaks my heart. I was lucky enough to work with an awesome group of people who, decades later, remain my friends. It was one of the most fun and rewarding jobs of my career. I learned my craft from dedicated professionals. You will be greatly missed, and I will hold those memories forever. For that, I thank you for the memories.

Grant Rampy: The sad news of CLTV’s imminent passing brings back a flood of memories — of working under Jim Disch with a host of young, hungry types like yours truly who couldn’t believe we were getting to report in the third largest media market. We made bean$, but earned experience we couldn’t get anywhere else. My shift: Up at 3a, on air at 5, 8 and 11a, home by 2p and, in the summer, asleep in my closet by 7:30p since it was still light outside. Highlights: Pizza for breakfast... following up on gang shootings in Cabrini Green before the sun was barely up... covering events involving Minister Farrakhan and the NOI... and on and on. Thanks, CLTV and colleagues, for the education and all the good times. ‘Twas a pleasure to serve alongside you.

Jordan Arseneau: It was a great place for many of us to cut our teeth in this market. I made great friendships and learned a lot there.

John Salerno: Sad day. This is where I got my first paying job in television. Learned so much, and made a bunch of great friends. From setting a 25-minute timer while working overnights, so I could sleep in between replays. Defrosting a frozen live truck mast with the live shot lights. Getting Sakamoto in focus (that's for you, Mark De La Vega). Seeing Princess Diana in person was definitely a highlight for me! Lots of great memories and people!

Hannah Kohut: A job at CLTV is 2008 is what brought me up to Chicago, and I will always have a soft spot for this station. But what I’ll always be grateful for are the amazing coworkers and friends I met while there. Over a decade later and we’re still in touch, and yes, some incredible talent was developed there on both sides of the camera. Sad to see it go, but will always cherish my time there.

Spiros Koliopoulos: Sad news. I was a weather intern there in the early 90s. Met a lot of good people.

Peggy Kusinski: This is too bad. I’ll never forget Mike Adams, our news director, giving me my BIG BREAK here in Chicago offering me a job on Christmas Day 1992. He told me: “You are raw and don’t have a lot of experience but you talk about sports like you are in a bar – keep that up!” My first week on the air Mike Ditka was fired and I did my first through who knows how many live shots every hour. From “SportsPage” guests like Jerry Reinsdorf and Stan Mikita to Mark Grace’s infamous appearance and yes, even Jim Shorts calling in when Kevin Butler was my guest. We were new and so many in the sports world were patient in allowing me to learn on the air. Thank you, CLTV!

Greg Joyner: Around 1993, I used to do freelance work for a company called FOTOCOMM; this company was housed in an office in the same building as CLTV. I vaguely remember walking into that building one afternoon, right around Christmas time, seeing people from CLTV and various other offices celebrating with one another. I will carry this memory of happier times with me till my last day on earth. I am saddened by the loss of CLTV, and wish everyone who works there nothing but the best in the years to come!

Duffy Atkins: My time has come to an end at CLTV. I love my job as a meteorologist and it was a pleasure forecasting for you Monday through Friday in the evenings on CLTV. Thanks to all my fantastic viewers...hope to see you soon. Love, Duffy.

Thursday's comment of the day: Carol Marin: Mary Dixon is a rock star. She and Lin were always greater than the sum of their parts. They were a phenomenal team, right brain and left brain! I am glad Lin is still in the mix but I will miss, miss, miss Mary Dixon. Mornings won't be the same without them finishing each other's sentences!