Former WPGU director, Rick Sallinger, enters Hall of Fame


Photo courtesy of Rick Sallinger

Rick Sallinger has had made many contributions during his time at WPGU from an announcer to program director, and since then has worked for CNN and CBS Denver.

By Royal Shrestha, Assistant News Editor

For Rick Sallinger, having thought of WPGU as his second home, he never could have imagined how life changing it would be. 

During his time at WPGU from 1967-1971, Sallinger was an announcer, newscaster and reporter, and eventually became the music director and the program director. 

“We had a fellow student named Bob Greenberg who was blind. He became our friend and our companion. He was an announcer and did sports broadcasting.” said Sallinger said. “Whenever I think of WPGU and my most memorable experience, I think of him.” 

WPGU was at the core when it came to preparing Sallinger for his future career. 

“No question about WPGU prepared me best for my career. I learned as much if not more from WPGU than I did taking my classes,” Sallinger said. 

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He got his bachelor’s degree in 1971 in advertising at the University, and master’s degree in 1972 at the College of Communications.

In 1973 Sallinger took his first full time reporting job at WERE radio in Cleveland. After two years, he later went on to work for NBC radio news at WMAQ & WNIS-FM in Chicago.

When WNIS discontinued it’s all news format in 1977, he took my first full-time TV job at WRTV Indianapolis as a reporter.

“In 1977, [WNIS] radio was folded and discontinued, and I had to find another job. That’s when I thought I finally looked old enough to be on TV,” Sallinger said. 

After three years, Sallinger moved to Denver to work for KBT-TV. He stayed there for six years until he moved back to Chicago to work for WMAQ-TV as part of NBC. 

Sallinger stayed with WMAQ-TV for four years where he next moved overseas to become a foreign correspondent for CNN based in London. Sallinger said this was the longest he’d stayed abroad: he spent a total of three years there. 

Sallinger described his time overseas as a world full of vastly different experiences and hardships. 

“You have to have a translator all the time while you’re working. Covering wars is also dangerous. I would be gone for months at a time when assigned to different war regions,” Sallinger said. 

During his time in London, he covered the Gulf war, the war in Yugoslavia and major events in the Middle East and Europe, including the reunification of Germany. 

“During this time is when I met my wife Isabel, who is a reporter from Spain, and we finally settled down here in Denver where we now have two kids,” Sallinger said. 

The couple has two boys, Marc who is a reporter for KUSA Denver and Eric who is a student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

It’s been over 28 years since Sallinger and his wife have settled down in Denver. After they moved, Sallinger became a news reporter for the local CBS Denver news where he is still working currently. 

Over his years of reporting for CBS Denver, Sallinger has covered many of the major stories that have occurred in Denver, including the Oklahoma City bombing trials, the death of Kobe Bryant and the Columbine High School shootings. 

Sallinger said a highlight of his career was when he won the Peabody award in 2005, which he described as the broadcasting equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize. 

“We won the Peabody award for a series of stories I did on army recruiting. We showed how soldiers would go through unscrupulous lengths to get people to sign up for the army,” Sallinger said. 

Of several different things, Sallinger said soldiers would have young students fake drug tests and fake a diploma in order to be recruited. When the army eventually took notice of Sallinger’s reportings, the army had a nationwide stand down for one day. 

“They stopped everything for one day to give new training to recruiters on how to do their job properly,” said Sallinger. 

Kristine Strain, news director for CBS Denver, noted that whenever Sallinger does a story, it would be done amazingly well. 

“He is persistent, respectful and dedicated when working. He’ll go on vacations and send us pictures of things happening internationally. He’ll go to dinner on weekends and end up shooting a video of street-car racing which turns into a huge story that he does,” said Strain. 

Sallinger is now 72 years old and is thinking about retirement as his contract term finishes this upcoming December. 

“I’ve done everything that I wanted to do in this business and much more. It’s been absolutely wonderful looking back at my career. It’s given me a wife, kids and a place to settle down in Colorado” Sallinger said.


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