50 Years Of WBBM Newsradio Sports Reporters: Chris Boden

Dave Kerner
May 08, 2018 - 8:29 am

Chris Boden/Facebook

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- In honor of WBBM Newsradio's 50th anniversary, some of WBBM Newradio's sportscasters, past and present, have shared their Newsradio memories.

WBBM Newsradio's Dave Kerner spoke with Chris Boden to look back at his career with the station. 

During most of the decade of the 90’s, WBBM Newsradio had Chris Boden as their employ, including morning drive sports anchoring, as he did until 1998.  

Kerner and Boden chatted about the 90's, not only from the point of view of what it was like in day-to-day operations at WBBM Newsradio, but certainly the many things that were going on sports-wise in Chicago over that decade.  And, of course,the one thing that stands out more than any for that decade was the dominance of Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

"Yeah, and it was my pleasure to be a part of covering that.  When I get college kids, and everyone asks that, asks me what it was like to cover someone like Michael Jordan at the time - and of course, we’re reaching an age now when people are slowly forgetting about Michael Jordan and wanting to know all about Lebron James and everybody else - but yeah, among the many privileges that I had was to be able to cover that whole scene.  

"The first three-peat as, more or less, a part-timer. And then, of course, shortly after I came full-time over at WBBM is when he went into his ‘retirement’ mode. And then, of course, coming back, how dramatic that was...him coming back late in the 1994 season. And then being able to be a part of covering the final three championship seasons, it was truly an honor. Even though some of these superstars certainly have their quirks about them, just to be around that kind of greatness, especially in this city, was really an honor and privilege to do that," Boden said.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Kerner: When Michael came back, what was that like in the ‘BBM newsroom, from a point of view of...I mean, a huge, worldwide, breaking story, quite frankly, when he decided to come back and give it another go?

"Yeah. There was a whole lot of uncertainty. You could feel the vibe that it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when he was going to make it official.  I remember being prepared to camp out, stay overnight if you will, at some nearby Deerfield hotels where the old Bulls practice facility was in order to camp out and see whether his car was making it in and outside of that facility. But once it finally happened, in the form of a fax the day before he actually returned, it was truly amazing. And then, even though it took another season and a whole feature-length animated movie to get himself back to where he needed to be...having the opportunity to cover those final three championship seasons was really great.  

"To be a part of that, to be around it - even though there was your drama, between the coaching situation, having Dennis Rodman around, and whatnot - it was still, as you reflect back on it, as much of a pain as it may have been sometimes when you’re in the middle of it...as you look back on it, it was really a privilege," Boden said.

Chris Boden/Facebook

Dave Kerner: One more thing on that.  I got here to Chicago in the summer of ‘97, working for the Score.  So I got in on the last of the six championships. And that whole season - you know, I was assigned to games and practices - and it honestly felt like following a rock group.  I mean, it was that kind of experience, it seemed like every day, just trying to get whatever you could get. Was that kind of the feeling, quite honestly, for the previous five years, for all the time Michael was there, really in their heyday at the time?

"Yeah, for the most part it was.  And I’ll give our former colleague, bless his soul, Eric Brown, all the credit in the world because much of that time I was doing morning drive, and he was the one out covering games at night.  But having to deal with Rodman and his entourage, and having to try to interview him while he’s walking in the hallway, walking backwards, with tons of cameras around him...that was certainly a challenge at the time. But by contrast, as you know, Dave, Michael knew how to handle that situation. And I think actually kind of enjoyed the situation of holding court. Everyone would wait for him to come out, whether it was after a practice or a game, but he would do the job that he needed to do, professionally. Even though I got a little bit more involved in the day-to-day coverage, the deeper that they’d go into the playoffs, I grew a great respect for the job that Eric and all of those guys would do on a nightly basis during the course of a long, six-month season, following what was really a great time in Chicago sports and a great time in that franchise’s history," Boden said.

WBBM Newsradio

Kerner: So talk to me a little bit about morning drive at WBBM Newsradio.  I remember you, of course, with Felicia Middlebrooks and John Hultman. Talk to me about that experience for you?

"Well, two of the greatest people you’d ever want to work with.  Two of the greatest professionals and nicest people as well," Boden said. 

"It was always a family atmosphere.  The one thing about ‘BBM when I first got the opportunity to be exposed to what it was all about, as a sophomore at Columbia College - and I was lucky enough to get an internship that early in my college days - just noticing the vibe, the energy, the importance, the professionalism, and how everybody would turn to that station when news was breaking.  It really turned me on to, hey, this is what I really want to do with my life, with my career. And if I ever have the opportunity to work there full-time, you know, it would be totally worth it, to get the chance, and build relationships with the Rich King’s, and the Dave Eanet’s of the world, and the Brian Davis’s of the world, to be able to eventually circle back and come back there.  Not to mention all the other people in the newsroom who don’t nearly get as much attention as they should behind the scenes. From the Jim Benes’, and the Leon Colvin’s, and the Mary Novak’s...everyone like that, the Don Schuebel’s. Being able to come back and work with them, and be a part of that station, and be paid for it to, to call that your job, quote-unquote. It wasn’t a job at all, especially for someone who grew up here, always admired the work that the station did, and the reputation that it had.  It was truly my pleasure and an honor to go back there and work for a place like that," Boden said.

Chris Boden/Facebook

Kerner: Finally, over that period of time - again, you were at WBBM Newsradio 1990-1998 - we’ve discussed the Bulls at length here.  Is there something else sports-wise that jumps out at you that’s memorable, funny, something that you can recall along those lines?

"Well, there were some times when the White Sox were certainly coming on hot and cold. There was the strike season in 1994 when we all thought that the White Sox were headed for a World Series until Major League Baseball went on strike.  And the other thing, I guess, was mostly...we had a chance to produce shows like ‘Sportsline,’ which was a precursor for what we know today as 24-hour sports talk radio.  It’s kind of the example that was set.

"Not only that but doing the odd things, like covering a marathon. Which you never think about when you’re in college and thinking ‘okay, what am I going to have to cover in the sports world?’  A marathon, on radio, is something that never particularly crosses your mind. But being able to pull that off, with all of the people that needed to be involved with that, and trying to fill two or three hours on what were, sometimes, in late October at that time, freezing cold Saturday mornings, sometimes with snow running, and at times in my early role there having to be on a flatbed truck with one of those brick cell phones trying to describe the action in front of you...it was a learning experience.  It’s those things that kind of stay with you, where...as miserable as it may have been at the time, and wondering ‘how am I gonna pull this off’, or ‘how are we gonna pull this off’, it’s one of those things that, you realize is not all about you. It’s a team effort, and so many people pull together at a place like that to make it all happen. And at times make it, actually, an award-winning experience too," Boden said.