Published on Tuesday, 08 March 2011 18:55
When WLS-TV's weekend sports anchor Ryan Chiaverini was announced as one of the two new hosts for the station's new morning television show
, that meant the search was immediately on for his replacement. As of today, WLS-TV now has that replacement. A few hours ago, the station officially announced the signing of Rafer Weigel to ABC-TV's Chicago station as their brand new weekend sports anchor and sports reporter. Weigel will begin with the station in under two weeks.
Rafer Weigel will be a familiar name to Chicagoans for many reasons. First and foremost, he is the son of beloved Chicago sports anchor/news anchor/reporter/sports writer Tim Weigel. For 30 years, Tim Weigel was a fixture in Chicago media, writing for newspapers and appearing on TV newscasts. The highlight of Tim Weigel's professional career was the 17 years he spent on WLS-TV. Tim Weigel sadly passed away from cancer in 2001. Rafer Weigel now looks to fill the large white shoes of his father at WLS-TV.
His mother is Kathy Worthington, a former WGN-AM news anchor/reporter of 11 years, who was Tim Weigel's high school sweetheart and first wife. She also worked for WRLL-AM and other radio stations in Chicago.
Rafer Weigel is also the grandson of John Weigel, a radio and television announcer, first known for his commercial voiceover work, and later known for founding Weigel Broadcasting. That company, still based out of Chicago, currently owns Chicago's WCIU-TV, the Me-TV network and numerous other stations around the Midwest. This makes Rafer Weigel a third generation media star.
His sister is the multi-talented Jenniffer Weigel, a former Chicago radio and television personality, author and current head of the Chicago Tribune's lifestyle section "Trib U."
For the Tribune, she contributes regular columns for the newspaper & website, as well as hosting live events and appearing on TV & radio to promote "Trib U" & "Trib U" events. Jenniffer Weigel's husband, Rafer Weigel's brother-in-law, is Clay Champlin, a Chicago radio & TV veteran who has worked for Shadow Traffic, WCKG-FM and WBBM-TV, among other outlets.
Even with his deep Chicago media lineage, Rafer Weigel has made a name for himself through the years. Before turning to journalism, Rafer Weigel started out as an actor, performing on stage with a few Chicago theatre groups. He landed a small role on the Chicago-based TV series "The Untouchables" and was then bitten by the Hollywood bug. In the early 90's, he left Chicago to find television work in California. He found various roles from hosting a news magazine, being a VH1 VJ, and earning small roles on numerous TV series. His biggest role at that time was when he was cast as "Max" on the short-lived sitcom "Jenny," starring fellow Chicagoan Jenny McCarthy. He also found some small movie roles in "Free Enterprise" with William Shatner, "I Am Sam" with Sean Penn, and the cable TV movie "Rated X" with the now-infamous Charlie Sheen.
After his father passed away in the summer of 2001, decided to leave Hollywood, return back to Chicago, follow in his father's footsteps and pursue journalism. He reported on high school sports for the Chicago Sun-Times. He did some weekend radio work on WCKG-FM. He went back to Los Angeles to be a sports reporter and copy editor for the Los Angeles Times. He became a reporter for KUSI-TV in San Diego, followed by a reporter for KOVR-TV in Sacramento. Since 2008, he has been working for CNN as sports anchor for the popular morning show on Headline News/HLN with Robin Meade, another former Chicago news anchor.
News of WLS-TV's hire of Rafer Weigel was first publicly released last Thursday by the subscription-only news industry website News Blues
, who let it be known that staffers at HLN's "Morning Express with Robin Meade" were told of Weigel's exit.
WLS-TV's Vice President and News Director Jennifer Graves made last week's news leak official today. Graves said in a statement this afternoon: "Rafer Weigel is a talented broadcaster who has worked hard to earn his stripes. He loves this city and has never lost his passion for following Chicago sports teams. His father is an important part of ABC 7's sports legacy and we are thrilled that another Weigel will again be working the sports beat at our station."
Rafer Weigel is a native of Evanston, IL, a graduate of Evanston Township High School and the University of Illinois at Champaign. The 41 year old sportscaster has been married to his wife Tiffany, a professional photographer, since the summer of 2002. They have two children together.