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Water Spouts Become News And Education At WBBM Newsradio

By Mary-Michael Lindsay

Tornadoes whipping across Lake Michigan were both news story and educational lesson for Loyola University Chicago students who were told how to confirm a news tip and turn it into a story Wednesday while on a tour of WBBM news radio studios.

Students from Bruce Japsen’s reporting and writing class from the Loyola School of Communications listened for about an hour as WBBM business news show producer Andy Giersher discussed story development to the students just as reporter/anchor Steve Grzanich hurried to broadcast the report after alternating between his phone and two computers to confirm what was later found to be water spots.

“A tip was called in that radar shows tornadoes on the lakefront,” WBBM managing editor Julie Mann told her colleagues in the newsroom. She then turned to another editor and said, “call police to verify.”

Within minutes, Grzanich ran from one studio to another occupied by broadcasters, including Kris Kridel. Grzanich threw his headset on and reported the water spouts to hundreds of thousands of Chicago listeners.

Giersher, later discussed the learning moment, telling students that getting facts right was important to the listener as well as the credibility of the station, which broadcasts to hundreds of thousands via 780 AM and 105.9 FM.

“As a reporter, you must know the facts,” Giersher said. “You cannot report wrong information because that means losing listeners or importantly losing sales and advertising. It’s your job to follow-up tips and verify the information is credible.”


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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.