“Chicago’s Very Own” WGN-Channel 9 has reached out to its company’s station in Indianapolis to hire a new co-anchor for its nightly newscasts.
Ray Cortopassi, 53, who grew up in south suburban Dolton and graduated from Columbia College Chicago, is coming home to join the Nexstar Media Group station here. Starting September 28, he’ll co-anchor WGN’s 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. Monday-through-Friday newscasts with Micah Materre.
He replaces Joe Donlon, who held the job for two years before he was called up to co-anchor “News Nation,” Nexstar’s national news startup, which debuts September 1 on the WGN America cable network.
For 21 years Cortopassi has been anchoring and reporting in Indianapolis — first at ABC affiliate WRTV, later for NBC affiliate WTHR, and since 2009 for WXIN, the Fox affiliate owned by Nexstar. Earlier he worked for WPBN, the NBC affiliate in Traverse City, Michigan, and KTNV, the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas.
He began his career as a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown and a reporter and broadcast editor for City News Bureau of Chicago.
"I am honored to join Micah and the WGN family," Cortopassi said in a statement. "It's been my dream and our family's wish to come back since leaving my hometown in the mid-1990s. I'm humbled and thrilled by the chance to work in the best newsroom in America and grateful to join a team of journalists who know the value of telling Chicago's story."
Cortopassi’s hiring marks the second time in recent years WGN has gone outside of the market to import a main news anchor. Donlon, who replaced Mark Suppelsa in 2018, hailed from Portland, Oregon.
WGN stressed Cortopassi’s Chicago area roots, noting that his father was a sheet metal foreman at U.S. Steel's South Works plant, and his mother was a piano teacher who worked from their home in Dolton. “Like many kids growing up in 1970's in Chicago, Ray often woke up to Ray Rayner and ate lunch watching ‘Bozo's Circus,’ ” today’s announcement said. “It was in those formative days that Ray developed a love for the broadcast word and the magic of television.”
Dominick Stasi, news director of WGN, said: "We're excited to welcome Ray back home to Chicago," adding: "Ray has a passion for this city and knows the stories that shape it. He is an accomplished and talented journalist and will be a great addition to our team."
Dolton also is the hometown of Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper, Crain’s Chicago Business publisher and executive editor Jim Kirk, and reporter Susan Carlson, among other local media figures.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Lissa Druss: It's funny but sad . . . when Stefan [Holt] first came to Chicago, I saw him at an event and said, "The last time I saw you, you were this tall (holding my hand at my hip)." The Holt family is wonderful! They are woven into the fabric of Chicago!