CHICAGO (WLS) --After 35 years as a reporter and anchor in this city, what has Ron Magers meant to Chicago journalism?
"Ah, he's meant very little," Jerry Taft joked.
There's the dig, but that's OK. It comes from someone who goes way back. Those friendships with long time on-air buddies are not made-for-TV friendships. They are real and deep.
"He's been my best friend in this business for 35 years. He's been my mentor, my big brother," said Mark Giangreco, ABC7 sports anchor.
Magers has mentored many young journalists and broadcasters over the years including a young intern in the Twin Cities back in 1979.
"He didn't talk down to you as an intern. He talked to you as an equal and to me that was thrilling," said Emily Barr, a former intern who later became the WLS general manager. She brought Ron Magers to channel 7 18 years ago.
Magers takes pride in being a survivor in a tough business. He also takes pride in having survived something far tougher. Years ago he won a struggle with alcohol and drugs. And that is part of a broader life mission.
"Not only did he fix himself, he's a crusader for others. He's on emergency teams to help others from walking off the ledge of their lives," said Giangreco.
"When I got into recovery for substance abuse, alcohol and drugs, I had to learn one day at a time, and I still really work hard at it living one day at a time," said Magers.
Living one day at a time, his life's work now moves beyond the glare of studio lights.
But, back to the question. What is Magers' place in Chicago journalism? He's modest. He doesn't see himself among the legendary names, but a friend sees him in a more important place.
"People don't realize what a Renaissance man he is. This is just something he was really good at, but he's probably the best person I've ever known," said Giangreco.
Ron Magers is a natural. He could have coasted in this business and been good, but he worked hard at it and became great. He is a rebel who stands on principle. He has made decisions that have been courageous, others have been less wise.
He is stubborn and he is honest - both with an edge.
He knows that words matter, that you have to dig hard for the truth and that viewers should be treated with the intelligence and respect they deserve.
We're sorry to say so long, but we know that he knows life travels far beyond a job.
We are better for all he's done and more importantly, who he is.