Farewell Roz, Chicago's first morning news TV traffic reporter

Roz Varon Image
Friday, April 5, 2024
Saying farewell to Roz Varon
Saying farewell to Roz Varon

CHICAGO (WLS) -- All week long we've been celebrating 35 years of the morning show and there's one person who's been around since beginning - the one and only Roz Varon.

But Friday, she's bidding us goodbye, so, we're taking a look back at her impactful, trail-blazing career

Roz Varon, Queen of the Chicago streets and the city's first ever broadcast television traffic anchor.

"You know, a lot of people are throwing out these words like, icon, trailblazer, and I'm like, No, it's just me," Roz said.

Roz Varon's Weekender Legacy

Looking back at Roz Varon's Weekender legacy

Sitting in an office, surrounded by memories, Roz takes us down memory lane.

It all started 35 years ago, when ABC7 Chicago launched its first ever morning newscast. It was a new concept, with no blueprint.

"Because when I applied for this job, I was not thinking in those terms," Roz said. "I came from radio. I did radio for almost 10 years before I started here

"So back in late 1988 I somehow got wind of the fact that Channel Seven was going to start a morning newscast and they wanted to incorporate traffic, which had never been done before in morning news, ever anywhere," Roz said.

SEE ALSO: Our Chicago: Roz Varon retiring after 35 years at ABC7

So, Roz went for the job, jumping into unknown territory and said she bombed her audition.

"I was just awful," she said. "I just blew it. Totally blew it. So they said to me, 'Okay, you know, we know that you know, traffic, you've been doing radio, you're very good at this blah, blah, blah, but you're just too green for television. So thanks, but no thanks.' So I went home, honestly."

She threw a bit of pity party, but then something clicked for her.

Looking back at Roz's philanthropy

Here's how Roz gives back to the city she loves.

"So the only person you're competing against is yourself," Roz said. "And I went back and made a video and I found a production company. Actually, I graduated from Columbia College."

RELATED: ABC7 Morning News 35th Anniversary

And next thing you know, Roz said she was putting together a new audition tape and going for the job again.

"And it was in the afternoon and somebody said, 'Roz, there's a phone call for you, Joe Ahern from Channel Seven,' and I'm like, 'Oh my God.' So I took the phone call. And he said, 'Be careful what you asked for. It might come true. I'm offering you a job.' And that's how I got my job here," Roz said.

And the rest is history. She joined Alan Krashesky and Jerry Taft, as part of the ABC-7 Eyewitness News This Morning's anchor team.

From handling all things transportation From CTA to road construction to one tank trips, weekenders and the Auto Show.

Over the last 35 years, we've witnessed Roz's life evolve. She's shared beautiful moments with us- like the birth of her daughter.

"Sarah is everything to me," Roz said. "Everything and having her grow up... but it was just really special to be able to share my job with her and to share her with the viewers which everybody gets such a kick out of."

And tough moments, like her battle with breast cancer.

"And I said, 'Who's gonna raise my daughter' and they said, 'You are' and I was like, 'Okay, how's that gonna happen?' And they kind of talked me through the treatment, what my options were there was this new drug called Herceptin," Roz said.

"And I said, 'You know, I'm going to, I'm going to battle this. You know, I'll keep you guys informed. I'll keep everybody posted and this was before social media. Okay, so there was no Facebook. None of that.

"Cancer has a mind of its own, that doesn't care doesn't care who you are, what you do, don't care. If it's going to come back, it's gonna come back."

So, saying farewell to Roz means a farewell to someone who's been a fixture in Chicago for decades.

"I think I am going to miss the people I worked with on the morning show the most out of anything that I do here because they really are my second family," Roz said.

Roz has made a huge impact on us all and we've had to fun along the way, especially with her Weekenders segments.

Roz made a splash every single time she let Chicagoans know what was going each weekend. Especially during Halloween.

Her Weekender reports included performance arts that gave her a reason to be a daredevil.

And zoo visits that highlighted her love for animals. Chicagoans have long looked forward to Roz keeping them updated on all of the weekend happenings.