Robin Robinson is Disappointed, but Doesn't 'Wish Bad Things on Fox'
DOWNTOWN — Shortly before Thanksgiving, Robin Robinson will wrap up a 26-year career as anchor of the 9 p.m. newscast for Fox32 News.
And while she's disappointed her contract wasn't renewed, Robinson said she's ready to move on to new opportunities.
"I can now do other things like radio, writing and cable, or whatever comes my way. Ideally, I would like to stay in Chicago as I move forward, but who knows where the next chapter might take me," the 56-year-old mother of three told DNAinfo Chicago Tuesday.
"One thing that I have no plans on doing is retiring. I am far from retiring," she said.
And don't be surprised if you see her doing news for another local news channel.
"Anything is possible," Robinson said. "I have been doing news for 30 years, and it will feel a little strange doing anything else."
When Robinson was told this summer that her contract would not be renewed, she was disappointed but not surprised, she said.
"That's the business of journalism. I would have liked to have had my contract renewed, but I knew it was always a possibility that one day that would not happen," she said. "Not having my contract renewed was not the worst thing that has happened to me. Actually, I am intrigued by the possibilities that lay ahead for me."
Fox32 News morning co-anchor Dawn Hasbrouck will replace Robinson at night.
"Dawn is a good journalist, and I know she will do well. I have no ill feelings toward her or management," said Robinson. "Just because I respectfully disagree with management's decision not to renew my contract does not mean I wish bad things on Fox."
Robinson said she plans to work as a contributor to the station's 9 p.m. newscast.
"On Nov. 20, I will report about jobs as part of Fox's special series 'At the Tipping Point.' People may think unemployment cannot lead to violence, but they're wrong because it does," she said.
In September, after living 16 years in Bucktown, Robinson sold her 4,500-square-foot home and moved into a four-bedroom, three-bathroom condominium in Hyde Park.
"Two of my children [a 24-year-old daughter and a 22-year-old son] are no longer at home. The only one left is my 16-year-old daughter," she said.
The newshound has come a long way since her first television break in 1979 when she began her career working for KGTV-TV in San Diego as a reporter. She would later move to Denver in 1982 to work a stint as a consumer reporter at KMGH-TV.
Consumer reporting still remains her favorite assignment because “It gives viewers information they can use to make life better for them,” she said.
One of the most impactful stories she’s done in her career was one about her brother, a drug user who died of complications from AIDS.
“I did that story, oh, about seven years ago. And to this day it holds dear to my heart. I loved my brother. And stories about drug users and the AIDS epidemic that is killing the young black community need to be told more often,” she said, getting emotional. “News you can use is a model I believe in because if it can help one person, then we as journalists have done our job.”
The San Diego State University alum was born in Chicago but moved to Southern California when her journalist father’s job took her family there.
Over the years, Robinson has worked with other notables in the Chicago news business, including Walter Jacobson. She co-anchored the 9 p.m. newscast with him from 1993 to 2006.
“Walter was smart and competitive. He likes to win and works with his team to make sure that happens,” she said. “I have been fortunate to have worked with a lot of good co-anchors and that’s important in this business.”
Along the way, Robinson dated Stedman Graham, now Oprah Winfrey's longtime partner.
Robinson and Graham dated during the 1980s "long before Oprah became Oprah," said Robinson, who has been married three times and is now single.
Before joining Fox she worked as a consumer reporter for CBS2 Chicago, but the personnel turmoil that erupted there would see Robinson move to Fox.
Longtime anchor Harry Porterfield was demoted to weekends from weekdays. It sparked an outrage in the black community and a local boycott of the station led by Operation PUSH, now known as the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
“The black community was upset that Harry was reduced to anchoring one weekend day a week. It was not an ideal situation to be in because I did not want to be seen as the person who replaced him,” Robinson recalled. “Ultimately, Harry left to go to ABC7 Chicago and a new black male anchor, [Lester Holt,] was hired, which subsequently ended the boycott.”
At the time the news manager at CBS was vocal about his objection to the Porterfield demotion and eventually left the station, according to Robinson.
But as fate would have it, Fox was in the midst of starting a news operation and the former CBS news manager was now working at the newly created news station.
“He made some calls, and before I knew it, I was over at Fox,” Robinson said.