Tag Archives: Chicago

Valedictorian Arianna Alexander awarded $3,000,000 in scholarships

Kenwood Academy High School valedictorian Arianna Alexander was accepted into 26 colleges and awarded over $3,000,000 in scholarship money.


Arianna Alexander was accepted into 26 colleges – including six Ivy League universities – and was awarded a combined total of more than $3 million in scholarships, ABC’s Chicago station WLS reported.

Arianna graduated as valedictorian of her class at Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois, and earned a 5.1 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

After looking at various colleges the Chicago graduate will attend the University of Pennsylvania starting this fall.  This is the same school that Brittney Exline attended back in 2007.  At the age of 15 years old Brittney became the youngest African American female accepted into an Ivy League school.  I blogged about Brittney back in 2007 and 2009.

Congrats to Arianna!!

Redskins defeat the Bears

It wasn’t a pretty win but the Washington Redskins defeated the Chicago Bears in Chicago 17-14. The star player this week was cornerback DeAngelo Hall. DeAngelo had a record 4 interceptions including one that lead to a 92 yard touchdown.

Redskins beat Bears, 17-14; DeAngelo Hall ties NFL record with 4 interceptions

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 25, 2010; 12:51 AM

CHICAGO – With their outstanding work completed, cornerback DeAngelo Hall and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth celebrated briefly together late Sunday afternoon while the Washington Redskins’ offense finished a 17-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.

The close friends definitely were entitled.

Hall tied the NFL record with four interceptions – including one that resulted in a 92-yard go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter – and Haynesworth dominated the Bears’ offensive line, providing the biggest contributions in Washington’s superb defensive performance before 62,155 at Soldier Field.

“DeAngelo . . . DeAngelo was incredible,” inside linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher said. “I mean, four interceptions, and one for a touchdown when they’re driving on us, you can’t say enough about that. And Albert, he played some major football for us today. I told the big fella, he played some dominant football for us.”

Often lightning rods for controversy during their brief careers with the franchise, Hall and Haynesworth had – by far – their best performances in Redskins uniforms in leading the defense’s six-takeaway outing. Washington last had six takeaways on Jan. 1, 2006, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

All of Hall’s interceptions came in the game’s final 24 minutes. The two-time Pro Bowler helped the Redskins (4-3) overcome a four-point halftime deficit and match their win total from last season. Hall also scored Washington’s only touchdown in the season-opening victory over the Cowboys when he stripped running back Tashard Choice and returned the fumble 32 yards as time expired in the first half.

The seven-year veteran, who has a team-leading five interceptions, became the first Redskins defensive player to score two defensive touchdowns in a season since Andre Collins (two interception returns) accomplished the feat in 1994. Hall has two defensive touchdowns in a season for the first time in his career.

So who do the Redskins play next week? The Detroit Lions in Detroit. The Redskins lost to the Lions last year 19-14. Oh mercy 😦

Glass balconies

I read an article earlier today about new glass balconies at the Sears Towers in Chicago. According to the article:

The balconies are suspended 1,353 feet in the air and jut out four feet from the building’s 103rd floor Skydeck. Their transparent walls, floor and ceiling leave visitors with the impression they’re floating over the city.

APTOPIX Sears Tower Ledge

Ain’t no way you’ll see me stepping out on a balcony like that. I’m not too fond of tall buildings and stepping out onto a glass balcony at 1,353 feet in the air and looking down is not my cup of tea.   I know I would pass out, lol.

Sears Tower Ledge

Sears Tower unveils 103rd floor glass balconies


CHICAGO (AP) — Visitors to the Sears Tower’s new glass balconies all seem to agree: The first step is the hardest.

The balconies are suspended 1,353 feet in the air and jut out four feet from the building’s 103rd floor Skydeck. Their transparent walls, floor and ceiling leave visitors with the impression they’re floating over the city.

“It’s like walking on ice,” said Margaret Kemp, of Bishop, Calif., who said her heart was still pounding even after stepping away from the balcony. “That first step you take — ‘am I going down?'”

