Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson are being reunited at WBBM-Channel 2.
The iconic Chicago news duo -- who teamed as nightly news anchors a Channel 2 in the 1970s and early 1980s when it dominated local news -- will be paired up again starting Sept. 1, this time anchoring the CBS2 6 p.m. weekday news, the station announced this morning.
The station hopes the move to bring back one of Chicago's legendary local news anchor teams will ignite interest in Channel 2 news and spark a ratings surge.
Soon after they're back on the air together, WBBM will roll out its new 10 p.m. anchor pairing. On Sept. 13, Kate Sullivan will join current anchor Rob Johnson in headlining the 10 o'clock, as well as the 5 p.m., news.
"The teams of Rob and Kate and Bill and Walter represent the core values of CBS2 news -- aggressive journalism, combined with excellent, contemporary storytelling," WBBM news director Jeff Kiernan said.
The reunion of Kurtis and Jacobson had been in the works for months. It took longer than expected because Kurtis was deciding how to deal with his wide range of business interests, which include a cattle farm and his appearances in TV commercials as a pitchman for AT&T. That AT&T role is likely to end now that Kurtis is back in an anchor's chair at WBBM.
Kurtis and Jacobson started at Channel 2 in the 1960s, separately left, then were brought back in 1973 to anchor the 10 o'clock news in a partnership that dominated the local news ratings in Chicago.
Kurtis left for three years to work in New York as a CBS network news anchor but returned to resume the on-air partnership, which ended in 1989.
WBBM general manager Bruno Cohen made the much-anticipated reunion official at a newsroom staff meeting.
Kurtis and Jacobson accompanied him, as did Sullivan who joins the station after four years as morning news anchor at WCBS-TV in New York.
Jacobson has been back at CBS2 since February, relaunching his "Perspective" commentaries on the 10 o'clock news on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
He and Kurtis came together for one night last November, filling in for Johnson, anchoring the 10 o'clock news.
For 18 months, Cohen and Kiernan have been working to revamp the way the station presents the news, aiming to return the station to the top of the ratings at 10 p.m. In the just-ended July Nielsen ratings book, the station's late news remained mired in fourth place. The station's bosses hope that reuniting Kurtis and Jacobson at 6 p.m. will also help rebuild its audience at 10 p.m.