Off Script with Will Payne

Will Payne reporting outside Naperville City Hall
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Will Payne joined NCTV17 in June 2022 as a news reporter after graduating from University of Illinois. Payne grew up in Glen Ellyn, IL and attended Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. He has three siblings; an older sister (Madeleine), older brother (Michael), and a younger sister (Kate.)

Let’s go Off-Script with Will Payne – Naperville News 17 reporter.

Did you always want to work in media?

Yes! My interest in media began in the third grade when my parents (Tim and Anne) gifted me a hand crank AM/FM radio. I already spent most of my mornings waking up early before school to catch the 6 a.m. SportsCenter, but with this radio, I was introduced to the world of talk shows. I was immediately drawn to ESPN 1000, where I listened to Waddle & Silvy, Carmen, Jurko & Harry, and Jonathan Hood after Chicago Bulls games. On slow sports days, I tuned in to WBEZ 91.5 where I learned all about Chicago politics and the drama in Washington D.C. My interest in all things news led to me majoring in journalism at the University of Illinois. During college, I got involved with the campus radio station WPGU 107.1, and then eventually became a sports editor for The Daily Illini.

What drew you to NCTV17?

During my senior year at Illinois, I was applying to reporter positions in the Chicagoland area, and several things stood out to me about NCTV17. Growing up in Glen Ellyn, I visited Naperville with friends and family all the time to enjoy the downtown area and Riverwalk. When I found out Naperville had a local news station that covered everything from city council meetings to heartwarming feature stories, I was immediately interested. Upon meeting Liz, Kim and the rest of the staff, I knew this would be the perfect place to kick off my career in journalism.

What is the best part of working for NCTV17?

The best part is meeting new people throughout Naperville! Since starting at NCTV17, I’ve done stories on a wide variety of people and topics. Getting a chance to know Naperville officials, nonprofit leaders or anyone in the city is such a treat. I always tell people who ask about my job that “every day is different,” and I definitely consider that to be one of the perks.

What is the most motivating part about your job?

I would say it’s the positive public reaction to a story! It takes a long time to put together a great video, and during the editing process it’s easy to lose motivation and sight of the finish line. However, when you finally hit “post” on your project, and you see all the positive feedback from the community, it makes all those hours in front of the glowing computer screen worth it.

Favorite Naperville news or sports story? 

A bit of recency bias, but my favorite story I’ve done was on Jim Gamache. In a spur of the moment decision, he decided to spend a month in Ukraine helping those impacted by the war. It was incredible hearing his story, and learning about the people he met while working in a kitchen, or rebuilding houses.

Favorite TV show?

Since its conclusion last August, Better Call Saul has been my favorite TV show. I could probably go on for a few more paragraphs about why I love it so much, but from start to finish it has excellent acting, a captivating storyline, and of course it stars Naperville North High School alum Bob Odenkirk!

Favorite thing to do outside of work?

I’ve always loved playing pick-up basketball! For years, I’ve enjoyed hooping with friends and family. Plus, it’s available pretty much everywhere. Along with basketball, I began practicing hot yoga on a regular basis back in January!

PHOTO & BLOG CREDIT: Miranda Battaglia, NCTV17 Volunteer