Former WPXI sports anchor Jonas Chaney dies at 72


 In 2005, former WPXI-TV (Channel 11) sports and public affairs report­er Jonas Chaney won an Onyx Award for his acting role in the August Wilson play, “Fences.” Onyx Awards were given to those who excelled in African American the­ater, presented by the African American Coun­cil on the Arts.

But he told them he couldn’t make it to the ceremony, because he had previously com­mitted to helping the Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company celebrate its 50th anniversary. Chaney produced a video about their history and mission. Chaney was there, saluting the Mon­roeville men and women who risk their lives for others.

Jonas Chaney wasn’t into all the awards he had won over the years, he was embedded in the success and happiness of others.

Ironically, 19 years later, in February 2024, Chaney suffered a stroke. And it was the Monroeville first responders, the EMTs, who raced to his home and saved his life.

Chaney, in recent weeks, began to suffer more from the complications of the stroke, and he died on Sunday morning, June 23, at his Monroeville home, the New Pittsburgh Cou­rier has learned. He was 72.

A private burial will take place in his home­town of Chicago. A pub­lic memorial service for Chaney will be held at Covenant Church of Pitts­burgh, 2110 Andrews Dr., Wilkinsburg, on Tuesday, July 23. Visitation is from 10-11 a.m., followed by the memorial service.


JONAS CHANEY, right, with the late Dee Thompson, who was the sports director at WPXI-TV in 1985 when Chaney joined the television station from Indianapolis. (Photos by Courier photographer J.L. Martello)

“He was extremely ded­icated to his work, he was meticulous, very de­tail-oriented,” his wife, Mary Adams Trujillo Chaney, told the Courier in an exclusive interview. “But his work wasn’t simply broadcasting; he brought that same inten­sity to acting, that same intensity to deeply com­municate whatever it was that he did. Not just com­municate as in talking, but to deliver a message.”

According to an obituary on Chaney, he began his professional journalism career at KAMU-TV (Col­lege Station, Tex.) as as­sistant news director. He then moved to KET (Ken­tucky Educational Televi­sion, Lexington) as a re­porter and program host. His well-received series, “Sharing the Dream,” fea­tured interviews with his­torymakers Ben Hooks, Vernon Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Andrew Young, Julian Bond, and many other notable figures. He then worked at WISH-TV (Indianapolis) as an anchor/reporter and later as the community affairs director. In May 1985, Chaney made his final move to Pittsburgh, where he landed his dream job of weekend sports anchor for WPXI. During this time, he considered him­self privileged to cover the Olympic Games in Syd­ney, Australia.

Chaney also served as host and producer for “All Things Considered” on WDUQ-FM (formerly 90.5) as well as American Urban Radio Networks, where he was once de­scribed as having “the voice of God as a young man.” Returning to WPXI in June 2005 as the sta­tion’s public affairs direc­tor, he worked there until his retirement in 2019.

According to his obit­uary, in addition to be­ing a working journalist, Chaney also taught writ­ing, editing and produc­tion at Duquesne Univer­sity, Pittsburgh Technical Institute (now Pittsburgh Technical College) and Texas A&M University. He was a beloved mem­ber of the Inroads—Pitts­burgh team where he recruited, developed and facilitated training pro­grams, and served as the community service direc­tor for student interns.

Chaney was a gifted and award-winning actor with membership in the Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equi­ty Association, and Amer­ican Federation of Radio and Television Artists, his obituary read. Chaney appeared in film and on TV including “Silence of the Lambs” (1984), “Iron Maze” (1988), NBC’s “Dark Wake,” “What She Doesn’t Know,” “Stuck With Each Other,” “Blind Spot,” “Alone in the Neon Jungle,” CBS’ “For I have Sinned,” ABC’s “Bride in Black,” and “Criminal Justice” on HBO.

Chaney’s theatrical on­stage performances in­cluded “King Headley II,” “Fences,” “Home,” “The Amen Corner,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Miss Evers’ Boys,” “Black Nativity,” “Love Song for Miss Lyd­ia,” “Big River,” “Sherlock Holmes and the Hands of Othello,” “Her First Amer­ican,” “The Conjure Man Dies,” and “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well.”

Kevin Pugh and Chaney were good friends. Pugh told the Courier he saw Chaney just a few days before he passed. They met in the ’80s at WPXI when Pugh was a master operator.

“He was active physical­ly,” Pugh recalled about Chaney. “He loved to swim, ran track, worked out quite a bit. He loved music. He wrote music and recorded music that he wrote.”

Jonas Chaney and Mary Adams Trujillo Chaney actually attended Kinder­garten together in Evan­ston, Illinois. But it wasn’t until nearly 50 years later, in 2003, that they knew they were made for each other. Chaney had returned to the area to visit his mother and at­tend church. Mary Adams Trujillo Chaney attended the same church, and they ran into each other there.

The two were married in 2007.

Chaney is survived by his wife, children Chris­topher David and Kara Anne, daughters by mar­riage Amber McClure, Lara Trujillo Webb, Ga­briela Trujillo Williams, Anika Trujillo, and Siem­bra Trujillo, sister Loretta Hilliard, nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.

“He was very kind, and he was a very deep per­son,” Mary Adams Trujillo Chaney told the Courier. “…It was very important to him that young, Black journalists could net­work with other people. Any doors he could open for anybody, he would. He tried to maintain a standard of professional excellence. He respected people.”

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