‘One heck of a ride’: Reporter Derrick Blakley retiring from CBS 2

Derrick Blakley (Photo: WTTW/Chicago Tonight)

Derrick Blakley, a Chicago original whose 41-year career in television news included prominent runs as a network correspondent and a local reporter for two stations here, announced his retirement Monday.

Blakley, 65, said his last day as political reporter at WBBM-Channel 2 will be June 27. He’s been employed at the CBS-owned station since 2003.

“After 41 years riding the roller coaster of daily television news deadlines, including the last 32 years in Chicago, I’ve concluded it’s time to turn the page,” he wrote on Facebook. “Just to ensure there are no misunderstandings, I wasn’t pushed. The decision was all mine.”

Before joining CBS 2, Blakley spent 16 years as a news anchor and reporter at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, and seven years as a correspondent for CBS News, based in Chicago, London and Bonn, Germany.

A native of Chicago’s South Side and multiple Emmy Award winner, he’s a graduate of Hales Franciscan High School, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. Early in his career he was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and WBNS, the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Ohio.

In 2010 Blakley disclosed that he was being treated for multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer for which he received a stem cell transplant.

“I now look forward to focusing more on my overall well-being,” he wrote Monday. “As many of you know, I’m a nine-year survivor of multiple myeloma. While I’m blessed that my health is good, a life with less stress can’t hurt.”

Here is the text of Blakley’s Facebook post:

CBS 2 Viewers, Colleagues and Friends,

I have a bit of “Breaking News” to share.

After 41 years riding the roller coaster of daily television news deadlines, including the last 32 years in Chicago, I’ve concluded it’s time to turn the page. My last day as CBS 2 News political reporter will be June 27.

Just to ensure there are no misunderstandings, I wasn’t pushed. The decision was all mine.

A few weeks ago, shortly after discussions on a contract extension began with our affable general manager Derek Dalton, and thoughtful news director Jeff Harris, I decided I was ready for a new chapter. Derek and Jeff were gracious enough to work with me on the timetable.

Over the years, my reporting has taken me from the farm fields of the Midwest to the battlefields of the Middle East. I’ve seen the Kremlin and the Pyramids, Bethlehem and the Brandenburg Gate, all on the company dime. But what I’ve loved most is the high privilege of covering Chicago, my hometown, and the sacred trust so many have placed in me to tell their story, and tell it straight.

I learned early on that television news ain’t solitaire. It’s strictly team sport. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the countless producers, writers, videographers, editors, engineers and technicians who’ve helped me look and sound better than I’ve had any right to expect.

I now look forward to focusing more on my overall well-being. As many of you know, I’m a nine-year survivor of multiple myeloma. While I’m blessed that my health is good, a life with less stress can’t hurt.

So thanks to each and every one of you for your years of support, patience under deadline, and priceless camaraderie. Don’t hesitate to share a handshake, a hug and few memories in the upcoming days. Looking back, for this black kid from 87th and Cottage, who dreamed of a life observing history and then reporting it, it’s been one heck of a ride.