Longtime Chicago TV News anchor Allison Payne is no more. According to the reports, the Chicago’s WGN anchor died on 1st September. Allison was 57-years-old.
The news was announced by WGN itself as they paid a tribute to their former employee. No cause of death has been stated by WGN.
Allison Payne worked with WGN for around 21 years retiring 10 years ago due to some health issues. Born on February 12, 1964, Allison Payne was a brilliant TV anchor, who won 9 Emmy Awards for her reportage.
Payne had joined WGN-TV at the age of 21 as an anchorwoman. She was always a determined and a great journalist. She became famous for covering some esteemed bits and cases. Her key stories include tracing former President Barack Obama’s roots in Kenya. She also proved herself in her profession as she traveled to the Ivory Coast alongside the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Other than being a journalist, Payne was a popular public speaker who was extremely active community builder. Besides WGN-TV, Payne also served as the co-anchor for WGN Midday News, a show which was broadcast from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Additionally, Payne also worked for the betterment of the youngsters who wanted to work in the field of journalism. Allison found Payne Productions, which is a television production company with the objective to help the future journalists and students interested in the broadcasting business.
Working for 21 years with WGN, Allison left the channel citing health issues. Even though she said goodbye to Chicago WGN-TV, Payne remained active in field of broadcast journalism by doing freelance work until the time of her death.
Allison Payne had always wanted to be a journalist. She received her Master’s degree in radio/TV/film Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Besides, she had her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from University of Detroit Mercy.
Allison was born in Richmond, Virginia to Dana and Kathryn Payne. However, when she was five years old, her family shifted to Detroit, Michigan.
Moreover, Allison was also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta, which is an organization founded by college going women with an aim to provide public service to help and assist the African-American community.
Payne started her career in the field of news as an intern at the NBC affiliated channel WNWO in Toledo, Ohio. After a few months of working as an intern, Allison got promoted and she became the main anchor of the late evening newscast for the channel.
After WNWO, Allison moved to WNEM-TV which was earlier an NBC affiliated channel, which is now a CBC affiliate. She worked for WNEM-TV in Saginaw, Michigan as the co-anchor of the 6pm to 11 pm show window.
Back in 1990, Allison decided to move to Chicago as she got the opportunity to anchor the station’s primetime 9 p.m. newscast. Subsequently, she remained on the job until 2009. Payne was also paired up with Steve Sanders at anchors desk to host the show. Earlier, Payne used to handle the evening window since 1993 to 2008, following the midday window.
Above all, Allison Payne took home 9 Emmy awards for her tremendous work in the field of journalism. All these awards were received by Payne under WGN-TV. She received an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement within a Regularly Scheduled News Program – Specialty Report/Series — Politics/Government. She won another Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence On Camera and the next one for Outstanding Achievement within a Regularly Scheduled News Program.
The categories that Allison Payne received Emmy Awards also include Outstanding Achievement for Informational Programs and Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence On Camera.
After a long and flourishing run with WGN-TV, Payne and WGN agreed to end Payne’s contract and she left the channel in September 2011. Back then, talking to The Sun about her time at WGN, Payne had said, “I hope to continue working in broadcasting in some capacity and will consider other professional opportunities. I also fully intend to continue my work in the community here.”
Later, as she began her blog after leaving WGN-TV due to some health reason, Allison gave a insight into her future plans. In August 2011, Payne had shared via her blog, “Down the road, I plan to begin producing my own documentaries. I also plan to produce occasional reports which I will share with you on this website. I am not ruling out a return to the anchor desk, but for now I need new intellectual challenges. I’m open to applying my communication skills to the business world as well.”
Although the cause of Allison’s death has not been announced, but her deteriorating health was something that everyone was aware of. Beginning in 2008, Allison had suffered mini strokes twice, one in January and other in August. As a result, she stopped working for a little while as she took off on medical leaves.
Later, in November 2008, WGN announced Payne’s permanent departure citing her ongoing health issue to be the reason. Subsequently, Allison also admitted about being depressed and told Phil Rosenthal of Chicago Tribune during an interview, that she was diagnosed for depression after she left WGN.
Two years later, Allison openly talked about her issue of drinking. In 2010, she revealed that was recovering from alcoholism, an addiction that she suffered from for around 20 years. Sharing her experience, Allison had told back then, “Substance abuse can become a problem. I wanted to make sure that nothing in my life got out of hand.”
After some time, Payne took a break from working with WGN-TV to give a little rest to vocal chords as she faced trouble with her throat. “She (Allison) was diagnosed a few months ago and tried to tough it out . . . (but) her doctor wants her to stay off the air till they can fix the problem,” told Greg Caputo, the news director at WGN-TV.
In September 2021, Payne took her last breath and bid adieu to the world. Paying a tribute to their former Emmy winning employee, WGN wrote, “Allison Payne was a monumental contributor to the history of WGN-TV, and we mourn her loss greatly.”