Trailblazer Theresa Gutierrez Says Goodbye to ABC 7

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Trailblazer. Advocate. Leader. There are a myriad of ways to define just who Theresa Gutierrez, ABC 7 Chicago reporter and host of “The Ñ Beat” is, but for Gutierrez one word befits her best, journalist. “I am first and foremost a journalist,” said Gutierrez. “I have immense passion and respect for my field and I have enjoyed every minute of it.”

So when news broke late September that Gutierrez would be leaving ABC 7 Chicago after 42 years, most of Chicago was stunned. “You know, it is time. As painful as it is to leave my family behind, that is what ABC 7 is to me, my family, I have to move on,” said Gutierrez, during a luncheon held on September 25th at the ABC 7 Chicago studios in her honor. The luncheon highlighted Gutierrez’s Emmy Award winning work over the last four decades. “It is surreal. It feels great to see people I have known for more than four decades,” said Gutierrez. “I am very touched by it, very touched.”

Gutierrez has played a vital role since beginning her career at ABC 7 Chicago in 1972. As one of the first Latina women to break into television journalism, Gutierrez’s first role at ABC 7 Chicago was production assistant that later grew into an on-air career in 1973. For 25 years, Gutierrez served as host to multiple talk shows, such as “The Feminine Franchise,” a show hosted by women, for women, produced by women, “Weekend Edition,” “Sunday in Chicago with Theresa Gutierrez,” “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” and “The Ñ Beat.”

“The word trailblazer defines Theresa Gutierrez. She broke ground in Chicago television as one of the first Hispanic woman to serve in both a producer and on-air role. She brought a tremendous amount of passion to her work and a commitment to the community that has never wavered in more than four decades. We thank Theresa for her countless contributions and wish her nothing but the best,” said John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7 Chicago.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

In the span of her career, Gutierrez has earned numerous awards. Recently, Gutierrez received a national award from the Hispanic Public Relations Association as the “2013 Media Professional of the Year.” In addition, Hispanic USA Magazine selected Gutierrez as one of six outstanding broadcasters in the country. During the luncheon, Gutierrez set some time aside to speak with Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper about her role at ABC 7 Chicago, her courage, and her next phase.

On being a trailblazer

I never saw myself as a trailblazer. I came to ABC 7 Chicago very naïve. I came here because I really wanted to do television and I wanted to give a voice to people who normally would not have a voice. I was very much part of the feminist movement when I first began my on-air career. That was really where my heart was so we created a show centered around that, called “The Feminist Franchise.” It was truly one of a kind because the show featured women, about women, and was produced by a woman, which was truly remarkable for that time. I will say in the beginning of my career proved quite difficult. I was called Chiquita banana many times. They did not know what to do with me. People told me to head to the Southwest or head to California, but I knew I wanted a career in Chicago because I loved Chicago. So I fought hard to create shows that best represented my community, not just the Latino community, but my Chicago community. In the beginning of my career there were hardly female broadcasters, let alone Latina female broadcasters…I kept being pushed into that box. Quite frankly, I fought it because I am a broadcaster; I am a journalist who happens to be Latina. I bring much more to the table than that. At first I did not want represent the community, but then I thought I am the best to represent it. So I really put my heart in soul into everything I did, from the beginning of my career, to now with “The Ñ Beat.” My passion was to give people a voice.

Favorite moment

My favorite moment was doing a show called, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” about two African-American boys, aged 14 and 15 serving a life sentence for a crime they did not commit. I was put into contact with people who asked me to pursue the story and I literally would take crew members to Indiana to investigate. As a result of that special, these individuals are now out of jail living productive lives. The last time we were all in contact was three years ago and I am happy to report they are doing just fine.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News


Well, people approach things differently. I had polio as a kid and I did not walk for a long time and I was called names and bullied for years, years. Then I finally did something about it by joining the theatre and I sang and I played violin and it was those things that helped me see life differently and helped me go after what I wanted. People always ask me how am I so comfortable on air, well, I am a performer. Coming into broadcasting when there were few women and practically no Latinas in any station was quite difficult…I would not wish that on anyone, but I stuck with it because I really loved journalism. I love it.

Message for future journalists

Run [laughs]. Run the other way. Journalism today is not what it was when I started. It is very difficult nowadays to have a career that spans four decades, so you really have to ask yourself how much you love journalism.

Plans on the Horizon

I do have plans, but I want them to be a surprise.

ABC 7 will broadcast its Emmy Award-winning program, THE Ñ BEAT, hosted by Theresa Gutierrez, with special contributions by ABC 7’s Stacey Baca, Michelle Gallardo, John Garcia, and Roz Varon, Saturday, October 4 at 6:30 pm, with an encore presentation on Sunday, October 12, at 2pm. Gutierrez’s last day at ABC 7 Chicago will be October 31st.


(From left to right) ABC 7 Chicago Reporter and Host of “The Ñ Beat” Theresa Gutierrez stands alongside President and General Manager for ABC 7 Chicago John Idler.

ABC 7 Chicago holds a luncheon in honor of Theresa Gutierrez’s work at the station.

Comments are closed.