WBEZ wins Watchdog Award for Chicago lifeguard abuse investigation

Dan Mihalopoulos (Photo: Chicago Headline Club)

Esteemed reporter Dan Mihalopoulos and editors Alex Keefe and Angela Rozas O’Toole of Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM won the coveted 2021 Watchdog Award Friday from the Chicago Headline Club.

The three were cited for “Buried Secrets,” WBEZ’s blockbuster investigative series exposing widespread sexual abuse of Chicago lifeguards.

“The investigation overcame court challenges and was the product of securing confidential documents to produce concrete results, including the resignations of the Chicago Park District chief executive, board president and other high-ranking officials,” according to the judges. “It represents the best kind of journalism that holds public leaders accountable.”

The honor, sponsored by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, was presented at the 45th annual Peter Lisagor Awards dinner at the Union League Club of Chicago. (Here is a complete list of winners.)

Madeline Buckley

Chicago Tribune reporter Madeline Buckley received the Headline Club’s Anne Keegan Award. Named for the late Chicago Tribune columnist, the Keegan Award was established in 2012 to honor writers who “tell stories of ordinary people in extraordinarily well-reported and well-written prose, muting their own voice to give one to the voiceless instead.”

Also cited with special service awards were longtime Headline Club members Casey Bukro and Bob Roberts.

As previously reported, radio newsman Bill Cameron and columnist Dahleen Glanton were presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The Lisagor Awards honor excellence in journalism in 100 categories, encompassing newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and digital media.

Friday’s comment of the day: Janet Joliat Dahl: There is not enough advertising revenue to pay the salaries. Radio audiences have evaporated over the years and many ad dollars are diverted to podcasting and digital media. Sports and news radio have a chance, because there is immediacy to their content. (Although when teams languish, so does their attractiveness on radio) Talk radio was commandeered to politics via Rush; he’s dead and there is no heir apparent. Most people are tired of conflict, anyhow. Music is available on satellite or playlists. It is a tough industry these days. Treasure any station that is trying to enrich the local culture with vibrant, live content. Stop quibbling and programming. There are 35 stations in Chicago. If one bugs you, find another.