Former WMAQ-TV news anchor Ron Hunter dies

Ron Hunter, a news anchor who made headlines as an news anchor for NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in the 1970’s, passed away at his home in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Hunter made headlines for Chicago’s TV critics, who relentlessly bashed him for his on-air persona. He succeeded Floyd Kalber at WMAQ in 1976, and lasted just two years at the station, which was then branded as NewsCenter 5. He worked with other famous alumni at the station, including Jane Pauley and Maury Povich.

He also hosted a short-lived weekly late-night local talk show bearing his name at WMAQ.

Hunter was savaged by local critics, often being compared to The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Ted Baxter (played by Ted Kinght), a popular sitcom on the air at the time (Moore ended in March 1977.) Hunter’s style was parodied by Will Ferrell in the movie Anchorman.

After Hunter left in 1978, he landed more successful gigs at TV stations in other markets, including WPLG-TV Miami, KYW-TV Philadelphia, and WVUE-TV in New Orleans – returning to the city where he got his start (at WWL-TV.)

Hunter went into radio in the late 1980’s in New Orleans, but his career went downhill after 1990 after his wife called in to his show to discuss their martial problems while he was interviewing a sex thearpist on the air. A few hours later, his wife was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Hunter was fired from his radio gig several days later.

He later worked other odd radio jobs and hosted an America’s Most Wanted-type program at WNOL-TV in New Orleans. He retired from the business in 1998.

Updated 3:13 a.m. on 2008-06-29