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Burleigh Hines, pioneer reporter for many Chicago news outlets, dies at 77

By Maureen O'Donnell
Chicago Sun-Times
(November 9, 2009) Burleigh Hines, a versatile reporter who spent more than three decades on the air for WBBM radio and television, died Sunday.

Mr. Hines, 77, was a pioneering African-American print, radio and TV journalist who combined a courtly, respectful demeanor with a strong belief in justice.

"He was one of those people who, if he saw an injustice, he wanted to right it," said Deb Segal, a WBBM-Channel 2 editor. "Many times, he stuck his neck out for people."

Born in 1932, the Nashville native started out as a writer for the Memphis Tri-State Defender. He worked in the 1960s at the Chicago Daily News, according to a biography from the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS).

He co-wrote Nightmare in Detroit: A Rebellion and its Victims, a book on the 1967 Detroit riots that left 43 dead. His co-author was Van Gordon Sauter, a Daily News writer who became president of CBS News.

Mr. Hines spent six years as a reporter at WBBM-AM (780) before joining Channel 2 in 1974 as its editorial director. He then worked as a reporter, and as a producer at a special investigations unit.

"He was a dream," Segal said. "He was lovely, a wonderful guy with a very gentle sense of humor."

He reported on a variety of topics, from integration to crime. He also enjoyed his segment called "Sidestreets," which examined offbeat news and people. One story examined a pet shop dilemma: a puffer fish whose teeth grew so long, they had to be filed down by a dentist.

In 2002, he was inducted into the prestigious Silver Circle of NATAS, which honors key contributors to TV journalism.

"He was always very respectful of other people," Segal said. "He really did come up the hard way. He never forgot his roots."

Mr. Hines retired in 2001 and was living in Glendale, Calif.

According to Channel 2, he is survived by his wife, Denise; six children, many grandchildren, "and many, many friends who will miss him very, very much."

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