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Media: April 2022 • Dana Kozlov • Home at Channel 2

| April 2, 2022

Dana Kozlov

She’s the new weekend anchor at WBBM-TV, Channel 2 in Chicago, but Dana Kozlov has been in the news business for a long time.“This month is my 30th anniversary as a paid reporter.”

After paying her dues hustling for stories for Channel 2, and before that, WGN Channel 9, she’s excited about the chance to helm a newscast. “It’s definitely a great opportunity and honor to be able to anchor,” she says. “I really enjoy it. I like the idea of bringing the audience into the newscast to make them engaged in the process. It’s also a predictable day in so many ways because I know that barring breaking news (which has already happened a few times), I can gauge my day and my time and my schedule. And frankly, it’s really nice not to be standing out in the weather (laughs).”

Not that she’ll actually get much of a respite from the weather because Kozlov isn’t ready to give up reporting entirely. It’s in her blood. “I’m still out there the other three days a week. I can still get that adrenaline rush, and I can still meet so many interesting people out there. It’s a great job. A challenging job. You have to put yourself in situations that no one would ever intentionally put themselves in, difficult situations, maybe even dangerous situations.”

She has won two Emmy Awards for her reporting work, but that’s not what motivates her. “I didn’t get into the business for that. I got into the business because I truly believed in the power of journalism, and I really wanted to root out corruption and shine a light on the truth. All that idealistic junk that some people roll their eyes about — that’s really the reason for me. I really believe in reporting. You have to be a news junkie to last 30 years in this business because it’s a crazy business. It’s certainly not an easy business, especially right now.”

Luckily, growing up in the Chicago area, Kozlov had some good role models. “I think I became interested in the news watching Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson. It was really Walter Jacobson’s ‘Perspective’ that did it. I was really intrigued by his ability to uncover misconduct and call it out. I thought those two were the gold standard. Pam Zekman is also one of my idols. She is a ground-breaker. Not many people have the cojones to do what she did, especially at the time she started.”

After watching Chicago news her whole life, Kozlov was thrilled in 1995 when she was able to join the ranks of Chicago journalists. “I was only 27 years old at the time, and in those days, it was extremely rare for someone that young to get a job in a major market like Chicago. Dina Bair, who I had known in Peoria, was instrumental in helping me get that job. She told me there was a job available at WGN, and I applied and initially didn’t get it, but that person didn’t work out, so they called me next. It was a no-brainer. It’s my hometown. I was determined to work my butt off and make it, and I did.”

Her hard work at WGN eventually led her to the home of her idols Kurtis, Jacobson, and Zekman at Channel 2, but before she left WGN, she scored two other prizes: a husband (WGN-TV’s Bill Kissinger) and an IMDB page entry. Dana was in the film The Watcher with Keanu Reeves. “If you blink, you’ll miss me,” she explains with a chuckle. “When I was at WGN, the second director of the movie The Watcher saw me on the air and thought I would be good as the anchorwoman in this movie. I’m not sure why — I wasn’t an anchor at all at the time. So they called me and asked if I wanted to do it. I thought, sure, why not. They sent me some copy in advance. I memorized it and went in, and I got a trailer, and they did my makeup, and I recited my lines, and that was it. If you watch the movie, I pop up a few times, and because you can hear my voice, I got a credit. I still get residual checks. I just got one recently for 20 cents.”

Now Dana is no longer pretending to be an anchor in a film. She’s doing it for real every weekend at Channel 2. She says that she is still developing in the role, but she loves it so far. “It’s a very collaborative process. They encourage me to have a say in what we cover and how we cover it. I write things in my own voice. We have a few newer reporters, and I’m always here for them if they want my feedback. We have great producers too. I joined an existing group of people who have already been working here and doing a great job.”

After all her years in the business, Kozlov understands the pressure that everyone in the news department faces, internally and externally, and is making a point of not adding to that pressure. “Our business is stressful enough. My whole goal is to take away some of the stress for the people working there on the weekend and not contribute to that stress.”

-Rick Kaempfer

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