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Question of the day

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* The setup

The legendary team of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson are returning to CBS 2 to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast, station boss Bruno Cohen announced on Thursday.

With Kurtis and Jacobson at his side, Cohen delivered the news at a staff meeting in the newsroom. Cohen also introduced Kate Sullivan, who will anchor the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts with Rob Johnson starting on Sept. 13.

* The Question: Good move or not? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:06 am:

    When the ratings are as bad as they are at CBS 2 it’s worth a shot so good move.

  2. - tubbfan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:07 am:

    Isn’t this schtick getting old?

  3. - Hizzoner 80 - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:08 am:

    Just like all of the movie re-make’s, here is a News Crew remake, starring the orignals.. Proves everyone is out of ideas anymore, but it doesn’t bother me it’s just the senior tour..

  4. - Northsider - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:11 am:

    For those who remember their Glory Days at Channel 2, it’s a good move from a sentimental point of view. But the TV news business has devolved into infotainment, so their re-pairing won’t ultimately change anything for the better.

  5. - Responsa - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:14 am:

    To viewers of a certain age this may be a draw to watch CBS2 news. But the style of reportage of events and what news is actually covered has changed dramatically since the boys’ golden days in local news. It will be interesting to see whether it is CBS2, or Jacobson and Kurtis who do the adapting. I’ll certainly give them a look-see when they go back on the air together.

  6. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:20 am:

    It’s a great move. They’re younger than most of their audience. Check out the spots on the news if you don’t believe me.

    Kurtis must have run out of spots and movie cameos that trade on his big anchor voice.

  7. - jaded voter - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:25 am:

    Who cares? TV news is not serious anymore and hasn’t been since about the time they were big 30 yrs ago.

    Their return now means nothing. Hell, the Trib and the Sun Times are barely worth reading for news.

    Most of the old media is tepid and weak.

  8. - The Mighty Swan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:34 am:

    This is great! As a young man, (30), this shtick is not too overdone for me because I didn’t always have the news on my mind in their heyday. I respect these men and their work.
    I seek and welcome any move toward “the good old days of journalism.”

  9. - chitownhv - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:34 am:

    Bill Curtis recorded my outgoing cellphone message; best voice outside of James Earl Jones!

  10. - Aldyth - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:34 am:

    I’m just sorry that I live too far away to watch. When I was a teenager and as a young adult, the channel always switched to 2 when they were on. I have very fond memories of Walter Jacobson and Jane Byrnes’ fued.

  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    When I was a kid, I stayed a lot at my granddad’s house. He was a Channel 7 man. Flynn/Daley/Coleman Eyewitness News. I would often go watch the black and white TV in the kitchen and turn it to 2 for Kurtis and Jacobson in their shirtsleeves in the middle of the news room.

    You can’t go home again, but I’ll watch.

  12. - RWP - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:39 am:

    i may have to get a tv


  13. - View from the Cheap Seats - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:39 am:

    It’s a good move if they can keep the audience that tunes in to see these guys.

  14. - Skeeter - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    I’m with Jaded Voter. Who cares? I can’t remember the last time I watched a 10:00 newscast. In fact, the only time I watch the local news at all is if I run into a friend who is a reporter and he tells me he covered something interesting.
    There is too much “there is a big fire on the west side” stuff and not enough stuff that matters Of course, I also don’t watch Chicago Tonight which does cover real issues, so I’m not sure anything can be done.

  15. - been there - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:42 am:


    but yes, they’ll have to update their act AND be newsworthy newspeople or they won’t help the ratings

  16. - RWP - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    Sorry - I hit “say it” before I was done.

    I agree with Responsa - it will be interesting to see who does the adapting. Channel 2 tried the “real news” thing with Carol Marin and she got clobbered - I personally think they should have hung in there - it takes a long time to build up viewership in the news thing - an much depends on other programming.

    As i said earlier - i may have to get a tv.


  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    ===I can’t remember the last time I watched a 10:00 newscast===

    They’re doing the six o’clock news.

  18. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:45 am:

    Channel 2 ought to spend some money on boosting their signal. I live on the Northwest Side and I don’t receive a signal from the channel. It was never strong before the digital switch, but now it’s just gone.

