Jack Rosenberg 1926-2020

Jack Rosenberg (Photo: WGN Radio)

Jack Rosenberg, whose name was synonymous with WGN Sports in Chicago for more than 40 years, was credited with inventing much of what became standard in sports broadcast production.

As sports editor of the former Tribune Co. radio and television franchises, he worked closely with such legends as Jack Brickhouse, Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau, Jack Quinlan and Irv Kupcinet. He produced all of Brickhouse’s Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs broadcasts.

Rosenberg, 94, died Sunday at Swedish Hospital (formerly Swedish Covenant Hospital) in Chicago, according to close friends.

WGN morning host Bob Sirott, one of many who considered Rosenberg a mentor, called him “a giant force behind the success of WGN TV and Radio Sports. Growing up, you always heard his typewriter keys clacking in the background followed by an insightful comment from Brickhouse or one of the other legends he helped.

“A superb writer and an even better human. Kind, witty, and humble. Always content to be the man behind the famous names. But he helped make them famous.”

Much of Rosenberg’s career was connected to Brickhouse’s, according to Chicago sports historian George Castle. “They shared a downstate upbringing, Rosenberg in Pekin, Brickhouse a few miles up the Illinois River in Peoria,” Castle wrote for ChicagoBaseballMuseum.org.

“A gifted writer on the Peoria Journal-Star, Rosenberg was offered a Chicago Tribune sportswriting job in 1954 by the legendary Arch Ward, who founded the baseball All-Star Game. The salary was $100 a week. Rosenberg thought it over. Pitched by Brickhouse, he instead ended up at Tribune Co.-owned WGN for $85 a week.”

In 2011 Rosenberg was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 he was inducted in the WGN Radio Walk of Fame. His class that year posthumously included his close friends Lloyd and Boudreau.

“The fun part was being around all the people that represented WGN,” Rosenberg told Steve Cochran shortly before his induction. “I can’t say enough about it. Our lives were intertwined. We traveled up and down and across this great country for years and years and years. Everybody shared. Everyone in that crew had chances to leave, but we were so enamored with WGN and what it stood for that we wouldn’t think of leaving.”