Former WNYT reporter Salerno killed in snowmobile crash

An Emmy Award-winning Chicago television journalist who worked at Albany television station WNYT ear
Randy Salerno
Randy Salerno

An Emmy Award-winning Chicago television journalist who worked at Albany television station WNYT earlier in his career was killed when the driver of a snowmobile he was riding lost control and slammed into a tree in northern Wisconsin.

WBBM-TV morning anchor Randy Salerno was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident Thursday night in Eagle River, Wis. Authorities said they believed that alcohol and speed were factors in the crash.

Tim Price, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden who investigated the crash, said the 45-year-old Salerno was riding as a passenger because the driver’s snowmobile would not start after he and other snowmobilers had stopped at a pub.

“The driver asked the deceased if he could drive,” said Price.

Price, who said he was told Thursday was the first time Salerno had ever been snowmobiling, said the driver with Salerno aboard missed a trail exit off Plum Lake. The snowmobile hit an embankment and flew at least 20 feet before striking a tree.

The 44-year-old driver was airlifted to an area hospital, and Price said he suffered at least some broken ribs.

Salerno was a longtime fixture on Chicago television. After spending 11 years at WGN-TV as an anchor and reporter, he joined the CBS station in 2004. He worked at WNYT before joining WGN in 1993.

At WGN, morning anchor Larry Potash described Salerno as “an amazing talent.”

“Few people in our business can write a story about a political investigation, go cover sports and write (a) funny feature story,” he said on the air Thursday morning. “He could do everything.”

And at WBBM-TV, the station’s president and general manager described Salerno as a “talented news anchor and a major reason for our recent morning show success.”

“But,” said Joe Ahern in a statement, “it was Randy’s sense of humor and quick wit that separated him from the rest. He was a skilled journalist, trusted colleague and dear friend to many in our newsroom — especially our morning team.”

Salerno graduated from Illinois State University and began his broadcasting career as a reporter at WIFR-TV in Rockford and then worked at WMBD-TV and WHOI-TV in Peoria before joining WNYT.

Salerno lived in the northern Illinois community of Crystal Lake, where he grew up. He is survived by his wife and three children.

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