Morning Drive’s Felicia Middlebrooks at NEIU


Josh Furstoss, Writer

WBBM’s Morning Drive host Felicia Middlebrooks spoke to aspiring journalists and reporters at an NEIU News Writing class on Oct. 26.

Middlebrooks shared her story before deviating into an individualized advice session.

She went around the room speaking to students with the intent to build their character and give meaningful advice on how to improve their future experience in the news industry.

Middlebrooks began with some valuable advice: “Always recognize a gift, and then develop that – do not take your gifts for granted.” She explained how much struggle she had to overcome to get where she is. and reinforced that starting young and focusing on a path is paramount.

As one of four daughters born to a steelworker in Gary, Indiana, Middlebrooks  had to learn early on that there was no such thing as “men’s work.” Being handy and self-supporting was something she had to develop quickly and at a young age.

“Hard work was never something we were afraid of,” Middlebrooks said.“We had to be like the boys – we could build a house together with all the skills we had together jointly.”

Growing up in a working-class household, Middlebrooks was admitted to Purdue University, although she admits that being forced to go to school in-state originally seemed like a curse rather than a blessing.

After three successful years at Purdue, financial hardship forced her to return home. Felicia and her sister took up jobs at the local steel mill and became the first women to work at the site.

During this time, she found time to work at local radio stations before getting her big break – working for Channel 2 in Chicago.

Middlebrooks persevered through school and eventually moved to Chicago where her career blossomed.

Eventually, she would become the first female host on a CBS radio broadcast as well as the first African American to host on the station.

Middlebrooks spread the message that getting into journalism is not for the faint of heart, and only those who truly have a passion for the job should pursue radio.

Middlebrooks wakes up at 2:30 a.m. every day to gather and prepare news documents. However, she claims the pressure and hardship of the role – and life in general – is what helps create strong individuals.

Middlebrooks explained this by saying, “If you’re going to be a good writer, then write – writing is like a fine wine it takes practice and time to create.”

Today, at 60,  Middlebrooks still works at WBBM as the host of Morning Drive where she has presented the news for over 35 years and works as a part-time professor at DePaul.

As a student who originally took seven years to graduate with her bachelor’s degree, Middlebrooks hopes to inspire many as she goes forward completing her third graduate degree while spending her spare time talking to aspiring reporters in the Chicagoland area.