Harry Porterfield retires

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The longtime newsman calls it a career

WBBM-TV Anchorman Harry Porterfield announced his retirement Thursday after 51 years in journalism, effective immediately.

The 87-year old Porterfield started his career at the CBS-owned station in 1964 as a newswriter and later a reporter. His Someone You Should Know segments were a signature part of WBBM’s newscasts in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and was brought back when he returned to the station.

Financial troubles came to CBS in the mid-1980’s, forcing the network into cost-cutting mode – which included a demotion for Porterfield. The move triggered a ten-month boycott of the station by Operation PUSH and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, as WBBM’s ratings fell from first to third in a span of a year. Porterfield relocated to WLS-TV in 1985, bringing his “Someone” segments with him, coinciding with the ABC-owned station’s rise to the top of the ratings, a position it holds to this very day.

WBBM meanwhile, has never really recovered and is still mired near the bottom of the ratings pack.

After 24 years at WLS, Porterfield returned to WBBM in 2009 at the age of 81, co-anchoring the 11 a.m. newscast. Porterfield went on vacation last week, preferring instead to keep his retirement announcement low-key.

Among Porterfield’s many honors include induction into the Silver Circle of the NATAS in 1998 and ten regional Emmy Awards.

With Porterfield’s retirement, his on-air partner (Roseanne Tellez) is shifting to full-time reporting. Replacing them at 11 a.m. is Erin Kennedy and Lionel Moise, in addition to their 4:30 a.m.-7 a.m. newscast anchoring duties.

Given all that happened to Porterfield thirty years ago by CBS, it is nice to see him finish his career where he started. Cheers to a class act.

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