Worked in Chicago, Rockford, Peoria and Albany, N.Y.
Chicago news anchor Randy Salerno was killed in a snowmobile accident Thursday night, according to a statement from WBBM-TV, the station Salerno worked for. Salerno, 45, of Crystal Lake died in Eagle River, Wis., while snowmobiling with friends, the statement said. He was a passenger on a snowmobile that hit several trees about 11:30 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to officials. “Randy was a talented news anchor and a major reason for our recent morning show success,” WBBM President and General Manager Joe Ahern said. “But it was Randy’s sense of humor and quick wit that separated him from the rest. He was a skilled journalist, trusted colleague and dear friend to many in our newsroom — especially our morning team.” The Emmy-winning Salerno had been at WBBM since 2004. He previously spent 11 years as an anchor and reporter at WGN-TV in Chicago. Prior to that, he worked at WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y., WMDB-TV and WHOI-TV in Peoria and WIFR-TV in Rockford. Salerno began his broadcasting career as a general assignment reporter in Rockford. The station’s former news director, Arles Hendershott, said she hired the Illinois State University graduate after he interned at the Rockford news station for a semester in 1985. Salerno was a general assignment reporter for WIFR for a year and a half before landing a job in Peoria. Salerno always was eager to report the news, Hendershott said, whether he was assigned to cover a city council meeting, a house fire or the annual cat show. “He never complained about assignments and always gave it his best,” she said. “Randy had a phenomenal amount of natural talent, and he was a genuinely nice person. He had this quick, dry sense of humor. Sometimes all you could do was just stare back because you could never think of a comeback.” WIFR news anchor Andy Gannon worked alongside Salerno back then and kept in touch with him over the years. Salerno, an enthusiastic Bears fan, chatted with Gannon on WIFR’s morning show last year when the Chicago Bears made a Super Bowl appearance. “I always thought he had big things ahead of him,” Gannon said. “A lot of reporters don’t have a real working knowledge of the stories they’re working on, but Randy was always on top of it. He could pinpoint the information he needed, and he never sensationalized things. He was very professional in his reporting.” According to reports, the man Salerno was riding the snowmobile with was cited for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated, and other charges are pending. The crash is under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Vilas County Sheriff’s Department. Salerno is survived by a wife, Irene, and three children. Rockford Register Star and Chicago Suburban News