Kemp was among the visitors who got a sneak preview of the balconies Wednesday. “The Ledge,” as the balconies have been nicknamed, open to the public Thursday. Visitors are treated to unobstructed views of Chicago from the building’s west side and a heart-stopping vista of the street and Chicago River below — for those brave enough to look straight down.

John Huston, one of the property owners of the Sears Tower, even admitted to getting “a little queasy” the first time he ventured out. But 30 or 40 trips later, he’s got the hang of it.

“The Sears Tower has always been about superlatives — tallest, largest, most iconic,” he said. “Today is also about superlatives. Today, we present you with ‘the Ledge,’ the world’s most awesome view, the world’s most precipitous view, the view with the most wow in the world.”

The balconies can hold five tons, and the glass is an inch-and-a-half thick, officials said. Sears Tower officials have said the inspiration for the balconies came from the hundreds of forehead prints visitors left behind on Skydeck windows every week. Now, staff will have a new glass surface to clean: floors.

“It’s very scary, but at the same time it’s very cool,” said Chanti Lawrence of Atlanta, adding that she’s made her first step toward overcoming her fear of heights.

Adam Kane, 10, of Alton, Ill., rushed to the ledge with his friends and siblings, and they each eagerly pressed their faces to the glass bottom.

“Look at all those tiny things that are usually huge,” Adam said.

The balconies are just one of the big changes coming to the Sears Tower. The building’s name will change to Willis Tower later this summer. Last week, officials announced a 5-year, $350 million green renovation complete with wind turbines, roof gardens and solar panels.

With the ledge, visitors like Kemp said the nation’s tallest building has succeeded in creating something they’ve never seen before.

“I had to live 70 years for a thrill like this,” she said.

You can read more about the Skydeck at the Sears Tower website.

WNUA drops the smooth jazz format

While checking out my google alerts I noticed an item about Chicago smooth jazz station WNUA. Well the smooth jazz format for WNUA has bitten the dust.  WNUA-99.5 flipped to a Spanish hot adult contemporary format yesterday.  Check out this link to a thank you letter to all the listeners.

WNUA swings to Spanish format

Phil Rosenthal

Adios to smooth jazz at Clear Channel’s WNUA-FM 95.5.

Hola, Mega 95.5.

WNUA, a pioneer 22 years ago with the adult-contemporary format that blended pop instrumentals and jazz influences, is poised to become a Spanish-language station, complementing the music of artists such as Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and Aventura with local on-air personalities, news and traffic in an effort to seize a share of a rapidly growing audience segment.

The flip, set for Friday morning, has been the subject of a guessing game within the industry as other smooth jazz stations around the country dropped the format in recent weeks. But much of the speculation wrongly had WNUA embracing country, oldies or classic rock rather than what is being billed as Spanish hot adult contemporary.

A change in call letters has not been finalized, but the new Chicago station branding will be Mega 95.5, and it will be available online through Mega955.com.

Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, a long-time WNUA personality, is supposed to bid fans farewell in Friday’s 9 a.m. hour. That will be followed by a brief audio montage recalling the history of the 95.5 frequency in Chicago, from the Moody Bible Institute to WDHF to WMET to WNUA. Then at 9:55 a.m., the plan is to begin playing 5,000 successive songs from the new format over the next two weeks as an introduction before regular Mega 95.5 programming begins. Clear Channel has yet to name the station’s personalities.

It may be small solace for loyal WNUA listeners, but its smooth jazz format will remain available online at yoursmoothjazz.com, as well as on smart phones via iheartradio.com and to those with HD Radios at 95.5 HD2.

Clear Channel has been on a rampage throughout the country firing folks and flipping radio formats.  No wonder more and more folks are switching from terrestrial radio (regular radio) to internet radio, satellite radio and their mp3 players.

