I’ll admit it. I watched WBBM-TV, Channel 2’s 10 p.m. newscast last week Friday just to see how the return (for a single night) of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson would come off.
The reminiscing was intriguing, although I’m wondering how many 20-year-olds were turned off by being reminded of the significance of an era occurring before they even existed. Then again, who am I kidding?
TWENTY-YEAR-OLDS don’t watch television news, they just watch the clips of a story or two off the station website, before going to YouTube to find a “cool” video of somebody doing something stupid.
Clumsy cheerleaders, anyone?
I am old enough to remember the days when WBBM was a significant player in the Chicago news scene (and when the idea that “happy talk” WLS-TV, Channel 7 would ever top them would have been considered absurd).
When my mother and I watched the newscasts on television in my household during my youth, it was always Channel 2.
SO IT WAS nice to see the chatter between Kurtis and Jacobson and Harry Porterfield (before showing us that freaky magician doing that levitation trick with cigarettes). It was even amusing to hear the youthful sports anchor say he only got to be on the air that night because Johnny Morris was busy (although us real old-timers remember the days when Brent Musburger was the local sports guy who would have been covering Morris the football player for the Bears).
I chuckled when I learned that Jacobson’s “perspective” commentary about life these days at City Hall so got under Richard M. Daley’s skin that Hizzoner Jr. felt compelled to bash back. Like father, like son.
But I hope that WBBM officials have enough sense (they probably don’t, most television executives don’t) to realize the fact that they got a ratings boost that night (WBBM was Number Two in that timeslot with a 7.3 share, not that far behind WLS's 8.3 share) was exactly because the Kurtis/Jacobson pairing was a one-time event.
For better or worse, times have moved on. Trying to pretend we’re back in 1973 with Bill and Walter giving us the news from the ‘BBM newsroom (with Jacobson using a specially-crafted chair to cover up the fact that he is a height-challenged man) would fail.
THE GAG WOULD get old too quick.
Besides, in my mind, two factors were missing from Friday night. One would have been Mike Royko to write a newspaper column the next day finding some reason to puncture Jacobson’s pomposity.
The other was the absence of the one-time feature reporter, Bob Wallace, whose cutesy reports from assorted festivals and events across the Chicago area still linger in my mind some three decades later.
A part of me believes semi-seriously that WBBM hasn’t been the same since the day Wallace stopped covering food festivals for Channel 2 news.