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Allison Payne leaving WGN-Channel 9

WGN's AllisPayne from WGN's Web site.

WGN's Allison Payne, from WGN's Web site.

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Updated: November 14, 2011 12:18AM



T HE SCOOP: AFTER 21 YEARS as an anchor at WGN-Channel 9 and most recently as the co-anchor with Steve Sanders on the “WGN Midday News,” Allison Payne, 47, is leaving the building.

Payne and the station’s management on Tuesday agreed to a substantial buyout of her contract so she can pursue other options. Payne, who has been beset with health issues including a series of mini-strokes and loss of her strong broadcast voice for the past couple of years, told this reporter that her last broadcast for the station will be sometime in September.

The Backstory: In November 2008, Marty Wilke, vice president and general manager of Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9, issued a statement that “Payne will take an unspecified amount of time off from her co-anchor role to fully rehabilitate from a series of mini-strokes that took her off the air for several weeks earlier this year.” Since that announcement, Payne has been more off than on the air due to her health setbacks.

The talented Payne joined the station in 1990 as anchor Pat Harvey’s replacement. “I’m going to miss WGN, my colleagues here and my loyal viewers,” said Payne. “The station management has been so supportive, and I appreciate this amicable parting, because my health had become a burden to the station. I hope to continue working in broadcasting in some capacity and will consider other professional opportunities,” Payne said. “I also fully intend to continue my work in the community here. If anyone needs to reach me, contact me at AllisonPayne.com.”

MEDIA ABOUT TOWN: WLS-Channel 7 “Windy City Live” co-host Val Warner is emceeing the Black Women’s Expo’s Phenomenal Woman awards gala Friday at the Chicago Hilton & Towers with Nielsen exec Cheryl Pearson McNeil introducing the guest speaker, actress Loretta Devine. Devine and the Expo’s Merry Green will appear on the “WCL” show Friday morning, and Jimmy Kimmel and Vivica A. Fox will be guests on the show next week . . . Channel 7’s Theresa Gutierrez has signed on for another three years at the station . . . WBBM-Channel 2 anchor Rob Johnson hosting the “Goombay Bash” Saturday at Navy Pier benefitting the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center . . . WMAQ-Channel 5 reporter Stefan Holt emcees the Chicago Defender “Bud Billiken Royal Court Coronation” Sunday at the Museum of Science and Industry. The parade is Aug. 13 on South King Drive.

JUST IN: Melody Spann-Cooper’s WVON Talk Radio station is the only station in the country given permission to broadcast live from the White House the historic weekend celebration/dedication of the Martin Luther King National Memorial. On Aug. 26, radio personality/host of “The Morning Show” Matt McGill will be joined by Cliff Kelley at the White House from 6 a.m.-9 a.m. And don’t be surprised if President Barack Obama drops by to chit-chat. The actual dedication is Aug. 28 on the National Mall and marks the 48th anniversary of King’s “Dream” speech.

TALK SHOW host/author Tavis Smiley and controversial firebrand Cornel West, co-hosts of public radio’s “Smiley & West,” are on a national, 18-city “Poverty Tour,” with the purpose of putting the spotlight on poor neighborhoods across the nation. The duo will be in Chicago Sunday, and their stops will include Dr. King’s Legacy Apartments, meeting with Hispanic leaders in Joliet, visiting the Saint Sabina Church’s Elders Village with Father Mike Pfleger and then hosting a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. at the church.

EATIN’ OUT: State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and family ate at Pizzeria Due . . . R&B artist Monica and hubby, Shannon Brown, a former Bull now with the Lakers, chowed down at Gibsons . . . The Yankees Nick Swisher, Freddy Garcia and manager Joe Girardi had lunch at Rosebud or Rush and on a separate evening, actress Cate Blanchett was in.

Marcus Chizm presents “The Laugh Til You Cry Comedy” classic show at the Ice Lawndale theaters at Roosevelt & Homan on Saturday.

HEY, I TOLD my readers on June 23 that the president would be celebrating his 50th here in Chicago.

BIRTHDAY PEOPLE: President Barack Obama, state Sen./Rev. James Meeks, WVON’s Melody Spann-Cooper, Channel 32’s Robin Robinson, U.S. Cellular’s Greg Hinton and belated to Sandi Ratnow and Lillie Sanders. On Friday: Vonita Reescer, Angela B’Nai Murray and the Sun-Times’ Albert Dickens. On Saturday: Sun-Times’ columnist Stella Foster (me), my colleague Tim Novak, businessman Scott Bobek and golden cutie Eadie Levy turns 90 and will throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field. On Sunday: Garrison Keillor. On Monday: Potter Palmer, John Simon, City Treasurer Stephanie Neely, Emilie McKendall, Greg Walsh and Pat Crenshaw.



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