I guess this means I will be taking the WNUA link off my blog and taking the link out of my favorites.  For all the WNUA listeners I feel your pain.  Those of us in the Washington, D.C. area lost our smooth jazz station,  Smooth Jazz 105.9 last year.  Other smooth jazz listeners lost their smooth jazz stations all over the country as well including KKSF Smooth Jazz in San Francisco on May 18.  There are still a few smooth jazz radio stations left but I wouldn’t be surprised if they all disappear in the next few years.  I guess Clear Channel and Citadel would have accomplished their mission by then.

As I have stated before if you’re looking for something online, you can always check out Pandora Radio.  Just type in your favorite smooth jazz musician or any other music artists that you like and you’ll get to listen to that musician as well as others with a similar sound.  And check out the following links for more smooth jazz:


Smooth  Jazz Top 20

Smooth Jazz America

Relaxing Jazz

Smooth Jazz 94.7 The Wave

Smooth Jazz 97.1 WQJZ

Smooth Jazz Radio Stations

Smooth Jazz V99.7

Charles Payne: World War II veteran

The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article about President Barack Obama’s great uncle Charles Payne.  Eighty four year old Charles Payne was a private first class in the 89th Infantry Division during World War II. The 89th Infantry participated in the liberation of Ohrdruf, a forced-labor camp that was a satellite of the Buchenwald concentration camp. It’s been rumored that while visiting Europe this summer President Obama is considering a visit to the concentration camp that his great uncle helped liberate in April 1945 and he’s expected to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France on June 6.  A White House spokesperson hasn’t confirmed or denied the rumored trip to the former concentration camp.



Obama relative recalls World War II horror
President may visit concentration camp great-uncle helped liberate

By John McCormick
Tribune reporter
May 8, 2009

For much of his 84 years, Charles Payne has lived in Chicago in relative obscurity and watched his sister’s grandson rise to the presidency.

But now it appears possible that a painful part of Payne’s own story will be brought to the forefront, based on German news reports that President Barack Obama is considering a visit to the concentration camp that his great uncle helped liberate in April 1945.

Payne, who spent much of his career working in library science at the University of Chicago, was a private first class in the 89th Infantry Division during World War II when he participated in the liberation of Ohrdruf, a forced-labor camp that was a satellite of the Buchenwald concentration camp.

“I remember seeing a lot of really emaciated people in rags at the point of starvation. People were clutching tin cups for food,” he said Thursday in a Tribune interview. “I saw sheds where dead bodies had been stacked up.”

But Payne said he had thought little in recent years about the horrors he saw, until German reporters started calling to ask about a possible presidential visit.

A German government spokesman told reporters in Berlin that Obama may visit Buchenwald while in Europe this summer. The president is expected to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France on June 6, and a Group of Eight summit will be held in Italy in July.

German spokesman Thomas Steg was quoted as saying Obama may plan to visit “historical places that in the widest sense are related to the different aspects of World War II — destruction and rebuilding, extermination and the breakdown of civilization.”

A White House spokesman declined to confirm or deny that Obama planned to follow Payne’s wartime tracks. More than 50,000 people were killed at Buchenwald.

After receiving a degree in engineering from Kansas State University,  Charles Payne moved to Chicago in 1960 where he spent most of his career working in library science at the University of Chicago.

Check out the entire article here and you can see the photo gallery here.

Marian Robinson is enjoying her new life

According to the New York Times First Grandma Marian Robinson is loving her new life in the nation’s capital. Mrs. Robinson wasn’t too thrilled about moving from her Chicago home to the White House at first according to her son Craig Robinson.


WASHINGTON — Marian Robinson, President Obama’s mother-in-law, moved into the White House “kicking and screaming,” said her son, Craig Robinson. She had never lived outside of Chicago and was reluctant to leave her beloved bungalow, her friends and family, her weekly yoga class and her familiar routines.

But after three months of White House living she’s loving her new home.

She entertains visitors from Chicago. She attends White House dinners and concerts hosted by her daughter, the first lady, Michelle Obama. She dines at local restaurants and delights in events at the Kennedy Center, where she often sits in the president’s box and chats with performers.

