WGN's Paul Konrad suspends social media as ‘healthy personal decision’

Paul Konrad

It’s been more than two weeks since Paul Konrad surprised fans by announcing he was “taking the rest of the year off of social media.” No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram. No Snark.

“I have been growing in my conviction that social media is taking me away from things that are really important to me. It distracts me and doesn’t help me be my best,” Konrad declared in his final post of the year on November 22. “See you in 2021.”

The nine-time Emmy Award-winning weather anchor on WGN-Channel 9’s top-rated morning show said he never discussed his decision with bosses of the Nexstar Media Group station. “I think highly of them and appreciate that they consistently want my best,” Konrad told me Monday. “It is my sense that they see it is a healthy personal decision.”

Paul Konrad Facebook post

Support for his move has been nearly unanimous — though it’s not clear whether Konrad is fully aware of the reaction since he stopped checking his accounts.

“I have been surprised by the attention my decision has brought on,” he acknowledged. “That in and of itself says a lot about how much power social media has in our lives and culture.

“I am glad for the break and feel badly for the younger people in our industry who feel enslaved to grow their social media platforms. It’s a desperate endeavor with minimal and unhealthy returns.”

Konrad, 55, a Naperville native who joined WGN in 1996, boasts 92,540 followers on Facebook and 38,700 on Twitter.

“In all honesty, I just don’t like the power that it was having over me,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you never feel like you are doing enough, or reading enough or staying on top of it enough. And the bottom line is, it was taking me away from the things that matter to me. Primarily quality, engaging, family time.”

After recently watching the documentary “The Social Dilemma,” Konrad said: “It confirmed a lot of my thoughts around the power of social media and I don’t like it.

“I have four kids and I can see how much power the phone can have over them. The same is true about me. My 16-year-old daughter said: ‘I can spend 45 minutes flipping through all my social media and at the end of those 45 minutes, I feel empty, worse and I have nothing to show for that time that makes me better, healthier or happier.’ And she is right.

“I asked if she wanted to take a break from it together. She said yes! It’s been great."

Monday's comment of the day: Phil Melcher: Just when I think I know my Chicago radio from Abby Polonsky to Z95 along comes John Drury's High School Radio Award-winning radio station WLTL. Congratulations to the team for winning best radio station of the year.