I was genuinely excited to interview Ryan, as I’ve always admired him. There are people that you just like automatically and Ryan is one of those guys. Then he sprayed breath freshener into his mouth before our interview (because you have to have good breath before every show right?)… and I liked him even more.

There’s a lot more to Ryan than meets the eye. I knew this before every going into the interview; coming from experience and a similar upbringing. It’s easy to assume someone has everything when they appear to, and it’s easy to assume they’ve had it easy because you want to.

“I still remember getting made fun of in grade school for wearing a nock-off pair of Jordan’s – Pro Wings XJ900’S (he says laughing). Kids can be brutal! I really think its why I like wearing nice clothing now, because growing up we couldn’t afford it. It’s funny though, sometimes people see me on TV and assume I’ll be arrogant or that I come from privilege. That’s certainly not the case, and most people know that once they meet me.”

Ryan’s parents were divorced at a very young age, he lost a brother to suicide, and his family spent stretches on welfare. “I remember family friends and coaches paying for my brother and I to play little league because we were both good athletes and they wanted us on their teams and in a good environment. Sports was a huge outlet for us.”

Like me, Ryan grew up on Taco Bell from change under the washers and dryers at the local laundromat Olive Garden was the nicest restaurant we EVER went to and that was rare. “Now I feel very lucky to eat out at nice places. It’s an incredible blessing and such a gift. I didn’t grow up on fancy food, and still haven’t developed a taste for it. No lobster, no sushi; I’m good with steak, potatoes and pizza. That’s about as fancy as it gets.” says Ryan.

I can’t say I followed in his footsteps. I indeed love sushi and the finer foods in life, but everything tastes better with Taco Bell Mild Sauce on it, still to this day.

Ryan got into TV to either be an actor or be in broadcast.

I was the jock that didn’t thinkI was too cool to do theater.

Minoring in theater and majoring in broadcast at the University of Colorado, Ryan was ready to take on whatever role came first. Along with playing college football, Ryan was participating on campus TV, which was going better than theater class. “I was getting more comfortable in front of the camera.” said Ryan.

Fresh out of college, he started his career as the weekend sports anchor for KFBB in super small town Great Falls, MT. At the age of 24, Ryan landed his first big break as a sports reporter at KUSA in Denver before coming to ABC7 Chicago in 2006. But these days, he’s most proud of his now 5 year role on Windy City Live. The audition process was interesting to say the least. There were hundreds of candidates eventually narrowed to about 50 all jammed into one room for a cocktail party; how awkward. Everyone there vying for 2 spots, now go have a toast before auditioning. “The idea was to get to know each other somewhat before being paired up on camera the next day.” There were big name actors and people with longer career spans than Ryan had been alive but somehow the TV gods were in his favor.

Did you know that Ryan was the one to pitch the name, ‘Windy City Live’ before they even signed him?

It was the bestcareer move of my life

“It was the best career move of my life. People said it was a mistake to leave sports but it panned out quite nicely. Every successful person I’ve ever talked to says you can’t be afraid to take a risk. So I took a big risk, left sports and became the host of Windy City Live.” And I will say this; more women know who he is now than men watching sports, and that’s always a plus for a single guy living in Chicago.

Are you the same off camera as you are on camera?

“My opinions on camera are always accurate to my opinions off. Have I said things I regret at times? sure. Sometimes I make a joke or make a comment people don’t like but you have to be real. Politics is a touchy subject and not my favorite because you split the audience. If I make a Trump joke (and I make plenty), sometimes I’ll hear about it on social media. But I learned a long time ago you can’t make everyone happy all of the time and you have to brush off the haters.

  • I’ll have to give my own two sense on this because I don’t think it’s fair not to.  Let me be clear, there are really great ‘actors’ out there, and Ryan, you are not.  I can see now why acting never worked out for you; you’re too real.  That’s not to say you could never play ‘you’ in a movie.  But please don’t go to Hollywood and play some psychopathic murderer and ruin my hope for humanity.  I wouldn’t mind seeing you in Magic Mike though; that’s always acceptable.

Relationships

  • Are you single, married, dating? – “Single.”
  • Do you have any kids or want kids? – “I definitely want kids but I don’t have any right now.  My twin brother has two kids that are already in high school.  I’ve put my career first for so many years and it’s hard to have a relationship in this business.  As I get older, I’m reassessing these things.  I’m still waiting on the “this is the woman I can’t wait to walk down the aisle with” relationship.  I’ll find it.”
  • Where do you like to take a first date? – “I don’t have a go to place, and this may sound generic, but shouldn’t you take her where she wants to eat? (Laughing)”
  • Favorite spots (restaurants, clubs, etc.) – “RPM, Tavern on Rush, Carmines – this must mean I’m getting old! I love Volare and Sienna Tavern too! Speaking of Italian, there is actually a little place that’s one of my favs! It’s called Ignotz, it’s a little hidden gem.  West of Pilsen in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood.  I found it because a guy in my hockey league owns it.  If you go there say hi to Roger for me!
  • Do you have more friends than the average person?
  • “I have a lot of weekend friends, but I have a few good friends.  I’m still friends with my best friend from 6th grade; Mikey. He actually named his son Nevin Ryan after me which is quite an honor. I also have a really good friend from college that I still talk to regularly and I have some really good Chicago friends.”

Travels

  • Where have you traveled in the last year? – “Italy, which was a life long dream. Life changing…. the food, fashion, art; I felt…home.”
  • Where would you like to travel in the next year? – “France and Spain.  I’m a bit afraid to go and it’s just a different world than it use to be.  But I would just love to go to Paris and do all the touristy stuff!  I love historical art; the Statue of David is one of the most impressive pieces of art I’ve ever seen.

Hobbies

– “Masters Hockey League and playing music. Playing the guitar and singing in a band is my passion. If I could do it for a living I would leave TV today.  My dad is still a professional musician, so I grew up with music.  I like exercising too, in fact I’m heading to the gym now!  Biking on the lakefront, all of 10 weeks a year, is fun.  Soul Cycle is my newest hobby; love it.”

Philanthropy

– “Speaking to low income schools and groups is something I love to partake in.  I’m getting involved with #LUNCHBAG, which is held the last Saturday of every month.  Participants pay $10 and help make sandwiches which you then go deliver to the homeless.  I’m also busy with ASFP.  Inspiring helps and I’m using the platform I have.  Some of the greatest people came from nothing.”

When people think of you, what do you want them to think?

“I hope people who meet me think I’m a nice and genuine guy.  I care about people and this city and give back to the community.  When you have a platform to do something to better society, you need to do it. At the end of the day, we’re all people that should be kind and help each other.