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Baker honored as Chicago Illini of the Year
On Tuesday March 12, Ryan Baker was honored as one of three Chicago Illini of the Year. Baker, a 1991 graduate of the College of Media, is a sports anchor and director at WBBM-TV in Chicago. “Attending Illinois was a game changer,” commented Baker. “It altered my life both personally and professionally.”
Baker began his career in Champaign at NBC-WICD as a cameraman and was soon promoted to an on-air news reporter who occasionally filled in as the sportscaster. He has also worked at WCIA-TV in Champaign, KFMB-TV in San Diego and WKMG-TV in Orlando. In 2003, Baker moved back to Chicago and was a reporter and anchor at NBC Chicago. In 2008, Baker was offered the lead sports anchor and director position at WBBM-TV, CBS Chicago.
Baker's career highlights include reporting from Athens during the 2004 Olympics, covering the University of Illinois' race to the Final Four and the White Sox historic World Series win in 2005, anchoring and reporting live from Miami during the Bears Super Bowl run in 2007 and serving as host of the Bruce Weber Coach's Show on the Big Ten Network.
Baker is very well known throughout the Chicago community not only for being an Emmy-nominated sports reporter but also for giving his time and talent to numerous organizations, fundraisers and events for many worthy causes.
An active alumnus of the University of Illinois, Baker serves on the College of Media’s National Advisory Board. He has returned to campus on many occasions to conduct interviews, host events, guest lecture and serve on panel discussions. In 2011, Ryan was selected as one of UIAA’s Illini Comeback Guests. As Chair of the Communications Committee for the Illini Leadership Council, Baker has reached out to and engaged many alumni in order to raise visibility of the University. He is a member of the Loyalty Circle of the Fighting Illini Scholarship Fund, sponsoring a single student-athlete throughout their athletic and academic career at the University. Baker commented that in the neighborhood where he grew up “there weren’t a whole lot of success stories. I’m inspired by the people who came before me at Illinois.”
Over the years, Baker has participated in numerous College of Media and University of Illinois events and activities including Media’s Student/Alumni Interface, Journalism Career Night, Illinois Black Alumni Reunion (iBAR), Chicago Alumni Reunion, Illinois Luncheon, Illinois Summer Bash, and Illini Thursdays, to name a few.