WGN-TV proudly calls itself “Chicago’s Very Own.” Well, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans is just as proud to say that one of WGN’s very own — Dina Bair — will be the recipient of this year’s Dante Award.
An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Dina is the anchor for WGN’s “Midday News,” and the medical reporter for the “Medical Watch” segments on WGN’s “Midday News” and “News at Nine.”
The JCCIA is equally proud of the fact that Dina is one of OUR very own. In 1990, she stepped onto the runway of our Columbus Day Queen Pageant and walked away with the crown.
Dina was hailed last year as an outstanding Italian-American woman at the Impresa Awards Gala, sponsored by the JCCIA Women’s Division, and on May 16, she will receive one of local journalism’s most coveted honors.
The Dante Award is presented each year to a member of the media who best exemplifies the immortal poet’s call to be no timid friend to truth. Dominic DiFrisco and the members of the Dante Award Committee couldn’t have selected a worthier recipient for this year’s honor.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Dina traces her Italian roots by way of her maternal grandparents to a small fishing village near Palermo. A 1989 graduate of Northwestern University, she interned with fellow Dante Award recipient Joan Esposito at WLS-TV, then worked under Esposito as a field reporter for two years at WMAQ-TV.
“Joan was a role model for me in this business and a true inspiration,” Dina shares. “She is a huge reason I have succeeded in my career and a dear friend to this day!”
After stints at WHOI-TV in Peoria and CLTV in Oak Brook, Dina joined WGN-TV as a full-time general assignment reporter in September 1994, anchoring the WGN Weekend Morning News from December 1994 to December 1999.
Dina is the recipient of numerous awards, including seven Emmy Awards, a Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and multiple Associated Press awards for both anchoring and reporting.
Dina was named a fellow by the National Press Foundation for the “Cancer Issues” seminar in Washington, D.C. In perhaps the most rewarding story of her career, Dina spent a month at Children’s Memorial Hospital, reporting on cutting-edge medical treatments and life-and-death decisions that take place in the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Her news series and documentary, “Intensive Caring,” won numerous awards.
Dina had just arrived back in Chicago after covering the election of the new pope, live from the Vatican, when she received news of her latest honor.
“I have attended so many Dante Award ceremonies, including my first with Joan Esposito,” she explains. “The list of recipients includes so many journalists I have looked up to for years, and I feel blessed and thrilled to be among them now.”
Dina is married with four children and is a tri-athlete who enjoys running, boxing, lifting weights and competitive ballroom dancing. She is a founding board member of the breast cancer charity One in a Million: Dancing With Chicago Celebrities. And she leads a media running team devoted to raising funds for charity. Dina is also involved with The National Italian American Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, LUNGevity, Respiratory Health Association, American Cancer Society and Imerman Angels.
The Dante Award Luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. on May 16 at Galleria Marchetti, 825 W. Erie St., Chicago. For details, call 708-450-9050.