CBS 2 hires Fox News reporter as morning news anchor
Eight months after WBBM-Channel 2 abruptly released Steve Bartelstein from his contract and sent him packing, the CBS-owned station finally hired a new face for its dismally low-rated weekday morning news show.
Kris Gutierrez, 34, a Dallas-based national correspondent for Fox News, will join CBS 2 as news anchor alongside Susan Carlson from 4:30 to 7am, starting March 12. Jim Williams, who has been filling in since Bartelstein’s ill-fated 10-month run ended last July, will return to full-time reporting and weekend anchoring duties.
Gutierrez’s appointment Thursday was announced to staffers by Jeff Kiernan, vice president and news director of CBS 2. “Kris has an incredible depth of news experience — on a local and national level — and I am thrilled to welcome him to our morning news team,” Kiernan said in a statement. “He will bring a new energy and fresh perspective to our early morning news show and I’m confident viewers will enjoy his broadcast style.”
Before joining Fox News in 2007, Gutierrez worked as a reporter in Houston, Austin, and Sherman, Texas, and in Youngstown, Ohio. A Dallas native and graduate of Texas Christian University, he is the son of a father from Mexico and a mother who grew up in west suburban Downers Grove. “I look forward to reconnecting with my extended family living in the Chicagoland area,” he said in a statement.
His wife, Krystle Gutierrez, is a reporter and fill-in news anchor for the Good Day morning show on the Fox-owned station in Dallas.
Although the station claimed in a press release to have “the only early morning newscast to post year-to-year growth in the market,” Nielsen household averages for the first two weeks in February show CBS 2 running even for the same two weeks in 2011 — and tied for last place with Fox Chicago from 4:30 to 7am. Among adults between 25 and 54, CBS 2 is down 33 percent from the same period last year, trailing the market with a 0.2 rating and 2 share.
Williams, a 10-year veteran of the station who filled in on the morning show far longer than he or anyone else expected, was typically gracious about the change. “I hear good things about Kris, I’m excited that he’s coming here, and I’ll welcome him with open arms,” he told me. “It was a wonderful experience working with Susan [Carlson], but now I’m ready to go back to the schedule that I had for all those years. I think it’s the best situation for me.”
Bruno Cohen, president and general manager of CBS, thanked Williams for making “an extraordinary contribution to our newscasts by doing double-duty — anchoring weekday mornings and weekends,” adding: “It was a tough schedule and we are excited to have Jim back full time as weekend anchor and weekday reporter.”
Gutierrez’s hiring marks the second front-line change in morning news announced this week. On Monday, NBC 5 promoted weekend news anchor Stefan Holt to NBC 5 News Today. He’ll be joined next month by newcomer Daniella Guzman from 4:30 to 7am weekdays.