CBS 2 to finally launch 4 p.m. newscast

WBBM-TV joins others in competitive time slot

After years of speculation, CBS-owned WBBM-TV is finally back in the 4 p.m. news business.

As first reported by Robert Feder Thursday, CBS 2 plans to launch the early afternoon newscast January 24 with news veteran Jim Williams and newcomer Marie Saavedra.

“With breaking news events occurring 24/7 and the appetite for local news from trusted journalists continuing to grow across broadcast, streaming and digital platforms, we are pleased to add a 4 p.m. newscast to our weekday schedule,” said CBS 2 president and general manger Jennifer Lyons said in a statement, joining vice-president and news director Jeff Harris in making the announcement. “We look forward to this new opportunity to provide the kind of in-depth reporting that defines CBS 2 Chicago.” 

The new 4 p.m. newscast is also going to stream at CBSN Chicago, the local all-news streaming channel launched in 2019.

Speculation of if local news would return to 4 p.m. took off after longtime time period occupant when Judge Judy ended original production after 25 seasons earlier this year when Judy Sheindlin bolted to Amazon (reruns of the show now airs at 5 p.m. on WCIU, CW26.) But after Lyons left Nexstar’s NewsNation and landed as CBS 2’s and CBSN Chicago’s new president and GM, it was a matter of when and not if a 4 p.m. newscast would launch.

CBS 2 once had a 4 p.m. newscast in the mid-1990s but was later dropped in favor of syndicated programming, which at the time was more profitable.

A longtime local news veteran who has worked at WGN-TV and AM and at ABC News, Williams was a former press secretary in former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration and has been at CBS 2 for twenty years serving in a variety of roles, including weekend news anchor. He’ll be paired with Saavedra, who’s been at CBS 2 since October of last year, coming in from Dallas-Fort Worth as a reporter. Both are Chicago-area natives.

The announcement continues a revival of fortunes for the perennially-ratings challenged news station, who last dominated the ratings in the 1980s with Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson at the helm. But by the end of the decade, the station fell to third place and even placed as low as fifth in some time periods in recent years. The station has shifted its focus to investigations and the move paid off -recently, CBS 2 won an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Achievement For News Gathering (Multiple Reports) category for its widely-praised coverage of the botched Chicago Police raid of Anjanette Young’s home, which drew national headlines.

This is the latest move by CBS under the new leadership from CBS News And Stations president and co-head Wendy McMahon and CBS stations president Adrienne Roark to make its local stations more competitive. Last Wednesday, CBS announced it was building a new news operation at WWJ-TV in Detroit after being absent for nearly two decades with a streaming focus.

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