  19. - Skeeter - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:46 am:

    “They’re doing the six o’clock news.”
    Point taken.
    And apparently, I only skim posts that mention local news. But nonetheless feel compelled to comment on them, which is odd.

  20. - Skeeter - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    Any truth to the rumor that they are doing the 6:00 because at their age, they can’t stay awake to 10:00?

  21. - sal-says - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:53 am:

    Apparently their target demographic is the 60+ year olds. The rating’s battle is….not on? Maybe I could do Bruno Cohen’s job as well for 1/2 the price he gets.

  22. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    ===I can’t remember the last time I watched a 10:00 newscast===

    They’re doing the six o’clock news.

    They’re both in bed by ten…

  23. - Pickles!! - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:10 pm:

    I still liked Ron Majors and Carol Marin as my favorite newscasting team. Of coursw that went up in smoke had the BRILLIANT idea of Having Jerry Springer do editorials… One of the worst moves in Chicago TV news history.

  24. - siriusly - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:12 pm:

    I think its a smart move by CBS. Most of the viewers who would be interested in seeing them are probably likely to be 6pm news watchers. Probably half that audience is retirees so it makes sense to me.

    Many people have a lack of trust about news sources, perhaps this re-teaming of old Chicago favorites would be reassuring and appealing to some viewers.

    I am a 10pm watcher (ABC7) so I won’t get a chance to see the dynamic duo back in action, but I like the idea.

  25. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:15 pm:

    There is an interest in nostalgia out there on a couple of different sides. One side is the aging boomers who insist we’re not dead yet and have things to do yet. The other end is younger viewers some of who have a respect for their elders and want to see a tiny slice of what these halcyon days were like for our parents.

    I’d rather see two older folks on than one more bright shining smiling young person who is just a news reader.

  26. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:28 pm:

    Have you seen the demographics?

    These are people who are just discovering audio books. That is all the newscasts are today - yesterday’s news chosen by an editor, read to you with moving pictures. If you still get your news this way, then having Kurtis and Jacobson read it to you will make your cocoa go down easier.

    It is a great move for Channel 2. Six o’clock is the perfect time for them. It comes right after the Early Bird specials at the Bob Evans and Cracker Barrels, and before the time they have to take that fat white pill with that little pink one.

    Jacobson! What a freaking nut! He’ll satisfy all the old Boomers’ beliefs that Hoverchairs should be consider a human right of movement, and Kurtis will satisfy the others still capable of using a Clapper.

  27. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    Oh, and I also recommend that their graphics guy make those newscast graphics for stories, sports and weather - really, REALLY, LARGE.

  28. - Wumpus - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    Will they tell us about the Iranian Hostage Crisi? zoom! bing! Good move, Curtis has a new following in addition to his prior following. WJ was annoying me doing opinion pieces.

    hey need to Make it more like WGM morning news as they simply have fun

  29. - Newsclown - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:56 pm:

    I think the idea is full of win, but I am skeptical that the station management will really see it thru and give it time to work. I grew up on those two guys, Along with Pam Zekman’s awesome contribution and Drummond’s crime reportage. Back then, you got the impression that Chicago was truly a big News Town, taking the news and political coverage seriously. I think the breakup of the Majors/Marin team was the booked to that era… but maybe we can go back home again. I really doubt it though, because management types are about superficialities and the bottom line. They want it to look and feel like getting back to really serious news coverage, but look to see how they back it up in the field. That will be the real give-away about how serious they are: if they spend dollars on crews and reporters to work in the field. That has been seriously trending down the past few years.

    Will they start sending their own crews to the Thompson Center and City hall again? Or just rely on the cheaper “pool” coverage, that passively records the press events but asks no questions? Will it all be Bill reading copy and introducing pre-digested packages, and Walter raving out occasionally for his ‘analysis’? Or will these guys get to do what they know how to do? Will Walter finally learn how to pronounce those hard words on the prompter? (inside joke)

    See, my skeptical nature says, management will not change a thing about their current coverage, which is frothy and superficial. They want to steal these guy’s aura of competence to help sell it to an aging demographic that likes the retro appeal of seeing their favorites newscasters again. All the younger folks are watching news on the internet today; us old fogeys are what’s left for the shrinking broadcast dollar to appeal to.

