As WBBM-Channel 2 prepares to boost to its Sunday morning newscast to two hours, the CBS-owned station enters the fall season without a permanent anchor team in place on its Monday-through-Friday morning lineup.
It's been four months since Susan Carlson was cut from the 4:30-to-7 a.m. weekday newscast, leaving weekend anchor Marissa Bailey and midday anchor Roseanne Tellez to fill in alongside co-anchor Kris Gutierrez. CBS 2 bosses never cited a reason for dropping Carlson after 10 years at the station, but their delay in naming a replacement suggests they had no plan other than to save money.
As soon as her CBS contract expired in July, Carlson landed not one but two jobs. She was hired to succeed the retired Jim Johnson as afternoon news anchor at Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890, where she'd worked from 1998 to 2002. And she joined NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 as a per diem reporter.
While the search for Carlson's replacement goes on, candidates who've come through the CBS 2 newsroom included Sherry Williams, a weekend news anchor at KHOU-TV, the CBS affiliate in Houston. But if Gutierrez is any closer to getting a new permanent partner, it will come as a surprise to his colleagues.
A CBS 2 spokeswoman said Monday there were no announcements planned for this week.
Although still lagging behind every other station except Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, ratings for CBS 2's 5-to-7 a.m. weekday news block show the largest year-to-year growth in the market. In overall audience CBS 2 is up 75 percent, and among viewers between 25 and 54, it's up 150 percent.
While Bailey continues to fill in on weekdays, one of her weekend morning newscasts is about to double in length. Starting this weekend, the Sunday morning newscast she anchors will begin one hour earlier and air from 6 to 8 a.m, leading into "CBS Sunday Morning" and "Face the Nation." Since September 2012, Bailey has been solo anchor from 8 to 9 a.m. Saturdays and from 7 to 8 a.m. Sundays. Ed Curran is meteorologist on both newscasts.
Since CBS 2 restored its weekend morning newscasts (which had vanished as part of sweeping budget cuts in April 2009), Sunday ratings more than doubled in the time period. "September 22 marks one year since our return to weekend morning news, and viewers have responded," news director Jeff Kiernan said in a statement announcing the expansion.
Bailey joined the station as a reporter in March 2012 after more than five years as an anchor and reporter at WGRZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y.