Former longtime WBBM Reporter Mike Parker died Sunday night at Northwestern Memorial Hospital from heart failure.
Parker spent 35 years on CBS O&O WBBM in Chicago.
He was in high school when he landed his first broadcasting job in 1959 at KSTT radio in Davenport, Iowa. Later, he attended Los Angeles City College.
Early in his career, when he was news director and anchor at Los Angeles’ KFI-AM radio, then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan asked for Mr. Parker’s help in 1974 in developing a state earthquake education council.
Mr. Parker also was an anchor and reporter at what became KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. He covered big California stories including forest fires and the Hillside Strangler case. “Working in L.A. in the ’70s was like covering news for the Sodom and Gomorrah bureau,” he once said.
In 1980, he came to work for WBBM. One of his biggest stories there was his reporting in 1992 on David and Sharon Schoo, who would be dubbed the “Home Alone” couple, this at a time the hit movie “Home Alone” was still fresh in many minds. The Schoos took a nine-day Christmas vacation in Mexico, leaving their 4- and 9-year-old daughters home to fend for themselves. The girls’ absence was discovered when they turned to a neighbor for help.
He also went to Rome to cover the shooting of Pope John Paul II, the 1981 release of Americans held hostage in Iran and the Chicago Flood of 1992.
“He was such a great reporter and fantastic writer,” said NBC 5 TV producer Don Moseley. “He could write with such poetry and artistry.”
“He knew how to take a complicated issue and get right to the heart of it,” said ABC-7 reporter Paul Meincke. “He was commanding, he was authoritative, and he was an excellent storyteller. . . . And he was fair. He was really fair.
“When he asked a question,” Meincke said, “everybody paid attention.”
Parker was 75 years old.