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  Zinga, Andrea Lane
NameAndrea Lane Zinga
Coal Valley, Illinois , United States
Website [Link]
Born November 02, 1949 (71 years)
ContributorBarack O-blame-a
Last Modifedev
Sep 28, 2011 02:15pm
InfoAndrea Lane Zinga was born in Macomb, Illinois, in McDonough County in 1949. Her parents,a country girl from Adair Illinois and a city boy from Chicago, had met at Camp Ellis a few years earlier. It was World War II and Camp Ellis, a prisoner-of-war camp, mushroomed in the farm fields of west-central Illinois. (Its history has recently been documented in a book by a noted area author.) Norma "Peggy" Graham worked as a secretary to the officers at Camp Ellis. She was famous for her bulletin boards full of clippings of poems and wise sayings. Andrew Zinga, a medic, came to be stationed there, and reportedly upon spotting Peggy told a buddy: ?There?s the girl I?m going to marry.?

Andrea considers herself "a real melting-pot American." Her mother's mother's family, Royals and Littles, have been traced back to the Revolutionary War, and before that to England. Her maternal great-grandfather Royal served McDonough County as treasurer in the late 1800's.

Her mother's father's family, the Grahams of Montrose, were good Scots. Not for nothing does Andrea know how to get the most out of a dollar...!

Much later, the Zingas (with a lot of French on the maternal side) came to America by ship in the great wave of immigration of the 19th century, settling in the bustling city of Chicago.

As she grew up, Andrea's life centered on school, church at First Christian in Macomb, music and normal kid things. She remembers the annual family traditions at Christmas--"riding on a sled my dad pulled through the snow, and then giving up the sled on the way back home to haul the Christmas tree we'd just picked out." Andrea remembers the summer she shared a ride on her cousin's horses to their grandparents' home, and then back to Macomb--18 miles roundtrip. "The saddle began to loosen and I was leaning more and more, but I couldn't convince my cousin something bad was happening till we began to gallop, the saddle let go and I pitched over the front of the horse and landed on my back on the asphalt. He stopped on a dime, without putting a hoof through my chest. I have always believed I owe my life to that horse."

The rest of the time, Andrea walked or rode her bike everywhere--"to lessons of various kinds, and way way out into the countryside".

Central to Andrea?s life throughout her growing-up years was her grandparents? farm. She spent many a happy weekend and summer there as did her many cousins---in the orchard,in the haymow in the big gray barn, down by the creek and around the smokehouse.... It is a source of joy today that the farm remains ?in the family,? for now anyway--now that Andrea?s second cousin is farming it with the help of his grandfather, and living in the house--?down home? as it was always called--with his young wife. Andrea is very proud of her roots--firmly planted in a family of farmers, teachers (vocational ag and other specialized fields plus elementary education), civil servants (Post Office, state forestry, soil conservation and home extension), bankers, supervisors, and now, among the younger generation, doctors.

After four years in high school Spanish, Andrea and friends spent a summer living and studying in Guadalajara, Mexico. "It was a beautiful city and we made some great friends. Plus, I got so fluent in Spanish that by the end of our stay there I was dreaming in the language... I only wish I were that fluent now. If I were to again live where only Spanish is spoken, I would be." And she always enjoys practicing a little when she gets the chance!

High school was a blur of activities and netted Andrea the DAR Good Citizenship Award and the first national Rotary Award to have ever been given at Macomb High School.

Valedictorian of her class, she then pursued a bachelor's in education at Western Illinois University, followed by an M.S. in Radio/Television from the University of Illinois. During that time, she held an assistantship and three scholarships, including Child of a Veteran of World War Two. "We were so excited in my family to learn of that one. What a relief when money is tight, and it was."

She taught for a time in Springfield, Illinois--"music, every grade from K through high school, at three schools." When the time came to renew her contract, Andrea "came away with a huge respect for teachers, the work they do, the sacrifices they make and the way they do it not expecting accolades or immediate rewards, but because they simply love to teach."

But she came away. Because in the meantime, Andrea had begun to work while in high school and summers through college at a commercial radio station in Macomb, WKAI AM/FM (now WLJB ) . "When I was first hired, the boss refused to let me do news, saying 'Listeners do not want to hear women giving the news.' By the time I left there the final time--I was brought back on board five times--I was news director."

Then began a career in TV. First stop, Baton Rouge Louisiana. "Now there is another world entirely!" While at the CBS affiliate she was a general-assignment reporter and morning anchor, also producing and hosting a half-hour special with the founder of the Gray Panthers, Maggie Kuhn; and featuring segments she had done on five older adults who were still contributing greatly to the world in their individual ways. The show was called "Gray Matters." She also worked the political beat, assigned to cover the Louisiana state capitol.

This promising broadcasting beginning was interrupted (not unhappily!) by a year in England as a Rotary International Fellow in Journalism. It was there, addressing groups as part of her goodwill duties, that Andrea began to hone the speaking style for which she is known.

