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.