How ABC veteran Bury is keeping himself ‘In the Loop’
Chris Bury (with Ted Koppel)
Back in the days when Nightline was the best nightly news program on television, you could always count on Chris Bury to deliver the goods. As one of Ted Koppel’s go-to guys (and his principal substitute anchor), Bury earned a reputation as a world class journalist and a master storyteller.
After 30 years as an award-winning national correspondent, Chris Bury left ABC News last July, telling colleagues: “It’s been a good run — through hurricanes, coup d’états, wars, presidential campaigns, scandals and all those quirky little stories along the way.” Since then, he’s been home in Chicago, making plans for the next phase of his career and waiting out the last six months of his contract, which ran through January 31.
“I’m a free agent as of today,” Bury, 59, told me in an interview Friday. And he’s not wasting any time getting back in the game.
Bury’s first project will be a weekly, half-hour public affairs show for WYCC, the public television station operated by City Colleges of Chicago. He and Barbara Pinto, another former Chicago-based correspondent for ABC News, will alternate as hosts of In the Loop, premiering February 14. It’s no coincidence that Bury and Pinto are being teamed up. The executive director of media services at City Colleges is Ron Schofield, who worked with both as Midwest bureau chief of ABC News for 12 years.
“This is their attempt to get in the mix with a Chicago-oriented show,” Bury said of WYCC’s local production effort. He described In the Loop as having a flexible format, exploring one major story and featuring a roundtable on multiple topics with journalists and newsmakers. Chicago Pubic Media WBEZ-FM (91.5) also will contribute a segment each week derived from its Curious City website and podcast.
As a Chicago native who grew up on the South Side, Bury said he was immediately interested when Schofield approached him. “Even when I was away in Washington, I had family and friends here, so I’ve always cared a lot about what’s going on here. That part of it made the show really attractive to me.”
In preparation for additional projects, Bury just launched Burcat Media Group with his wife, Catherine Catalane, a veteran radio newswoman and part-time news anchor at CBS Radio all-news WBBM-AM (780). “Burcat” is an amalgam of Bury and Catalane.
Chicagoans also may remember Catalane as one-half of the team of Michael Feldman and Catherine Catalane at news/talk WGN-AM (720) in 1984. (Feldman went on to host Public Radio International’s Whad'Ya Know? comedy quiz show.) Bury said he hasn’t worked professionally with his wife since filling in for three days on a Milwaukee radio talk show. That was about 20 years ago.
“Our first hope is to do journalistic documentary storytelling projects,” Bury said of his new company. He’s already working on a number of ventures with Towers Productions chief Jonathan Towers, whom he’s known since Towers was a field producer for ABC News in the 1980s. “I always thought Jonathan was a sharp, talented guy, and I’d always kept an eye on his production company,” Bury said. “His heart is in journalistic projects, and I’m really hoping we can have a good collaboration.”
Before he became a globetrotting network correspondent, the graduate of Southern Illinois University and the University of Wisconsin paid his dues in local television, working for stations in Houston, St. Louis and Milwaukee. Although he might seem wildly overqualified, Bury hasn’t ruled out anchoring a newscast in his hometown if the right offer came along.
“That would be great,” he said when I broached the possibility. “Chicago is a great city where people still care about news. Most of the stations here are at least trying to do a solid job. It’s not the crap you see in Los Angeles or New York.”