WGN’s Larry Potash to host ‘Backstory’ history series

Larry Potash

Larry Potash, longtime anchor of Chicago’s top-rated morning news show, is getting a primetime showcase to share his love for historical quirks and oddities.

“Backstory with Larry Potash” will explore “intriguing tales in history, culture, religion and science from Chicago and beyond.” Starting October 28, it will air at 8:30 p.m. for four consecutive Sundays on Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9. Additional episodes will air as specials throughout the year.

“I’ve always done longer-form stories at WGN, and I’ve done a lot of stories with a historical component,” Potash told me. “I love bringing history to life. There are so many great stories out there. This format really allows me to flesh out these stories even more — something that’s not easy to do in the bite-sized social media universe.”

Among the tales he’ll tell will be a Chicago story tied to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; the 90th anniversary of a mysterious death in a small Lake County town; a hidden symbol in the Statue of Liberty’s backstory; and a North Shore home that features “the most eclectic and creepy mini-museum in the Midwest.”


What they all have in common is that they appeal to Potash’s innate inquisitiveness. “I’m pretty curious, and that’s what drives me to dig up these stories, or find elements of historical events that just didn’t find their way into the typical history book narrative,” he said.

If Tribune Broadcasting bosses have designs on distributing the series nationally, they aren’t saying so at the moment.

“I have no idea where this is all going,” Potash said. “I’ll keep cranking out the stories as long as they let me. I think we have to see what the ‘powers that be’ think about it.”

Potash joined WGN in 1994 from KOTV, the CBS affiliate in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s been anchoring the top-rated “WGN Morning News” since 1995. On most days, he’s the linchpin that holds the show together along with co-anchor Robin Baumgarten.

In addition to airing at 8:30 p.m. Sundays (preempting “’black-ish”), “Backstory with Larry Potash” will repeat at 11:30 p.m. Sundays on WGN and at 7 p.m. Mondays on CLTV. It also will stream on WGNTV.com.

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Stan Williams: “It’s none of your business,” says Ms. [Kathy] Hart when asked about why she left WTMX. Okay. That’s her position and she’s entitled to take it. If WGN’s listeners agree with her, then perhaps she’ll draw decent ratings. But Chicago radio listeners (and local TV news viewers) are a fickle audience, and honesty and transparency are expected from those we choose to listen to and/or watch. And with Ms. Hart, this is especially true since for 21 years she made her “schtick” to be 100 percent open and transparent about extremely personal aspects of her private life when she was at WTMX. For her to suddenly “act mysterious” is something that only time will tell if WGN’s audience can accept.