ABOUT ME


Nice to Meet You!

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ROBERT TABERN


I was born at 7:12AM on Tuesday, August 28, 1979 at Skokie Community Hospital in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb located about ten miles north of downtown Chicago. My father is Thomas L. Tabern who was born in 1936 in Bowling Green, Ohio and grew up in Lake Bluff, Illinois. My mother is Rita S. Tabern who was born in 1942 and grew up in Evanston, Illinois. For the first ten years of my life, I lived in a single story house on Monticello Avenue in Skokie (pictured below). I attended Middleton Elementary School (Kindergarten-4th Grade) and Saint Lambert Elementary (the first part of 5th Grade) while living in Skokie. As your typical child of the 1980's, I enjoyed rollerskating (especially in Shawnee Park), listening to records, and playing with other kids in the neighborhood. I also enjoyed riding my bike and attending afterschool programs. In June 1989, my parents got divorced. My mom moved to a condo in nearby Niles, Illinois, while I stayed living with my dad in Skokie.
  
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I spent the first 10 years of my life (1979-1989) growing up in Skokie, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago

In late 1989, my dad got re-married to my step-mom, Beverly Tabern, who was a music teacher from Chicago. I also gained a new step-sister, Jennifer Collins. With the new additions to our family, we needed a large house. In December 1989, all four of us moved in to a newly constructed two story house on Menard Avenue in Morton Grove, Illinois (pictured below). Morton Grove is a suburb located about 15 miles north of downtown Chicago. The move also meant a change in schools for me. During the time living in Morton Grove I attended Park View Junior High (second half of 5th Grade through 8th Grade) and Niles West High School (first semester of my freshman year). I enjoyed playing in nearby Mansfield Park during my time living in Morton Grove. I also enjoyed taking summer school art classes while at Park View. During the summers, I ended up taking a lot of road trips with my mom, including to South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park, North Carolina, and pretty much all over the United States. It was through this I began to develop my deep love of traveling.

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I also lived in Morton Grove, Illinois (1989-1993), another north suburb of Chicago

In December 1993, our family moved from Morton Grove to a house on High Point Lane in Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb located about 20 miles north of Chicago. Northbrook was the setting of many of John Hughes' popular 1980's movies, including "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Hughes used the fictional "Shermerville" in his movies, which was actually an early name for what is now Northbrook. For three-and-a-half years, I attended Glenbrook North High School; it was here that I developed my passion for radio and television broadcasting. I hosted a weekly radio show on Glenbrook North's radio station, WMWA-FM (it became WGBK-FM in January 1997). I also worked for the school's cable access television channel (GBN-TV), producing a wide variety of programming including sporting events, talk shows, and school-related news and interviews. I am probably best remembered for hosting a monthly live variety program called "Tabern Live", alongside my best friend and co-host, Alexander Rubinow. I graduated from Glenbrook North on June 1, 1997, and spent my last summer ever in Illinois.

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During my high school years (1993-1997), I lived in Northbrook, Illinois, another northern suburb of Chicago

After spending almost 18 years living in the Chicago area, in late August 1997, I moved 500 miles away to attend college at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Arkansas State University has one of the best Radio-Television programs in the mid-section of the country and gives students a chance to work on-air at the campus radio station. KASU-FM is unique because it is an affiliate of National Public Radio; not just your typical campus rock station. On March 24, 1998 there was a school shooting at a junior high in Jonesboro and I got to serve as a reporter for the station. Some of the news reports I filed from the scene aired on NPR stations across the country. To help pay for school, I worked for KASU-FM for most of my freshman year of college doing mostly production work. I was the Associate Producer for a program called "Pet Talk". During my freshman year of college (1997-1998), I lived in Room #903 of the Twin Towers Dorm. I was lucky enough to have a single room and didn't have to deal with the whole roommate experience.

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In August 1997, I moved to Arkansas and lived in the Twin Towers Dorm on the campus of Arkansas State University

At the end of my freshman of college, in May 1998, I moved out of the Twin Towers Dorm and in to an apartment on SW 2nd Street in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (pictured below). Walnut Ridge is a town of about 4,000 people about 25 miles northwest of Jonesboro, or about 90 miles northwest of Memphis. The apartment I had was an upper two bedroom unit off the main highway in town, just across from the Amtrak station. I think I partially developed my love of train travel from watching the trains to/from Chicago pass each other in the middle of the night out of my bedroom window. Also in May 1998, I left my job at KASU-FM and began an on-air position at two commercial radio stations in nearby Paragould, Arkansas. Between May and December 1998, I was a disc jockey at KDRS-AM, which had a Christian Rock format, and KLQZ-FM, which played Classic Rock and Oldies. I also enjoyed doing production work for the stations, appearing at remote broadcasts around Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri, and doing voice work for commercials and promos for the two stations.

