Published on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 17:20
WBBM-TV, who brought back the legendary Chicago news anchor team of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson just under two years ago is preparing to send them off to retirement once again, after a six month "farewell." The station announced today that instead of letting the veteran anchors go at the end of their contract this month, that they would have their deal extended through the end of this coming February, at which point they would part ways.
At the end of July 2010, WBBM-TV announced that they would be reuniting the anchor team
of Kurtis & Jacobson for their 6:00pm newscast starting September 1st, 2010. The idea to bring back the winning anchor team of the past first started back on November 13th, 2009, when WBBM-TV reunited the two newsmen to anchor the 10:00pm news for a one-time stunt. The stunt worked extremely well and the newscast was a ratings hit (although WLS-TV was still #1 that night). Due to high demand, the WBBM-TV website had to posted up videos of the newscast for people to watch again or to see for the first time if they missed that Friday night's airing. It became some of their most watched/downloaded videos ever.
In February of 2010, WBBM-TV then hired Walter Jacobson to come back and deliver his award-winning "Perspective" commentaries for the station on Tuesdays & Thursdays. While that move alone did not change WBBM-TV's ratings fortunes much, it has been very well received. Even with his new co-anchor role, Jacobson continue to deliver his commentaries twice weekly.
CBS 2 had hoped the two Chicago television legends would reignite the ratings fire that has gone out since the duo last gave WBBM-TV a #1 rating. It didn't work out that way. Kurtis & Jacobson, now ages 71 and 75 respectively, did not prove to still have the broad appeal to all ages that they previously possessed to lift the station's 6:00pm newscast up ahead of any of its competitors.
Bill Kurtis & Walter Jacobson both started at WBBM-TV in the 60's, but it wasn't until 1973 when the two reporters were teamed up to become lead co-anchors. For the next nine years, their newscasts became the #1 rated in Chicago. Not only was the CBS 2 10:00pm newscast tops locally, but it became the blueprint for newscasts nationwide to copy from and try to replicate. In 1982, Bill Kurtis left Chicago to take a national CBS job. He returned three years later, but by then, WLS-TV had began climbing the ratings and soon after took over the #1 spot. While WBBM-TV was a close second place for many years, it slowly kept sinking in the ratings. It has not won first place in a ratings period in more years than the network would care to admit.
News of the upcoming exit of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson does not come as a shock to anybody who knows the gentlemen. As mentioned HERE
earlier this month, Walter Jacobson had been telling friends and anybody who would ask him about his future plans that he did not feel WBBM-TV wished to keep them there much longer. He was not even sure his contract would be extended beyond the end of this month at that time. Jacobson was mostly right, as it was only extended six more months, allowing the station to give the anchor team a sentimental farewell round.
The final news broadcast for the Kurtis & Jacobson team is scheduled to be at 6:00pm on February 28th, 2013. On March 1st, the 5:00pm and 10:00pm news team of Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan will take over anchoring the 6:00pm broadcast in addition to their other duties.
In a statement today
, Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson talked about their impending exit from WBBM-TV. "Two years ago, CBS 2 management asked me and Walter to return to WBBM-TV and help re-establish Channel 2's news," said Kurtis. "While we are well on our way, our return was never intended to last more than a couple of years. Come 2013, I need more time to focus on my other businesses." Jacobson added: "I look forward to another six months of anchoring with Bill. I've loved being back behind the anchor desk for the Chicago mayoral race, the NATO Summit and all of the other recent, big local stories. Just ahead is the presidential election this fall. After that, it's the right time to pass the baton over to Rob and Kate."
Bruno Cohen, WBBM-TV President and General Manager said in today's statement: "We owe (Kurtis & Jacobson) a double-debt of gratitude -- first for their role in the '70's and '80's, when they set the bar for journalistic success in Chicago; and again today for their key role in the resurgence of CBS 2 News. We look forward to continuing our association with them."