Frank Whittaker retired at the end of 2022 as Station Manager and Vice President of News for NBC 5 Chicago after working more than 46 years in three Chicago TV newsrooms. For the last 25 years he led the NBC Chicago newsroom, becoming the longest serving news director in Chicago television history.
Whittaker grew up in Wheaton, Illinois and attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston. While a Medill student, Whittaker worked part-time on weekends at WBBM-TV (CBS) answering viewer calls and working the overnight assignment desk. His CBS bosses hired him full time following graduation. During his 16 years at WBBM, Whittaker worked as an assignment editor, news writer, associate producer, special projects producer and newscast producer, eventually producing the station’s top newscast at 10 p.m.
WLS-TV (ABC) hired Whittaker in 1993 to become executive producer of the station’s 10 p.m. newscast, and later assistant news director.
Whittaker joined NBC 5 in June, 1998 as News Director. He was promoted to Vice President of News in 1999, and added the title of Station Manager in 2008. He was responsible for leading the NBC 5 news department on broadcast and digital platforms, as well as other station projects. Under his leadership, NBC 5 expanded its investigative unit to become the largest in Chicago. The station also added hours of local news in the mornings, afternoons and weekends.
Whittaker won a Peabody Award in 2016 for his work on the Laquan McDonald investigation, which resulted in the resignation of the police superintendent and a Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department. He is the winner of five Chicago Emmy awards for his work on spot news coverage, media interactivity, and for producing half-hour specials on Mayor Harold Washington and Earth Day.