Age: 26. Lives in: River North. Claim to fame: Co-host of WCIU, The U’s “The Jam,” along with Jordan Cornette and Felicia Lawrence. Case study: Robay’s love for pop politics began at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she double majored in political science and radio, TV and film. “At first, everyone said I needed to pick one,” says Robay, who grew up in Glencoe. “[But] I always felt they were so tied together. With the current political sphere, we’re finally seeing what I’ve always felt: Pop culture is our culture, and [that] translates into what happens at the White House.” Spreading the word: Post-college, Robay covered red carpets in LA before landing gigs as the “millennial voice” on HLN’s “Dr. Drew On Call” and as a host, producer and writer for ClevverTV, KNBC and “Entertainment Tonight.” “I’ve watched every TV show my entire life,” she says. “My dad would say I was wasting my brain, but now he laughs and says it was research.” Opportunity knocks: Back home in Chicago, Robay’s reel caught the eye of Steve Bailey, head of local programming and creative at The U, who was looking for fresh talent. He flew Robay in to do a test spot and, a few months later, hired her as one of three hosts on “The Jam.” On air: The show premiered in July and covers the full spectrum of news, entertainment and sports, targeting a younger audience. “It’s the ‘Today Show’ for Chicago,” says Robay, who is the youngest morning TV show host in Chicago. “Everyone who comes in says it’s a party. We get to be ourselves and it’s completely unfiltered.” Guests like “The Bachelorette’s” Diggy Moreland and comedian/actress Mo’Nique have appeared on the show. Talk the talk: Robay gets to flex her pop politics muscle, too, with segments including entertainment roundup “Morning Pop,” “Jam Session” — a “The View”-esque roundtable debate — and “Beyond the Ceiling,” featuring local women making a difference. “My goal is to help change some hearts and minds,” she says. “I want to be the millennial Barbara Walters.”
Photo by Ramzi Dreessen
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