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Former WGN-TV Emmy-Winning Anchor Allison Payne Dies At Age 57

Patch logo Patch 9/13/2021 Jeff Arnold
Allison Payne smiling for the camera: No cause of death has been reported for Allison Payne, who has worked in Detroit since leaving WGN in Chicago in 2011. Payne won nine Emmy awards during her 21 years in Chicago. © Photo courtesy of WGN No cause of death has been reported for Allison Payne, who has worked in Detroit since leaving WGN in Chicago in 2011. Payne won nine Emmy awards during her 21 years in Chicago.

CHICAGO — Allison Payne, the former Emmy-award-winning anchor at WGN, died earlier this month at age 57, her former employer announced over the weekend.

Payne moved back to her hometown of Detroit in 2011 to form her own production company in 2011 and died at her home on Sept. 2, WGN said on Saturday. The nine-time Emmy recipient worked for WGN for 21 years and worked as a news anchor alongside of Steve Sanders and others for much of her time with the station.

"I couldn't have asked for a better partner than Allison Payne. She had it all ... smart, beautiful and inquisitive, but most of all, my friend," Sanders said in a news release.

Payne played a major role in mentoring young students in Chicago, WGN said in a news release and did several stories across the globe during her career. Payne traced former President Barack Obama’s family roots in Kenya and traveled to the Ivory Coast with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, according to a news release issued by WGN.

Payne, who was first hired as a 25-year-old reporter out of Saginaw, Mich., in 1990, also set up a foundation for students looking to get into journalism. Her final assignment with WGN was a piece on the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and according to former WGN producer Pam Grimes, “nurtured interns who were so grateful for her attention and she went well beyond that.”

“Allison was young, vibrant, sharp, articulate. She was amazing,” WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling said in a news release. “You looked at Allison and thought here is a young journalist who has the world before her. One could only speculate where that incredible career was going to go.

“She was a delight, a kind human being… so sweet.”

Chicago media critic Robert Feder reported on Saturday that Payne suffered a series of mini strokes in 2008 and struggled with depression that kept her off of the air for much of that year. Payne also acknowledged battling alcohol addiction as well and also experienced other health issues over the years, Feder reported.

“Allison Payne was a one-of-a-kind talent who quickly became one of Chicago’s Very Own,” Paul Rennie, vice president and general manager of WGN said in a news release Saturday. “We are grateful for the many contributions she made to WGN-TV and to Chicago. Talented and much admired, she will be greatly missed.”

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