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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.

CGG Bill Kurtis.jpgLegendary newsman and former AT&T advertising icon Bill Kurtis has signed on as spokesman for Chicago Gateway Green, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to greening and beautifying the city by planting trees and gardens along its expressways, gateways and neighborhoods. The organization marks its 25th anniversary in 2011 and is working towards a goal of planting 15,000 trees throughout Chicago by 2015.

In addition to ensuring the legacy of trees and gardens throughout Chicago by participating in various fundraising initiatives and special events, Kurtis will support tree plantings with volunteers and key partners ranging from United Airlines to the Chicago Blackhawks. "We are thrilled to welcome Bill on board," said Gerald Roper, chairman of Chicago Gateway Green.

Former news anchor Bill Kurtis is back at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 in at least a couple of capacities -- but not as a news anchor. The station said Wednesday it has picked up syndicated episodes of Kurtis' "Cold Case Files" series that originally aired on the A & E cable channel. The syndicated episodes will air Monday through Friday at 1 a.m. on WBBM, beginning Sept. 21.

Kurtis also will begin contributing a series of syndicated reports called "The Cold Case Minutes," which will debut on Sept. 22, on WBBM's flagship 10 p.m. newscast. The brief segments will be a regular feature on WBBM's late newscast. Kurtis' newscast segments reportedly will provide up-to-date information about unsolved local and national homicides and reach out to viewers for help in solving these crimes. Kurtis also will tell current stories about the work of local and national detectives who are crime detection experts.

"After more than 40 years in broadcasting, it's a wonderful feeling to come back home to WBBM-TV and bring the 'Cold Case' franchise with me," said Kurtis. "We are thrilled to have Bill contribute to our newscast much in the same way he did years ago," added WBBM News Director Jeff Kiernan.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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