Back in the United States, she renewed her TV journalism career at WQAD-TV, the ABC affiliate in Moline, Illinois and much closer to home--in west-central Illinois. At Channel 8, Andrea went from general assignment reporter to consumer reporter, and from consumer reporter to anchor.

Within two years she was asked to move across the (Mississippi) river, to WOC-TV (now KWQC-TV) in Davenport, Iowa. There she "anchored every news show on the schedule, at one time or another; and produced the noon news too." Add to that an award-winning health series that sent 11,000 Quad Citians to have their cholesterol checked; and award-winning features, including a story in which she hand-dipped chocolate at Lagomarcino's in Moline. ("Oh, what a great job!!") Andrea still touches base with Anita, the woman who has so ably held that job before and since! .

In fact, for several years Andrea sampled lots of other people's jobs in a TV franchise called "Zinga Is..." She did a turn as a barge deckhand on the Mississippi. ("A giant tow rope broke as we rolled video, sending people swearing and scrambling in all directions." ) She hand-sorted tomatoes while riding on a tomato-picker in Muscatine Iowa. She waited tables at the I-80 Truck Stop. ("What I mess I would make of that job!") She rolled huge coils of aluminum sheeting at Alcoa. She did stints for TV as a realtor, a preschool teacher, a farmer. Andrea says: "From the time I was 16 and learned to make change at J.C. Penneys, I have worked. People think when you're a news anchor you get chauffered around in a limousine and make millions of dollars. A few do--but the truth is that most of us earn what anybody would consider an average wage. I know the frustrations of constantly worrying about job security, health care coverage, fair and decent pay and constantly rising taxes and fees, because I have been out there scraping and working the past 22 years just like most everyone else in the 17th District."

There were other TV anchor/reporter jobs in other states--five states in fact. One of her favorites was at an ABC affiliate in North Carolina while her husband was in school there. "I visited the USS Carolina with a vet who had been a gunner on board; it was a thrill walking around the ship hearing from him first-hand about what life was like under fire. Reporting for me--and I've covered thousands of stories in seven states and overseas--is all about the PEOPLE. People are the most important part of any story."

That may be why others of Andrea?s favorite franchises (segments with a common theme and airing regularly) include ?Hometown Heroes? and ?Wednesday?s Child?.

When her husband got a job teaching in the Quad Cities, Andrea was fortunate enough to "fall into the anchor chair back at WQAD-TV (ABC) in Moline." There for two years this time, Andrea remembers most vividly a one-hour live special she hosted on teen pregnancy, "complete with an in-studio audience, special live guests and a phone bank. It was daunting, and it was a success. Although we can't truly use the word 'success' in this context until the number of unwanted teen pregnancies drops even further than it has in the years since we aired this local focus on the problem.? The Channel 8 news team at that time also produced a documentary special called "The River." Andrea worked on it as reporter and co-host. It, too, won awards.

Now came experience with daily developments and with leaders and newsmakers at the national and international levels, as Andrea began three years? anchoring at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Not only was CNN purchased a month after she arrived,by Time-Warner; but the city of Atlanta was about to host the summer Olympics of 1996. While holding down anchoring duties on both the CNN and Headline News networks, as well as the Airport Channel (CNN?s in-airports news service) and CNN Radio, Andrea also found time to send home to the Quad Cities a weekly column for The Dispatch chronicling life in ?Hotlanta? as the city prepared for the Olympics.

She had no way of knowing that those very Olympics would provide her, tragically, with the high point in her journalistic career. Andrea was the anchor on duty the night Centennial Olympic Park was bombed across the street from CNN; and she broke the news to the world. ?For an hour and a half, it was just me and a sports anchor who had been in the park when the bomb went off. On the plus side, this was way before Richard Jewell; on the other hand, it was also before any proof that a bomb caused the blast, and so we couldn?t even talk about that. In fact, I had no script at all as I faced the world (CNN went to simulcast with CNNI, the international network) and never did, in that hour and a half, even have any computer printout or wire service to rely on. It was all ad lib. Thank goodness it was about something we had been living through for months."

But by that time, Andrea had learned to always know the subject. ?When you report for your shift and are told that you will be anchoring a live news conference from outer space--then debriefing Christianne Amanpour from the scene of the latest Mideast conflict--and then doing a live play-by-play of the running of the bulls at Pamplona, Spain--you quickly discover the wonders of the in-house library and computers in compiling enough notes to get you through your night on the anchor desk!?

Andrea?s anchor work the night of the Olympic Park bombing earned her a national Emmy.

Most recently, Andrea returned to the Quad Cities in 2001 to work for two and a half years as a 5:00 and 10:00 anchor at WHBF-TV (CBS) in Rock Island, Illinois. And the 17th District is where she plans to stay "anchored." ?I figured it up once and found that I had moved 26 times, and that was 3 or 4 moves ago! You can only change your utility company and get a new driver?s license and learn your way around so many times in life; then you begin to long for stability. And the fact is, when I began to search for QUALITY OF LIFE, I realized it had been right under my nose all along. The area changes each time I have returned--growing more cosmopolitan, more exciting--growing up. And yet, there is so much more to do. The wonderful people here deserve it.?


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