Linda Yu signs off Wednesday after 37 years in broadcast news in Chicago.
It’s a long time for any career but especially so in the fast-paced world of broadcast journalism. How did she keep going? “Day by day, hour by hour, story by story,” Yu told me during a break from packing up her office.
Media writer Robert Feder describes Yu as “the epitome of grace, poise and professionalism on Chicago television news.”
Yu emigrated with her family from China when she was just 5 and spoke only Mandarin. She would go on to graduate from the University of Southern California and work in smaller markets before landing in Chicago in 1979, becoming the first Asian-American news anchor in Chicago. She started at NBC’s WMAQ-Channel 5 before moving to ABC’s WLS-Channel 7 in 1984.
Yu’s been a mainstay, able to handle breaking stories with ease due in part to her institutional knowledge about the city.
She’s also an accomplished reporter. Viewers may remember the series that had her traveling to China to visit her childhood home.
Yu’s mother’s family came from royalty and her father’s side was in Christian ministry. “Had we stayed, I could have suffered because of my family background. I think about how blessed I am to have grown up in this country.” She still tears up at hearing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“It took months to get through the letters people wrote. . . . They were inspired to take their children there,” she says of the reaction to her reporting.
Yu also has focused on issues related to young people. She reported on children in Northern Ireland and playground safety in Chicago.
Yu became a role model to women and Asian-Americans, something she values as much as the work she did.
Now she’s looking forward to spending time with her family — she has a grown son and daughter and an “all-but-adopted” daughter. And she’s working on a book (her second), most likely about successful Chinese-American women.
“It never occurred to me to stop working,” she says. “But in the last few years, maybe because age catches up or I wrote one book, I just began to realize there are things to do besides work.”
Walter Massey’s telescope
Chicago businessman Walter Massey has been named board chair of the organization overseeing construction of the massive Giant Magellan Telescope in the Chilean Andes.
With a mirror measuring 81 feet across, it will be the largest optical telescope in the world when it goes online in 2022.
“It’s one of the most exciting and important scientific projects, in any field, underway, and it has true potential to play a major role in developing programs and opportunities for the future of astronomical discovery,” he told me. “It will help us answer important questions about the origins of the universe and conditions for life on other planets.”
Massey came to be part of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization through his work sitting on the board at University of Chicago, which is one of 11 partners on the telescope project.
So how did Massey, who most recently headed the School of the Art Institute, come to lead such a scientific organization?
He’s a science geek who in the 1990s was director of the National Science Foundation. In that role, Massey oversaw a controversial $205 million research project — the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory — that resulted in a massive discovery: gravitational ripples created by black holes colliding. The research opened doors to understanding the cosmos.
He’s also spent his career teaching science and in top leadership roles at universities, including at School of the Art Institute, where he’s now part-time chancellor.
A winter White House Thanksgiving
Sugar Rautbord, a society connector and civic organizer in Chicago, is headed to Palm Beach for Thanksgiving and has been invited to stop by The Mar-a-Lago Club to say hello to her friends, the Trumps.
“We’ve known each other for 30 years,” Rautbord says of President-elect Donald Trump. Her son attended The Hill School boarding school in Pennsylvania, where his older sons also attended. And Rautbord helped run public relations and marketing for construction of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.
During the contentious presidential campaign, Rautbord was among the few notable names in town to acknowledge supporting the GOP candidate.
“There was an attitude in the very Democratic city of Chicago that you shouldn’t be for Trump,” says Rautbord, who in 2008 supported President Barack Obama.
Early in the campaign, Rautbord, the author of three novels, published a piece on Mar-a-Lago as the “Winter White House” in the Huffington Post. Arianna Huffington is another pal.
In September, Rautbord helped organize an uber private party at the home of former Fruit of the Loom CEO Bill Farley and his wife, Shelley. The headliner was Ivanka Trump, and attendees included businessman and Trump fundraiser Ron Gidwitz and former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.