    I predict Walter bails in frustration after about 6 weeks. Bill’s making plenty of money off his A&E crime stories, he hasn’t really got anything to prove. So maybe he’ll be able to push back a bit and really stretch his skills. At least I hope so.

    Now, can we get Jerry G. Bishop to put the hat and eyeliner back on, late late Saturday nights? Nothing against Koz. Just like it old school.

  30. - Commonsense in Illinois - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:00 pm:

    When I was in college studying radio/television, every chance I got I would go to Channel 2 and sit either just off camera or in the control room and watch how they did it. While I’m glad they are coming back, I wonder how their 1970s styles will translate into today’s more breathless - ambulance chasing style of Chicago television news.

  31. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:02 pm:

    I like it, but won’t watch. Why? 6PM. Why not 10PM - audience asleep?

  32. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:08 pm:

    If CBS2 were really serious about increasing their ratings, they would hire this guy:

    At the very least, the news would be fun.

  33. - Dooley Dudright - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:09 pm:

    Not only are we gonna get Bill and Skippy back at six (ugh, and if they do “well”, watch how fast they move to 10 PM!) — but didja notice that Bob Sirott is back anchoring Fox/Channel 32 at ten???

    What is this??? Chicago TV news as — nostalgia?

    At the same time dustbunnies like Kurtis/Jacobson/Sirott and their ilk get rehabilitated (retreaded? reconstituted?), Chicago TV stations are dumping quality people like Rich Samuels, Lila Chacon, and Jack Conaty.

    Sheesh. Don’t we do JOURNALISM in this town anymore???

  34. - Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==Chicago TV news as — nostalgia?==
    Consultants are running out of new ideas to stop the constant ebb of ratings, so….yep! Relive your youth by watching aged news veterans (in HD, natch!) link LIVE with our photogenic young reporters in our four, (count ‘em, 4!) satelite trucks. Why? Not because where they are at is particularly newsworthy, but because we CAN! (And, we are still paying for the trucks.)
    So watch our reunion tour and stay awake for Wheel of Fortune and some fine CBS programming!

  35. - fedup dem - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:20 pm:

    Note to Dooley Dudwright: The newscast that Sirott is to anchor on Fox airs at 9 pm, not 10 pm.

  36. - PalosParkBob - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:42 pm:

    When I can get home from work by 6pm, I’m sure I’ll tune in now and then. O’Reilly isn’t on until 7pm, and I’ll catch the Dr Krauthammer opinions at the end of America’s News HQ.

    Every time I hear Curtis, however, I don’t think I’ll be able to get his narration of “Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgandy” out of my head!

  37. - Boone Logan Square - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:52 pm:

    If Kurtis and Jacobson are committed to crafting a sharp, informative newscast (as they were 30 years ago), it’s a good move. If they’re just mouthpieces for a bare-bones production with little attention to editorial quality or investigative reporting then it’s going to be an unsuccessful rehash.

    I’m hoping for the former, and that it will meet with more popularity than when Carol Marin was on the station. We will see.

  38. - Amalia - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 2:16 pm:

    good move….. for me, since I love watching them and
    the recent reunion was great!

  39. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 2:46 pm:

    –They’re both in bed by ten…–

    And up again at 11… and 1 a.m….. and 3 a.m…..

  40. - Honest Abe - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:14 pm:

    What Ron Burgundy was not available to do the broadcast? I thought that Jacobson’s dream was to return to his former job as the much abused bat boy for the Chicago Cubs. Even his own team disliked Skippy and threw things at him in the club house.

    Seems kind of kooky to me. It might pull ratings for a brief time, but I do not think that it will work in the long term.

  41. - Reformer - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:27 pm:

    Most viewers of the news are older, so they’ll be comfortable with familiar old faces.

  42. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:27 pm:

    okay to make fun of their age, but would the same be tolerated about race or gender?

  43. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:42 pm:

    As a novelty, that’s a fun effort. Like nostalgia uniforms for the White Sox.

    As a practical reality, it shows how brain dead the leadership of the cbs Chicago leadership is. These two former titans, will have to attract audiences who have no connection or memory of their heyday. Advertisers are looking for a younger demo and I bet they will not deliver over time.