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Duing the summer and fall of 1998, I lived in a two bedroom apartment in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas


While I enjoyed my time working in commercial radio, I returned to my true love of television broadcasting in December 1998. I was hired on to be an Assistant Producer at KAIT-TV, the ABC affiliate in Jonesboro, Arkansas. My duties included writing stories and editing video for the weekday 5PM, 6PM, and 10PM newscasts. Also in late 1998, I decided to rent an apartment on Tony Drive in Jonesboro so I could be a little closer to my new job. I ended up working at KAIT-TV for a total of three years. In October 2000, I was promoted from Assistant Producer to the Producer of all four of the station's weekend newscasts. By working nearly full time at KAIT-TV, I was able to pay off all of my college expenses and gain knowledge working for a commercial television station. Being the only network station in Jonesboro, KAIT-TV was quite popular. I graduated from college on December 14, 2001 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Political Science/Pre-Law. Even though I enjoyed my time in Arkansas, I began looking for jobs closer to my family in the Chicago area.

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Between November 1998 and December 2001, I lived in a one bedroom apartment in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Just a few days after graduating college in December 2001, I ended up making my second interstate move. This time I was headed to Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was hired on to be the Producer of "NBC 33 News Today", the local morning newscast on WKJG-TV, the NBC affiliate in Fort Wayne. The crazy third shift hours ended up taking some getting used to, but I was happy to be living just a few hours away from my family and friends again in the Chicagoland area. WKJG-TV went on the air in 1953 and was the oldest television station in Fort Wayne. Many of the employees I worked with had been with the station for 20 or 30 years, and I learned a lot from them. One of the things I am proud of is that our team got the ratings for the show out of last place for the first time ever. Unfortunately, the family who owned WKJG-TV for many years wasn't able to afford the expensive upgrade to digital television, and put the company and station up for sale. The instability created a lot of problems and I quickly began to look for other jobs, finally leaving WKJG-TV and my home in Indiana in February 2003.

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In December 2001, I moved to Indiana and lived in the West Winds Apartment Complex


In February 2003, I moved from Indiana to Oak Creek, Wisconsin, which is a suburb located about ten miles south of Milwaukee, or about 75 miles north of Chicago. I ended up taking an Assistant Producer position with WDJT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Milwaukee. My major duties including writing news stories and producing the local breaks during the network morning newscast. I was pretty proud that I was able to get a job in such a large television market at just the age of 25. In December 2003, I was promoted to be the Senior Producer of "The CBS 58 Morning News Express", which was the hour long local morning newscast on WDJT-TV. The show later expanded to a two hour format in 2004 to compete with the other stations who were going on earlier in the morning. During my time in Oak Creek, I had a one bedroom apartment in the Oak Park Apartments. Being so close to Chicago, I was able to get back often for holidays and to see friends and family on a regular basis. It was also nice to be out of college and have the money to travel more often.

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In 2003 I moved to the Milwwaukee, Wisconsin area, living in this apartment briefly in suburban Oak Creek


On February 25, 2004, I became a homeowner for the first time, with the purchase of a two bedroom condo in the Marina Cliffs complex on 5th Avenue in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The condo is located on a bluff about 50 feet above Lake Michigan. Going down to the beach on nice summer days and having picnics was something that I quickly grew accustomed to.

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I became a homeowner for the first time in February 2004 with the purchase of a condo in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I remained the Senior News Producer at WDJT-TV in Milwaukee until early March 2009. Unfortunately, the station experienced some financial problems and I was laid off as part of a string of cuts that impacted many in the newsroom that year. After a few months of looking for work, I decided to leave television news for a few years, and took a job doing communications for the Oak Creek, Wisconsin police and fire departments. My primary role was creating, writing, and editing logs that were used by the local news media, as well as answering emergency 911 calls for service. It was a great experience working alongside some true heroes.

My life took a major change for the better in August 2011, when I was re-united with Kandace Owings, a woman who I had dated during my freshman and sophomore years of college. Even though we hadn't spoken in more than a decade at that point, we knew our love for one another was still there when we met again when I briefly returned to Arkansas to accept an alumni award from my university. For the remainer of that fall, several months of long-distance dating ensued. Kandace ended up moving up to Wisconsin to be with me in mid-January 2012; we were married later that year... and have been together now going strong ever since.

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I got married to Kandace Owings in 2012; here are just a few pictures from our wedding and wedding reception

In May 2013, I left my communications position with the City of Oak Creek, and got back into the television news business for a short period of time. I worked as a dayside Assignment Editor at WTMJ-TV, the NBC station in Milwaukee, assigning reporters to cover various news stories, and writing copy for anchors and the station's social media properties. I occasionally produced and did on-air work, especially when needed for transportation and travel stories. I currently work in the tourism industry, planning and designing group railroad and bus tours. I founded, and currently serve as President of, a company called Outside the Rails; it is based in Wadsworth, Illinois and produces railroad route guide books for various passenger railroad lines across the country. We also present on-board educational programs on private rail car excursions through the APRHF's Rail Rangers program; I serve as the Executive Director and Chicago Coordinator of that group. I enjoy working alongside my wife Kandace to help people learn about the interesting history and people of the Upper Midwest through our books and Rail Rangers tours.

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In July 2015, Kandace and I became Chicago Coordinators of the APRHF Rail Rangers program

Thanks for your interest in me... and I look forward to what the future years will bring. Cheers!