SAJAer Ravi Baichwal has recently moved from Toronto's CTV to Chicago's ABC7, becoming one of a handful of South Asian anchors in a major TV market in the U.S. Below you will find his bio and the official announcement - as well a list of other South Asian local anchors.
Baichwal took a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer three questions from SAJAforum via e-mail:
Q: Congrats on the new gig. Why Chicago?
A: This was simply too good an opportunity in too interesting a city to pass up. And to join a market leader part of an august, stable and news-oriented network... well... the choice was easy.
Q: What are the differences in the JOURNALISM between Canada and the U.S.?
A: So far I have not seen too many other than the need for speed is marginally faster here. Journalism deadline pressure is the same here as everywhere else, but the need to file to multiple shows in multiple formats takes some training. I would also say there is a critical interest in celebrity and sports information in the category of news that is more pronounced than in Canada.
Q: What tips do you have for young South Asian getting into the TV business?
A: Forget race and work hard. Learn to write, be willing to move, surprise people with your general knowledge and work ethic. Have an idea of what you want to accomplish then go at it with all your might. Learn a second language. Be smart and worldly because those are the hallmarks of the
culture you come from.
Ravi Baichwal joins ABC O&O WLS-TV as an anchor on their 5 and 10pm weekend newscast. The program is Chicago's number one rated weekend newscast. He also reports for ABC 7's daily newscasts. Prior to arriving in Chicago, Ravi was an integral part of CTV News, Canada's number one news organization based in Toronto. He hosted CTV Newsnet Morning on the service's all-news channel, and reported for CTV National News. He also served as a substitute network anchor and host.
[Ravi is] represented by Carol Perry, Melissa Breen, and Steve Herz at IF Management, a full service talent representation company located at 810 Seventh Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10019. To reach the entire team, please call 212-265-7711, or log onto www.ifmanagement.com
For those of you not familiar with U.S. TV lingo, "O&O" stands for "owned and operated" and means that its a station owned by the ABC network itself, rather than being an indepedent affiliate station. Carol Perry, one of Ravi's agents mentioned above, is the only South Asian television agent in the U.S., and has spoken in the past at SAJA events.
Other anchors on local stations include:
Asha Blake, CW2 in Denver
Gurvir Dhindsa, Fox-5 in Washington, D.C.
Sukanya Krishnan, WPIX-11 in New York City.
Aditi Roy, NBC-10 in Philadelphia.
Suchita Vadlamalani, host of "Good Day Atlanta" on WAGA-5 in Atlanta.
There are South Asian anchors who work at networks, including Hari Sreenivasan at ABC, Uma Pemmaraju at Fox News Channel, Riz Khan at Al Jazeera International, and several folks at CNN, but there are folks missing from this list who work on local television, please let us know in the comments section below.
From ABC7 bio:
Ravi Baichwal Weekend Anchor and Reporter, ABC 7 News
Ravi Baichwal co-anchors the ABC 7 Weekend News at 5 and 10 p.m., Chicago's number one weekend newscasts, alongside Karen Jordan. He also reports for ABC 7's daily newscasts. Baichwal joined ABC 7 Chicago in November 2006.
Prior to arriving in Chicago, Baichwal was an integral part of CTV News, Canada's number one news organization. He hosted CTV Newsnet Morning on the service's all-news channel, and reported for CTV National News. He also served as a substitute network anchor and host.
During his tenure, Baichwal gained a national reputation for seamless coverage of live, breaking news. He covered the fast changing world of politics and served as host of two award-winning election night specials. Other historically significant stories he has covered include the terrorist attacks on the London Underground system, the discovery of former Iraq president Saddam Hussein by U.S. soldiers and the death of Pope John Paul II.
Baichwal was also a frequent guest host on one of Canada's top radio stations, a regular guest on the country's most irreverent sports talk show, and often hosted Canada's pre-eminent business news channel, Report on Business Television.
Prior to joining CTV's national news division in 2002, Baichwal worked as an anchor and reporter for the network local station CTV Vancouver. He was a principal anchor of the station's evening newscast.
Baichwal began his journalism career with the CBC, starting as a researcher in Calgary. He then became an associate producer, reporter and anchor with business programs on CBC Newsworld.
Baichwal believes in community service and volunteers with various charities dedicated to childhood welfare, AIDS and health issues.
Baichwal is married to award-winning broadcaster Sonja Nordahl. They have two children.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This post was updated with the three questions.]