Remembering Chicago TV Veteran Warner Saunders (1935 – 2018)

Warner Saunders, news anchor who worked four decades in Chicago television, passed away on October 9. For 29 years he was a sports, then news, anchor on NBC 5. Previously, he was community affairs director and host of Common Ground on WBBM-TV.

Saunders won more than 20 Emmys for his TV journalism and retired in May 2009 at 74.

Saunders did a memorable series of reports from South Africa in 1990 about Nelson Mandela’s release from prison called, “South Africa: What Happens to a Dream Deferred.”

Before his long career as a performer on TV, Saunders was a public school teacher in Chicago and executive director of the Better Boys Foundation.

He also hosted the ground-breaking late-night talk show, Common Ground, where he spoke with guests from all parts of society, from gang members to leaders of Ku Klux Klan and dozens of others. 

Here is a vintage clip from a 1977 episode between two Chicago legends: Saunders and Chicago author, oral historian, and radio host Studs Terkel. Their discussion about racism and class politics is an antique, but is still relevant today.

Watch the whole episode here.




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