Windy City blowup
Possible Playboy-model weathercaster raises hackles in Chicago news circles
By Dan Trigoboff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/2/2001 8:00:00 PM
The possibility that CBS-owned WBBM-TV Chicago would hire a Miami weathercaster with limited news experience and a background that includes Playboy pictorials is causing a stir in the news community there.
A Chicago Tribune column reported that Jennifer Santiago, weather reporter at CBS sister station WFOR-TV Miami, was seen in the Chicago newsroom recently and had been seen a few years ago entirely differently: in photos that had run thrice in Playboy and in Voluptuous Vixens, a book.
Robert Feder, the veteran Sun-Times TV critic said station insiders were "mortified." Feder wrote that hiring Santiago would "represent all that's horrible about local television news in general and Ch. 2 in particular. In one year's time, the station will have gone from Carol Marin to a 'voluptuous vixen' reading the news."
CBS's Marin, who got national attention for exiting WMAQ-TV Chicago when Jerry Springer briefly did commentaries there, tried an ambitious newscast at WBBM-TV last year.
Santiago called the controversy "shocking and premature" and saw "calculated omissions" in the Sun-Times' use of her WFOR-TV bio, highlighting her hobbies, not accomplishments. She noted that her bio also mentions that she is a law school graduate and former prosecutor. Columnist Feder was unavailable for comment.
Then known as Jennifer Klarman, Santiago posed in 1998, she says, to help pay off $100,000 in law school loans. The pictures were intended for a Playboy special on lingerie. "If I had known they might end up in a book called Voluptuous Vixens, I might have declined."
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