    If this is the best CBS can do, they would be best served by abandoning news at 6.

  44. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:46 pm:

    - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:27 pm:

    “okay to make fun of their age, but would the same be tolerated about race or gender?”

    Everyone knows that senior citizens (with the exception of me) don’t know how to use the internet!

    I, for one, don’t mind the old-people jokes, even though they are aimed at me, too. I hear your point, though, but I believe this is good natured joshing. Have we become so politically correct that we cannot speak in any way that any person of any “group” takes any offense?

    If this is the case, henceforth, any jests or comments aimed at conservatives I deem offensive and should stop on this board immediately…

  45. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:02 pm:

    –Advertisers are looking for a younger demo and I bet they will not deliver over time.–

    Not on the network 6 p.m. news, they’re not. That ship sailed long ago. Have you seen the spots in that timeslot?

    Seniors are the most loyal segment of the audience. Give these guys credit for knowing their business a little bit.

    A big reason Channel 7 owns Chicago is that they have “Jeopardy” as the lead-in and “Wheel of Fortune” on the other side. Their audience ain’t exactly a bunch of Wicker Park cool cats.

  46. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:15 pm:

    Sure. It’s a good move, cute and nostalgic like others have mentioned above. The main problem, as I see it, is what happens if it becomes terribly successful? It’s not like these guys are signing long-term contracts. CBS2 should have a plan for who/what they want at 6:00pm when the nostalgia show ends.

    I suspect they’ll get a nice ratings bounce for a week or so, then back to the cellar. Well see, but in the meantime, welcome back Skippy and Bill!

    And please, please, please bring back “Homeless Walter.” That masterpiece deserves an encore.

  47. - Concerned Voter - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:19 pm:

    Only problem with your point wordslinger is that CH. 7 also owns the 10 o’clock news slot, even though for a number of years, ABC has not been tops in primetime programs and airs nightline after compared to Leno and Letterman.

    Anyway, I might watch once or twice for nostalgia sake. But will more than likely continue with 7 for my local tv news.

  48. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:27 pm:

    You know, if you look at the unemployment picture for the younger crowd you’ll realize that they aren’t the ones with money at the moment. So maybe this means we’ll finally break out of the old we want the 18-49 demographics at all costs and who cares if older folks watch us or not. It was not meant for a time when aging Boomers are retiring with decent resources.

  49. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:35 pm:

    Cermak, the younger demos are not coveted primarily for their current spending ability, but for the future.

    The idea is if you can win brand loyalty when they’re young, you’ll have them for life.

    Plus, they’re always the trendsetters. Everyone wants to be young, no matter the age. Aspiration for youth is the whole basis for the Nike nation.

  50. - sal-says - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 5:29 pm:

    Hmmm. Just saw the Chicago CBSTV ‘rollout’ of the new news lineup. Kate looks like Sarah Palin with lighter colored hair; Skippy was good old senile Skippy; and Curtis said something like: ‘Who would hire two guys over 70?’ Exactly ! Couldn’t have said it better.

  51. - Levois - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 6:24 pm:

    Can’t say if this will be a bad move, but I may like the nostalgia value. Even then it will only last so long.

  52. - Emily Booth - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 8:17 pm:

    I stopped watching TV 10 years ago and prior to stopping, I was only watching 2 programs a week, if at all. I read the Trib every day on my Kindle.

  53. - South of the Loop - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 8:50 pm:

    I agree Marin/Majors NBC5 were the best.

    Rob Johnson has been doing a pretty good job. I watch all news stations in Chicago. Channel 2 ABC news needs to do something, it can’t hurt them to have Kurtis and Jacobson doing the 6 PM, besides most people aren’t home from work until then so that way they will catch more people.
    The best quality news program is Chicago Tonight by far. They give more time to issues and have all sides, with equal time on. They are the platinum news source. All the rest can’t compare, they have too many teasers, too little time for substance or any depth in reporting.

    The WGN news at nine gives more since they have an hour. I have been trying to catch the Fox news at nine, now that Bob Sirott and Mike Flannery are both on it now. So far so good.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
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