Bill Kurtis is coming back to CBS2

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Posted by on September 09, 2009 at 18:37:19:

WBBM-Ch. 2 welcomes back Bill Kurtis any way it can get him

Bill Kurtis is coming back to WBBM-Ch. 2, sort of.

The long-struggling CBS-owned station, where Kurtis had three tours of duty as an anchor and became synonymous with its long-ago glory days, has picked up syndicated reruns of "Cold Case Files," a crime show from Kurtis' production company that debuted on cable's A&E a decade ago.

Kurtis, who has parlayed his post-WBBM national profile into work as an advertising pitchman for AT&T, also will contribute a series of "Cold Case Minute" reports that will air during Channel 2's 10 p.m. newscasts, beginning Sept. 22. The reports also will be syndicated, but some will be produced specifically for Channel 2, the station said.

"CBS2 is honored to be back in business with Bill Kurtis – both as a program host and as a contributor to our news,” Bruno Cohen, WBBM's president and general manager, said in Wednesday's announcement.

Kurtis first arrived at WBBM as a reporter in 1966 after a stint with CBS station WIBW-TV in Topeka, Kan. Channel 2 made him an anchor in 1968, but he left in 1970 to become a CBS News correspondent in Los Angeles. He returning three years later for what would be a highly regarded pairing with co-anchor Walter Jacobson that is remains fondly recalled by viewers and throughout much of the industry.

In 1982, Kurtis left for New York and "The CBS Morning News," where he was paired with Diane Sawyer, but returned to Channel 2 in 1985. He started doing documentaries and launched his own production company while at WBBM, where he remained until 1996 but was unable to recreate his past success at the station.

To make room for Kurtis in '85, WBBM bumped Harry Porterfield from a weeknight co-anchor slot, a move that led to Porterfield's departure for WLS-Ch. 7 and a boycotted of Channel 2 to promote the hiring of more minorities to key positions. WLS was on its way to No. 1 as WBBM slid.

In a move that, like the acquisition of Kurtis' syndicated show and cross-promotional reports, reflects Channel 2's desire to reconnect with its heritage, Porterfield returned to WBBM last month after 24 years away, extending a 45-year TV career in Chicago.
“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,” Kurtis said in a statement. “Chicago is my home and we are known as a community of people who care deeply about solving crimes – no matter how old the case is."

WBBM plans to air "Cold Case Files" Tuesday through Saturday mornings at at 1:07 a.m., beginning in the early hours of Sept. 22. The program was launched in 1999 and ended production four years ago.

The "Cold Case Minute" reports will offer current information on unsolved local and national homicides, seeking help in solving the cases from viewers.

Posted at 05:09:35 PM Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune

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