Home team advantage boosts Adamle at NBC 5

With veteran Chicago sportscaster Mike Adamle stepping up to full-time status at WMAQ-Channel 5, the NBC-owned station won’t be adding any new players to its sports team.

Adamle’s promotion after seven years as a part-timer effectively fills the vacancy created by the death last May of Daryl Hawks, the 38-year-old sports anchor who was found in a hotel room in Atlanta while on assignment. Results of an autopsy were inconclusive, and the cause of death is still under investigation by the medical examiner in Atlanta.

Shortly after Hawks’ death, NBC 5 officials said they intended to fill the position, but were vague on whether they planned to hire from the outside or promote from within.

Adamle, 61, is a familiar face to NBC 5 viewers. He previously worked there from 1998 to 2001 — after a five-year stint in the 1980s at ABC 7 and before a three-year run at CBS 2. The former Northwestern University football star and Chicago Bears running back also worked for ESPN, ABC Sports, NBC Sports, American Gladiators and World Wrestling Entertainment.

“Mike has been a key member of our sports team,” Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5, said Tuesday. “From his days playing for the Bears and the Wildcats through his many years covering our local teams, Mike’s knowledge of the Chicago sports scene is great. I am delighted he’s back to full-time status.”

Under the new arrangement, Whittaker said, Adamle will split main sports anchoring duties (and co-host Sports Sunday) with Paula Faris, while Peggy Kusinski will serve as primary Bears beat reporter. Continuing as freelancers, Bruce Wolf will fill in from time to time, and Laurence Holmes will appear occasionally on Sports Sunday.

Personal problems landed Adamle in the news twice earlier this year. In January, he was arrested for DUI, a charge he vigorously disputed, citing side effects of medication for epilepsy. And in February, Crain’s Chicago Business reported a foreclosure suit on Adamle’s Evanston home after he and his wife (who had earlier filed for divorce) failed to pay off a $1.1 million loan.

Update: The DUI charges against Adamle were dismissed Friday.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)