In fact, Mrs. Robinson, 71, is so busy these days that the Obamas hired a baby sitter to watch their two daughters one evening because the nation’s first grandmother had plans.

“She has a very full social life, so much so that sometimes we have to plan our schedule around her schedule,” Mrs. Obama said jokingly last week during a lunch she hosted for Congressional spouses.

I’m glad to see Mrs. Robinson enjoying her new life. Just because she’s a grandma doesn’t mean she can’t have fun on her own.

Tom Joyner is back in Chicago

The Tom Joyner Morning Show is back on the air in Chicago.  Reach Media which owns TJMS, reached an agreement to return to Chicago radio with SOUL 106.3 FM which is owned by Crawford Broadcasting beginning today.

Joyner buys his way back on the air here

Phil Rosenthal

All those fans who rallied around Tom Joyner when his syndicated program was knocked off Chicago airwaves abruptly last month no doubt felt a sense of accomplishment upon learning he had reached an agreement to return to local radio with Crawford Broadcasting’s Soul 106.3, beginning Wednesday.

The real work, however, is just beginning—both for them and for Joyner.

“Not only isn’t the signal as strong as we’d like, but the deal we cut with the affiliate is a brokerage deal,” Joyner said by phone Monday. “We bought the time, and that’s something we’re not used to doing. … But if all this outcry and support is with us when we turn this thing on, we should do all right.”

Having leased time on Crawford’s WSRB-FM 106.3 and WYRB-FM 106.3, Reach Media, which owns Joyner’s Dallas-based morning show, will be out selling Joyner’s “party with a purpose” locally.

Check out the entire article here.

Goodbye Tom Joyner, hello Steve Harvey Part 2

The Chicago Tribune has an interview with Tom Joyner relating to the TJMS (Tom Joyner Morning Show) getting booted off Chicago radio station V-103 last month.  He’s been replaced by the Steve Harvey Morning Show.

Tom Joyner calls firing from Clear Channel’s WVAZ-FM 102.7 in Chicago different from the others

Radio host Tom Joyner is based in Dallas but roots are in Chicago

Phil Rosenthal

Monday’s edition of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” was typical, as far as Joyner was concerned. There were laughs, some solid information and encouragement. “And I talked a little bit about people who get laid off,” he said. “Because every day there’s a story about people getting laid off.”

Four hours or so after he got off the air, he got the call. One of that day’s stories would be his: Clear Channel pulled the plug on his show in Chicago, where his radio roots reach back to 1972.

Joyner’s Dallas-based syndicated program, while continuing to be heard in dozens of smaller markets around the country as well as online, was replaced immediately on WVAZ-FM 102.7, his outlet here for the past 13 years, by comedian Steve Harvey, whose show has been airing on WGCI-FM 107.5.

“I’ve been fired a bunch of times, but this was up there,” Joyner said by phone. “You know, I worked every radio station in Chicago, including as a cab dispatcher. I didn’t walk from one station to the other, I got kicked. But I haven’t been kicked in a long time, so this felt a lot different.”

Suddenly, Joyner was off the air in the city he still considered home long after he returned to Dallas.

“Tom has been a great partner,” said Earl Jones, president and Chicago market manager of Clear Channel. “This wasn’t about that. This is about the direction we have to move.”

Replacing Joyner, 59, on V103 with Harvey, 53, whose show is syndicated by a Clear Channel subsidiary, opened a slot for a new local WGCI morning program the company plans to launch Wednesday. The thinking is it will pay off long term.

Arbitron’s switch from diaries to Portable People Meters to produce the radio audience estimates used to set ad rates has been accompanied by rating declines for almost all urban formats. But it has produced new data on listening habits.

Folks in Chicago are still ticked off but you can listen to the TJMS on Black America Web.

Valerie Jarrett, high powered & low key

Today’s Washington Post has an interesting article about White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.


