When WGN-Ch. 9 hired Dan Roan as a sporting activities reporter and weekend anchor in December 1983, the station most involved with dwell local athletics in Chicago wasn’t totally fully commited to it all through its nightly newscast.
Veteran Invoice Frink was the direct athletics anchor, well previous his years on the popular “Happy Talk” newscasts at WLS-Ch. 7 with Joel Daly, Fahey Flynn and weatherman John Coleman.
Familiarity was critical in Chicago newscasts, and WGN seemed perfectly material with Frink narrating a pair of Cubs or Blackhawks highlights before throwing it back again to the newscasters or Tom Skilling’s 5-working day forecast.
But news director Paul Davis hired the 30-yr-previous Roan out of Champaign, having a likelihood on a Keokuk, Iowa, indigenous who began as a news correspondent/cameraman in Decatur, Ill., and had no identify recognition in Chicago.
“Everyone need to have goals, and doing the job in Chicago is 1 I established for myself,” Roan instructed Tribune sports activities Television set/radio columnist Skip Myslenski upon becoming employed.
Roan was on the air by February 1984 and stuck around prolonged sufficient to report on championship seasons for the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, Cubs, Fire and Sky around 38 several years at the station. His prolonged run will come to an conclusion May 26, when Roan provides his last sportscast before heading off to retirement.
“I’m 69 and just imagined it was time to do it,” Roan reported at the WGN studio. “We have three grandkids, and two dwell five blocks absent now. And you do not want to get dwelling following midnight every single night, which I do with the late display.
“I do have to say the pandemic wrecked it for me — all people months devoid of any obtain, doing exhibits in my basement on a delay with Jarrett (Payton). That kind of set everything in movement.”
Even Roan’s conventional jump into a swimming pool right after the final spring training report in Arizona had to be scrapped, a certain sign it was time to go after 46 many years in the small business.
The function of the local sports anchor was outsized in the mid-1980s, when there was no online to get swift updates or enjoy highlights if your staff was not ESPN-deserving. In a town that craved sports like ours, a sports activities anchor’s occupation ensured movie star standing in Chicago. And with WGN’s superstation position for a lot of his job, Roan was a recognizable determine pretty much anyplace he went.
On the working day Roan was employed, the huge news was who would swap Chet Coppock, who had been fired by WMAQ-Ch. 5. Would it be interim anchor Mark Giangreco or one particular of the big-name candidates, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and former Minnesota Vikings star Ahmad Rashad?
The competitiveness for stories again then was fierce. Tim Weigel had carved out a niche at Channel 7 with his wry, cerebral get on the sports activities entire world, and the “Big Kahuna” was WBBM-Ch. 2′s Johnny Morris, the former Bears receiver and close pal of preferred coach Mike Ditka.
But Roan did not search at them as rivals and simply just targeted on finding to know the most important people and teams that supplied the day by day drama Chicago sports activities admirers devoured.
Timing is almost everything in everyday living, and 1984 — Roan’s 1st yr at WGN — was a turning level in Chicago sports right after the Dark Ages of the late 1960s and 1970s.
The Bears were being rising less than Ditka and beat Washington to progress to the NFC title sport, setting the phase for the ’85 championship period. Michael Jordan was drafted by the Bulls and straight away became the team’s brightest star. Tony La Russa’s White Sox had been coming off their 1983 division title and added an ace in Tom Seaver. The Cubs have been about to transform the program of franchise heritage with Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe foremost them to their 1st playoff visual appeal in 39 decades.
It was like going for walks into a dream.
“I imagined, ‘Hey, what is this?’” Roan mentioned. “But then right after the ’85 Bears we had to wait a although prior to we won anything.”
The solid of people he obtained to satisfy along the way was the very best portion of the journey. Jordan, Ditka, Walter Payton, Harry Caray, Ozzie Guillén, Sammy Sosa, Dusty Baker and Phil Jackson — a who’s who of the very last fifty percent-century of Chicago sports activities — had been among the hundreds of personalities he interviewed.
Roan performed hoops at the East Lender Club with President Barack Obama and at the time set a select for Jordan in a pickup game. He played golfing in Iceland and picked up a pair of Emmys for the story. He subbed for Caray and was in the Cubs booth during the Sosa-Mark McGwire dwelling run race of 1998. Roan’s journey was a trip.
The town has modified very a little bit due to the fact he arrived in Chicago, and clearly so has the Television set information business. We’ve noticed athletics reporters and anchors arrive and go with small awareness of the historical past or society of the teams they go over.
But Chicagoans can see by the absence of abilities, which would make anchors like Roan all the extra beneficial. Roan wasn’t a showman or a intelligent male and rarely created himself the concentration of the tale, with the exception of jumping into a swimming pool each spring.
He outlasted most of his competitors and never ever felt the urge to switch work immediately after signing up for WGN in ’84. Though he desired Chicago groups to realize success, he did not sugarcoat their failures. He did his task perfectly without having calling consideration to himself, which was why Roan was so widely revered by his friends in push packing containers and newsrooms.
Even though Roan does not know what the long term of area sportscasting holds, he doesn’t consider many up-and-coming anchors will past 4 decades on the task. One particular-on-one particular interviews with gamers are additional tough to safe considering the fact that the pandemic confined media accessibility in 2020, and other viewing options — which include streaming — have lower into legacy media’s audiences.
“The audiences are shrinking simply because the way individuals get their information and facts is so a great deal unique now,” he reported. “When I to start with acquired listed here, all people watched the news. That is where by they acquired their data. Now you can get it off your wristwatch.
“We’re not as speedy as some of the other sources, so that can make it distinct much too. But in athletics, Chicago is special. Absolutely everyone cares so a lot about these teams.”
Operating for WGN in its athletics heyday, Roan was ready to operate in the booth on Notre Dame football, DePaul and Illinois basketball and Bulls, Cubs and Sox video games. Less than an hour before a 1990 White Sox game towards Cleveland, he was referred to as on to fill in on perform-by-perform for Harrelson, who did not demonstrate up for function. (“I know now how rapidly I can get from WGN to Comiskey Park,” Roan said soon after the activity.)
For a long time WGN was the undisputed athletics leader in city, and Roan was frequently the congenial emcee. Regardless of whether hosting a exhibit on the first evening match at Wrigley Industry in 1988, “The Cubby Awards” just after the 1989 time or “Michael Will come Dwelling,” an hourlong pregame present celebrating Jordan’s return to the Bulls in 1995, he regularly was concerned in particular programming.
WGN promoted its status as a athletics station, figuring out something with a athletics theme was gold. Now the station has mainly offered up on are living sports activities besides Fireplace online games, reducing ties with the Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks and seeing the Cubs go their game titles to their own community.
It is a new period, like it or not.
ESPN can clearly show highlights of your groups but cannot offer the community taste you’re accustomed to looking at. And often you just want to see a acquainted face, an individual you’re certain is familiar with what they’re speaking about when speaking about your favorite groups.
Roan reported he hasn’t had time to mirror on his ultimate week at Channel 9. But he said he was overcome by the response he acquired from viewers after information of his pending retirement initial leaked.
“It’s definitely humbling to think you have touched these folks who have been seeing you for a long time,” he said. “I went into this out of college at Illinois Condition just hoping to discover a work, hoping it would switch into a vocation but not seriously figuring out.
“For an individual who grew up in Keokuk, Iowa, listening to Harry Caray and Jack Buck, and then to fill in for Harry when he went into the Corridor of Fame and performing online games future to him … shoot, I sense lucky.”