High-Powered and Low-Key
Washington Observes the Influence of Obama Adviser Valerie Jarrett

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 15, 2009

The nation’s mayors felt left out in the weeks after President Obama’s election. He had met with the governors, but not them. Then, to their surprise, he picked a non-mayor to head his new office of urban affairs. The unhappiness only grew as the president’s economic stimulus package promised to funnel billions of dollars directly into the coffers of states, leaving mayors wondering about their role.

As the frustration mounted, some began grumbling about their White House contact, Valerie Jarrett. “They were starting to get the sense, starting to comment that maybe Valerie Jarrett isn’t the person to bring their concerns to the highest level of the White House,” said Michael Strautmanis, Jarrett’s chief of staff.

They soon learned otherwise.

Before long, Jarrett hosted a forum for more than 80 mayors in the White House East Room, where she moderated a discussion with five Cabinet secretaries who explained how the stimulus plan would help cities. The event last month was capped by remarks from both the vice president and the president. Spotting a once-skeptical mayor after the session, Strautmanis could not resist flicking a little jab. “What do you think of Valerie Jarrett now?” he asked.

Jarrett, 52, serves as senior adviser to the president, and she oversees the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. She is the principal contact for groups wanting to reach the White House, a stated focus of an administration that prides itself on transparency and outreach to an unprecedented array of grass-roots organizations. Jarrett and her staff have organized meetings and events that bring 450 people a week to the White House. She also recommends and interviews people for top jobs in the administration, is a daily presence in the president’s senior staff meetings, and is someone Obama often calls on for a reality check.

But Jarrett’s array of titles and duties fail to convey the breadth of her influence, which is rooted in a long relationship built on a foundation of trust with the Obamas.

“First, you look to her judgment and instincts about people,” said first lady Michelle Obama, describing Jarrett’s attributes. “You want to know, ‘What do you think? What’s your read?’ The other part for me is knowledge of the president. She knows her boss. She knows his values. She knows his intent. She provides a very trusted link to the outside community. People who deal with her can trust that, number one, she has access, and also, that she has knowledge.”

Valerie has been a long time friend of POTUS Barack Obama and FLOTUS Michelle Obama.

Jarrett’s relationship with the Obamas was launched nearly 18 years ago, when she interviewed the future first lady — then Michelle Robinson, a promising but discontented intellectual-property lawyer — for a job at Chicago City Hall. Jarrett, then Democratic Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deputy chief of staff, was impressed, and she offered a job virtually on the spot. But Robinson would not take it until Jarrett met her fiance, Barack Obama.

Not long after that, the three went to dinner, where, largely at Obama’s prompting, they talked about their backgrounds and values, which they found to be similar. “Valerie is someone I immediately connected with,” the first lady said. “I really felt safe in her presence. She is someone that I trust implicitly.”

As it happens, crucial elements of Jarrett’s and the Obamas’ biographies overlapped. Like the Obamas, Jarrett had lived in Hyde Park on the city’s South Side. Like Mrs. Obama, she had soured on working in a private law firm to take a lower-paying job in public service, starting out in the administration of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

An unconventional childhood is another trait she shares with the president. She was born in Shiraz, Iran, where her father, a Howard University-trained geneticist and pathologist, worked as a doctor. Jarrett has said that when her family settled in Chicago, her background initially left her with no intuitive sense of the challenges she would face because she is black, as in Iran she was viewed only as an American. Only later did she full appreciate the burdens of race, an experience she shares with the president.

The common threads helped knit a bond between Jarrett and the Obamas, which only grew tighter over many dinners and family vacations. To this day, her parents live just two blocks from the Obamas’ Hyde Park home. For years, Jarrett served as a mentor, helping Obama forge the connections that helped launch his political career, even as her own career flourished. Jarrett has served as Chicago planning commissioner and as president and chief executive of the Habitat Company, a Chicago real estate management firm. She also has sat on numerous boards, including that of the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Transit Authority and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

You can read the entire article here.

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